Why “Awakening the Mature Geek” and targeting women to re-career into the field of technology is essential.
Written by Marlin Page, Founder of Sisters Code
The lack of females in the technology industry is the new “hot topic,” but it’s an old issue. As an African American Female in technology, I appreciate the discussion around this issue, however it’s going to take much more than fancy charts, statistics, or one off speeches from the token women in a technology company to positively shift the technology gender and racial diversity gap.
Bridging the technology gender gap is definitely possible, however it’s the “action” not the words that will get us there. The key to bridging that gap is to stop ignoring grown women with the aptitude to code and empower them to re-career into the field of technology.
I am living proof that by “Awakening the Mature Geek,” we can make a major impact on gender gap in the field of technology. At the age of 25, I was an aspiring mortician until a corporation hired me as a full-time paid employee and afforded me the opportunity to learn to code in seven different languages in a 13-week program. I emerged as a Mainframe (yes I’m dating myself) and the rest is history. Technology literally transformed my life, the life of my family, and positively impacted my community.
The picture in this blog shows one of Detroit’s based Sisters Code Participants experiencing a “coding ah-ha” moment. I remember my light bulb moment like it was yesterday. I wrote code in JCL and COBOL and fell in love with the possibility of learning more. After learning DB2, CICS, IMS…I felt as if I could change the world.
Bottom-line: I was enticed to try something different and I was exposed to a new career.
We are missing the mark: There are lots of programs centered on motivating girls to consider S.T.E.M. field, coding classes not tied to workforce development, the lame excuse of “fitting into the culture,” and I totally disagree with Rev. Jesse Jackson that this is a Civil Rights Issue. Unfortunately we are missing an entire population of women who have already entered the workforce, can start work tomorrow, bring a different level of expertise, work ethic, and overall a different flavor to the office.
Recently 10 companies released their diversity stats and although the numbers are staggering, I’m confident we can bridge the technology gender gap. I’ve provided numbers based on overall female employees, female employees in tech jobs, and % of African Americans employed at the company.
Google: Females makeup 30% of the workforce. 2% of employees are African American.
Apple: Females makeup 30% of the workforce is women, however 20% hold tech jobs. 7% of employees are African American.
Facebook: Females makeup 30% of the workforce. 1% of employees are African American.
Twitter: Females makeup 20% of the workforce , however 10% hold tech jobs. 3% of employees are African American.
Yahoo: Females makeup 37% of the workforce. 2% of employees are African American.
LinkedIn: Females makeup 39% of the workforce. 1% of employees are African American.
Pandora: Females makeup 49.2% of the workforce, however 18% hold tech jobs. 3% of employees are African American.
Ebay: Females makeup 42% of the workforce, however 24% hold tech jobs. 7% of employees are African American.
Pinterest: Females makeup 66% of the workforce, however 20% hold tech jobs. 7% of employees are African American.
HP: Females makeup 32.5% of the workforce. 6.06% are African American.
As a thought leader on empowering women to re-career into the field of technology, I’m willing to do my part. If we are really serious about bridging the racial and gender technology gap, there must be accountability and engagement among all concerned parties.
Count me in.
Marlin Page is a Globetrotting Speaker, Founder of Sisters Code, and thought leader on bridging the racial and gender gap in technology. Marlin serves as speaker for Microsoft’s global DigiGirlz Program and has been invited to present at SXSW, Techonomy, Meeting of the Minds, and more. Follow Marlin on Twitter @SistersCode