Star Wars: Not Yet a Galaxy of Equal Opportunity

In November 2016, NASA shared this short video as a tribute from the Star Wars cast to honor the women at NASA: “Engineers, aviators, research scientists, astronauts and more are making a future possible for humanity in a galaxy far, far away.”

This is ironic in light of what followed in the Star Wars franchise.

In December 2016, the Star Wars film Rogue One was released with a female hero at the center of the film, and there were a few female fliers among the rebels. But the roles of scientists and engineers were all held by men. The protagonist’s father was the chief scientist leading a team of male engineers.

Even if the film makers didn’t want to go so far as to make the protagonist’s mother the scientist, they could have at least included some female representation in the engineering group.

Clearly, gender equality in films still has a long way to go. But the good news is that in real life—in our own galaxy—women are doing better than they are in the Empire with respect to careers in tech.

However, full parity with men is still elusive at some companies, as highlighted in Glassdoor’s employee reviews. Based on the comments included, Microsoft still has a way to go, but women are doing well at IBM.

My main criticism is that it is not a company that values women in the workplace. I have not observed women getting promoted, and women from technical fields are rarely being hired. Teams remain disproportionately male.”  Microsoft Employee

IBM is a great place for women to work. There is a lot of work-life balance, which is invaluable to working parents.”  IBM Communications Manager

The Glassdoor assessment of IBM jibes with the company’s claim about diversity. In January 2017, IBM’s chief diversity officer, Lindsay-Rae McIntyre, issued a statement about the company’s new logo, which replaced the iconic blue letters with rainbow-colored ones.

While highlighting IBM commitment to diversity in general, she pointed out that the company has been committed to equal pay for women since the 1930s. That’s an inspiring tradition for any company—especially for one in the technology industry.


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