Social Tech Brewing: Hong Zhu

Hong Zhu shared some results of her research into the ways that women
from non-traditional backgrounds enter the IT sector. Most of the
women in the study had no children or had grown-up children. On
average, women earned only 85% of the salary of men doing comparable
work.

She spoke of the need to encourage more women to go into math- and
science-intensive programs in education because women usually lack
this background in high school and college, which makes it harder for
them to get into IT.

Hong described a few of the challenges women deal with at work. Even
among women who have prepared well, many of them don’t feel
comfortable in the “boys’ club.” Traditional IT men tend to compete to
be “as incomprehensible as possible.” Another challenge facing women
and technology is the balance between family and work. If they get
into a high-speed track, they can find it hard to keep that balance.
Hong shared an interesting observation: women often find that the long
hours aren’t really necessary, but men enjoy lingering around the
workplace. Women also struggle with different standards for success.
While men are expected to be good providers, the modern woman is
expected to be both a good careerwoman and a good wife.

She recommended more women-friendly curricula that provide stronger
technical backgrounds and, more importantly, promote gender equity.

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