As a woman, I’ve been troubled for some time now about the role of technology in society. It’s clear that our lives are touched by technology everywhere, everyday and our ability to succeed will increasingly depend on understanding how technology works.
So, why is it still that most of us, and especially women, want to be the users of technology but not the creators?
My own journey into STEM began without any biases. Schooling and education was about working hard and trying to excel in all subjects and dimensions. When I look back, what that meant for me was that I didn’t have a specific calling for a subject during my schooling years and it helped me to keep my options open. In the end, I chose Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics over Biology knowing what I didn’t want to continue with rather than what I did want to. I found Physics fascinating with all the phenomena of matter and energy. Learning about the universe is still exciting and at the same time humbling; to feel almost atomic in the grand scheme of things. This fascination continued my journey into Engineering and the rest is history.
Certainly it’s wonderful to have an education system that gives equal opportunities and the freedom of choices to both girls and boys. However, we still continue to discuss this imbalance of a) the number of students choosing Information Technology vs. other streams and b) the ratio of women vs men in IT.
My article focuses on the latter. Why do teenage girls mostly choose a non-IT path? Who best to answer but someone who is on the very cusp of the journey when educational choices are made. Sara is a 3rd year high school student who participated in TCS’ goIT initiative in Stockholm. She chose IT. Why? It was simply about choice.
She developed an interest in mathematics and computers early on in school and choose IT, while almost all her school friends chose social sciences. So that raises the fundamental question as to why women don’t make this choice as frequently as men. Is it about perception that getting into IT is harder, not as much fun, nor lucrative enough? Why does Sara’s class only have 6 girls to 27 boys? Sara didn’t have any biases about IT. It was in the end, for her and her friends about choice.
She did mention something interesting; lately there has been a lot of discussion about the need for women in IT and a lot of pull initiatives towards Women in IT that has perhaps helped in improving the ratios. There is certainly proof to this. In fact, in the second year of Sara’s high school 9 girls chose IT and in the first year 12 girls have chosen this path. This is certainly a positive indicator. Further she said that TCS’ goIT initiative enhanced her interest in programming because of the mentorship format and the fun way it was introduced as a subject. Hearing this only pushes me forward.
We as individuals, technology organizations, and academic institutions must continue to propagate this technological agenda irrespective of gender. All Efforts seem to have started by making grassroots level impact and that’s heartening.
Today all businesses are getting embedded in technology. So why shouldn’t women also take their rightful place as the creators of these next gen businesses? Come and join the movement!
About TCS’ goIT program
TCS’ goIT program is a community engagement program and joint initiative between TCS that started in North America and has since spread to Europe. In Sweden, Rinkeby Secondary School, Kista Secondary School and the upper secondary Stockholm Science and Innovation School (SSIS) joined forces with TCS to boost interest among youth to pursue education in Information technology. TCS goIT program in 2016 employed smart robots to teach students programming skills. TCS’ employees teach computer programming and mentor youth to increase STEM education and career awareness. goIT covers career awareness workshops and hands-on technology education. Students learn icon-based programming languages as they engage in hands-on project based challenges.
In 2017 TCS goIT program will focus on Human Centered App Design.