The changing nature of careers for young women

girls in tech

Does what young girls like to do now shape how they are thinking about a future career? How? Here’s our perspective: many of today’s young girls have the tools and opportunities to do great things as they grow up. Education is getting more interactive. There’s a lot more learning of different types available online. And many streams are taught using play and hands-on learning methodologies. Regardless of gender, today’s kids are deeply excited by gaming and online avatars.

Often, for parents and loved ones in the life of a child, the amount of time kids spend online watching shows and playing games can feel concerning. It helps to look at their love of “play” differently. Think about how it might translate to opportunities for work. A key message to the parents of tomorrow’s young women from us in the Women in Tech Tribe is that the nature of careers for women is changing. And we need to think far ahead to prepare our 6-16 year olds for the workplace of the future.

In a previous article, we put a spotlight on careers in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) for young girls from 6-16. We focused on opportunities that go beyond the seemingly obvious streams like game design. Some of the exciting possibilities highlighted:

  1. Product design
  2. User experience and customer experience design
  3. Sound and video engineering
  4. Urban planning
  5. Agricultural/Environmental planning

(Note: if you’d like to read the full article, you’ll find it here)

Taking a look at the changing landscape of women in the workplace, even as it stands now in 2022, can give us clues for how quickly developments are occurring as it relates to career opportunities for our daughters, grand-daughters, and nieces.

A focus on gender-equity

For example, women-led companies are seeing a larger number of investors. Women now make up 28% of all entrepreneurs in Canada, and their numbers are rising much faster than men (since 1976!). (Source: BDC Study) Women-led companies, as well as firms with a large percentage of women in leadership positions tend to have increased their investors and investments considerably.

The ability to use technology as a strong asset

According to a McKinsey Global Institute report, “In the automation age, women face new challenges overlaid on long-established ones. Technology adoption could displace millions from their jobs; many others will need to change the way they work. Globally, 40 million to 160 million women may need to transition between occupations by 2030, often into higher-skilled roles. If they make these transitions, women could find more productive, better paid work; if they don’t, they could face a growing wage gap or leaving the labor market. Men and women need to be skilled, mobile, and tech-savvy in the automation age, but women face pervasive barriers. Concerted and creative new solutions are needed to enable women to move forward.”

The report goes on to say that: Long-established barriers will make it harder for women to make transitions. They have less time to reskill or search for employment because they spend much more time than men on unpaid care work; are less mobile due to physical safety, infrastructure, and legal challenges; and have lower access to digital technology and participation in STEM fields than men. Source: The future of women at work: Transitions in the age of automation

Reframing motherhood for the next generation of women

Speaking of women spending more time than men on “unpaid care work”, let’s talk about motherhood. Motherhood has largely been treated like a penalty in the workplace. Having children has long been considered a barrier for women that want to advance in their careers. Nehal El-Hadi, a Toronto-based writer and researcher talks about how through a lack of social policy, women “are penalized for having children.” Some of the policies that she advocates for include comprehensive childcare and flexible work options like working from home. (Source: MaRS) This is a phenomenon that has been greatly normalized by the pandemic. By the time the tweens and teens of today are in the workplace, there is potential for employers to make commitments to flexible scheduling and more inclusiveness as table stakes.

It’s no secret that we at the Women in Tech Tribe are huge believers in the power that lies at the intersection of STEM and the arts ie: STEAM education. The opportunities here are exciting. And we will remain advocates for more young women to discover their potential here.

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