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Will Peggy the Programmer be the New Rosie the Riveter?

theodp (442580) writes | about 5 months ago

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theodp (442580) writes "The Mercury News' Mike Cassidy reports that women are missing out on lucrative careers in computer science. 'The dearth of women in computing," writes Cassidy, "has the potential to slow the U.S. economy, which needs more students in the pipeline to feed its need for more programmers. It harms women by excluding them from some of the best jobs in the country. And it damages U.S. companies, which studies show would benefit from more diverse teams." The promise of better financial results, says Anita Borg Institute Director Denise Gammal, is making diversity a business imperative. It's "the sort of imperative that cries out for a movement," argues Cassidy, "maybe this time one led not by Rosie the Riveter, but by Peggy the Programmer." So, where will Peggy the Programmer come from? Well, Google is offering $100 to girls attending U.S. public high schools who complete a Codecademy JavaScript course. "Currently only 12% of computer science graduates are women," explains Codecademy,"and great tech companies like Google want to see more smart girls like you enter this awesome profession!" Google joins tech giant-backed Code.org in incentivizing teachers to bring the next generation of girls to the CS table. But Silicon Valley claims the talent crisis is now (although there are 19 billion reasons to question SV's hiring acumen). So, what about the women who are here now, asks Dr. AnnMaria De Mars (who UFC champ Ronda Rousey calls 'Mom'). "If you are overlooking the women who are here now," De Mars writes, "what does that tell the girls you are supposedly bringing up to be the next generation of women in tech that you can overlook 15 years from now? Why do we hear about 16-year-old interns far more than women like me? If it is true, as the New York Times says, that in 2001-2 28% of computer science degrees went to women compared to the 10% or so now — where are those women from 12 years ago? It seems to me that when people are looking at minorities or women to develop in their fields, they are much more interested in the hypothetical idea of that cute 11-year-old girl being a computer scientist someday than of that thirty-something competing with them for market share or jobs. If there are venture capitalists or conference organizers or others out there that are sincerely trying to promote WOMEN who code, not girls, I've never met any. That doesn't mean they don't exist, but it means that whoever they are seeking out, it isn't people like me.""

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