Google and Facebook are the companies that have come to dominate our digital lives and have changed forever the way we search, connect, learn, shop, etc. Facebook and Google are front and central in the digital revolution; sometimes partners and sometimes competitors, they are fascinating in pursuing their complementary strategies for the digital future. Nevertheless, as exciting as we may find this corporate sparring, the history shows that the real game changers are the people inside and, most often, the people at the top. Top managers in IT and engineering change our future, but what they do not change are our stereotypes about gender roles in the field of technology. There is a tremendously low percentage of female workers pursuing careers in technology and computer science as women are not interested in going into IT sector, and they are even not really encouraged to do so. Taking that into consideration, Sheryl Sandberg’s story presented by Auletta seems an amazing way a woman reached the top (Auletta, 2011). Combining the roles of a powerful manager and strategic thinker, Sandberg serves as a perfect example for those who are only thinking about pursuing career in IT. She managed to overcome the existing stereotypes and uncertainty adherent to women and become a chief person first at Google and then Facebook. Sandberg has always been on leading positions though she realizes that such women are rarely liked or respected by their colleagues. Female workers often encounter insensitivity and discrimination; thus, to protect themselves, they develop self-doubt and avoid taking leading positions. Being tough, fearless and taking up risks is what Sandberg considers to be the key to success, and she encourages women to get rid of insecurities and strive for more (Auletta, 2011).
The reason there are almost no female top managers is that women prefer not to opt for engineering or IT as their career path. Information technology plays a crucial role in business operations and continuity. Without knowledgeable and skilled IT professionals, much of the business work could not happen. It is necessary to recognize that gender diversity is an essential component of a healthy and productive workforce. Boosting the number of women in technology careers is a priority. One of the things about IT is that it is pervasive; if we look at the innovations over the last two or three decades in the banking, healthcare, or industry – all of them have a strong underpinning of information technology. Women need to be made aware that it is an exciting choice for them. Promoting the idea that smart people study engineering or IT field and make them face the challenge is a must. IT is traditionally a male-dominated profession and it still lacks a number of men versus women coming into the field. To change the balance, it is vital to set up a perfect role model for girls to follow. According to Demaiter and Adams, it is necessary to promote stories about successful women in order to change the existing stereotypes about the roles that women should take up in their lives (Demaiter, & Adams, 2009, p.32).
Opportunity and gender roles in the society have always been an issue, and women have always faced discrimination and pressure in the workplace. Disrespectable of huge progress women have achieved, the world is still overwhelmingly run by men. Men run every industry and government in each country. When decisions are made that impact our world, women’s voice is unequally heard, and women face stagnation. They are held back and not making it to the top. They are restricted by all types of outside obstacles: institutional, bad public policy, sexism, discrimination and all of that is really important. What is even more important is overcoming inner doubts that women have about them and which are often imposed on them by society. As soon as we see the stereotypes and call them out, we can get rid of them (Demaiter, & Adams, 2009, p.33). The situation in education is now becoming clear: female performance in math and science on a broad basis roughly equals that of men, and we are producing extraordinarily talented women. However, when they graduate from college and get into the workplace, what happens to them is that men hold them down, they are being discriminated against, at the same time failing to act. There is a huge cohort of women who have come into the workplace and changed it a lot; yet, they have not got to the top. Girls graduate at higher levels from college, they get more graduate degrees and more entry-level jobs along with their college degrees. Still, less women than men get promoted, and by the time they reach the top, there are almost no women. Leadership characteristics are never ascribed to women. When a man leads, it is natural, but when a woman is a leader, it seems strange since women are thought as aggressive if they want to lead. When women get more powerful, they are less liked; when men get more powerful and successful, they get more respect.
Intensive mothering is another stereotyped expectation of women. A full-time working mother working outside the home spends as many hours engaged in direct child interaction as a non-working mother did in the past. These expectations of full-time and more than full-time work and intensive mothering are really hitting women as it is impossible to do both. Powering women to understand stereotypes and use them to their advantage is a part of developing. It is necessary to excite girls and make them choose this career path. According to Berg and Lie, it is not only the pressure that women feel from their male colleagues, but also our general perception of women as not being inherently connected to technology (Berg, & Lie, 1995, p.344). Our culture and society perpetuate antiquated, inaccurate, and damaging stereotypes that girls cannot do engineering and science. These stereotypes fuel implicit, unconscious, and unintentional bias against women in engineering and science, and it is even more damaging than the stereotype itself. Implicit bias affects our attitudes, reactions, expectations of women in engineering and science and can make it really difficult for a girl in engineering and science to stick with it and to contribute and live up to her potential. Attitudes should be changed in all spheres of our life starting from educational establishments and representations of women and their role in modern society as presented in the media and popular culture.
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Women often encounter subtler problems, for instance, fewer women than men can be invited onstage at computer conferences implying their lack of professionalism and skills as compared to men. However, women are also to blame, because they prefer not to take initiative and stay at the backstage. Sandberg advises women to be more decisive and speak loud about their problems and concerns directly to the management. Assertiveness is the key to success, and women have to worry more about doing their job properly instead of worrying about an issue of sexism. Women also do not have to refuse to take senior positions because of their family life but have to share their housework responsibilities with a partner to have more time for developing as a professional. Their desire to combine the roles of a committed mother and a professional holds them back and does not let them develop. Women also have a feeling of guilt if they fail to keep their household at the highest level and be a full-time mother for their children, which also adds to their bunch of uncertainties and doubts. This makes women turn down more responsibility; more often than not, it concerns their job rather than compromising and sharing household duties. Instead of stepping up into leadership roles, women lean back to their household responsibilities.
Quite often, women do not even realize the problems that they have due to stereotypes as they believe that is this way they should live. This keeps them stagnated as well. Women with a higher status are perceived as unsupportive and aggressive, because a typical woman should help others prosper instead of being a leader herself. Nevertheless, women will definitely never succeed until men give them a chance and start supporting them. Women rarely have people ready to help them and promote them throughout their carrier, because men are typically fearful for their professional and personal image if they provide sponsorship to female workers. New attitudes alone without the public support will never close gender gap and allow women to take up new social and carrier roles.