“A SHIP IN PORT IS SAFE, BUT THIS IS NOT WHAT SHIPS ARE BUILT FOR. SAIL OUT TO SEA AND DO NEW THINGS.”
That quote is from Grace Hopper, a woman and a pioneer in the world of computer science. Beginning her work in 1944, Navy Admiral Grace Hopper was one of the very first computer programmers. Her work influenced the programming language known as COBOL, and she even coined the term “debugging” for fixing computer glitches. Women like Grace Hopper, Ada Lovelace, and Jean Bartik and others have had significant influence in the world of computer science throughout history, but data now tells a different story about those who are shaping the current and future field of computer science.
Since a peak in women joining the field in 1984, statistics continue to show a decline in the number of women entering the field of computer science. Those that are joining the field feel a sense of isolation, “like they just don’t belong.” Currently, only 20% of the computer science workforce is representing the voices of women. Less diversity in the field leads to homogeneous thinking and a hindrance to innovation.
This leaves women behind the curve in the “new economy” in which advanced computing skills can lead to lucrative careers. Unfortunately, unless something is done to narrow the gap in the field, this unequal representation will only increase gender inequalities surrounding compensation.
Studies show that gender identity formation and bias begins to develop in children as early as age 3. Thanks to work of parents, mentors, and educators, we are beginning to see a shift. However, a feeling of inadequacy in STEM skills still remains in young women. Girls often have less exposure to computers and computer science classes throughout their school years. There is also a distinct absence of female role models in the field of computer science making it even more difficult for young girls to see themselves as future programmers, coders, and technologists.
Here at CarrotNewYork, we believe education is the key to demystifying computer science, inspiring budding computer scientists, and stopping stereotypes before they are even formed. Organizations like Girls Who Code, Made With Code, and Girl Develop It are doing outstanding work to reach and mentor young girls and inspire confidence. Because we believe in turning causes into action through education, Carrot New York stands behind organizations like these and others working to promote gender equality through outreach and education.