In the 1960s women made up about 50 of all computer programmers, so what happened?
Since her 20-year-old daughter told her she was dropping her computer science major in college, Robin Hauser Reynolds has made it her mission to understand why the coding industry can be so unwelcoming to women.
Why is it that while 37% of U.S. college computer science grads in 1985 were women, today only 17% are?
Reynolds has talked to women coders, historians, neuroscientists, psychologists, and people working inside some of the biggest tech companies in Silicon Valley, looking for answers. The result is a documentary film, CODE, that recently raised more than $86,000 through an Indiegogo campaign.
Reynolds and the films coproducer, Staci Hartman, who also has a daughter in her 20s working in the tech industry, were driven by more than just personal connections. As they started investigating, the data they came across suggested this was more than just a women’s issue.
The figure to convince them: the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ projection that by 2020, there will be 1.4 million computer science jobs and only 400,000 computer scientists to fill them. “That’s a million unfilled jobs,” says Reynolds.
Why aren’t women getting more involved in an industry where the need and growth potential is so great?
Showing 205 posts tagged women
Karen Landis, Killer Apps In The Gigabit Age
3 of the 25 featured from left to right:
- Malala Yousafzai, 17 (youngest Nobel Peace Price recipient)
- Ciara Judge, 16, Émer Hickey, 17, and Sophie Healy-Thow, 17 (Google Science Fair winners)
- Mo’ne Davis, 13 (pitched shutout in Little League World Series)
Via A Mighty Girl:
Professional hacker Parisa Tabriz is responsible for keeping the nearly billion users of Google Chrome safe by finding vulnerabilities in their system before malicious hackers do. Tabriz, a “white hat” hacker who calls herself Google’s “Security Princess”, is head of the company’s information security engineering team. The 31-year-old Polish-Iranian-American is also an anomaly in Silicon Valley according to a recent profile in The Telegraph: “Not only is she a woman – a gender hugely under-represented in the booming tech industry – but she is a boss heading up a mostly male team of 30 experts in the US and Europe.”
Tabriz came up with “Security Princess” while at a conference and the unusual title is printed on her business card. “I knew I’d have to hand out my card and I thought Information Security Engineer sounded so boring,” she says. “Guys in the industry all take it so seriously, so security princess felt suitably whimsical.” Her curiosity, mischievousness, and innovative thinking are all assets in her business: a high-profile company like Google is constantly in the crosshairs of so-called “black hat” hackers.
Tabriz came into internet security almost by accident; at the University of Illinois’ computer engineering program, her interest was first whetted by the story of early hacker John Draper, who became known as Captain Crunch in the 1960s after he learned how to make free long-distance calls using a toy whistle from a Cap’n Crunch cereal box. She realized that, to beat the hackers of today, she had to be prepared for similar — but more advanced — out-of-the-box thinking.
While women at still very under-represented in the tech industry — Google recently reported that only 30% of its staff is female — Tabriz has hope for the future: “[F]ifty years ago there were similar percentages of women in medicine and law, now thankfully that’s shifted.” And, while she hasn’t encountered overt sexism at Google, when she was offered the position, at least one classmate said, “you know you only got it cos you’re a girl.” To help address this imbalance, she mentors under-16 students at a yearly computer science conference that teaches kids how to “hack for good” — and she especially encourages girls to pursue internet security work. One 16-year-old who attended, Trinity Nordstrom, says, “Parisa is a good role model, because of her I’d like to be a hacker.”
Tabriz, who was named by Forbes as one of the “top 30 under 30 to watch” in 2012, also wants the public to realize that hacking can be used for positive ends. “[H]acking can be ugly,” she says. “The guy who published the private photos of those celebrities online made headlines everywhere. What he did was not only a violation of these women but it was criminal, and as a hacker I was very saddened by it. I feel like we, the hackers, need better PR to show we’re not all like that… [A]fter all I’m in the business of protecting people.”
To read more about Google’s “Security Princess” in The Telegraph, visit http://bit.ly/Z6Z5RG
The first step is, throw out the hoodie-wearing boy-genius and build a new archetype.
Anyone looking to support women suffering from harassment online has a surprisingly simple place to start, says Anita Sarkeesian, founder of the web video series Feminist Frequency. “One of the most radical things you can do is to actually believe women when they talk about their experiences,” Sarkeesian told the audience today at XOXO Festival in Portland. It’s radical in part because of misinformation campaigns organized against high-profile women that accuse them of making up the threats against them — and it’s an issue that Sarkeesian has recent experience dealing with.
Female students, for example, are poorly represented in science, technology, engineering, and math courses offered online, just as they are scarce in STEM classes conducted in physical classrooms. Demographic analyses of the students enrolled in much-hyped “massive open online courses” show the depth of the gender gap. “Circuits and Electronics,” the first MOOC developed by the online consortium of universities known as edX, had a student body that was 12 percent female, according to a study published in 2013. Another analysis, posted on the Coursera blog earlier this year, found that female enrollment in the company’s courses was lowest — around 20 percent — in subjects like computer science, engineering, and mathematics.
These dismally low numbers provide a reminder that “access” to education is more complicated than simply throwing open the digital doors to whoever wants to sign up. So how can we turn the mere availability of online instruction in STEM into true access for female students?
image via flickr:CC | flickingerbrad
Brand new episode of Tropes vs Women is online! Please heed the content warning on this video. It contains some especially triggering scenes of sexual violence.
A new study suggests posting sexy or revealing photos by girls and young women on social media sites gives their female peers a bad impression.
“There is so much pressure on teen girls and young women to portray themselves as sexy, but sharing those sexy photos online may have more negative consequences than positive,” Daniels said.
If schools were to choose graduate students for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs based on each student’s character rather than standardized test scores, they would drastically improve the success of admitted students, and also boost the participation of women and minorities.
image via flickr:CC | TaylorB90
In this episode we explore the Women as Background Decoration trope which is the subset of largely insignificant non-playable female characters whose sexuality or victimhood is exploited as a way to infuse edgy, gritty or racy flavoring into game worlds. These sexually objectified female bodies are designed to function as environmental texture while titillating presumed straight male players. Sometimes they’re created to be glorified furniture but they are frequently programmed as minimally interactive sex objects to be used and abused.
Full transcript, links and resources available at FeministFrequency.com
In the U.S. in 2001, 27.6 percent of bachelor’s degrees awarded in computer science went to women, according to the National Science Foundation. By 2008, that number had dropped to a low of 17.7 percent. Though more recent numbers show a slight uptick to 18.2 percent in 2010, the field is still overwhelmingly male.
In 2011, women made up 47 percent of the workforce, but only 27 percent of those in computer jobs, according to the Census Bureau. Black and Hispanic workers are also scarce in the industry. Blacks accounted for 11 percent of workers overall, but only 7 percent in the computer science industry. Hispanics made up 15 percent of the workforce and only 6 percent of computer jobs.