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Female software engineers are outnumbered four to one

But number of female developers grows to 3.5 million globally
Tue Apr 08 2014, 15:33

FEMALE SOFTWARE ENGINEERS now make up 19 percent of the industry workforce, according to a study, a notable increase from 2001 figures.

Back in the early days of the millenium there were fewer, but according to Evans Data the past 13 years have increased the number of women developing software by 87 percent. Evans said that there are now 3.5 million female software developers globally.

Forty percent of this segment of the workforce is under 30, according to Evans, and this is making the male contingent look a little grey around the edges.

"We've seen the population of female software developers growing since the last recession," said Evans Data CEO Janel Garvin.

"This is probably due to the rise of technology and computer science fields [versus] the fall of more traditional jobs that women have done in the past. Women are viewing technology as a profession with a very favourable future", she added.

"Of course, the shift is also due to older males leaving the profession during the last recession when older, more expensive workers often were the ones laid off first."

Liz Upton, the spokesperson for the Raspberry Pi Foundation, said that its Cambridge offices are filled with capable women, but that there could be more.

"Most of the women at Pi Towers can program," she said. "[But] our three full-time engineers are all guys; we all feel very strongly that it's not because men are innately more talented, but because the education system has historically been very biased towards STEM subjects as boys' subjects."

Upton said that often people don't get the exposure that they want to technology until a late stage in their education, revealing that many of the Raspberry Pi staff only came to technology at university.

"All of us have always felt drawn by the sciences - it's why we work at Raspberry Pi - but it was only really at our various universities, once we'd been directed through arts subjects for our whole schooling, that we found social groups where being geeky was acceptable for women," she said.

"We all thrived in those groups, and we've all ended up making careers out of that. It's a shame: I think we all feel we could have got a lot more out of our schools."

Unfortunately, while the information technology industry has more capable women there is still some room for improvement, added Upton, and she said that the the focus should be on encouraging computing among children.

"We've got a long way to go before girls are really in a position to compete with boys once they enter the workplace, and it's *entirely* to do with the culture we're surrounding our kids with," she added. "This is something we're trying very, very hard to address at Raspberry Pi." µ


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