‘IT guy.’ It rolls off the tongue, but what about ‘IT girls’? Don’t women have just as much of a relationship with computers and as much ability to think logically as men? What’s the reason behind less than one-tenth of the developers are women?
You can find a lot of people (and a lot of developers) who subscribe to the idea that ‘blokes just have a more logical mind than women.’ Even if this is true (which we consider highly doubtful), this doesn’t explain the extreme inequality between the sexes in the IT industry.
And even if the majority of girls are more comfortable in the creative field, such a small number still seems somewhat odd.
According to recent research by Stack Overflow, from an astonishing number of 64000 software developers, only 7.6% are women.
When we shared this stat on our Facebook page, the result was an extremely interesting discussion which suggests that perhaps the answer lies elsewhere than the diminished female brain.
Why Only a Minority of Developers are Women: Thoughts from the Community
If you want to the see the whole discussion in context, have a look at it here (the conversation is in Czech), but we have cherry-picked and translated a couple of the most interesting comments. Kudos to the girls below for their permission to post their comments in full.
“That’s probably because girls just don’t have what it takes.”
“That 8 % does. “
Veronika Cassi Havelková
“I think that there are many factors involved, including the fact that since the beginning of time, girls were encouraged to play with dolls and that is just considered ‘normal,’ while when boys prefer to play with computers, this is considered ‘correct.’ Women in IT were always seen as abnormal and rare (with the exception of the early years of computer development, when women programmed because it was seen as inferior work), so ‘thanks’ to these prejudices even if women enjoyed programming, they’d instead not go into it to avoid being seen as freaks.”
“But not that 42 %. Everyone can’t be suited to everything. For instance, I have to do the ironing today, and it won’t be as good as if my girlfriend did it.”
“Support for women in IT, support for women in science and yet nobody gives us anything.”
“Cry over it for a bit longer then realise what you’re writing. Girls are supported because when there’s one in IT, she gets targeted more and some people even try to put her down by telling her she doesn’t have what it takes… So she’d rather quit… But as soon as she gets over this, she can do well… So those who were looking down on her before now see her from a new perspective… And that’s what supporting women is all about, so it won’t be such a rarity anymore [to have women in IT].”
Interestingly, according to a last year’s study focused on Open Source, women are considered better programmers. However, only in the case when it’s not generally known that they are women.
So perhaps there might also be some prejudice at play here?
We are not calling for quotas or preferential treatment of women simply because they are women (which would be highly offensive to talented female developers). But instead, we dream of a world where talented girls don’t give up on a career in IT because society is standing in their way.
A Shamefully Incomplete List of Ways to Improve the Situation
- Personal support for the girls and women around us who have an interest in IT or already work in the industry.
- Motivate girls to consider IT at primary or secondary school (so that they can ‘have a go’ and see if it’s for them).
- A workplace culture that doesn’t accept ridicule or inappropriate behaviour directed towards women in IT.
- Programming and other IT courses tailored towards women on maternity leave.
- More great initiatives such as Czechitas.
We probably forgot to mention about 186 other things only a small fraction of developers are women, but that’s not really the point. It’s up to each of us to make it easier for women to get into IT so we can get to a point in the not too near future when female developers are no longer an exotic species.
Would you like to share your opinion about women in IT or do you have any interesting experiences? Do you think women are disadvantaged in the IT industry or that it’s harder for them to reach senior positions? Get in touch with us below in the comments section or on Facebook or Twitter.