Written by Lorinda Brandon (@lindybrandon)
It’s a given, isn’t it? Intermissions at the theater, the end of a movie, breaks between classes… they all mean one thing – a long line at the ladies’ room. We joke about it but it really is an incredible annoyance.
But here’s something I find even more annoying… the complete lack of lines for the ladies’ room at professional and technology conferences. Oh, we joke about it on Twitter and Facebook, but we all know it underlines a more serious issue in our country today. Where are all the girl geeks? We have built the backbone of our economy, healthcare, and security systems on software so you would expect that industry to be a high-growth area for young professionals. And it is… for men. Did you know:
- 94% of phone app developers are men.
- 91% of software architects are men.
- Fewer than 10% of the CIOs in America are female.
Personally, I find these numbers staggering, considering that I started in the software profession 30 years ago. We were all trailblazers back then, considering how young the industry was. But I could never have imagined how slow the progress would be to incorporate women as leaders and participants in the software industry. And why does it matter? It matters because the world runs on software these days – our infrastructure completely depends on innovation, evolution, and growth in the software industry. We not only need new ideas and the money to build them, but we also need the raw talent to fill all the needed positions. When the economy was at rock-bottom, most of us in the software sector didn’t feel it like the rest of the country. As a hiring manager, I still had difficulty finding Java engineers and was often in a bidding war with other companies. Why? Because software has been as essential a part of our world as natural gas and clean water.
So why do I care about the number of women in technology? Because technology is where our future lies. It’s where the money is. It’s where the power is. And women need to be part of that. Studies have shown that diversity in the board room leads to a stronger company and that women, in particular, can affect the bottom line in a positive way. With women driving 80% of the purchases in the United States today (I was surprised too!), it is no surprise that having a female perspective at the very top can only help build products that resonate with the portion of the population making those decisions.
But being at the top… well, that’s not really what this is about. Here at ALineAtTheLadiesRoom.org, we don’t need you to be at the top. We just want you to be in the game. For me, personally, I’m tired of sitting in a conference session and being able to count the women on one hand while there are 10 times that many men. I want to see as many women speakers as men speakers at tech conferences. I want to have the number of developers and architects far more balanced than they are now, so women can use their creativity and insights to help push our technologies forward.
And, of course…
I want to bustle out of the room between talks so I can get to the ladies’ room before the line forms.
Because that’s when I know we’ve arrived.