How can we increase the presence of new generations of women in the technology sector?’

Helena Abellán

Helena Abellán

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A Microsoft study of 11,500 girls from all over Europe, highlights the increased interest that girls have in technology based subjects such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The Microsoft study (in Spanish) revealed that girls who have a connection with women in tech, either by family relationship, the media, cinema, literature or education, have a higher rate of interest in these subjects, being 41% compared to 26% of those girls who do not know these references.

What about advanced skills, like programming? The gap between genders in Spain is 6.8 points, somewhat better than the European average, which stands at 8 points. In general the data has undergone a positive evolution in recent years, but at a very slow speed.

How can we increase this presence of a new generation of women in the technology sector? This topic highlights importance of helping to bring awareness to the next generation of software craftspeople and to promote the presence of more women within our sector and for sure, this is something essential to doing great work in most organisations. 

 

In the latest Codurance Talks podcast we talk with Javier Padilla  Entrepreneur and Co-founder of several Internet companies in Spain: Nabumbu Toys (e-commmerce, 2015), El Desmarque (Sport News, 2006), Ten Golf (Golf News, 2007), Moodyo (social shopping, 2010) and other media companies. Writer of Mara Turing Saga. Among its objectives is to "attract young people and adolescents to the fascinating world of programming, computing and hacking." Mara Turing is on the book lists to encourage tech vocations in the youngest. Javier has an absolutely killer profile: journalist, entrepreneur and developer. He is able to come up with an idea and put it into practice in a matter of minutes. In fact, it is something that he does regularly. And Lucy Broomfield: UX Designer and software product designer, at Codurance. She is enthusiastic about creating better products and delightful user experiences and has a background in both business law and art, and she loves being able to combine her analytical skills and creativity in order to solve user and business problems.

Cecilia Merelo Molina   Junior Software Engineer at ZenZorrito Tecnologías SL. We invited Cecilia because she is one of the authors of this study about women in tech degree for the University of Granada. She has a lot to contribute by being a good connoisseur of the sector and having a good understanding of the needs that exist to promote the sector among younger women.

Fran Ávila:  Yo!!!! I hope you are all great. And I'm really pleased that you are joining us for another Codurance Talks, where we talk about anything really with the IT industry, software craftsmanship and people and the people who build it. I'm Fran Ávila, Software Craftspeople at Codurance and I'll be your host for today. I'm really excited about the topic that we have today. How can we enhance the presence of new generation of women in the technology sector. And this topic is important because at conference, we are very aware of the importance of helping to develop the next generation of software craftspeople and to promote the presence of more women within our sector and for sure, this is something essential to doing great work in most organisation and to talk about why, what and how we have today some incredible people joining us to the table. First of all, Javier Padilla is an entrepreneur and co founder of several internet companies in Spain and writer of the saga books Mara Turing. This saga wants to attract young people and adolescence to the fascinating world of programming computer hacking. Hi Javi, how are you?

Javier Padilla: Well, fine, I'm just, you know, waiting for this podcast because I want to share some opinions and and and I will meet a lot of interesting people, I think. Sure, sure. Sure.

F.A: So a real pleasure to have you here. We also have Lucy Broomfield, a UX designer at Codurance. Lucy is a software product designer and she loved for being able to combine her analytical skills and creativity in order to solve user and business problem. She's a woman working technology sector, and for sure, she has a lot of thoughts to share. Hi, Lucy.

Lucy Broomfield: Hello, I'm looking forward to it. Also, like Javi, I'm looking forward to getting into the topic at hand.

F.A: Cool. And finally, we have with us Ceci Merelo. She is finishing her computer degree and is working as software developer full stack doing backend and mobile development at badger maps. And she's part of the gender studies on IT project in the University of Granada. So I'm pretty sure she has a couple of insights, broaden the table. Hi, Ceci!.

Ceci Merelo: Hi, thank you very much for inviting me. And I'm very looking forward to this conversation.

F.A: So I'm very happy to have all of you here. And let's crack it. So I think that a good starting point is about summation, the Mara Turing seller. So, Javier, how do you what why do you wrote that book or that side? 

J.P: Well, I wrote this book because I wanted to solve a problem. I'm an entrepreneur, with a background of 20 years building internet companies. And in the past eight years, I've dedicated a lot of time to help other startups to build their business. And you know what, I noticed? No women were leaving those companies. Like nine out of 10 companies were managed by men. And after doing some research on the field, I understood why most women choose not to be scientists. And the lack of role models was one of the reasons why when this happened. And on the other hand, I saw kids lost in technology. And they are literally hook up on devices they don't understand at all, they just, you know, touch a screen and spend lots of hours sharing their lives. And well, there are the reasons I wanted girls to starting their own companies and kids knowing how to surf this wave of technology. So that's why I wrote the books.

