Coding and Cupcakes? Here’s Why We Need More Women in Tech

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Last month at the SelectUSA Investment Summit, Google’s Eric Schmidt posed the question:

There’s something about the tech culture, the way we approach it, the incentives, that is driving women away…. Why are they not in tech?”

While it’s interesting to wonder why such a gender gap exists in the STEM world, the much more important question to answer is: “Why should more women be in technology?”

Hiring women is good for business

Employing women at a tech company presents many benefits. Among these is the simple fact that having women in your workforce is a good business decision.

First and foremost, companies mitigate the group think handicap by engaging female employees who may act, think, or approach problems differently than their male counterparts. Group think is a dangerous rabbit hole for any business to fall into, but by fostering diversity among your company’s employees, it can be avoided.

Putting women in leadership roles is also a good move, statistically, for any business. Startups with female executives go public and are acquired more often, while women on corporate boards deliver a 46 percent higher return on equity.

Additionally, industries and products that are female-centric can flourish when women are involved in every step, from research and development through marketing and sales. Having representatives of your target audience working behind the scenes is crucial to, yet again, avoiding that group think mentality and catering as directly as possible to the wants and needs of your customers.

The female brain is suited to today’s tech world

A man’s left-brain tendencies — systematic, organized, logical — have long been considered to better align him with a profession in technology than those of a woman. However, today’s tech landscape is vastly different than it was five years ago, or even one year ago.

Even six months sees dynamic changes across the technology board. Women are the lead adopters of technology in our society, so it is baffling that they aren’t more involved in technological production.

Let’s take a moment to give credit where credit is due: Women’s brains are ideally suited to today’s socially-driven, design-minded, multitasking digital world (and while the female brain is physically smaller than a man’s, it is used more efficiently). Also, a woman’s eye for design is essential for developing user interfaces and for creating visually tantalizing products that people suddenly can’t seem to live without.

Furthermore, males tend to have verbal centers only in the left hemisphere whereas verbal centers can typically be found on both hemispheres of the female brain. With this inherent leg up on communication, women would do well in the growing field of natural language processing, where computer and human languages intersect.

Signs of progress

We have reason to hope that the technology sector is opening up for women. Many universities are experiencing an increase in female computer programming students.

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At UC Berkeley last spring, more women than men enrolled in an introductory computer science course for the first time in the school’s histor when they renamed and restructured the class “Introduction to Symbolic Logic” as the more right-brained “Beauty and the Joy of Computing.”

Other programs like Alice.org, Hour of Code, Kansas City Women In Technology’s “Coding and Cupcakes,” and she++ are encouraging girls and women to embrace technology.

I say more girl power to them.

  • Nanaimo

    Whether the left brain/right brain stuff is a myth or not aside, I think this article misses one major point.

    In the past, programming was deemed a “woman’s job,” and a very good one at that. It was only converted into a “man’s job” later on when someone realized how difficult programming could actually be. So however brains work, it wasn’t a problem then, and I don’t see why with the high level programming languages of today that it would be any now. It’s the general perception.

    All the same, I think that the idea of changing how we label and present things in tech is a very interesting idea. Coding is seen as something impenetrable and even boring by the masses. Such changes would not only draw interest from women, but all people who are otherwise halted by the jargon barrier. Programming can help people, allow you to be creative, and more, and we need to make that more clear.

  • BeeKaaay

    Why would women want to work in tech?

    They see companies laying off US Citizens, forcing them to train their H1B visa replacements.

    They see discrimination against older workers in tech.

    No wonder women avoid it! They actually want to work for a living!

  • NotACupcake

    “A woman’s eye for design” – better go warn all the men running design firms that they are gender-impaired and should step aside for the women! This article is pathetic.

    • NotACupcake

      The suggestion that women aren’t involved in technological production because we lack the skills necessary (thank goodness a man came along to point out to us that we should go get them!) is astoundingly offensive. What editor had the bone-headed idea to approve article that is misguided and poorly researched at best, and condescendingly patronizing and reductive at worst?!