I recently read this post, Closing Canada’s Tech Gender Gap, One Line of Code at a Time in the Financial Post by HootSuite CEO, Ryan Holmes.
The article itself was insightful and pointed to some excellent and forward-thinking programs aimed at encouraging women to explore and pursue careers in software development. But what got to me, and many other readers I’m sure, was the discussion that followed.
The comments are too telling. We still have a problem. Closing Canada’s tech gender gap, one line of code at a time http://t.co/zBh53Zb57M
— MaRS (@MaRSDD) December 17, 2013
Several readers took obvious offense to the implied feminism of the gender gap debate, and they missed the point.
“Why does every “gap” have to be filled? Males enjoy coding; females do not. Pretty simple… & requires no intervention.”
“…Girls are given equal opportunity, anything more than this is coddling infantilization that only reinforces the stereotypes that girls can’t cut it on their own. The more we use “boys clubs” as an excuse, the more we need to prop these girls up artificially.” Mark Noel
“Nothing less than equal for women, nothing more than equal for men. It seems to be the motto of modern feminist governance.” Mark Neil
And don’t get me started on the comment about the legitimate bias against hiring women because of their inconvenient tendency to have babies!
I actually agree that there is a good case for exploring gender gaps in every field, regardless of which way the pendulum has swung. Sure, we also need more men in education and more female plumbers. But we’ve missed the whole point of WHY we should address this gap. It isn’t because women are missing out on the opportunity to code, or because we are individually lamenting our exclusion from the tech boys club.
This is a big issue because as a tech community we need MORE skilled technical people. Not more women, just more – period. The tech economy isn’t an elite club with limited opportunity. We are hungry for talent. More women doesn’t mean less men. Sure, competition for top jobs will escalate when a new generation of technically savvy women hits the market. So yes, perhaps the mediocre developers should be fearful, but there will be plenty of room for those with skill.
If more women pursue careers in tech, the whole sector will grow and the economy will be stronger. Individual companies that foster work environments where women can thrive will have a distinct advantage. And I’ll bet that those environments will be great for the men too.
I’m interested in what you think. How can we increase the number of women in tech – or should we bother trying?
(Image courtesy of [contributor name] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)