We live in a world where women are underrepresented in STEM. Where STEM is a male dominated field leaving women 45% more likely to leave the tech field than men. Where women make up half of the total U.S. college-educated workforce, but only 28% of the science and engineering workforce. Where only 25.5% of computer and mathematical occupations were represented by women in 2017.
And In this kind of social climate, it’s easy to grow up thinking that women don’t get involved in tech, or science or medicine or engineering, because who among us really has? Ada Lovelace, known as the creator of the first ever computer program, greatly influenced Alan Turing’s work in 1940’s on the first legit computers by publishing her own notes on prototype- notes that included a specific algorithm that, using punch cards, could likely teach the engine how to calculate a specific sequence of signed rational numbers known as the Bernoulli numbers. So it is obvious that there is nothing in our biology that would prevent us from coding and we even pioneered the coding field in the first place.
Then why don’t (most) women code?
The main reason why most women don’t code can be seen as a pipeline problem. The solutions would be proposed as creating equal learning opportunities in STEM and increasing the female representation in Tech. Many organizations such as Girls Who Code, RailsBridge, TechGirlz and others are working towards these solutions. However, the problem is more complex than that.
Information and communications technology field is largely dominated by men and enrollments of females in ICT programs are way below compared with men. Research done at Harvard shows that even when women get employed in ICT, they don’t stay there for a long period of time. Women want to code and they certainly can. On the other hand, they do not want to face sexism or misogyny in the workplace.
Four years ago on March 18th, there was a very interesting and popular article on newspapers with a title “ Microsoft threw a party at a local club that featured half-naked dancing girls on raised platforms.” Just hours after hosting its annual “Women in Gaming” luncheon at the 2016 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, Microsoft threw a very controversial party at a local club which highlights that even companies that have worked to support women in tech still lose their way sometimes.
So What Actions Can We Take to Change the Game? We can start by researching and changing our perspective about the women in STEM fields. We can then work towards creating solutions that will encourage more female engagement in both education and workforce. We can also contribute towards encouraging female representation in STEM. Enrolling into coding programs and bootcamps to educate ourselves could be a good step too.
What do they say?
Let’s be the change we want to see.