International Women’s Day is a celebration of women’s social, economic, cultural and political achievements throughout history. The United Nations backed annual event, which dates back to 1909, is a time to reflect on progress that has been made and provides an opportunity to call for further change. The event has attracted support from many leading names in technology – this year, in honour of the event, Google featured games and apps developed by women on the Google Play store and Apple introduced a new activity challenge on the Apple Watch.
However, in spite of this support, the technology industry remains as male dominated as ever; only 19% of professionals in tech are women and just 5% of leadership positions are held by women. There are even fewer women of colour in the tech; for example, black women are estimated to hold just 3% of the jobs in the industry. What’s more, if nothing is done, these figures will continue to fall – experts predict that women will make up just 1% of the technology sector by 2040. But why are women so under-represented in the sector?
A likely explanation is the lack of prominent female role models in the industry – or, as activist Marian Wright Edleman put it, “you can’t be what you can’t see.” Indeed, only 22% of students can name a single famous female working in technology, whilst two thirds can name a famous male working in the sector. In the absence of prominent female role models, it’s easy to see how girls grow up believing the industry is not for them, but what is being done about this?
A number of organisations have attempted to launch various initiatives which aim to make the industry more gender equal. For instance, PwC joined forces with eighteen other firms to launch ‘Tech She Can’. They aim to boost the number of women working in technology by educating young girls about tech careers and promoting female role models in the sector, as well as actively promoting women in technology roles within their organisations. In addition, Trainline have teamed up with Code First: Girls in a bid to raise the necessary funding to teach 20,000 women to code by 2020.
There are also a number of initiatives designed to promote minority women in the industry – for example, Kimberly Bryant founded ‘Black Girls Code’. The initiative aims to teach girls of colour between the ages of six and seventeen computer programming and other technology skills to make a career in technology feasible and therefore increase the number of women of colour in the industry.
Nebula Labs are committed to leading from the front in this endeavour in order to create a diverse tech sector that is accessible to all.