Coding, like many other science and tech-based careers, are predominantly done by men. So, where are all our female coders? Unfortunately, the number of women in computer science seems to be decreasing. In fact, in the 1980s, 37% of computer science majors were women. Compare that to 2015, when that number was down to 18%. One would think that with the rapidly changing tech market, more and more opportunities would open up for women to put their mark on the world through technology. However, the opposite seems to be true. The real question is why?
3 Reasons Women Don't Have Tech-Related Careers
- Lack of Coding Role Models: Many of us choose careers because of the people around us. Maybe you became a nurse because your grandmother was one. Or, you saw some strong female journalists on television and that spoke to you. If there aren’t many women in coding, it is difficult to become inspired. Girls see few examples of how coding could fit into their lives, so it doesn’t even cross their minds as an option.
- Lack of Inspiration: No one likes the feeling of trying something new, especially in a field with very few women...unless we’re inspired by it. We put effort into things that inspire us. Most women don’t push through the fear of failure to try coding because they are uninspired by it. Since many do not understand the endless opportunities coding brings, the inspiration never grows.
- The Culture of Coding: The few women who do decide to enter the computer science world are often faced with sexism and unconscious bias (not to mention the stories that hit the news of badly behaving execs and pay discrimination). Many of those women do not last long in the field.
“Coding is the language of the future, and every girl should learn it. As I've learned from watching girls grow and learn in our classrooms, coding is fun, collaborative and creative.” - Reshma Saujani
How to Get Girls Fired Up About Coding
So, how can we acknowledge the flaws in the culture of coding, while informing girls of the importance and staying power of a career in coding?
- Help them become inspired: Children can be vocal and passionate about the causes that matter to them. Why not embrace that and help your daughter use coding to solve real-world problems?
- Find examples of rockstar coding women: Throughout history there have been inspirational women who worked in computer science. For example, Margaret Hamilton was the director of software engineering for the project that wrote the code for the Apollo Guide Computer. Or, Ada Lovelace (daughter of British poet Lord Byron), who was once called the “enchantress of numbers”.
- Find organizations that believe in the power of gender parity: A study by Harvard on cognitive diversity showed when women are added to a room, the collective IQ of the room increases. Hatch Coding is an organization that embraces the skills all people bring to the table. Not only is that reflected in their programs, but in their hiring practices as well.
Hatch Coding is passionate about all children learning to read and write code. There are so many benefits and life lessons that can be learned through coding, which is now being called the “new literacy”.
All Kids Can Embrace Coding