Silicon Valley Kerfuffle on Women in STEM

There’s been a bit of a flare-up in the blogosphere on the topic of (the lack of) women in technology/computer programming. A recent interview with the co-founder of the tech incubator Y Combinator, Paul Graham, is what set it off.
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Among other things, he said, “God knows what you would do to get 13 year old girls interested in computers. I would have to stop and think about that,” which has been interpreted a variety of ways: as yet another example of misogyny in the tech world … or as simply acknowledging the fact that there are a dearth of female programmers and female-founded tech companies.

The question, of course, is what to do about it. Will widening the narrow mindsets of venture capitalists be enough? We think not. It’ll take a combination of push and pull – of priming the pump with more STEM education and mentorship aimed at girls AND creating a more welcoming (or at least less hostile) environment in the post-secondary and start-up worlds.

Some of the great groups and initiatives that are doing their bit to open doors include:

As they say, it takes a village.

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Empowering Women Through Internet Access

A new report recently released by Intel adds to the body of research focusing on gaps in technology availability and usage by gender, adding to the evidence base that access to information technology increases empowerment, education, and economic well-being.
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The report, Women and the Web, combines interviews with 2,200 women in four countries (Egypt, India, Mexico, and Uganda) with data from a variety of other sources and shares the following observations:

  • Gender barriers to technology are real. On average across the developing world, nearly 25 percent fewer women than men have access to the Internet.
  • Bridging the Internet gender gap can boost women’s income and income potential. Across the surveyed countries, nearly half of respondents used the Web to search for and apply for a job, and 30 percent had used the Internet to earn additional income.
  • Use of the Internet also increases women’s sense of empowerment. More than 70% of women surveyed who are online say that it is “liberating” and 85% say it “provides more freedom.”

The 104-page report concludes with a series of recommendations for action to bridge the gender technology divide. Read a news release highlighting other findings HERE, and download and read the full report HERE.

Other earlier reports on this topic may also be of interest:

Finally, womenablers may also be interested in the Research Links page of the Anita Borg Institute, which focuses mainly on research on women in technology, but is nonetheless a great resource to bookmark for future reference.