This article was written by Amina Elahi, A Blue Sky Reporter. The source of the article is The Chicago Tribune Business. The article is a discussion between the reporter and Sandra Kurtzig, the CEO of an enterprise management software company, named Kenandy, about the changing roles of women in the world of business and technology. This industrial sector has traditionally been male dominated. The topic of discussion in this article and indeed, what is going to be explored in this essay is about how women survive in male dominated industries, the challenges they face and how the situation is changing in that women are assuming more powerful roles within this sector.
In the article, Kurtzig, explains how she started her first company, ASK Computer Systems in the year 1972 with 2,000$ from her personal savings. At the time, she was a 25 years old mother of two. After nine years, she became the first woman to be in charge of Silicon Valley tech Company public, something that has led her to be called the “The Mother of Silicon Valley”. Elahi sought to understand what Kurtzig’s inspirations were. According to Kurtzig, she wanted something that could occupy her mind. As a modern woman, she did not desire to be told or directed what to do: instead, she preferred to lead by example. She wanted to show women that they could make personal decisions. She believed that every woman is responsible for making personal choices and decisions in regards to her career and indeed her life. She was considering airing her opinion to support various women empowerment campaigns to encourage them join the tech industry as entrepreneurs. She says, “A successful woman can have a career and a family”, (Elahi). Kurtzig’s assertions are a depiction of the modern woman’s thinking mentality. Gone are the days when men made decisions for women and men them follow their direction. These days, women have assumed more power and responsibility in terms of personal decision making, especially in regards to business. It is therefore not surprising to witness women such as Kurtzig assuming enormous power in the business and technology world. How do women survive in male-dominated industries? Kurtzig believes that education is essential for a successful woman. She does not believe in financing and advising entrepreneurs to drop out of college, for example, the billionaire Bill gates. In addition, she thinks women are better in some business scenarios than men are. For example, diffusing conflicts, and the business approach which women use. Furthermore, she claims, “men are aggressive and go broke more often” (Elahi). She holds the belief that women do not adopt that belief in the business world.
However, I disagree with Kurtzig on her opinion that women can empower themselves in a male dominated industries because they are better in solving some business scenarios better than men are. She says men are aggressive in decision-making and go for broke more often. Women should not try to justify their potential by drawing negatively on male characteristics. For a woman to be successful in the male dominated industry, she needs to show others her values and not emphasizing on the deficiencies of men that a woman can potentially fill. She should be able to show that what a man can do, even a woman can do. I do however agree that
- How can women survive in the male dominated industry?
- How can they challenge the traditional gender norms when it comes to the business and tech world?
A successful women need to make her values known to others. She needs to develop a set of useful skills and identify the skills that are there in abundance that will enable her demonstrate proficiency. This will establish reputation of competence in respect to the concerned parties.
Women should not be afraid to take on roles traditionally reversed for men. They should take initiatives such as high education to acquire the same skill set like those of men and compete with the men at the highest level. They should not be afraid to oppose the men whenever they feel that the men are going wayward. Kurtzig believes that for women to be successful in business and tech, the best way is to utilize the resources available to them. She insists that being the only woman in the house is not a disadvantage; rather, it can help a woman stand out. Kurtzig claims. “If men want to help me be more successful, that’s fine,” she says. “I’ll show them” (Elahi). From this, it emerges that a clear shift is occurring in the business and technology world when it comes to the roles and functions of gender.
Elahi, A. (2014, March 13). A women-in-tech legend is like, 'We're still talking about this?" - Blue Sky Innovation. Retrieved March 15, 2014, from http://bluesky.chicagotribune.com/originals/chi-sandra-kurtzig-women-tech-20140313-bsi,0,0.story