According to the National Center for Women and Information Technology, currently, women in the United States hold 57% of professional jobs, but only 26% of computing jobs. Such statistics are compelling, because in the US, women are entering college at a higher rate than men, yet hold only 18% of Computer Science related degrees. So, why aren’t a proportionate number of women studying and working in tech related fields? Is the stereotype that most women have no interest in computer science true? Or rather, do these statistics speak to lack of opportunity or encouragement for women to pursue careers in male-dominated fields such as computer science?
Enter Women Who Code. This global non-profit organization falls squarely into the second camp of thinkers, and has five key objectives to tackle the issue of the tech gender gap. According to its website, these are:
- Education: Free technical trainings centred around different programming languages
- Development: Connecting our leaders and members with opportunities that raise their profile in the tech industry
- Advocacy: Ensuring the everyday successes of women in technology are celebrated
- Community: Providing professional environment for women to come together and create meaningful connections
- Consulting: Acting as a guide for companies as they navigate the hiring process, guiding them toward best practices for an inclusive workplace.
Though no statistics are available for the gender difference in IT fields in Jamaica, it is probable that disparity exists here too. Luckily, there is a Kingston arm of the Women Who Code organization, started in February 2014. Though still in its infancy, Women Who Code Kingston has already held several events, and this Saturday and Sunday (Nov 14-15), plans to hold another. The group, and this event, are friendly to beginners and new members. Check out the group’s Facebook page for more details on this weekend’s Code Jam and the organization’s objectives!
What are your thoughts on the gender gap in technology-related fields and initiatives like Women Who Code? For more on tech in Jamaica, read our post on Technology Pioneered in Jamaica.