Guest post by Alice Kemp-Habib from We Got Coders.
Less than 14% of the STEM workforce is female, according to statistics from Women in to Science and Engineering (WISE) 2013, showing just how underrepresented women are in the tech industry. Several reasons have been cited for this.
Many suggest that the male dominance of the tech industry is off-putting for women. This implies that already existing underrepresentation spurs further underrepresentation. Coupled with the theory that male bosses are more likely to employ men, an unfortunate cycle develops; fewer women put themselves forward and those who do are less likely to be employed.
The portrayal of tech careers favours men with the archetypal coder being an ultra-intelligent, white male. All you have to do is Google search ‘engineer’ to see that of the top 17 results visible, just two depict women and none include black or minority ethnic groups.
Gender socialisation tells girls from a young age that tech is not for them. A lack of female role models is another frequently asserted explanation. This is particularly ironic when English mathematician, writer and (wait for it) …woman, Ada Lovelace, is widely believed to be the world’s first computer programmer.
We Got Coders is the UK’s only residential web-development training programme, teaching trainees how to code and then mentor them as they enter the working world post-training.
We repeatedly find ourselves discussing the gender imbalance in tech and after becoming frustrated by a lack of female applicants have launched a new initiative – free training for women. We want to increase the representation of women in our cohort.
Other coding boot camps offer small discounts to women. However, we take the issue seriously and want to do all we can to encourage women to enter the industry. By training and placing more women, the percentage of women in STEM will inevitably increase.
Dan Garland, founder of We Got Coders, said, “Women are just as capable as men of pursuing careers in the tech sector – but something, whether socialisation or otherwise, means they are not doing so.
“At We Got Coders we value equality and want to challenge this underrepresentation. We believe women have a valuable contribution to make to this industry and that the industry will be lacking until the number of women in STEM increases.”
This too is true, while women are missing out on exciting potential careers in science, technology, engineering and maths; the industry itself is negatively affected by the gender gap.
Underrepresentation means that women’s unique experiences and approaches to problem solving are deficient in the STEM sector and that the products created may not effectively cater to all consumers.
Expense is not what’s deterring women from the industry, we know that, however given the barriers outlined above (and many, many more that have not been discussed here) it is evident that more needs to be done to attract women to the sector. Who doesn’t like free stuff?!
If you or someone you know would benefit from this free training contact firstname.lastname@example.org – we’d love to hear from you!