Svenska handelshögskolan

Stereotypes and a masculine culture keep women in the minority in technology


Attempts have been made to increase the number of women in the field of technology for decades. However, the attempts have not been successful: In Finland, only one in five technology professionals is a woman. It is often argued that women lack an innate interest in technology. However, the lack of interest is not the cause but the consequence: the technology industry is structured to be masculine.

Susanna Bairoh’s doctoral thesis The Gender(ed) Gap(s) in STEM: Explaining the persistent underrepresentation of women in STEM careers breaks down the factors that maintain gender differences in the field of technology. According to Bairoh, there are several interconnected reasons behind the persistent differences, the most fundamental of which is the intertwining of mathematical skills and technology with masculinity. In addition, a masculine culture favours men, and stereotypes reinforce perceptions of men’s superior competence. Together, these weaken women’s belief in their skills and chances and reduce interest in the field of technology.

“We talk about one technology career path, but there are actually two. Men and women’s careers appear to be very different. Women’s career path is significantly less attractive: it is rusty and full of various dead ends,” says Bairoh.

The thesis states that the importance of gender in the field of technology can be seen in many ways. The expectations and experiences of men and women differ significantly. However, the mainstream research literature, on the basis of which public discussion takes place, does not take into consideration how the field of technology is constructed as masculine. The significance of masculine culture and stereotypes is either downplayed or not recognised.

“The mainstream research literature wonders why women are not interested in technology. In my thesis, I argue that the real reason for women’s lower interest is the image that is conveyed of the world of technology. The field and career opportunities appear to be different for men and women,” she says.

The author of the thesis believes that the situation cannot be corrected by insisting that women should be more interested in technology. According to Bairoh, the change must start from acknowledging the facts: it is not about innate differences between men and women but about a constructed masculine culture, which is based on the notion that men and technology are connected whereas women and technology are not.

The thesis is attached to this e-mail.

The doctoral defence of Susanna Bairoh takes place on Friday, 12 May at 12:00 EEST at Hanken School of Economics and in Teams. You can join the defence via this link.

Opponent: Heather Hofmeister, Professor (Chair) of Sociology, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt a. M.
Custos: Jeff Hearn

Additional information:

Susanna Bairoh
Telephone: +358 40 775 9118




Hanken School of Economics is a leading, internationally accredited university with over a hundred years of experience in education and research in economics and business administration. The research is of a high standard and constitutes the foundation of all teaching. Hanken has close ties to the business community and an active alumni network with over 13 000 alumni in 65 countries worldwide. 

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