You Code Girl!
Illustration by Clem Watson
During WWII the United States needed women in the workforce like it never had before. It was not for altruistic reasons but a decision born out of necessity. It was the era of conscription and men were off to war and the jobs held by these men were vacant. The machine that churned industry was in danger of coming to a standstill but the novel idea of using women in these vacancies was a game changer. For the first time, women found validation and financial independence for the abilities they had always possessed but were limited to explore under the restrain of societal norms. There was no turning back and the battle for equality in the workforce needed no conscription to sign up women who were ready for economic freedom and intellectual stimuli.
Stats Show a Decline of Women in Tech
Surprisingly though, in 2017, we find some sobering facts about the gender gap in the workforce, especially the Technology industry. In late 2016, new research from Accenture and Girls Who Code found that “women in the U.S. computing workforce will shrink in the next 10 years unless we take action now” and computing ‘skills shortage will damage the economy’. The survey was a call to action especially for these 2 agencies who are committed to address this disparity and are encouraging all of us as teachers, employers and citizens to join in the fight.
Their ‘Cracking the Gender Code’ research also identified key strategies that will help towards their goal to increase female participation.
- Spark interest in Junior High
- Sustain engagement in High School
- Inspire a career after College
Sparking a person’s interest is no easy feat and since there is no exact science a multi-faceted approach might be necessary. What we can infer, however, is that enforcing positive images can be helpful which is why Hollywood has recently tried to reach young girls with movies such as ‘Hidden Figures’ and ‘The Imitation Game’. Knowing that women have played a prominent role and continue to play one in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) can be a powerful motivator for some young women. Other women may however respond to a personal mentor or teacher who can sustain their interest in STEM.
On a personal level, a female mentor and my own curiosity took me down the coding path and finding other women in the industry and knowing their story and successes’ has been inspirational. Twitter accounts of the following have helped towards keeping me in the loop and part of the tech community:-
So wherever and whenever you find your inspiration, keep in mind, a career in technology can lead to high paying salaries; the flexibility to work from home; open travel opportunities or even starting your own gig. Find what motivates you and get ready for battle!