Maggie: Shelby is here with me now and we are talking tech. The field of computer science is expected to create nearly 1.5 million jobs by the end of the decade, but, Shelby, most of them will be taken by men?
Shelby: That is right, Maggie. Fewer than 20% of computer programmers are women. But a group of girls are working to change that by making technology trendy.
Techies have never been considered the cool kids in Hollywood, which is why college students Prachie Banthia and Molly Long had never considered working in computer science while growing up.
Prachie Banthia: My main problem was the stigma around it, ‘Oh, you do computer science. You must be totally antisocial and not talk to anybody.’ I don’t know if it hurts women – young girls – more than it hurts young boys, but it definitely affected me a lot.
Shelby: But not anymore.
Prachie: That’s kind of where my focus is. And the summer before that, I worked in…
Molly Long: I just thought it was really cool to be able to, like, make a program. It involves a lot of creativity and it’s very collaborative, which is what people don’t think.
Announcer: Welcome to the 2013 Grace Hopper Celebration for Women in Computing.
Shelby: That brought them here, along with more than 4,000 other women, to the Grace Hopper Conference in Minneapolis held recently.
Sheryl Sandberg: We need women to lead along with men.
Shelby: Industry leaders, like Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, talked tech and mentored the future generation of programmers and product designers.
Sandberg: This is the most flexible career there is.
Shelby: Jobs that can pay upwards of 40% more than the average career salary.
Harvey Mudd College, which specializes in these fields, has quadrupled its population of female computer science graduates from 10% in 2005 to 40% two years ago.
Maria Klawe: You have to have women believe that they can succeed. You have to have people who are being willing to say, ‘I can do it. I’m female. I can be a scientist! I can be a mathematician! I am a scientist and a mathematician! I’m an engineer!’
You know, our image of who’s a computer scientist, who developed software, it’s a geeky guy with no life. We have to shine a bigger light on people who are doing great things.
Shelby: At Brown University, Molly Long has taken up the task of being a full-time computer science recruiter.
Molly: We had, like, posters up that was, like, ‘Oh, Beyoncé started computer science. Can you do it?’ Or, like, ‘Kendrick Lamar can code. Can you do that?’ So we had posters all around all these different departments, and then we, like, broke down all the stereotypes for them. Like, ‘We really don’t just code in the dark. We, like, do fun stuff. We’re collaborative people. Our projects are awesome.’ And then, this year, for our enrollment for intro C.S. classes, it spiked. It, like, doubled.
Shelby: A spike they hope continues to grow.
Maria: If we don’t have women in computer science, we’re missing half of the population. And if you don’t have a diverse workforce, diverse teams working on it, you get crummy solutions. So you need women at the table.