Referring to the technology sector as the “Boys Club” is hardly an understatement. According to Girls who Code, by the year 2020 we will have approximately 1.4 million jobs available in computing. The percentage of the job market that will be filled by US graduates is expected to be around 29%. However, of that 29%, only 3% are expected to be women. While my research suggested that there is a larger percentage of young girls becoming interested in STEM fields, I also noticed a large decline in their numbers once they enter into high school.
Where does this rapid decline come from? What happens after the age of 13 that could have such a profound impact on young girls in STEM fields? I think there are a few relevant factors to consider. Firstly, by the age of 14, young women and men across North America are starting to build their education around their prospective careers. High school students begin to research what types of job roles are available to them, and who are some of the top influencers within those fields. For young women who begin this process, it is much more difficult for them to find role models in STEM fields. Statistics show that women hold only 26% of computing jobs in US². I think that young women are struggling to find a face that they can relate to in the technology fields, and instinctively move towards fields that they view as more “female friendly”.
However, sitting passively while more and more young women turn away from the STEM fields is not an option. Rather, it is critical to portray positive examples of women that have broken down the barrier and immersed themselves into technology centric careers. Take for example, Maya Shkedy. She is a successful architect and goldsmith from Tel Aviv that has integrated technology into her career in a somewhat unorthodox way. Maya was already familiar with using 3D modelers like Rhino to visualize her drawings and models, since she trained extensively with architectural planning software during her degree. Not wanting to limit her creativity to only architectural models, Maya began to rethink the possible applications for 3D modelling software. Having trained as a goldsmith, Maya was already passionate about jewelry design. She decided to pursue her dream, and built her own architecturally inspired jewelry collection using 3D modelling software. Naturally as a goldsmith, Maya wanted her YAMA Jewelry line to be produced with gold – but the twist is how she created the collection. Rather than traditional techniques, Maya chose 3D printing to create her collection. For her, it was an obvious way to manifest her designs from the software into reality. As an architect, she focuses on the esthetics of each piece of jewelry – wanting clean lines and precision. 3D printing the collection allows her to rapidly prototype and manufacture her designs with exact proportions, directly from the software.
I think Maya’s story is interesting because it not only demonstrates a positive example of women in technology, but it also demonstrates her innovation and creativity. She reimagined how to use her architectural software for a completely different medium. As well as, took on the expense of being a business owner by reducing her overhead costs with the use of 3D printing. If it weren’t for her background in technology, it seems unlikely that her architectural jewelry line would have ever come to fruition.
What is critical to take away from this article is; despite the fact that the statistics point towards a less than favorable future for women in technology, I do not think that this needs to represent the actual future of events. We need to challenge the gender imbalance in technology by reminding young women that there are influential women in the field paving the way for them; Showing them that they can find a face like theirs in any career field.
FEATURED IMAGE: GIRLS WHO CODE¹
FEATURED ARTICLE: HUFFINGTON POST (PECK)²