Madelin Tomelty

On an educational retreat in Bali, I witness first-hand how female-only coding start-ups are hoping to close the gender gap in tech

There is now an ocean of research to indicate that when companies employ women in meaningful positions such as those of leadership, the business experiences better outcomes. Teams with a high percentage of women also have higher levels of collective intelligence and make better-informed decisions.

So why, then, does the gender gap prevail – and is there any glimmer of hope this might be changing?

When it comes to the information technology industry, the jury’s still out. In Australia, women account for less than a fifth of the IT workforce, and this problem of industry gender disparity goes much further than our isolated shores. In 1984, 37 per cent of all computer science graduates in the United States were women. Gender equality has come a long way since then, and so you’d be forgiven for thinking this figure could only have gone up and up over the decades, right?

Unfortunately, no. In fact, 30 years on it has plummeted to just 18 per cent, and it’s estimated by 2020, women will fill a pathetic 3% of the 1.4 million computing-related jobs in the United States.

Despite women, on average, being more educated than men globally and making up the majority of those enrolled in university in nearly 100 countries, we are being left behind. As technology continues its trajectory as one of the world’s fastest growing industries, the gender gap within it widens. But before you throw your hands in the air crying, “What’s the point!?” it’s not all doom and gloom out there.

Technology start-ups Code Like a Girl, Institute of Code and Girls Who Code were all founded with a mission to close the gender gap in technology and encourage more women from around the world into the industry. Girls Who Code has gone from a group of 20 girls in New York in 2012 to a network of 40,000 girls in all 50 U.S states, while global non-profit Women Who Code has connected over 100,000 women, produced 4,200 free technical events, and awarded over $1m in educational scholarships and tickets.

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