Did you know that many of the earliest pioneers of computer programming were women? Ada Lovelace, for example, wrote the first machine algorithm, Admiral Grace Hopper was known as “the mother of COBOL,” and a group of six women programmed ENIAC, the world’s first electronic computer.
Today, however, IT is often regarded as less than welcoming to women. The percentage of women in IT is lower than 30%, and in some places, the number of women in IT is lower than it was a few decades ago. *
Above: Photo from Grace Hopper's US Celebration in Minneapolis, MN. Read our write-up from the event.
I have often wondered what can be done to tackle this issue. ThoughtWorks has gone a step further. Instead of wondering, we’ve started acting. We seek to promote diversity in all its forms, and actively strive to make both our organisation and the IT industry more reflective and inclusive of the society that we serve. One of our ambitious missions is to try to equalise the number of men and women (or at least close the gap considerably) within our organisation, as well as in the industry.
We’ve undertaken quite a few initiatives to towards this end. Our aim is to attract women to IT, and encourage women who are already in IT to stick around.
- Is it a challenge? Sure.
- Is it an insurmountable challenge? Absolutely not!
- Besides, who doesn’t love a challenge?
We have 29 offices in 12 countries across the world. In each of these countries, we’ve supported, organised, driven, and sponsored a number of events and initiatives to encourage and empower more women to join the tech world.
We’ve organised Rails Girls chapters across the world - US, Africa, Brazil, Europe, and all four India offices, among others. In the US and Africa, we've worked closely with Black Girls Code and hosted a number of training events in our offices.
We host regular events at our offices or at external venues, where our colleagues - women and men - talk about opportunities available for girls and women who are interested in a career in the technology industry.
One of those events is the annual Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) of Women in Computing Conference. ThoughtWorks India is thrilled to be a sponsor again this year, and even more excited to meet passionate women who are looking to make a difference. In the last year, the world seems to have started thinking and talking much more about the issues that women in STEM face, and how they can be resolved.
This year’s theme for GHC India, “Together We Rise,” pretty much sums up the sentiment. The time has come for everyone to come together and challenge the status quo.
Hear what our Chief Scientist Martin Fowler has to say about the lack of women in IT in a recent interview on Huff Post Live.
And read what our Chief Technology Officer Rebecca Parsons suggests to organizers seeking more speaking proposals from women.
In an interview with BRW, ThoughtWorker Lindy Stephens talks about how positive discrimination has dramatically improved the number of women in the company.
These are just a few examples of how one organisation can make a change. If you share our passion and want to do amazing things, join us!
* Statistics quoted in Huff Post Live interview included in this article