The software development community has made significant gains in recent years as far as fostering a more inclusive and diverse workforce is concerned. However, there is still a lot of room for improvement in this regard. In particular, the industry could be doing far more to encourage the hiring of women in software as well as supporting their professional development.
Tech-related industries continue to lag behind other sectors when it comes to representing women. According to data aggregated by the AFL-CIO’s Department for Professional Employees, women account for more than 57 percent of all professional occupations in the United States. Within computer and mathematics fields, however, 26 percent of positions are filled by women.
“26 percent of computer and math positions are filled by women.”
Bring more voices into software development
As SkilledUp’s Lee Bob Black noted, there are reasons beyond tackling a lack of diversity in the tech space for software studios to improve their efforts to recruit and women. By failing to adequately balance its workforce, this industry is losing out on an opportunity to gain and benefit from new voices. When the male perspective dominates software development discussions, fresh ideas are lost and end-user demands may not be addressed comprehensively.
Furthermore, there is a massive potential pool of high-quality coders, programmers, developers and software testers that some companies have not entirely tapped into yet.
There are plenty of organizations that are currently working hard to rectify this situation, tackling the issue from every angle. Some, like Girls Who Code and Hackbright Academy, focus on providing women with the tools and resources needed to learn their craft and hone their development and computing skills. Others have created entire professional networks for women in the tech space to offer support and guidance to one another.
Give innovators their proper due
Coder Camps director Jacqueline Sloves suggested that efforts to better represent women in tech industries should include publicizing examples of innovators and trailblazers. Sloves cited Grace Hooper, a critical member of the Manhattan Project, as an example of an important figure in the evolution of software development whose accomplishments are often overlooked.
Another example could be Margaret Hamilton, a self-taught programmer who wrote software for the Apollo 11 mission. In an interview with Medium, Hamilton explained that at the time, women were rarely given anything more than low-ranking positions in the computer science space.
Much has changed since then, with women receiving far more credit for their work and achievements in tech industries, particularly in regard to software development. There is reason to be optimistic about the continued growth of women in this sector, but organizations will need to ramp up their efforts to cultivate a more balanced workforce.
“[W]omen are highly respected in coding world,” Sloves wrote. “Companies want more women, but oftentimes they don’t know where to find the talent.”