27 July 2011

Geek girls return

Anna Lewis interviews Fog Creek Software's Leah Hanson, currently that organization's only woman intern.

Q: As you know, Fog Creek would like to attract and hire more developers who are women. Is there anything you’d recommend we do in our recruiting process to attract more women?

Leah: ...one of the things that happens is that women don’t even think they’re qualified for something because it’s advertised in competitive language. The language of competition not only doesn’t appeal to many women, it actually puts them off. Google advertises their Summer of Code with very competitive language. In 2006, GNOME received almost two hundred GSoC applicants – all male. When GNOME advertised an identical program for women, but emphasizing the opportunities for mentorship and learning, they received over a hundred highly qualified female applicants for the three spots they were able to fund.

Lewis leads the post with an excerpt from the April 1967 Cosmopolitan, which makes the point that programming is very Cosmo girl, especially when you get to use the cool light pen. And for a time, women were attracted to the field, but the proportion of female CS majors peaked in the mid-1980's, when Ronald Reagan was president and hacking moved to the desktop.

(Link via The Code Project.)

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