If you are reading this thinking it’s a merry read praising women and saying women are better than men, this is not for you. However, before you get mad at me for writing this, I request you to read till the end before you get all riled up.
Not all opinions are the same, but some people wish they were. Remember the Google engineer James Damore and his memo about ”why men are naturally better at computers than women”? It took the tech world by storm and every large company started coming out with their own statements about how they are a diverse organisation and how they support gender diversity.
I don’t necessarily disagree with him. The skills of a developer, however, don’t depend on the gender. So, why are women lagging behind and why did Damore feel that way?
This is because of generations of people who have passed on this mindset and generations of holding women back. Yes, on average, women are not better than men in STEM, but did you ever question if women get the same number of opportunities men do? Research shows that diversity in a team leads to better problem solving but women make up less than 25% of the STEM workforce in the United States.
ESA calculations on gender share
Potential reasons why fewer women choose to pursue careers in STEM while considering the long term were discussed in a recent article on Code Like A Girl by Kriti Khare.
The nature of jobs does not permit them to continue them for a long time, as usually it’s the woman in the family who has to take care of the family. If there’s more studying involved, and a child is on the way, there would most likely be a break that would make it tough to manage a higher academic degree. — Kriti Khare
Diversity has nothing to do with how good a team can be in terms of skills but if you look at it from an organization perspective, organizations with women leaders and team members do better than those that don’t. The 2015 “Women on Boards” study by MSCI on gender diversity shows, “Companies in the MSCI World Index with strong female leadership generated a Return on Equity of 10.1% per year versus 7.4% for those without.” This is because women make up a large segment of the customers. Diverse teams and leadership thus help in diverse thoughts and strategies, and deliver better performance.
Being a woman, I don’t want someone to see me as a unicorn or pity me and give me special treatment of some kind. I do not want to be a woman developer. I just want to be recognized as a developer and earn the respect my skills deserve. I don’t want to be caught between two words “woman” and “developer” and then be judged by the rest of the world.
The only way to change the world of women is by creating more and more opportunities to showcase their skills. This is not going to be easy, changing the thinking and fighting generations of stereotype that we have in our society. We have to accept that no one is going to come and speak for us. If we want things to change, we have to take every chance we get and punch stereotype in the face. Women can change the world for women.
As Dinah Davis mentions in her article Girls need Role models, “Let’s get started and deluge girls with STEM Role Models!” I believe that you can be the role model she speaks of. HackerEarth and Schlumberger brings to you International Women’s Hackathon 2018, which is a great platform to help you be that role model.
We should try and show everyone that we can change our own world. Maybe somewhere out there, there is a little girl who will see you doing your bit to make a difference in the world and realize that she too can grow up to be a brilliant, successful engineer or developer.
Cursing the society won’t make a change but calling out capable women to inspire the next generation of women will.