Women programmers: the difficult challenge of ‘hack’ stereotypes

Grace Murray Hopper created the first complex language of computer. Margaret Hamilton she wrote the software that made it possible for man to reach the Moon. Ra

Women programmers: the difficult challenge of ‘hack’ stereotypes

Grace Murray Hopper created the first complex language of computer. Margaret Hamilton she wrote the software that made it possible for man to reach the Moon. Radia Perlman is behind one of the discoveries essential to the functioning of the Internet. Are just three of the women programmers who have marked the history of the technology. Like them, thousands of women around the world who write code have been developed, and evolve daily, in a sector completely dominated by men.

“while the percentage of women has never been very high in the sectors related to computer science and programming, from the 90s got even worse,” says Marta Jimenez Castells, phd in Computer Architecture and professor for 25 years at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia. In that decade, “the number of women engaged in computer science decreased by 50%, coinciding with the name change that made the career of Bachelor of Engineering”: “This descent still we have not recovered,” he adds.

today, women represent only 11% of the total number of developers worldwide, according to the report, Java, web, mobile and PHP salary survey of the consulting firm Pearson for the financial year 2017/2018. In Spain, the average of women who write code stood at 9.3%, slightly below the world average and far removed from the figure, for example, the United Kingdom, where women account for 54.6% of the total.

expand photo Consuelo Castilla, president and partner of AdQualis. C. B.

Sara Ylipoti know the situation well. Is COO of Ride On, a technology for the mobility sector, and coordinates a team of 20 software developers —all guys except for one girl. For her, the absence of women in the sector is due to “the gender gap and stereotypes” and there is that fight it from childhood: “If you do not encourage girls to pursue careers in science or mathematics, we are always going to drag a gap in the work. We have to start by education, both taught school as transmitted by the fathers and mothers and that starts a chain reaction that will end up covering the whole of society”.

The girls believe themselves less able than children to achieve goals that require science skills, according to the data of the PISA report of 2015. Castells is the mother of four children, three girls and one boy: “I have been able to see that when women are girls, we are drawn by the computer science and technology, but we easily drift away from that world. For example, in the school, the children quickly dominate all the technology, it attracts them, they know how to use it and boast of it. Girls, the face of this greater interest or domain of the technology of children, they begin to feel more distant to it, believing that it is something that does not dominate so much and grow apart.”

This lack of confidence coupled with the lack of women concerning affects, according to the experts, their professional orientation and their choice of courses. Only one out of every 100 adolescents in Spain wants to devote himself to the technologies of information and communication, according to data from the same report.

computer Training

For the lecturer, the solution is to “teach the subject of computing from 10 years and not leave it to high school or even college.” The final objective should be “to show that the computer engineering is not a career roadblock. While in the university, women make up the collective majority, their representation in engineering has not exceeded 25% in 2018, according to the study The challenge of vocations STEM. “Until I walked the university, neither the boys nor the girls know how to program or how to create the technology. Until that moment, only the we used. In the university as you can do little given that the women who have come to this stage of their education have already taken a decision,” he says.

Maider Agirrezabal is 23 years old and is studying telecommunications engineering in the Polytechnic University of Catalonia. Despite the fact that the technology calls attention to since I was little, until he came to the university I did not know what was schedule. “At first I hated it, but slowly I was tasting and I saw that, in engineering, of one side or the other, just using the schedule. It is something necessary and useful, in addition to help to address the problems and to find solutions,” says the young man.

“If you do not encourage girls to pursue careers in science or mathematics, we are always going to drag a gap in the workplace"

Your case is the clear example of the lack of information before entering in the university about what outputs have certain careers. Despite the demand for labor, the number of students enrolled in Spain in technical careers such as Engineering and Architecture has fallen 28% between 2010 and 2017, according to The challenge of the vocations STEM. The students blame the lack of vocation to the academic difficulty and lack of guidance. “Before beginning to work in the university I thought that was only related to antennas, telecommunications, etc. but now I have seen that the schedule is set to all and the application of technology can be very interesting for women.”

Agirrezabal participates in a mentoring program in which workers of the sector to orient them and explain to them “in a very practical way” what are you going to find in the workplace. “There I could understand the secrecy and the masculinization that exists in this business”, explains the young man, who ensures that she has never felt discriminated against during their studies by reason of sex.

The world of work

Neither did at that stage Laura Ribes, developer (Frontend Developer) in Signaturit, a fintech Barcelona with 100 employees. But yes after. “The barriers start when you enter the labour market. In companies of more traditional, the meetings are focused more on the product and to developers in general, let us participate a little, but if you are a woman, your voice has even less weight, and that is something that I have suffered in the first person,” he says.

In his 17 years of experience in the industry remember any unpleasant situation: “some years Ago I was at an event in which we were all developers, and, at the end of the presentation, the person who was by his side turned around and asked me at all derogatory: ‘what about you programs?‘ This kind of comments are becoming less common but hurt the sensitivity and can sometimes be complicated and even demotivating”.

expand photo Laura Ribes, developer in Signaturit. C. B.

the obstacles to their work to be recognized are added to the prproblems of reconciling work and family and the difficulty of getting funding for their projects. There is a glass ceiling that prevents women reaching the highest positions. “There can be also a factor determinant that has to do with the equalization of the wages between men and women,” says Consuelo Castilla. Is president and partner of AdQualis, a company dedicated to the search for talent, and he explains that although women who work in the technology sector are well prepared, “when it comes to negotiating their salaries are always below those of men even in a sector such as yours, with average wages elevated.” For her, this aspect influences their access to roles of greater responsibility.

Despite being in favor of bet always by the talent, regardless of sex, Castilla considers that in the case of the tech sector, the gap is quite considerable, “as for you maybe yes it makes sense to apply any quota policy”: “it Would be in any case a short-term measure. In the medium and long term must be worked out on the basis of the problem to fix it permanently, and structural”.

businesses are more efficient if they have talent diverse. In fact, three out of every four companies that have promoted the presence of women in management positions have seen an increase in your benefits of 5% to 20%, according to an analysis by the International Labour Organization (ILO). Women, according to Castilla, they are especially good when working in a team, plan, communicate, and empathize: “whether in the technology sector in general and in the field of programming, in particular, that tends to be worked in a very individual way, these skills are especially highly valued by the companies.”

“people tend to study and work in places that we feel that we belong. The fact that in technology companies do not work sometimes many women, many do not perceive as areas that we want to work,” says Ylipoti. But when developing a product, he argues, the presence of women in the team is paramount to take into account the opinion of the women, who are half the population: “Any technological product is going to have female clients and, therefore, in its phase of development will be enriched with the contributions of a woman a programmer, or a woman's policy”.

Updated Date: 26 December 2019, 04:00

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