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Women in computing... are we such a rarity? How many do you know?

A rarity

Some years ago, my sister who is a programmer, her friend Lourdes who is a programmer, a new co-worker of them and I were having lunch together. Suddenly he said something that was very funny to me.

- It is so weird... I´ve just realized that I´m having lunch with three programmer girls. Programmer girls. You all progammers. Who would have thought of it? This is so out of this world!

We started at each other in awe.

- What? Do you think we are strange? Why? We are as normal as any of our female colleagues.

Then he proceeded to explain that, when he studied computer science in another country, Mexico, he had never met any female student enrolled in a computers related carreer. Thus programmer girls were a rarity for him.

Statistical facts

A rarity. At least where he studied and many other countries. But I dare to say that in our country it is quite normal.

Women can aspire to computers-related careers just like women who aspire to become doctors or teachers.

When I was in high school I had a lot of girl friends who dreamt about studying a computer engineering career at Technological University of Panama (UTP). Studying there sounded so prestigious - (And in fact it is) - that it doesn´t surprise me that they liked to play with the idea, even if not all of them liked math a lot.

When studying at UTP I could dare to say that at least 33% in the pre-graduated classroom were females. And all of them seemed very enthusiastic about this career. I found a chart on internet showing the percentage of women studying computing back in 2000, but I don't remember where I left it. It was near that number. It kinda had decreased a little bit some years later. (I promise I´ll post that graph when I find it, to make it more accurate )

Now, I found another about the percentage of women enrolled in post-graduate studies and they represent more tha 40%. So I guess those are good news!

However, after reading some articles on the internet, it seems that we might be unique compared to other countries... like USA? (see When Women Stopped Coding : Planet Money : NPR)

Do my country have the secret to make computer science appealing to girls? Do statistics in USA only include women doing low level code stuff like what you do with C, C++, Java not taking in consideration more girl-friendly programming like Visual Basic, .net, Powerbuilder, etc.? Well... I don't know.

But what I know is that during the time I´ve been working in this field I have met a lot of talented female colleagues, not only graduates from UTP, but also from National University of Panama and Latina University. Some of them are programmers, some of them are database analysts, some of them are more into technical support area and they all have in common one thing: they love what they do.

Any example? My sister Yan, her friends Lourdes, Elsa, Vielsa, Mari, Zulay,Ivelisse; and friends and colleagues we've worked with some time, like: Rosa, Zayu, Argeisa, Ilda, Manuela, Fragancia, Katherine, Marlenis, Bibiana, Ina, Dayra, Adilia, Mithzy, Indira, Ismeida, Vielka, Denise, Aidelen, Zayra, Roxana, Margoth and Audrey.

What about your country? Are women in computing a rarity? Can you mention the ones you have worked with?

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8 Answers

  • Best Answer
    Posted on Apr 17, 2015 at 08:15 AM

    Women have been very much in the minority in the workplace for me in the past 25 years (UK, France, Switzerland). Generally, the women seem to be better at the job, but I think that's because those who aren't quickly find something they're more suited to. Men, it seems, will carry on being useless until they're made redundant or promoted out of harm's way.When I did my degree, about 25% of the students on the Computing courses were female.

    I don't really care what gender the people I work with are - so long as they're competent, do their job and are reasonably sociable.

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  • Posted on Apr 14, 2015 at 11:40 AM

    this would have made for a good blog in the Careers space ๐Ÿ˜Š You might want to consider republishing. It could get a bit more serious thought that coffee corner banter

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    • Former Member

      Thanks for your suggestion... Yep, I agree I should republish it ther not just because careers space sounds more appropriate but I have some typos and name mistakes and I can't edit this once it is posted and I wanted to correct it ๐Ÿคช

  • Posted on May 06, 2015 at 06:05 PM

    Hey girls,

    look at this FAQ on behalf of all women in tech:

    Completely Truthful Answers to Lady Engineer Questions โ€” Medium


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  • Posted on Apr 12, 2015 at 05:07 PM

    Hi Erika,

    These are really good questions and observations. I do wonder what you mean, though, when you ask about Visual Basic, .NET, etc, as more "girl-friendly" than C, C++, or Java. Why would these be more girl-friendly and what makes them so?

    On my team (in the USA), today, one of our three ABAP developers is female. Expanding out to include the rest of our IT department, we have a near even mix of female and male developers and database administrators, as well as network engineers and IT managers (not so much the network analysts and PC techs, though; that group remains predominantly male, but they report to a female manager). While our current CIO is male, we have had several female CIOs or IT Directors (the title has changed over the years) in the past 15 years. However, I cannot speak to whether we are unusual in this regard.



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  • Posted on Apr 15, 2015 at 06:41 PM

    Interesting analysis Erika, I enjoyed reading it along with the comments. I think this would be a great topic in the Business Trends space as well. ๐Ÿ˜Š

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  • Posted on Apr 27, 2015 at 04:54 AM

    My daughter (17) spent some time yesterday installing Eclipse on her (female) friend's computer. They're learning Java at school as part of the general curriculum. Apparently they're quite good at it.

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  • Posted on Apr 17, 2015 at 08:31 AM

    To answer your original question, On LinkedIn, about 10% of my IT connections are women. In my office, there are 2 women. The boss and a project manager.

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  • Posted on Apr 23, 2015 at 05:05 PM

    Women are definitely in minority in IT (and programming in particular) in the US. I'm not quite sure what is the reason for that. Some comments to the linked article suggested that it could be a problem with stereotype of the profession not being feminine and girls preoccupied with image issues (because that's what media tells them is important). But then others commented that being a "girly girl" didn't prevent them from becoming programmers.

    I guess this leaves us with the school and parents to blame. But if I was raising a daughter it would be very much like swimming against the current in the sea of pink glitter, unrealistic expectations and outdated views on what is "appropriate for women".

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