There are a lot of reasons why women should jump into computer programming:
• More money
• Job security
• Flexible schedule
• Work from home
• Creative outlet
But honestly, the reason why I want more women exploring computer programming is for the sake of our daughters.
I grew up with a mother who frankly could do anything. It wasn't because she thought she was smarter than anyone else or had countless degrees in every discipline. It was because she believed that she could.
I've seen my mom fix a kitchen sink, run a business, decorate cakes, paint pictures and write novels. It was because of her that I decided to pursue a career completely unrelated to my college degree. Through her example and experiences, my mom taught me that the ability to accomplish any task came merely from believing that I could -- and for me, that task is a career in technology. It's unfortunate that not every girl has a role model like my mom. I really believe that having someone to look up to can open a person's mind to possibilities -- possibilities that might have changed the following statistics for women in science:
Of all American Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics professionals in 2009, only 24% were women and in 2010 only 18.2% of Computer Science graduates in the U.S. were women. Being the latest statistics I've found, that means there's still time to boost these numbers before the next round of research. So how exactly do we do that? I believe that we could increase these numbers by standing up and giving STEM a try for ourselves. By being the role models who believed they could do something hard, something different, and gave it a shot, we just might have a chance at inspiring the young girls who look up to all of us who are women in 2014.
Women aren't interested in tech right?
But why get more women involved with tech anyway? With such low stats already - they're obviously not interested right? I don't think so. According to Forbes article, STEM Fields And The Gender Gap: Where Are The Women?:
"The problem starts as early as grade school. Young girls are rarely encouraged to pursue math and science, which is problematic considering studies show a lack of belief in intellectual growth can actually inhibit it. In addition, there exists an unconscious bias that science and math are typically “male” fields while humanities and arts are primarily “female” fields, and these stereotypes further inhibit girls’ likelihood of cultivating an interest in math and science."
"Popular culture plays a role, as well. Girls grow up seeing women in powerful positions as doctors and lawyers on TV, but the media continues to promote stereotypes when it comes to programmers, often portraying them as geeky men."
What can I do?
Our daughters are being discouraged from tech careers at young ages and in all aspects of life outside of us, their caregivers, who happen to be their most effective influencers. Imagine what effect we as mothers, sisters and role models could have if we brought up our opinions for once.
In conclusion, I'd like to challenge especially the women reading this post to give programming a try. Jump onto Codecademy.com and begin their lesson "Make an interactive website". It's a lot easier than it sounds and dare I say - fun too! When you're finished, share what you've built with a young woman you know and take your first step as a STEM role model. It might not change your life, but it sure might change hers.