Today is International Women's Day. But as former Uber engineer Susan Fowler's recent post about the sexism she faced at the company illustrates, it continues to be a struggle for women to enter and remain in the industry.
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As I write this, I can anticipate the angry comments it will receive. But just as women keep showing up at jobs where they earn less than their male peers, attend gender-equality panels with only male speakers, and walk away from meetings with VCs without funding, I'll persist.
The Day Without a Woman strike, which coincides with IWD this year, is one way to demonstrate the impact of women in the workplace and the world. But for the other days of the year, we should take a cue from its organizers, the people behind the Women's March, and move forward through solidarity (check out Wogrammer on Twitter for personal stories of female engineers to start).
That's not to say women should shun their male colleagues and mixed organizations but that women-centric classes, panels, and groups can provide essential networking and support.
Women 2.0, for example, was founded to change the statistics about women in technology, and it directs women to resources for all stages of their careers. The Anita Borg Institute also provides free resources on creating technology careers and connects women in tech careers to each other through local groups, though it is best known for hosting the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference, scheduled for Oct. 4-7 in Orlando.
Other female-focused women-in-tech conferences include:
- IEEE Women in Engineering International Leadership Conference in San Jose on May 22-23, which is partnering with Latinas in STEM this year
- Women in Technology Summit in San Jose on June 11-13
- Women of Color STEM Conference in Detroit on Oct. 5-7
- Global Tech Women's Voices Conference going on now in Australia until March 10
Women who want to learn to code can teach themselves or go to any school that offers classes, but they might also reap benefits beyond programming by attending The Grace Hopper Program, a coding school geared toward women that lets them pay back the cost of tuition after they have secured a job in the industry. Its emphasis on mentoring and robust alumnae network make finding that employment that much easier in a world that is built on networking.
For younger women who are interested in coding, there are the excellent programs like Black Girls Code, Girls Who Code, and TechGirlz. They inspire girls who are at risk of abandoning their interest in STEM in middle school, a point in their lives when societal messages and expectations often give boys a leg up. Google's Made w/Code initiative, a collection of projects and resources for girls, also lets them work on their own projects with groups of friends.
In the end, creating spaces and events for women benefits the tech industry, which should be focusing its resources on innovation rather than harassment lawsuits.