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Why We Should Talk More About Women In Tech

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11th October 2020 is International Day of the Girl. The theme this year is “My Voice, Our Equal Future”. It’s a day to amplify the voices of adolescent women, including their right to an education and to learn new skills towards the futures they choose. 

As a computing education provider, we are passionate about helping all young people learn skills that will set them up for successful lives in the future. A future that will be increasingly tech-based.  We love celebrating the incredible women who have made great contributions to the world of tech (check out our blog post about five inspiring women in technology), but we know that there is still a long way to go before the industry balances out in terms of gender.

Only 11% of students studying computer science at A-level are female and it follows that there is a large gender imbalance when it comes to the tech workforce, with women making up just 16.8% of the industry in the UK in 2019. Not only are women missing out on some of the highest-paid jobs, half of the population -  women  -  are using products built predominantly by men.

Clearly, change needs to happen. We need to encourage and empower young women to learn digital skills to equip them for future careers and tech-focused lives. But how?

Computing education providers need to appeal to girls. Research suggests that girls are much more responsive to class descriptions that focus on creativity and specificity. Coder Dojo Scotland did a wonderful study on factors that increase female participation in coding clubs. Creative computing education should give students the skills and confidence to bring the ideas in their heads into reality using tech: telling and animating stories with code, designing and building their own apps and games, and programming robots to life!

We need to tell stories of girls in tech. Stories like four-year-old Anshi Perla who learnt to code before she could write, and Emmanuella Mayaki from Nigeria who was hired by a UK primary school at just ten years old to teach their after-school coding club. Stories of women succeeding inspire and empower others to realise that they too can take up space in this industry. 

We need to make seeing girls in tech the norm. It’s easy to become intimidated and think something is off-limits to you when you don’t see anyone like you doing it. All computing education providers should include pictures of girls, just as much as boys, in their marketing. And while we’re here - we should be representing all sorts of diversity in these images too. 

To find out more about International Day of the Girl, head to the UN website to take a look at what this year's focuses are, and how you can get involved!