Women in technology: a history of innovation and challenges

Posted at 26/04/2021
Women in technology: a history of innovation and challenges

The close relationship between women and technology is not a trend, but an inheritance. Since the beginning of time, great innovations and technological advances have counted on the participation and hard work of many women.

Often left out and excluded from official records, scientists, mathematicians, physicists and several other professionals were part of great moments in technology. Fortunately, today we live a period of historical recovery of these contributions and their voices. It is time to inspire the women of the present to continue innovating and overcoming challenges.

Names like Hypatia of Alexandria (mathematician and philosopher accused of witchcraft in 415 AD), Ada Lovelace (mathematical prodigy and first programmer in history, in the 19th century) and Hedy Lamarr (Austrian actress and inventor responsible for the bases of cell phone and wi -fi, still in the 40s) are just some of the examples of how women have been part of the development of science and technology, overcoming difficulties and prejudices.

Great technological achievements, such as the space race, also counted on the talent and skill of many professionals. Katherine Johnson, a physicist and scientist, actively participated in the Mercury project, which took man into space in the 1960s. NASA programmer Margareth Hamilton, on the other hand, was one of the names behind the first moon landing in 1969. This continues to be A reality. In 2019, researcher Katie Bouman developed the algorithm that enabled the first photo of a black hole.

Going far beyond the social roles imposed on them, women of different ages, ethnicities and nationalities continue to go against expectations. Every day, women continue to prove their ability to transform the world - and technology.

Women and technology: new times, new challenges

Over the centuries, the women's struggle for rights, freedom and respect has achieved important advances. From being considered citizens with the right to vote and property, to consolidating their presence in public and political life, women from all over the world have come a long way. But there is still much to be debated and achieved. And, in sectors like technology, being a woman is still being considered an exception.

According to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), in the technology sector, only 20% of the positions are held by women. In the Computer and Information Technology courses, only 13% of the vacancies are occupied by students. This configuration, with a predominantly male environment, reinforces the stereotype that women are not as competent as men in the area of ​​technology.

In 2018, a survey by Catho found that 51% of women in this sector have already felt discriminated against at some point. In addition, 46% of them also reported poor growth expectations at the company - while men were almost twice as likely to be promoted. This is also reflected in wages: women earn 30% less than men in the area of ​​Information Technology, according to data from the National Household Sample Survey (PNAD)

If before the discrimination of women in technology was clear (with the prohibition of entering certain courses and careers, for example), now it happens in a more veiled way. Today, women in technology and other masculinized environments suffer from issues like mansplaining (when a man condescends to a woman, explaining something she already knows) and keep interrupting (where women are constantly interrupted and their opinions are disregarded by colleagues) men). In addition, social responsibilities for motherhood and domestic service fall on the shoulders of women, who often need to experience double and triple work shifts.

Exception to the rule: more feminine environments in technology

However, this scenario is changing. Although the numbers are still timid, the presence of women in technology is gradually beginning to grow in several careers. Specific training and education programs emerge around the world, focused on transforming this unequal reality and expanding the horizon of possibilities for girls and women in technology. As a result, more and more women are taking their place in grassroots and leadership positions in the technology sector, inspiring the next generation of professionals.

Among Brazilian companies in the segment, Mangue stands out in this regard. Acting in the development of software and consulting for innovation, the company's CEO is a black and northeastern woman, coming from the periphery and of low social class. Contrary to both expectations and statistics, Josilene Santana is one of the examples that the female presence is more than deserved: it is necessary for the evolution of the entire society.

Competent, strong, creative and willing women to continue to make technology evolve, they exist today all over the world, as they always existed