Women participation in tech. Should we worry??

Trycolyn Pikirayi Avatar

Cliché topic right? Yet the gender disparity in this field is still too evident to be ignored so yes, I’ll go on right ahead and talk about it. This article won’t really speak for countries where women are not even allowed to go beyond becoming a wife because evidently my approach here becomes highly irrelevant, but rather let me speak for Zimbabwe and other countries that are civilised enough to know the basic fact that women are human – yes, I said it!

So in the case of Zimbabwe, I’m interested to know if women are genuinely being side-lined from the tech spaces or they’ve been around a complaining society so long that the complaining has somehow rubbed off on them. This will help us see if indeed we are justified to fuss over the women’s participation in the tech world or not, as well as know what steps to then take.

I’m well aware of how issues of gender are at the hype, particularly to this millennial generation. However, I think we have just made it revolve around the idea of ‘victim and oppressor’ so much that we have lost sight of the other potentially important factors that contribute to this gender disparity.

In actual fact, it would be a shame for us to find out that we have been too busy playing the game of attack and defend over this issue of gender yet the matter is just a question of preference. It would be like wasting time worrying over the fact that fewer women enjoy the game of soccer compared to men. So maybe let’s get back to the basics and ask the right questions.

Questions like: is it that women are just not interested much in technology (by that I don’t just mean the simple use of a phone or laptop but probably the deeper things like its RAM, CPU performance etc.) or they ‘have been made’ not to? If the former; that is to say if women are just not as interested in tech as much as men, then we need not to cluster the issue in the same ‘victim and oppressor’ category with the rest of the gender wars.

However, if it’s the latter; then yes, women are justified to advocate for quotas, special grants and all as a way of correcting a previously unjust system that deprived women the chance of venturing into technology and/or made them feel incapable of tackling such.

The reason why this question should be taken seriously is simply because assuming that women are not being ‘given’ a fair playing field is in itself oppressive as it yields to a breed of women venturing into technology not because it’s a passion but just as a way of proving themselves.

Let me break it down before someone is infuriated by that statement.

In society, a woman who can code or program (or is involved in tech one way or the other) is termed smarter than say a woman pursing nursing or whatever else (sidenote: watch Fast and Furious 7 and you will understand exactly what I’m talking about).

In fact, sometimes we celebrate women in technology such as Sheryl Sandberg and Angela Ahrendts more than we celebrate their male counterparts and believe it or not, it actually says a lot.

So in essence, my question would be: are we not putting women under unnecessary pressure by indirectly challenging them to pursue tech related studies as a way of ‘liberating’ themselves?? – yet their participation levels have all just been a matter of preference and not necessarily oppression?

Image via wocintechchat.com


  1. Charles Muzonzini

    I agree with you. I whether it is by societal conditioning or just choice, women generally are just not interested in tech or tech related things. I recently saw some stats saying 68% of youtube viewers were male. Really something like viewing youtube, which happens in the privacy of your personal space can’t be blamed on societal prejudice against women.

    1. Ngoni

      I believe there are more women who use FB, Twitter and Pinterest than men

  2. Imi Vanhu Musadaro

    Is there a gender issue in tech, or are you trying to create one?

  3. Peter G. Raethk, Ph.D.

    To offer a personal opinion: The key phrase in the posting is the word ‘allowed’ in, “… countries where women are not even allowed to go beyond becoming a wife …” If the culture enables each to pursue their choices then I do not see an issue with various groupings of people tending to not gravitate toward a certain line of work. The encouragement should be to seek out one’s personal calling and to pursue that calling, not to choose a particular calling.

  4. Tookie

    I tend to believe that in this day and age, most people, in most semi – civilized to civilized countries have an equal opportunity to get involved in any activity they choose. After all, any information you may require about anything, is freely available on the Internet. That is what it is there for. If a person is truly interested in pursuing something they have a passion for, it is practically impossible to stop them achieving their goals. Where all things computers are the topic, there are a plethora of good sites, both paid and free where one can study to their hearts content. On a global scale, there are many women involved in technology, and if you were to follow the international conventions, such as BlackHat, Defcon etc, you would see that women participate in these events almost on a 50/50 share. I have followed these events for many years, and the number of women participating has increased yearly. In fact, I have never even come across this topic in these circles, so I would be loath to think that you are writing an article as click bait, rather than to provide genuine perspective on a given subject. As an example, go to Youtube, and search Linux. The results will show you many women actively pursuing their passion. Off the top of my head, there is Nixie Pixel who posted regularly for years, had thousands of subscribers but recently has slowed down releasing content for what I can assume are personal reasons. Also, Hak5, is one male, and one female presenter. When you listen to the female presenter, she makes you sit up and listen. Not just a pretty face, and a mine of information on all things security.
    Personally, I do not think that this is an issue, or has ever been an issue. I have never heard this subject talked about or even hinted at.
    Zimbabwe has a wealth of problems in the IT industry, which many are just too blind, stupid, or ignorant to admit, while even more are trying desperately to find some solutions. I do not think we should encourage this kind of vague speculation.

  5. Dadza D

    My personal opinion is that in Zim, there is no restriction on women to enter into tech fields. In fact, most universities accept females at lower points than males.

  6. Pam

    I am a lady in the tech world and I must say for me it’s a matter of passion. But, speaking on behalf of… It could be disinterest to some degree and/or a matter of not being up to taking a challenge. Regardless of that, somehow there is an element of having to prove yourself to be set apart and recognized in the field. You jus have to be exceptionally amazing in whatever you decide to specialize in. Otherwise in Zim we are privileged to have a fair deal in that aspect.