Why We all Need to Care About Women in Tech

Rachel K, Stephanie B and Shannon W

Where did we start?

Ada Lovelace, 1800s - "the first computer programmer"*

Grace Hopper, mid-1900s - "Mother of COBOL"

Ida Rhodes, mid-1900s - designed C-10 language

Elsie Shutt, mid-1958 - founded one of the first software



"In 1984, 37.1% of Computer Science degrees were awarded to women"

- Wikipedia: Camp, Tracy (2001). "Women in Computer Science: Reversing the Trend". Colorado School of Mines.


Where are We now?

According to the Computing Research Associationless than 12% of computer science graduates are women


27-29% of computing jobs are held by women!

(Bureau Labor of Statistics)

That's more than the 12-18% graduating with a CS degree!

Yes but....

...over half of women working in technology drop out.



(compared to 31% of men)

What we've got here

Feeling like the odd one out



"I was once offered a job on a development team of 50 where I would be the only woman. Mostly I was still the only woman, but I chose smaller, less intimidating teams. Always the only woman in the meeting, often the first–-the first female R&D engineer, first female project lead, first female software team lead-–in the companies I worked for. What the management blogs wittering on about leadership don’t tell you is that being the first is a burden. " - Ciara Byrne

Women are cheap labor



In this article Evan Thorley, a tech founder, is quoted as saying:

"And [they were] still often relatively cheap compared to what we would’ve had to pay someone less good of a different gender..."

Women are Riot Girls



20 minute interview with Rachel Sklar of Change the Ratio. 


In the interview, a recruiter says he stops sending women to interviews because it is uncomfortable for them...






Culture of violence

Anita Sarkeesian - video game industry

"massive online hate campaign"; Utah State


Zoe Quinn - video game industry

#Gamergate, harassment campaign



Open Source Community

"Perhaps because of the paucity of women in FLOSS, the community often behaves as if it were an all-male environment. Sexually oriented graphics, text, and speech, including eg. desktop wallpapers, advertisements, and conference presentations are common." - FLOSS


"The Linux community is dominated by western, white, straight, males in their 30s and 40s these days. I perfectly fit in that pattern, and the rubbish they pour over me is awful. I can only imagine that it is much worse for members of minorities, or people from different cultural backgrounds, in particular ones where losing face is a major issue."

"Not everybody in the Linux community is like this, the vast majority isn't."

Lennart Poettering

(Side note)

"When American Internet users in a random survey by the Pew Research Center last year were asked if they had ever been stalked or harassed online, 13 percent of the women said yes—but so did 11 percent of the men." - Reason.com

What started this?




"but wait, I don't like working with women."

'The report, “The CS Gender 3000: Women in Senior Management,” used Credit Suisse’s unique and proprietary database “CS Gender 3000” to analyze the demographic breakdown of over 3,000 large companies employing 28,000 senior managers across all major sectors and 40 countries. They found that over the course of nearly a decade, companies with at least one woman on the board had higher return on equity (ROE) and price to book (P/B) value than those that did not.' - New Republic


Diversity is good for making money

"Women in leadership, like millennials, are a sign of successful companies. Of the participating organization, those in the top 20% financially had almost twice as many women in leadership roles, as well as more high-potential women holding those roles." - Fast Company

So what can we do about it?

Don't call Women in tech "women in tech'

"Most interviews start out the same (“How did you come up with the idea,” “What does 99dresses do,” etc) and most also end the same (“So what’s it like being a female in tech?”)." - Nikki Durkin





make it public that you welcome women

Like attracts like: "Etsy had a tough time convincing female applicants to accept the job offers" until "they introduce[d] female students to women with awesome jobs in tech, to show them they have a future in the industry." - Ann Friedman


Open Source

  • It may help to take a survey (formal or informal) of your community's gender breakdown to get an idea of where you started, so you can tell whether things are improving over time. (FLOSS)
  • Consider creating a Diversity statement or Code of conduct (FLOSS)
  • Invite them explicitly, rather than falling back on an “if we build it, they will come” mind-set. (Deckelmann)

it's a long-term thing

"We love our communities and the ideas that drive free and open source software so much that we want to talk to anyone who is interested. We think that it is worth it to convince people, one at a time, to contribute.

The same logic applies to getting women involved. The change won’t happen in a day. We convince people, one at a time, that what we work on – what we believe so much in – is worth contributing to.

And then, one person at a time, we will make it so that women are 50% of open source community."

- Selena Deckelmann

"I’m not a “woman in tech.” I’m just in tech."

"That’s why it’s important to talk about the people and companies who fit anew tech archetype. And not just talk about them, but frame them in terms of tech-industry values, hold them up as shining examples of how new levels of disruption, success, and change are possible when a group of people decide to actively work against entrenched, self-perpetuating social dynamics." - Ann Friedman

Fun resources

Entering Tech

Stephanie's experience

Let's Discuss