“The empowered woman is powerful beyond measure and beautiful beyond description.” -Steve Maraboli (motivational speaker)
In a world ran by technology where women make up 49.6% of the world’s population (50.8% in the U.S.), how is it that only 20% of U.S. tech jobs are filled with women? What’s more alarming is this has decreased since the 1980’s even though more opportunities in tech are available. In 2017, there were 627,000 positions left unfilled in the tech industry.
For years, computer science or software development has been seen as a man’s world. Young girls didn’t have mentors to look up to and although an interest in STEM develops around age 11, as girls enter high school the interest declines. It’s not “trendy” to be into computers and there’s a lack of support for young girls entering the industry. It wasn’t until recently organizations like Girl Scouts, Girls Who Code, Girl Develop It, and SheTech organized events and programs dedicated to young girls with an interest in STEM.
The last two years we had the honor of participating in SheTech, meeting over 200 high school girls and showing them that, “Yes, women have a place in Technology. We can do it too.” It was great to see these talented girls ask questions, embark on their curiosity and know they aren’t the only ones. One student even said, “I’m so excited to see I’m not the only girl here, in my computer classes I am.” Unfortunately this is not uncommon, Katy Kahla (Web Team Lead at Intuit) can relate. She has been a developer for nine years, and throughout her education and on the job she has yet to work on a project with another female developer. By changing the stereotype and making STEM trendy, we can increase the interest in young girls and bring diversity to the workforce.
We’ve partnered with a local organization, Geeko Labs to help get Idaho’s youth interested in software development and prepare for a career in coding. Geeko Labs helps prepare students for our rigorous immersive program through after hours workshops. These programs of course are not exclusive to our female students, however it’s exciting to see women unite and increase awareness.
We have definitely seen an increase in female students, most classes in the past averaged 1-2 females whereas recently we have consistently seen an increase to 5-6 per cohort. These ladies have become inspirational to young girls and are breaking the stereotypes of what makes a good developer. We partner with employers that embrace diversity and enjoy unique perspectives. Below you will find some inspiring advice from only a few of our female alumni.
““I gave up what felt like absolutely everything for 13 weeks to learn how to become a software developer at Boise Codeworks. While women were absolutely the minority in the course, and industry, I have come to realize a very valuable lesson….It doesn’t matter who you are, what your gender is, what you know, or what you think you are capable of knowing, if you put enough time and energy into learning something you can do it.”- Aubrey (Software Developer at Verified First)
“Whenever I am feeling the pressure of being a female who codes on a team of men, in an industry predominantly made up of men, I remind myself that the code will run solely on the way it is created and executed -- regardless if a man or woman created it. It's the upside of being in a skills based industry.
Some days are harder than others, then there are days where I see the smart young girls I have the opportunity to work with. We all genuinely like to be creative and see what we can build. Our voices are heard, our ideas put into action, and we see the results of our talent showcased alongside male peers. It's rewarding. I'm personally energized by being an active participant in trying to level the playing field.”- Caitlin Brooks (Code Instructor and Developer at Geeko Labs)
“If technology is something you love, don’t be too concerned about being outnumbered by all of the guys in the field. Passion and dedication for the trade is respected no matter a person’s gender or background. You will go far in the field if you desire to be the best coder out there and focus on becoming a better woman than you were yesterday."- Kim Streicher (Software Developer at Allata)
Photo Credit of SheTech: Katy Kahala from Intuit