One of the topics being kicked around quite often is why there are so few women involved in the technology industry. To put that into perspective, this discussion goes further than just talking about management positions, even though that is a pressing issue as well. But at the same time, there are very few females known for their programming skills for some reason.
Women Have Always Had a Hand in Technology
It may come as a surprise to many people but despite being a male-dominated world, women have been steering the direction of technology from day one. The world’s first software business in the United States, called CompInc, was founded by Elsie Shutt. Things got even more interesting the next year, as Dina St Johnston founded the first British software company. Ever since that time, the technology world has been heating up around the globe because women had the vision to bring this concept to the people of this planet.
Readers who have been around long enough might even recall how the first computer was named after a woman. This effort started back during World War II, as women were put in charge of logistics and calculations for those in the field. The term “computer” did not refer to the machines we are all using today but rather to how mathematical skills were employed to complete these tasks.
Even though the technology industry seems to have been dominated by males for eternity, women were still the frontrunners in this market after World War II. In fact, Elsie Shutt’s entire workforce was comprised of women who were tasked with programming all day. Cosmopolitan Magazine even went as far as calling them “The Computer Girls”.
This trend continued for quite some time, as the real interest in programming did not occur until 1980. Women all over the world were excited by the prospect of landing a computer programming job. However, once 1984 came around the corner, things started taking a drastic turn.
A Change In Computer Programming Perception
As one would expect, the advancement in technology is always a double-edged sword. On the one hand, computer programming became the most popular field of study for young women hoping to land a job in the sector. But on the other hand, personal computers became affordable to the public, opening up the pool of programmers beyond expectations.
Marketing played a key role in the mind shift of computers as well. Rather than advertising these powerful machines as a career opportunity for women, computers were labelled as “toys for boys”. By taking such an aggressive marketing stance, young women lost interest in the prospect of programming, as it seemed the whole world wanted them to look at other opportunities.
Popular computer-driven movies at that time didn’t help matters much either. Programming heroes were always depicted as men, exposing boys to computers and programming before they even attended university. Women, on the other hand, had none of that ‘baggage” and had to start out from scratch. As a result, the female enrollment numbers in computer programming started to plummet.
Another Turnaround Is In The Works
Our society turns out to be quite a fickle creature with many twists and turns around every corner. The number of females enrolling in computer programming since 2011 is back on the rise, but there is no “major shift” happening just yet. That being said, with a bit more effort, numbers could be restored to their previous highs in the next few years.
Getting more women interested in computer programming is a difficult task, though. However, in developing countries, coding is one of the few job opportunities available to women, as their job markets are dominated by males in every other field. For those women looking to be independent regarding finance and job security, programming is an option worth exploring.
One thing that needs to change sooner rather than later, however, is the amount of exposure female computer programming role models are getting. p until this point, names like Dina St Johnston and Elsie Shutt remain unsung heroes of the technology world and they deserve a lot more credit than they have gotten so far.
With the booming Fintech and Bitcoin sectors exploring the boundaries of technology as we speak, there is a growing demand for skilled computer programmers. There is no reason women couldn’t fill these spots, as they will bring vast knowledge and a fresh set of eyes to FinTech and Bitcoin. Both industries stand to benefit from this wind of change.
What are your thoughts on getting more women interested in computer programming? Let us know in the comments below!
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Cambridge News, California Diversity Council