04 Oct Women and Coding
Coding is commonly perceived as a male-dominated industry, however, we’re noticing a positive trend in our coding bootcamps: A full ⅓ of our attendants are women, and we hope to reach 50% in future classes. Our tutors, mentors and teacher’s assistants are women, as is our student care manager. All of them have helped women who’d like to code, whether it’s been fielding questions at open evenings, throughout our courses or personally answering general queries.
We believe that when an industry doesn’t encourage diversity, it’s missing out. In the case of women, that can mean a full 50% of a population with untapped potential. Countless good ideas, talented people and original insights are being overlooked for an arbitrary reason.
Women are underrepresented in coding. But it’s getting better.
Here are a few encouraging recent developments for women in coding…
Uber donates $1.2million to Girls who Code
The car-sharing service, Uber, has faced some negative publicity in the past. But this year they hope to make a positive difference, with their $3million investment in diversity. Late last August they announced that the first $1.2million of that money will go to Girls Who Code, a nonprofit dedicated to bridging the gender gap.
Girls Who Code has already trained thousands of women across the United States, and hopes to add 60,000 new female coders to that number. Uber will also provide voluntary work from its staff (male and female) to assist with the training.
“I’ve said it quite a bit, but I believe in representation and that it matters,” Girls Who Code Founder and CEO Reshma Saujani told Techcrunch. “And there’s no better time than right now to talk about women in tech and women in these very specific ladders. We obviously want more leadership and want more women in tech, so we need to make sure the pipeline is strong.”
Author of coding book for girls gets Disney endorsement
Sasha Ariel Alston, a 19-year old American student wrote Sasha Savvy Loves to Code, a semi-autobiographical book for children about a 10-year old girl who pursues her IT dreams. Initially just a Kickstarter dream, the book has gained international recognition, including a Disney endorsement this Summer.
Disney’s Dream Big campaign was a callout for inspiring photos of women and girls around the world who challenge stereotypes. Female photographers from 15 countries contributed, and every time a photo was shared or liked, Disney donated $1 to the United Nations Foundation’s Girl Up program.
Sasha was the subject of one of those photos, part of an international media frenzy that surrounded her girls’ coding book. You can see some of the remarkable photos here.
NASA female coders get overdue recognition
The past year has been a watermark moment in recognising NASA women who changed the world. Earlier in the year, Hidden Figures was released, showcasing the women whose innovation in coding put the first Americans into space.
Margaret Hamilton, who worked for NASA on their Apollo 1 project was belatedly given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama last November. (Here’s NASA’s statement on the ceremony.)
These pioneers are arguably the first professional coders to work in America. One team in particular, of 100 female “computers” (as they were known at the time) made huge strides in coding in the 1940s. And their story has been revived in mainstream media in recent months, with coverage in Wired, The History Channel and beyond.
Quote the History Channel: “The team included Jean Jennings Bartik, who would later lead the development of computer storage and memory, and Frances Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Holberton, who would go on to create the first software application. Together with Frances Bilas Spence, Marlyn Wescoff Meltzer, Kathleen ‘Kay’ McNulty Mauchly Antonelli, and Ruth Lichterman Teitelbaum, they laid the groundwork for future programmers and software engineers. And, since they were the first modern coders, they were instrumental in teaching others to program after the war.”
Women in coding have a way to go before they reach full equality in coding. But with a number of initiatives, from encouraging young girls, to generous investment to hands-on volunteer work and (in our case) communication and engagement, the industry is making progress.