In recent years, the role of technologists and innovators has become more relevant, becoming, together with scientists, the main responsible for the design of the future, decision making and the establishment of priorities and research on innovation agendas.
How many women are part of this group of scientists, responsible for information technology and areas of innovation in companies? Very few.
As indicated by Cecilia Castaño and Juliet Webster (2014) in the book “Gender, Science and Information Technology”, we find an imbalance, since most of those who make up this group are men, implying that this agenda has an implicit male vision.
In Mexico, we can identify women who are gradually positioning themselves in this area. Such is the case of María Teresa Arnal, director of Google in Mexico, Françoise Lavertu Stevens, director of Tesla LATAM and southern United States, Cristina Randall, co-founder of Conekta, among others. However, the road is still complicated for most of us.
In recent years, according to the same authors (Castaño and Webster, 2014), this imbalance has been studied and analyzed from three perspectives: Women as students of disciplines related to science and technology; the presence and growth of women within research groups or management positions dedicated to these issues; and practices and products developed from a male perspective.
Let’s deepen through each of them.
The woman in the classroom
The Center for Research and Gender Studies (CIEG) at the UNAM University (National Autonomous University of Mexico), published an analysis of the careers chosen by women and men in 2018, in this same field of studies, where it’s indicated that careers within the school system which have a female population of less than 40 percent are: Civil Engineering, Computer Science, Computing, Physics, Mathematics, among others.
Careers that have more than 60 percent female population are psychology, translation, physiotherapy, surgeon, art history, community development, among others.
Although it’s an analysis only of the student population of the UNAM, this study reflects the reality in Latin America, where women’s role as “the caregiver” is understood culturally, which is manifested in the disciplinary field they choose.
Women as members of research groups or responsible for ICTs
In the work field, the number of women is further reduced, because we face different barriers and difficulties in accessing academic positions or management positions in technology areas within organizations.
Within the article called “Gender and Science in Mexico” of the journal Sciences of the Mexican Academy of Sciences, published in 2012, it’s mentioned that the women’s great problem towards their professional development “is the conflict of roles that they experience having that attend, simultaneously, the family and professional demands “. (Evangelista, Tinoco and Tuñón, 2012 p.13)
How can we solve this? Companies are becoming increasingly interested in promoting gender equity. In Mexico, there are training options designed to meet the specific needs of each institution, as in the case of ‘Dalia To Go’, imparted by Dalia Empower. They’re training and training services for public and private institutions, with an inclusive leadership approach, to promote an organizational culture that seeks the welfare and development of people at all levels.
Who makes the decisions?
Have you ever wondered who developed the mobile apps you’ve installed on your phone and what needs they solve?
Daniel Granatta, in the event “Leadership in the era of digital transformation”, organized by WICT – Women in media, gave an example of the development of Apple Watch. “Why wasn’t it possible to register the menstrual cycle on initial stages?” Because the features of this device were designed by male specialists.
The low rate of women in science and technology “is also negative for science, which doesn’t benefit from the valuable contributions and visions of women, both in the definition of problems and in the search for solutions”. (Castaño and Webster, 2014 p.24)
Hence, the need for gender analysis goes beyond whether women have access to participate in science and technology. Rather, it resolves the inclusion of women in decision-making, design and innovation.
There is a large number of highly qualified women in science and technology. It’s the responsibility of parents, teachers (from basic education), work colleagues, spouses, children, leaders of institutions and women themselves, to change towards an inclusive culture in which together we design, innovate and define the future.
1.- Castaño and Webster (2014). Gender, science and technology. Editorial Aresta. Spain.
2.- CIEG UNAM (2018). Careers for women and careers for men? Gender trends Available at http://tendencias.cieg.unam.mx/
3.- Evangelista et. to the. (2012) Gender and science in Mexico. Science Magazine. Mexican Academy of Sciences. Available at: https://www.revistaciencia.amc.edu.mx/images/revista/63_3/PDF/GeneroyCiencia.pdf
Karina Bárcena Anguiano
Karina holds a degree in Communication Sciences. She has worked as a Project Manager in digital agencies in Mexico, coordinating software development projects, as well as digital marketing strategies for companies nationally and internationally. She has been a reporter and photographer in the media. She’s an Instructor of the Braille literacy system, and apprentice of the Mexican Sign Language. She’s an active associate of the civil association ‘Libre Acceso A.C.’ with the purpose of achieving the full inclusion of people with disabilities.