- Microsoft’s gender gap narrows (but just a little)
- Here’s the real reason there are not more women in technology
- Ebay hosts its first women leader’s conference
- Readify: Diversity of Thought
- Emma Watson HeForShe Speech at the United Nations
- Australian women desert technology courses, as tertiary IT enrolments fall
- Episode 576: When Women Stopped Coding. What happened in 1984?
Over 50% of senior positions at readify are held by women. This is exceptional and progressive.
Industry wide, the story of women in technology is stark and it’s getting worse. Enrolments in Australian tertiary information technology courses have been falling as female students recoil from the sector’s masculine reputation.
Three times more Australian female tertiary students were studying IT in 2001 than last year.
According to research by Penn Schoen and Berland (2012), 63% of female teens have never considered a career in engineering. In another research study by Girl Scouts of America, only 13% of female teens say a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) related career would be their first choice. PSB found that 74% of teens that considered engineering did so only after being explained the economic benefits and impact they can have on the world.
Women are reluctant to dive into a career in technology.
Recently it was reported that Google retains 17% of women on staff, Facebook & Yahoo 15%, Salesforce & Apple 20% and finally eBay 24%.
Let’s be frank, the numbers on women in information technology are shocking. If information is power, then engaging with Information Technology is fundamental to equal rights.
I’m not a huge fan of the HeForShe campaign launched by Emma Watson recently. It’s not the sort of thing that helps me address my issues with mindlessly increasing GDP and the Hard vs Soft Skill Economy.
The HeForShe campaign isn’t exactly something I’d share with my parents generation. My mum doesn’t need men to stand up for her, she needs a fat pay cheque for her unpaid hard work. She needs a society that financially values skills like breast feeding and story telling. Without these soft skills there would be no hard skills.
But the HeForShe campaign is doing something right. It’s got people talking. My colleague Filip Ekberg recently bought a bunch of HeForShe shirts for the guys at work and the question was raise: How do we make further progress in the field of recruiting women into IT?
Why is this so important?
It’s important because without women we will struggle to break the glass ceiling and build useful solutions for everyone.
I regularly ask my girl ‘friends’ whether or not they’d like to pick up a career in IT. Invariable I get the same 3 responses.
- “It sounds interesting but to be honest I don’t think I’d be that good at it.”
- “Honestly, that doesn’t sound like an interesting career. Flicking switches? I’ll leave that to people like you.”
- “Not for me. I’m more creative and open minded. I don’t suit tunnel thinking.”
I nod my head, smile and walk away. Confused.
Working in IT is one of the most creative, open minded, communication focused, people oriented, progressive, no-physical-combat, cerebral and soft skilled professions on the planet.
Information Technology is equally suitable for both men and women.
If you want equal power for men and women then we need to find new ways to address the lack of women in information management. Information management is not just a skill for which you get paid. Information management is access to knowledge and power. Software development shapes the future.
So what can we do to change things?
We need the female-equivalent of Mark Zuckerburg.
We need to promote female colleagues with a strong voices; bloggers, presenters, user group leaders. We need tech break out spaces and incubators that are female friendly. Less kegs more flowers.
Do you know a girl in tech that blogs?
I’ve been hunting for some real world examples of success.
“70% of the business leaders believed that educational about technical fields starts in childhood. 80% believe that we need to do more in high school and college to guide more women into technical careers”
This makes it clear that this issue is not just a ‘men doing bad recruitment’ problem. Addressing this at home, in the family and throughout education is a good start.
“60% of the leaders believed women need a good mentor.”
Follow in the ground breaking steps of Ebay. In 2011 they setup their first ‘women leaders conference’. They invited over 200 women across their organisation to meet for three days and get to know one another. Now they are leading the IT world in retaining female staff.
“Having our top 200 women leaders worldwide together in the same room for three days is powerful. the chance to get to know each other better, share insights, deepen existing relationships and create new ones is incredibly important and exciting.”
Women who code
Women who code is 16,000+ Women Developers in over 14 Countries hosting user group events on hard core technology and exploration.
If you’re around Sydney in November get along to their excellent Learn Functional Programming with Scala workshop at Thoughtworks.
Anita Borg Institute
The Anita Borg institute is a social enterprise founded on the belief that women are vital to building technology that the world needs.. They envision a future where the people who imagine and build technology mirror the people and societies they build it for.
They promote the Grace Hopper Celebration Award, coordinate the World’s Largest Gathering of Women Technologists, and spotlight example success stories.
Coding in primary school
The UK has picked up a new campaign to encourage digital literacy from a young age.
In just under a year, England will become the first country in the world to mandate computer programming in primary and secondary schools. Children will start learning to write code when they enter school the age of five, and will not stop until at least 16, when they finish their GCSEs.
Perhaps this sort of young tech training will shift perception.