image: Ada Lovelace
‘There aren’t enough messages to young women that technology is a fascinating area to work in, a fast-moving field, one that rewards hard work, an area where you really can change the world’ (Naomi Alderman, The Guardian,
The media has been rife with stories lately about women in technology, or rather the lack of them. According e-skills, the number of women working in the tech sector has fallen from 17% to 16% in 2014.
There are numerous initiatives to increase the number of women in the sector from the classroom to big business, yet in the last ten years the number of women in key roles in the technology industry has remained roughly unchanged.
Yet despite the statistics there are causes for celebration. We have very recently celebrated Ada Lovelace Day, who at the start of it all – working in the 1800’s – produced the first algorithm intended to be carried out by a machine. Because of this, she is often described as the world’s first computer programmer…a woman!
In April this year, the US appointed a female chief technology officer which is inspiring women across the country to break the gender bias in the tech industry. Megan Smith was previously a vice president of Google[x] at Google. Smith has been one of the country’s leading advocates in the movement to get more women into tech jobs*.
Closer to home, the BSc in Digital Arts Computing course at Goldsmiths has defied the odds and attracted a 65% female cohort this year. A key element of this programme is that it integrates technical programming skills, theoretical and historical conceptions of art into a distinctively computational arts practice. The programme is taught in an integrated way, with a mix of critical studies and computational arts practice elements across both the Art and Computing departments.
We still have a long way to go, but rather than looking at cold statistics, lets focus on the positive stories and inspire the next generation of women programmers.