“As soon as a woman gets introduced, it’s like blood in the water,” says a female computer programmer in the US, talking in a new movie out of the US about the sexism that pervades her industry.
“It’s hard to encourage more women to come into an environment that will sexually harass them and not fund them,” says another.
CODE: Debugging the gender gap, a new film by American director Robin Hauser Reynolds, tackles why there is such a shortage of women in coding and programming.
The movie is being screened by AUT University’s COLAB this Sunday at 3pm.
Rear Admiral Grace M. Hopper (1906-1992) was a pioneer in the development of computer programming
While sexism and discrimination are less a problem in New Zealand, says Jen Rutherford of the NZ Technology Industry Association, the issue of computing still being a largely male bastion is hugely relevant – and is having a big impact.
“I see no evidence in terms of people being turned away because of their gender in New Zealand. But I think there’s an issue of girls not wanting to work or study in what is seen as a male-dominated environment.”
Rutherford says getting more women into the industry is a key focus of NZTechIA, as a way of relieving the ongoing shortage of coders and programmers.
A recent MBIE report found wages in computer system design were double those elsewhere.
“At the moment there are some really good programmes [helping women enter the industry], but they are small in their reach. My mission is to get them broader and effective for bigger numbers. 50,000 people, not 50.”
Male/female breakdown numbers aren’t yet avaialble in New Zealand, but major tech companies overseas have started reporting on the skew. At Apple the ratio is 80:20, at Twitter, it’s 90:10, and at Google 83:17.
As the CODE movie says: “This is a Rosie the Riveter moment because the jobs are there and we need the workers to fill them.”