As technology continues to integrate deeper into the fabric of our lives, coding is an ever-important skill in the workforce. Despite the ongoing rise in computing over the past few decades and our increasing reliance on technology, the tech industry is still male-dominated.
A Stanford study that looked at over 75 recruiting sessions held by over 60 tech corporations found obvious ways recruiters were alienating females, including sexist jokes and presentations with slides that only showed men. It’s not that women aren’t interested in computer science, but that gender stereotypes about the tech industry have been perpetuated, and women are less encouraged to learn code. However, several groups are working to change the tech industry around by helping girls see themselves in this important field. Here are four ways they’re doing that.
1. Games That Appeal to Girls
Kimberly Bryant, the founder of the group Black Girls Code, says that gaming is a “core pillar” of the group. She says that games incorporate all the aspects of coding needed to be a computer scientist, such as design, computational skills, and math. She encourages the use of gaming platforms and languages designed to teach coding, as engaging with technology in a recreational way is a fun “gateway” into the field. Many video games today are created by men and perpetuate gender stereotypes, but women who love gaming may be inspired to turn this around by learning to code games.
2. Women’s Coding Groups & After-School Clubs
There’s power in numbers, and getting together is crucial for females in a male-dominated field. Some amazing groups have been formed for women, including Girls Who Code. Any school can open a chapter of the Girls Who Code Club, which teaches girls code after school. This is a great way to get girls to learn code, as many kids assume tech clubs are for boys. When girls hear it’s a girls-only club, it revolutionizes the way they think about tech as a career field.
3. Female Coding School
Women no longer need to be concerned about being the only female in the room if they want an education in programming. Increasingly, all-female coding schools are popping up, such as ADA Developers Academy and Hackbright Academy. Going to an all-women’s school may be a lot more appealing to women than representing a small percentage of a predominantly male population at a mixed-gender tech school.
4. Female Role Models in Computer Science
A key factor behind small numbers of women in computer science and engineering is the lack of role models and perpetuation of old stereotypes about men and technology. Society still views computer scientists as male geeks with impaired social skills. Girls today need to separate programming from the idea of what a programmer looks like, and there’s no better way than to expose them to female programmers. If they don’t see someone who looks like them in the field, they’re less likely to see themselves in it.
Girls should also learn from successful female technologists about the impact computer programmers can make in the real world, such as bringing cutting-edge technology to people’s favorite devices like smartphones and tablets, and developing faster mobile processors that can support technology growth as we’ve never seen before.
Making a Change
Getting more women into the field of computer science and engineering requires a psychological shift in both men and women. The more women get into programming, the sooner it will have a snowball effect and normalize the idea of women working in the tech industry.