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Why we chose to focus on helping women get into coding

Women, trans and non binary people (women+) are underrepresented in the tech industry, but we’re working to change that. Find out why we believe in empowering women to pursue careers in coding.

Despite progress in recent years, women, trans and non-binary people (women+) are still vastly underrepresented in the tech industry, particularly in coding and other technical roles like  data engineers and machine learning engineers. In this article we’re going to be highlighting the issues that plague the tech industry when it comes to gender representation. While the lack of gender representation is an issue that concerns women, trans and non-binary people, reliable data on this issue is available from studies that focus on ‘women’ only. As such, any data presented in this article serves to highlight just how much more work there is yet to be done, to represent trans and non binary identities in tech. 

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

 

We’ll also give you an insight into what we’re doing to help solve such gender disparity in tech. Lastly, we’ll share how we at CodeOp are supporting women+ to learn coding and break into the tech industry. Here’s what to expect from this article:,

  1. The gender gap in the tech industry 
  2. Challenges women and non binary genders face in pursuing careers in coding
  3. Benefits of gender diversity in the tech industry
  4. Importance of community and support for women in coding
  5. Reasons why Katrina, our CEO, made the decision to launch CodeOp

 

The gender gap in the tech industry

The gender gap in tech is a well-documented issue, with women making up only a small percentage of the industry’s workforce. For example, according to TechNation, only 26% of people in the UK technology industry are women while 50% of workers in the labour market as a whole are women. The proportion of women in tech falls even further if we only look at women in technical roles (such as developers and data engineers) within the tech industry. This lack of diversity not only limits opportunities for women but also hinders innovation and progress in the field. 

women-coding

Source: Women in Tech survey 2023

 

An underlying issue which creates this gender gap in the labour market occurs years before the first day on the job.  If you’re looking for online graduate jobs in tech, you’ll find that most of them will require  a STEM degree, or in the case of some entry level software jobs, you’ll have a good understanding of software development. However, as the Technation report shows, there are only 19% women students of computer science, engineering and technology as of January 2023 in the UK. In 2019, while 35% of boys took two or more STEM subjects at A-Level, only 22% of girls took two or more STEM A-Levels. Furthermore, boys study A-Level subjects (like engineering and technology) that traditionally lead to a degree in computer science, at a significantly higher rate than girls. 20.6% of boys studied Physics vs 4.9% girls and 6.9% of boys studied Computer Science vs 0.9% girls.

Similar gender gap statistics make us pause even when we look at places around the world where we hope to find better news. The gender gap is 24% in the US, 17% in the European Union, 16% in Japan, 14% in India.This lack of diversity not only limits opportunities for women but also hinders innovation and progress in the field. Women bring unique perspectives and experiences to the table, and their inclusion in tech is crucial for creating products and services that meet the needs of all users. This has a direct impact on the bottom line (i.e. a company’s net income). 

 

Challenges women+ face in pursuing careers in coding

Despite the many contributions women have made to the tech industry, they remain underrepresented in coding and other tech-related fields. Women face a number of challenges in pursuing careers in coding, including gender bias, lack of representation and mentorship, and a lack of access to resources and opportunities. These challenges can make it difficult for women to break into the industry and succeed once they do. 

One of the biggest challenges women face in pursuing careers in coding is gender bias. The Women in Tech survey shows that 22% view the early misconception of the industry, from a lack of education in young girls, as the reason behind the under-representation of women in the tech industry. These misconceptions arise due to prevailing myths that tech careers are only for individuals with strong mathematical or technical skills and that women cannot balance family and personal life with a career in tech.

women-coding

Source: Women in Tech survey 2023

Women are often stereotyped as being less skilled or less interested in tech-related fields, which can lead to discrimination and exclusion. What’s more, the lack of representation and mentorship for women in coding can make it difficult for them to find role models and support networks. For example, according to a survey commissioned by PwC, only 22% of students could name a famous woman working in technology. Whereas 66% can name a famous man working in technology.

Women+ students are often put off a career in technology as it’s too male dominated. Issues of gender disparity can be especially complex and challenging for women of colour, disabled and neurodiverse women and those who identify as lesbian, bisexual, transgender or queer. The overlapping of personal characteristics add on to the barriers that women+ already face due to systemic racism and gender – based discrimination. Finally, a lack of access to resources and opportunities, such as coding classes and internships, can make it difficult for women+ to gain the skills and experience they need to succeed in the industry. By addressing these challenges and providing support and resources for women+ in coding, we can help more women+ pursue successful careers in tech and contribute to the industry’s continued growth and innovation.

Benefits of gender diversity in the tech industry

Diversity in the tech industry is crucial for the holistic development of the sector. First and foremost, actively supporting and developing a diverse workplace is an ethical responsibility for every organisation. Providing equitable opportunities to people from diverse backgrounds including women+ created a along with supporting workplace policy that is  inclusive and nurturing over time contributes to  leadership that is truly representative of society, within the organisation. It is also an important part of the ESG ( Environment, Social and Governance) framework. Regulators want to see measurement against key reporting requirements, such as gender pay gap reporting. As such, tech organisations must prioritise and take tangible action towards improving the representation of women+ to deliver on their commitments to building a more sustainable business and comply with regulatory requirements.

