When cofounder of Y-Combinator Paul Graham’s interview to The Information was published, it immediately hit the headlines with his statements like “God knows what you would do to get 13 year old girls interested in computers. I would have to stop and think about that” and “We can’t make these women look at the world through hacker eyes and start Facebook because they haven’t been hacking for the past 10 years”. However, it is a fact that there are fewer women taking the plunge into coding.
It’s not that women do not code, the issue is that they do not come out in the open. Today there are numerous websites for women coders ONLY. They have taken up the initiative to encourage them to don their hacking caps and be proud about it.
Initiatives like She++, Lesbians who Tech, Pyladies, Girls who code have been giving a shout out to women who love tech. Although nowhere is it put up that women shouldn’t code, the acceptability has been denied for a long time. Good part is, tables have turned now. There are events and hackathons happening across the globe- many of them specifically for girls.
Recently, we got to meet the organizers of the upcoming Anita Borg Institute Grace Hopper Celebration of women in computing (India) event. It was encouraging as well as overwhelming to see so many tech ladies gathered together to celebrate women technologists. ABI has been built around the belief, as it quotes, “women are vital to building technology that the world needs”.
All of these events, summits and communities aim at extending a hand of kinship to women who love tech. There are plenty of established women technologists who serve as an inspiration. Anita Borg is one of them who did a lot to bring in women to be not just a part of this tech revolution but be an active contributor. Anita Borg’s efforts have been encouraging women technologists to become leaders in their fields as well!
Inspite of so many Initiatives, we see very few women becoming leaders and realizing their full potential. It seems that their career growth gets stalled before they reach the top. While we were trying to figure out why, Chief Operating officer of Facebook Sheryl Sandberg published her “Lean In” – A book that deals with the reasons and causes for this abrupt pause. She also talks about enough solutions that can help women ultimately achieve their potential. Sheryl is listed among the 50 most powerful women in Business and also comes in the list of 100 most influential people in the world. Her TED talk had become phenomenal when she professed that women, unintentionally, pull back. Sheryl motivated women to “sit at the table”, take up the challenge, chase and pursue their goals. Lean In, blended with humour and knowledge, makes a wonderful journey from what women cannot do to what they can do.
An infographic from ABI showcases the association of women with computers from 1840s. For more than a century, women have been a part of this tech revolution.
What we need to do now is, spread the word. A little more enthusiasm, some more motivation and initiatives for women can help us increase the number of technologists. We would conclude by putting up an excerpt from “Why we need women who code” published in elle.com where Adda Birnir, Founder of Skillcrush.com speaks.
How she learned to code:
“I taught myself to code five years ago and found the experience so empowering and amazing (and good for my bottom line) that I created a startup [Skillcrush) to help other professional women learn the digital skills they need”.
On being a woman in the field:
“On one hand it’s amazing! What we lack for in numbers we more than make up for in energy. The communities of women in tech that I have come to know are incredible. So supportive, so excited, so wanting to give back. On the other hand, it can just be plain alienating to be navigating a world and industry where there are so few role models to look up to. You don’t realize how much you value having someone to look up to and model yourself after until you don’t have such a person anymore. That all said, there is a little part of me that loves the challenge of being in such a male dominated field. I think, sometimes, it makes me feel even more like I belong, not because I feel especially welcomed all the time, but because I am like, LOOK, if not me then there really aren’t ANY ladies”.
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