Far from a moot debate, the need not only to encourage more women into IT as a career, but also to ensure that the tech environment in general is more accepting of women in the field, is even more relevant today. In the USA, estimates place the percentage of tech jobs occupied by women at about 25%. While many of the hurdles have been minimized or even overcome in certain parts of the world, there is still much more work to be done to challenge the so-called “brogrammer culture”, and this is certainly true of Latin America as a region.
In a special panel session focused on women in IT in Latin America, ThoughtWorks CTO Dr Rebecca Parsons, Ilana Milkes, Founder of WorldTechMakers, and Viviana Perez, Recruitment Specialist at ThoughtWorks Ecuador, discuss the realities of being a woman in IT, how Latin America is addressing the need to encourage more women to enter into IT, and the challenges involved in making it happen.
The panel discusses their experience of women in IT in Latin America and highlight the cultural aspects that make change so difficult. “There is an increasing interest from women in terms of entering IT, but it is still pretty low,” Milkes said. “It is really hard to convince a woman in places like Colombia and Chile that she can become something other than what society has decided what she should become.”
The perceived conflict between family and career is also addressed and Parsons emphasized the need to provide family-friendly environments in tech companies for women and men, to avoid negative associations with women-only initiatives and to encourage fathers to participate in family life in the same way.
In parts of Latin America, government and private initiatives to encourage and empower women to enter the field are increasing, but true change and the realization of an ideal and equal environment will take more time.