When discussing gender equality in the tech-industry we always seem to end up with the rare occurrence of everyone agreeing with each other, and then nothing getting done.
First and foremost: always agreeing with each other is a real conversation killer. I partake in plenty of discussions panels, forums or just after work small talk, pertaining to gender equality in tech – and I have yet to have anyone disagree with me that it is necessary. Not only does this make for uninteresting debates, but it also seems to make the ultimate goal even more unobtainable.
See, disagreement breeds constructive discussion; innovation is brought forth by discomfort; and everyone at the table sitting around agreeing that gender equality is needed doesn’t really bring the conversation forward. For one: saying that gender equality is needed is not the same as saying that you’re willing to pay the price to achieve it – and secondly us all agreeing that we want gender equality is a lie.
Everyone doesn’t want gender equality. Do you know how I know that? Because we don’t have it.
There are no natural obstacles or physical hurdles for us to achieve equality in the tech-industry (or anywhere else for that matter), and the only ones perpetuating these historical structures of marginalization is us.
When you think about it, it actually makes sense. Of course not everyone wants gender equality. Even if the discourse has managed to hammer home the point of gender equality being the best option for all, with better financial and sociological turnout across the board, the truth is that the same structures that put women in a disadvantage – do the opposite for men. For every woman more qualified for a job, that still doesn’t get it – there is a less qualified man who did. For every better female idea ignored – there is a male one getting the limelight.
This might seem like a very simplistic way of looking at the gender- and power disparity in the tech industry, and it is, but it’s also an important point to understand for anyone wondering why the hell we haven’t gotten further on this issue.
I think it’s about time we start talking about the uncomfortable fact that not everyone wants gender equality – and that even those who do aren’t usually willing to pay any kind of price for it. Until we do this, gender equality within tech is doomed to remain an issue we all say we want – but none of us will ever get.
President, Women in Tech Gothenburg
The blog post is the fourth installment of a blog series on technology and gender equality of Making an Impact with Equality Acts project. The series addresses questions and current debates on technology and gender equality.
The views and opinions expressed in the blogs are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the National Council of Women of Finland.