Secondly, addressing this skewed gender representation is an economic necessity as much as it’s about what’s right. For example, by 2027, McKinsey’s analysis indicates there will be a shortage of technical talent for EU 27 countries in the range of 1.4 million to 3.9 million people. Europe could close this talent gap and benefit from a GDP increase of between 260 billion and 600 billion if it were to  double its proportion of women in the IT industry to about 45% by 2027 or an estimated 3.9 million additional women workers. In fact, looking at the current state of under-representation across different roles, the ones which could benefit the most from closing down the gender gap are also the ones which hold the most promise in the tech industry such as DevOps (combination of software development (dev) and operations (ops)) and  cloud infrastructure.

women-coding

Source:  Mckinsey

Diversity and inclusion boosts innovation, empathy and empowers employees from marginalised communities. When people from different backgrounds and perspectives come together to solve problems, they bring unique ideas and approaches to the table. This can lead to more creative solutions and better products. Additionally, a diverse workforce can better serve a diverse customer base, leading to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty. By empowering women+ to pursue careers in coding, we are not only addressing the gender gap but also promoting diversity and inclusivity in the tech industry.

Studies on workplace diversity have shown that diverse teams are more innovative and productive than homogenous ones. When women+ are included in the tech industry, they bring a different perspective and set of experiences that can lead to more creative problem-solving. Additionally, having more women+ in leadership positions can help to create a more inclusive and welcoming workplace culture, which can lead to higher employee satisfaction and retention. 

 

Importance of community and support for women in coding

Women+ in coding often face unique challenges and barriers, such as gender bias, imposter syndrome, and lack of representation. According to a study by KPMG, an estimated 75% of women executives across industries have faced imposter syndrome in their careers. That’s why it’s crucial to provide a supportive community for women in tech. By connecting with other women in coding, women can find mentors, role models, and allies who can help them navigate the industry. Additionally, community events and resources can provide opportunities for meeting prospective employers and fellow learners, keeping up-to-date with new developments in the industry, and skill-building.  A supportive community is particularly helpful for women+ in the tech industry as they face specific challenges based on their gender. Such a community can provide them with a safe place to seek support and benefit from the perspectives and mentoring from other women+ who had similar experiences. Role models and mentors from a community of women+ in tech can build confidence and open new doors for those who are at the start of their tech careers.

Today, there are several communities that have been created for women and by women to support women in their journey to build a career in the tech industry. Some of these are Women Who Code where as a member you become a part of the global community, get access to  coding resources, scholarships, a job board and much more. There is also Girls in Tech, a  global non-profit focused on the engagement, education and empowerment of girls and women who are passionate about technology, and have more than 100,000 members globally.

 

Why our CEO made the decision to launch CodeOp

Despite the severe lack of gender diversity in the tech industry, there isn’t enough being done by organisations to address this problem as it continues to persist. Given this, Katrina, our CEO, decided to launch CodeOp after feeling disenchanted by her experience of studying and working as a data scientist in a male-dominated field. Her personal experience of a non-linear career – from being immersed in thre field of Cultural Anthropology to being a student again at 30 pursuing Data Science – played an important role in bringing her idea to life. Katrina shares her interesting story of what led her to start CodeOp. She says:

 

The last time I counted all-women coding schools on SwitchUp, I calculated that they make up less than 1% of all in-person coding bootcamps worldwide, and yet, the gender disparity in tech is a chronic worldwide issue. If we’re serious about getting more women, trans and gender non-conforming individuals into tech, serious about shaping a world that reflects the real circumstances of the people around us, and moves towards something better and more equitable than what exists currently, we need to create practical solutions in which men, women, transgender, non-binary individuals and businesses and governments come together to focus their efforts on supporting those on the margins of tech. Investing in and supporting these areas is the starting point for the overdue revolution we need in transforming this space.

 

Katrina recognised the lack of a cohesive bootcamp that provides women+ students not only with the education but also the skills to find job opportunities in the tech industry and crack tech job interviews. We do this by providing practical workshops during the bootcamp and a long-term community of like-minded women+ in tech.

The impact of greater representation of women+ in tech cannot be overstated. Women bring unique perspectives and ideas to the industry, and their contributions have led to some of the most innovative and groundbreaking technologies. From Ada Lovelace, who is credited with creating the first computer program, to Grace Hopper, who developed the first compiler (i.e. a computer program that translates programming languages into machine-readable code that can be executed by a computer), women have been instrumental in shaping the tech industry. Today, there are countless success stories of women in tech, from C-suite executives of major tech companies such Sheryl Sandberg (former COO of Meta), Anjali Sud (CEO of Vimeo) and Rachana Kumar (CTO of Etsy) to founders of successful startups such as Whitney Wolfe Herd (Bumble), Julia Collins (Zume Pizza) and Tania Boler Founder (Elvie). 

But despite the progress seen in recent years, there is still much to do in order to close the gender gap in Tech. By empowering more women+ to pursue tech jobs and create successful careers in the tech industry, the positive impact of women+ in the world of technology will just keep growing! The importance of women+ in tech roles cannot be understated. 

After all, if it weren’t for women such as Ada Lovelace, the renowned English mathematician, writer and visionary, whose work identified the potential of computing for general programming beyond simple calculations, we wouldn’t even be talking about the vast world brought about by computers in the first place!

 

FAQs

 

  1. Is coding a good career for women?

Answer: Yes, coding is a great career choice for women! The tech industry is constantly growing and in need of skilled professionals, and there is a push for more diversity and inclusion in the field. Women bring unique perspectives and ideas to the table, and there are many resources and communities available to support and empower women in tech.

 

2. What percentage of computer programmers are female?

Answer: According to recent statistics as of 2022 on the gender distribution of software developers, women make up only about 6% of software developers across the world. This gender gap is a persistent issue in the tech industry, and efforts are being made to encourage more women to pursue careers in coding and other STEM fields.

 

3. Who are the women in coding history?

Answer: Some notable women in coding history include Ada Lovelace, who is considered the world’s first computer programmer, Grace Hopper, who developed the first compiler for a computer programming language, and Jean Jennings Bartik, who was one of the first programmers of the ENIAC computer. Other important women in coding history include Katherine Johnson, who worked on NASA’s early space missions, and Margaret Hamilton, who developed software for the Apollo space program.