This blog post has been in the corners of my mind and nipping at my ankles for a while.
Please don’t linkbait this, or pick comment fights. This isn’t for upvotes, or HN fame.
Many people I meet ask me a varient on this question “I understand we want more women in technology, but why?” It’s a great question, and not at all something we should be offended by. Often men are afraid to ask questions like this for fear there will be backlash, I think that fear can lead to stiffling of an important conversation.
Frankly, the internet is thriving without women building it, why should that change?
I put together the following answer for a Quora thread, I thought it would be also advantageous to put it here, so I (and maybe you) can reference it in the future.
I think the reason why we need more women building technology is threefold, I will outline below.
You will notice I stay away from generalizations like “women are better at xyz,” because such generalizations imply that we therefore must be worse at other things that men may be able to do better. I don’t think approching the argument that way is productive.
Diversity leads to better products and results
As illustrated in the Cornell study included below and many more to be found online, diversity improves performance, morale, and end product. More women engineers means building a better internet, and improving software that can service society as a whole. Building a better internet is why I started doing software development in the first place, I think we can all agree this is of utmost importance.
The internet is the largest recording of human history ever built
Right now the architecture for that platform is being built disproportionally by white and asian males. You’ve heard the phrase “he who writes history makes history”? We don’t yet know how this will affect future generations.
How can architecture be decidedly male? I like to refer to the anecdotal story of the Apple Store glass stairs. While visually appealing one unforeseen consequence to their design was the large groups of strange men that spend hours each day sitting under them looking up. As a women, the first time I saw them I thought “thank god I’m not wearing a skirt today.” Such considerations were not taken in designing
these stairs, I think it’s probable, if not easily predictable, that in a few years we will see such holes in the design of the web.
Women in 10 years need to be able to provide for themselves, and their families
Now, this reason is purely selfish on the part of women, but we all have mothers, and sisters, so I hope we can relate.
This year there are 6 million information technology jobs in the US, up from 628,600 in 1987 then 1.34 million in 1997. Right now jobs in technology have half the unemployment rate of the rest of the workforce. There is no sign this will change anytime soon. If growth continues at the current rate, it will not be long until women will not be able to sustain themselves if not involved in a technical field.
We have to start educating young girls about this now, or they may ultimately become the poorest demographic among us.
I hope this has been educational for you, if this is something that you have debated. If you have any thoughts please share.