The image of Rosie the Riveter shouts girl power. We see her bandana, imagine her working with machinery, and we are reminded that girls can do anything boys can.
But is this iconic figure one of the past? Have we girls moved beyond the need for her form of inspiration? Perhaps not.
The Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) has repurposed Rosie the Riveter for their new study Make Tech Her Story. This hero who inspired girls to join the industrial work force during WWII is now the source of motivation for girls to pursue careers in the computer science industry.
But how serious is the need for women in the IT industry?
According to the CompTIA study, in 2015, out of 5.1 million people working in the field, only 25% of those were women. 25%. 1/4. A fourth! Surely, that can’t be right. Yet, when I compare this percentage to the experiences of some of our school’s staff, this number actually looks fairly large. For example, our Director of Technology, who has been in the field for 26 years has worked with zero women in IT. 0%. None.
Are we not hiring the women who apply? Do women apply? For this question, I sought the opinion of our HR Director, who took over forty applications for positions in robotics and programming. Out of the forty, she had one résumé from a female. One. Maybe it is not an issue of men being better candidates for these types of positions, but about there being no female candidates.
It’s time to start a movement. Teachers and parents must light a fire of curiosity in our young women. While nearly 27% of girls in middle school have considered a job in technology, that number drops to only 18% by high school (MakeTech Her Story). How can we, as educators, stir up a passion? Is it possible for us to kick the the old stereotype of the “brogrammer” to the curb?
Reshma Saujani, the founder of Girls Who Code, explained that “brogrammers” only made up 63% of computer science graduates in 1984; while today, they make up over 89% according to the Girls Who Code website.
Where are our girls going to find the inspiration to join the IT industry if not from daily use of their smartphones, tablets, and laptops? School? Home? Ideally, it would be from both, but if you ask children where the ideas for future jobs are introduced, it would be at home. 33% of girls and 38% of boys agree that their primary source for learning more about the IT field would be their parents (Make Tech Her Story).
Consider this a call to action for parents. Tell your children about the 1.4 million computing-related jobs that will need to be filled and how only 30% of those jobs have applicants that are US graduates (Saujani). Instill a love of technology and develop an interest in how things work. Illustrate that it is not “a guy’s field.” Encourage them to take a robotics class, coding class, or a personal branding class.
CompTIA’s study shows that 55% of girls want a job with a good salary, but one that allows them to help others. They look to the arts, nursing, or teaching, but it’s also imperative to show them how technology can impact people’s lives. Show them positions such as e-learning developer, visual journalist, wildlife technology engineer, music data scientist, or e-commerce analyst, even jobs like mine– Educational Technology Specialist for a school.
Let’s debunk the perception that girls can’t code, that women can’t hold important roles in the IT field.
Grab your red bandana and your laptop, and let’s rally together with Rosie.
This post was written in collaboration with CompTIA. For more information on Make Tech Her Story, visit CompTIA’s new site: https://maketechherstory.comptia.org/
For more information of Girls Who Code, visit their website: www.girlswhocode.com
Special thanks to Jeff Buyna and Kelli Reinhardt.