We are still very far away from equality of women in technology. Today, only 25% of the world’s computing occupations are held by women. In Latin America, technology education is emerging and the possibility of studying any technology related topic from an early age is practically non-existent.
A bit of an “old” background: 2003, when I studied computer science, only 10% were women; later in 2014, during my masters degree we were roughly 20–25%.
We ARE doing something about it. But we need more. We need to continue taking our message to every corner. Thankfully due to networking we are able to connect to others and create a community. It is incredible to see how the women in tech movement is growing online.
Since we are born, there’s a strong advocacy to differentiate between genders: Lego and science for boys, and doll houses for girls. Recently it’s been found that gender bias is not innate, it’s something that is taught. Then why do we continue doing it?
Why can’t girls and boys be raised the same way?
Kids would aspire to be firefighters, doctors, lawyers, and astronauts. Now kids should also know that they can become programmers, testers, project managers, scientific researchers if they choose to. This must start not only in schools, but from parents and family, too.
It is really easy for us to facilitate their access to knowledge and tools. Currently there are huge efforts by companies to support this. They are sponsoring workshops and talks focused on young women who are increasingly approaching technology.
There still a lot of work ahead because many times after women get “there,” they face many challenges and obstacles. That is why the community is so important, having a strong safety net that can operate as a guide.
What We Are Doing
We have great colleagues at Nearsoft who actively support inclusiveness of women in tech. For example, they host Django Girls meet ups. This is a non-profit organization and a community that empowers and helps women to organize. They hold free, one-day programming workshops that provide tools, resources, and support. These have been hosted in Mexico City, Hermosillo, and Chihuahua sinc 2015. Several of our programmers have been mentors to these girls and women.
We are also supporting local communities like Epic Queen, which mission is closing the gender gap in technology.
The Twitter hashtag #iLookLikeAnEngineer that Isis Anchalee shared in 2015 gave birth to a campaign of its own and became a source of community building. We are supporting this movement by promoting our engineer’s bio and their path into technology. I am very happy to have started this at our company. And it’s had some surprising results.
I have found stuff about these engineers that I didn’t knew about — even though I work with them every day. Things like, “oh, that is how I started!”, “I have the same educational background” or “I have the same interests and hobbies!” This gives me a different perspective on their journeys and personalities. I have come to value each individual’s road.
Every effort is highly appreciated. I encourage all of you to use opportunities like conference, events, workshops, etc. to network. Find out more about the women giving presentations and the other just hanging around. Discover their stories and their triumphs and obstacles at work.
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Artemisa Yescas Engler, Software Quality Engineer @ Nearsoft, Inc.