Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, has treated the gender gap in tech careers in many of his cartoons, sometimes subtler, sometimes more bluntly. Perhaps you remember the comic strip about “his mother.”
Recently he shared his perspective on the gender gap in plain prose, suggesting a goal of 33 percent women in technology careers.
While not all parts of his blog post make complete sense (which he acknowledges), he does provide his observations as an insider, especially of the start-up culture:
“Pause for a moment to let that sink in. I didn’t say I have met few women in those types of jobs, or not as many as I would have expected. I am saying I have literally met zero. None.”
He presents three interconnected reasons: women are not encouraged to enter technical fields; networks are key for success but women appear to be cut-off as men mingle among themselves; and sexism, discrimination and old-boys networks “make technology an unfriendly place for women. My observations support that.”
Thus, striving toward 33 percent is not a bad first step toward gender parity in STEM. As Adams suggests, encouraging girls and women to enter tech jobs is the first step before they get build and interact in networks.
Wikid GRRLs believes, based on studies, that we need to start early to get girls at least thinking about these fields for future careers. We need to encourage girls already in middle school to learn and hone computer and internet-related skills and to consider computer science and related areas as viable job options. With our curriculum we introduce girls to the idea that they, too, can be part of the back space of online structures and online content. We hope to get started in five Detroit Public Schools this fall. Stay tuned!
If you are a teacher in a Detroit Public School, especially around the Wayne State University campus, and are interested in working with Wikid GRRLS, contact Stine Eckert at firstname.lastname@example.org.