|We need more women in Technology.|
In the early days of software development, women and men were equally involved in the trade. These pioneering software developers were business people first who learned how to write software without a formal collegiate curriculum. One of the best depictions of this period is the film “Hidden Figures” which shows women of color working for NASA. The 1950’s and 1960’s were not a golden age of diversity in American Business, but in the early days of software development, there was less gender disparity.
I believe that this changed as colleges began accepting undergraduates for computer science course. Men began to dominate in this academic major, and it created a feedback loop of men helping other men get into the profession. As women retired from the occupation, men replaced them. These individuals knew how to code but did not understand the businesses they were working. As the business of software development became more lucrative and prestigious, companies pushed more women out the activity. With fewer women in the occupation, the “brogrammer” culture began to grow, and software development teams became hostile work environments. With the rise of Silicon Valley software shops, this trend became more pronounced, and it has been severely parodied in popular culture thanks to the HBO series.
I am glad to report that over the years, I have run into plenty of exceptional women who walk a lonely road and work in this profession. It is also good to see the rise of organizations like Girl Scouts and Code Like a girl encourage young people to get into the profession. There is plenty of toxic masculinity in this business, and only with the addition of more women, a means to discourage it. Finally, it is important that men support women in this craft.
Software development is a diverse profession, but it could do better with gender equity. It is up to all of us in the business to recognize that girls can code and they are welcome in the profession.
Until next time.