Happy International Women’s Day! As a woman working for one of the few companies with a female CEO, we have plenty to celebrate. As I learned at the Grace Hopper Conference, overall representation of women in technology has increased to 21.7%, up 1% in the past year. The Oscar-nominated film, Hidden Figures, introduced the world to three groundbreaking women in NASA, and Dr. Jeanette Epps became the first African American to board the International Space Station.
On a more personal note, in my son’s freshman Computer Science class, an extra-credit question asked for the name of one famous female programmer, and he was able to answer successfully (Grace Hopper, of course!) But I think we need to set the bar higher than being able to name one successful woman in my field.
This year’s theme for International Women’s Day, “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030” calls for concrete actions from each of us to create a more gender inclusive world. At the current rate of change, Internationalwomensday.com estimates that we will reach gender parity in wages in one hundred seventy years. Stew on that a minute. That means that our daughters, grand-daughters and great-grand daughters will be underpaid. However UN Women wants to speed that up to 2030:
One of the main reasons I started blogging about women in tech is because I’ve seen first hand how raising the salaries of women improves the lives of their families. Increasing wages for women starts a virtuous cycle of increasing education, opportunities, and the overall power of women in society. I’m not satisfied with 170 years until equality.
How can we speed up the clock?
As a society looking to expand opportunities for our daughters and grand-daughters, we need to work on multiple fronts to increase gender parity.
- Mentor a young woman or girl – No matter what field you are in, or your gender or race, reach out to young women and encourage what ever field they are interested in.
- Get politically involved – Educate yourself on bills coming before congress and express your opinions. A phone call to express support or concern takes as little as five minutes.
- Champion your female peers – Look for opportunities to amplify the voices of women around you. Ensure your hiring practices cast a wide net to find the best possible candidates. Design your products to be inclusive and take into account all ranges of experience. Start a woman’s support group at your workplace.
- Celebrate women’s achievements – Use your sphere of influence to make other aware of the successes of women across all fields, past and present.
- Ask tough questions – Does your company pay women equitably? If you’re not sure, don’t be afraid to ask. Women at Salesforce.com raised to their CEO the gender disparities in pay, and happy Mark Benioff spent $3 million to fix the inequity.
Learn more about Women in Technology on developerWorks
- Being bold to encourage female developers on International Women’s Day
- Hidden Figures – At the intersection of race, gender and technology
- Grace Hopper 2016 – Women and the future of technology
- Changing lives at the Girls Who Code summer camps
- United Nations International Women’s Day 2017
- Equal Pay Pledge
- Society of Women Engineers
- Anita Borg Institute: Women Transform Technology
- The United State of Women