[.....]

J.P: Mara is a hacker. And in fact, in the beginning of the book, she was not allowed to, to touch any computer that it's like something weird because her mother tells her ad, you're not allowed to touch your computer, you're not allowed to touch a smartphone. And she doesn't know why that's something that that will, that the reader will know. Lately, and, but then she she noticed that programming is something cool. And in the garage, there's a teacher who starts teaching them how to code, the principles of programming, you know, movies from the ideas, I love the stuff. And they and they want to become hackers. I think that that's one of the fun things of the books.

[....]

J.P: Well, mostly through books, because when I learned to programme, it was in the 80s and the 90s. And there were, I mean, I didn't have a YouTube channel to go. So I had to go to the library and find the book. Hopefully, that book was not too old. So I had the chance to learn like a recent version of the language I was trying to learn. First, I start with basic, like most kids in the in the 80s. And and then I move it forward to c, c++ and then PHP for the web and and JavaScript and other languages. But yes, in the early days, I had to go to the library and pick a book or some time I could, you know, get some money and go to the bookstore and ask for a book that sometimes they have to order outside of Spain, because there were not a lot of books of programming in the in the 80s here.

F.A: And so I would like to move to some of the others people that we have here. I'm really interested of Lucy, how did you move forward into it?

L.B: So I was I was thinking about this in preparation for the podcast. And it was kind of an accident. It was it for me, at least growing up and studying and going to school was never, for some reason, it was never on my radar. It was never something I thought, an area I wanted to be in. But I ended up studying art. And then I changed business law. And after graduating, I felt that neither were right for me. So in the meantime, while living in Barcelona, I started working as a virtual assistant, when people I worked for was Jeff Gothelf, who is the author of Lean UX. And I started working with him and some of his colleagues who also have written books about kind of UX and agile and, and all of this good tech stuff. So with working with them, I kind of discovered this whole different world of tech that I previously didn't know about before. I think to me, tech was you know, guys in hoodies in basements with computers and like the very stereotypical kind of image. But then actually meeting these guys and working with them and going to kind of the conferences and such, I realised that there was this whole different world around kind of agile and putting the customer first it was very progressive and fast and you know, very dynamic and interesting. And so this really got my attention. So after working with these guys for a while I decided I wanted to make a career change. So I did a UX Bootcamp, actually at a boot camp that was specifically for women or women identifying people, which was a very, I really enjoyed it. It was a very supportive community of women, you know, all you know, the teachers and students, everyone was wanting to support each other. And we had a lot of networking events, which was great. And then after the boot camp, I got my first UX job, which was with courants, which is also a very progressive company, which I really enjoyed. So for me it or tech was kind of an accident, but it was a happy accident. I'm glad I'm here. And for me, I find my progression was very welcoming.

[...to be continued...] 

These are some of the references we have talked about in this podcast: 

Real references: 

Ada Lovelace
Margaret Hamilton - Apollo 11
Hedy Lamarr - Hollywood actress, WiFi system.
Mala Gupta - Jetbrains, Java Champion
Barbara Liskov - SOLID, and CLU programming language
Lisa Crispin, Agile Testing
Trisha Gee - MongoDB, Jetbraings. Java Champion & MongoDB Master
Grace Hopper, first compiler
Mary Allen Wilkes, first person using a personal computer and remote work. LAP6 OS for Link
Carol Shaw - Atari Developer 70's, Tic Tac Toe
Roberta Williams - King’s Quest
Jade Raymond - Assasin’s Creed
Kim Swift - Valve - Portal, Half-Life 2 y Left 4 Dead.

Popular culture references 


Abby Sciuto - goth badass - NCIS, 18 seasons
Dana Scully - X-Files
Willow Rosenberg - Hacker, LGTBIQ+ - Buffy
Lex Murphy - Girl in Jurassic Park, “It’s a UNIX system! I know this!”
Batgirl
Lisbeth Salander, The Millennium series of books
Cameron Howe, “Halt and catch fire”

Women in tech communities 

Girls in tech, Women techmakers, Geek & Tech Girls, Pyladies

25 mujeres influyentes en el desarrollo de software (In Spanish)