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Rory Donnelly

Research Findings

Women in tech work: Navigating the ‘gender structure’

April 23, 2020

In the UK, only one in six tech professionals are women. In the US, women’s representation is higher at one in four. How do technically-skilled women working in tech think women in their industry are regarded, and how does it affect how they as women behave at work? Qualitative interviews with 57 UK-based female tech professionals from range of organizations suggest that the “gender structure” in tech influences how female tech professionals experience their careers.

A gender structure is an enduring pattern of how men and women relate to each other within a social system. As with any social structure, a gender structure consists of norms that guide behaviour. These norms can be detrimental to how women experience their jobs, and so some push back against them. The gender structure in tech includes a pervasive belief that women are less suited to tech work. Male colleagues communicate this belief in subtle ways, which influence how women behave and think of themselves as women within the industry.

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