It’s no secret that the tech industry is dominated by men and overrun by a masculine bro culture. According to a 2020 report from the National Center for Women & Information Technology, women only make up 28% of the tech industry workforce. That number has grown in recent years, but the industry remains dominated by men. Equally, women are paid less than men doing the same job in the industry. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2020, women in computer and mathematical occupations earn, on average, about 82% of what men earn in those same occupations. All of this is to say that the gender gap is still a problem across all industries and the tech industry is on that list.
In order to close the gender gap in tech, we need creative interventions and a fuller understanding of the situation at hand. Fortunately, tech is an industry that seems more conscious and committed to addressing gender inequality. And luckily, the tech industry is not short of information and ideas on how to close the gender gap.
We have five books that we’d recommend for both men and women who are interested in creatively addressing the gender gap in tech. These texts will help readers better understand what we mean when we say “closing the gender gap” and aid folks in identifying concrete steps that the industry can take in order to alleviate the problem.
1. "Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men" by Caroline Criado Perez
"Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men" by Caroline Criado Perez is a groundbreaking and illuminating book that exposes the systemic gender bias that exists in the collection and interpretation of data, and its impact on women's lives. Drawing on extensive research and a wide range of case studies, Perez reveals how data bias affects everything from medical research and transportation design to workplace policies and urban planning.
One of the strengths of the book is its ability to make complex statistical concepts accessible and engaging, while highlighting the ways in which they can perpetuate gender inequality. Perez presents a wealth of evidence to demonstrate how the exclusion of women's experiences and perspectives from data collection and analysis leads to a "default male" approach to policy and design, which can have serious and far-reaching consequences for women's health, safety, and economic opportunities.
The text forces readers to consider potential interventions that could happen on an individual or policy level. Perez emphasizes the importance of collecting sex-disaggregated data, integrating a gender perspective in research and design, and increasing the representation of women in decision-making positions. She challenges readers to critically examine the ways in which data shapes their understanding of the world and to take concrete steps to ensure that women's experiences and perspectives are fully recognized and valued in all aspects of society. The book is an urgent call to action to policymakers, researchers, and all who are concerned about closing the gender gap.
2. "Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys' Club of Silicon Valley" by Emily Chang
Silicon Valley is often seen as a bastion of innovation and progress, but it has a troubling history when it comes to gender equality. In "Brotopia," Emily Chang explores the gender dynamics in the tech industry and how they have led to a culture that is hostile to women. She also profiles women who are working to change this culture and offers ideas for how to make the industry more inclusive.
The text does an amazing job humanizing the often faceless and monolithic tech industry. Through providing vivid and compelling accounts of the experiences of women and marginalized groups in the field, readers truly get a sense of what it’s like to be on the inside of the industry. The book offers a complete analysis of the sector through providing historical context to the industry's gender imbalance, tracing its roots back to the early days of computing and the male-dominated culture that developed around it.
"Brotopia" leaves readers with concrete recommendations for how the industry can change. Chang suggests increasing diversity and inclusion efforts, implementing transparent and fair hiring practices, and creating safe and supportive workplace cultures. The book also challenges readers to examine their own biases and assumptions about gender and technology and to take action to promote gender equality in their own spheres of influence. It’s an eye opening read that anyone interested in disrupting the gender gap in tech should be versed in.
3. "Women of Color in Tech: A Blueprint for Inspiring and Mentoring the Next Generation of Technology Innovators" by Susanne Tedrick
Susanne Tedrick’s "Women of Color in Tech: A Blueprint for Inspiring and Mentoring the Next Generation of Technology Innovators" is a must read for anyone interested in addressing inequality in the tech industry. The book highlights Tedrick’s experience as a Black woman in tech. Tedrick also interviews other women of color in the field in order to provide a complete picture of the obstacles that women of color face while navigating a white masculine industry.
"Women of Color in Tech'' offers readers clear recommendations for how to foster diversity and inclusion in tech workplaces. Tedrick is a proponent of implementing unconscious bias training, creating mentorship programs, and promoting inclusive hiring practices. The book also emphasizes the importance of community-building and networking, and offers guidance on how to find and build supportive communities in the tech industry.
Overall, "Women of Color in Tech" is an essential resource for anyone seeking to promote diversity and inclusion in tech and to support the success of women of color in the field. The text is a powerful call to action for the tech industry to embrace the talents and perspectives of women of color and to create a more equitable and inclusive future.
4. "Geek Girl Rising: Inside the Sisterhood Shaking Up Tech" by Heather Cabot and Samantha Walravens
"Geek Girl Rising: Inside the Sisterhood Shaking Up Tech" by Heather Cabot and Samantha Walravens is an inspiring and empowering book that profiles women who are driving change and creating a more inclusive and diverse tech industry. The text draws on interviews with a diverse range of women in tech in order to provide a comprehensive and engaging look at the challenges and opportunities facing women in the field.
The book is important because it not only focuses on the experiences of women who are breaking through the glass ceiling in tech, but also showcases the ways in which many women are using their knowledge and influence to carve out their own spaces in the tech industry. From entrepreneurs and venture capitalists to activists and advocates, the “Geek Girl Rising” profiles a wide range of women who are driving innovation and promoting diversity and inclusion in tech.
Cabot and Walravens offer tangible examples of what it looks like to address the gender gap in tech. They suggest investing in education and training programs, promoting inclusive hiring practices, and fostering supportive workplace cultures. The book also emphasizes the importance of mentorship and community-building and offers guidance on how to find and build supportive networks in the tech industry. It’s a must-read for folks looking to expand their understanding of the gender gap in tech and committed to transforming the future of the sector.
5. "Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change" by Ellen Pao
Ellen Pao’s "Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change" is a compelling and thought-provoking memoir that chronicles the author's experiences as a woman of color in an industry dominated by white men. Through her personal story, Pao provides a sharp critique of the industry's culture of sexism and racism and offers insights and strategies for creating a more inclusive and equitable tech industry.
The text outlines the challenges, including the pervasive discrimination and harassment that Pao and other women of color in the industry experienced. Pao offers an honest, nuanced and thoughtful analysis of the cultural and structural factors that perpetuate gender and racial disparities in tech. Her writing also provides examples of how the industry can work towards more inclusive and equitable practices. She emphasizes the importance of mentorship and community-building, and offers guidance on how to find and build supportive networks in the tech industry.
"Reset" offers a powerful call to action for individuals and organizations to take responsibility for creating change in the tech industry. Pao's own experiences as a whistleblower and activist demonstrate the importance of speaking up and taking action to promote inclusion and diversity in tech. It’s a powerful memoir and a must-read for folks interested in tackling racism and sexism in the tech industry.
Getting informed and closing the gender gap in tech
In all, the gender gap in the tech industry is a complex problem that requires a multifaceted solution. Reading books that explore the issue can help both men and women understand the extent of the problem and identify potential solutions.
These five books are an amazing place to start for anyone interested in disrupting the gender gap in tech, promoting diversity and inclusion in the sector, or simply looking to better understand how sexism plays a role in the industry. Equally, these texts offer inspiration and guidance for folks looking to critique the industry's culture and practices and are a roadmap for creating lasting change in the industry. The task at hand is big, but these books will help us in the struggle to shape a more inclusive tech industry.