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Help Wanted: Women in High Tech

The computer industry is a field that offers high paying and influencial work, but it is mostly men who make the big bucks and make decisions. Women are underrepresented in almost all information technology categories. The exception is data entry, one of the lowest-paid fields. Here, women make up 84 percent of the work force. By comparison, women make up 44 percent of all US employees, 28 percent of computer systems analysts and scientists, and only 8 percent of electrical engineers.

A few of the reasons women avoid or choose to leave the more lucrative areas of the high tech industry are the lack of support and respect for women, the discrimination in promotion, the isolation, and the long hours that make balancing the demands of career and family difficult.

But the US economy needs more qualified information techs, so discrimination at the structural level no longer serves the industry. In order to fill 346,000 positions in information technology, Congress and corporations are now taking measures to recruit women into the traditionally male-dominated industry of technology, math, science, and engineering. In September 1998, Congress created the Commission on the Advancement of Women and Minorities in Science, Engineering and Technology Development with the intent of bringing in women and minorities to these fields.

Companies have begun making the work place more attractive to women by offering a variety of incentives such as flexible work schedules, extended parental leave, on-site day care, and telecommuting, making it easier for women to combine a family and a career. There are also conferences for women in technology, mentoring programs, and incentives to diversify the work place.

Some say that attitudes towards women in technological fields are quickly adapting as the work environment changes in order to attract women. It is frustrating the industry makes these changes only when doing so is convenient and profitable. But by the same token, this is an encouraging and exciting time for women who are given opportunities. (source: Sun-Sentinel, 4/14)

U.S. to Blame for Suffering of Afghani Women

The U.S. is largely to blame for the extreme oppression of Afghani women, according to activists with the Women’s Alliance for Peace and Human Rights in Afghanistan and various other groups who spoke in Baltimore at the Feminist Expo 2000. It was the US action that brought the ruling Taliban to power, and the Taliban could be removed if the U.S. and the U.N. had the will to do so.

The U.S. supported the fundamentalist rebels during the Soviet occupation of Afganistan. The CIA helped the rebels by providing them with cash, arms, food, and medicine. When the Soviets ended their occupation in 1989, the U.S. lost interest, and abandoned the people of Afghanistan. The woman-hating fundamentalists seized control of most of the country, while the U.S. looked the other way.

As a result, Afghani women now live under a system of oppression that is beyond endurance. Women, because they are women, are under virtual house arrest, prohibited from leaving their homes unless they're accompanied by a male relative.When women do go outside, they must be covered from head to toe with a shroud with only a small piece of mesh over the eyes. They are beaten when accused of having shown an ankle. They lack health care because male doctors are forbidden from treating women patients. Girls have been forbidden formal schooling. Most women are not allowed to make money outside of begging and prostitution.

Last year, a U.S, activist traveled to Kabul where, escorted by the Taliban, she visited classrooms, filled only with boys. The escort asked one of the boys if there were any differences between men and women. This boy responded, “Women have 9 million brain cells, and men have 15 million brain cells.” When asked how he knew this, the boy repeated what he had been taught. “Physics proved it,” he said. (source: Contra Costa Times, 4/16)

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