Our girl Josepha Haden is the team lead for the latest WordPress update. This is not the first time she has been the team lead, but version 5.6 is the first one where the entire team was composed of women and non-binary-identifying people.
WordPress accepted contributions from everyone, as always, so there are men among the notable contributors in the credits, and their work is greatly appreciated.
However, Josepha’s goal when she proposed a release led by a group of people who identify as women was to encourage women in tech.
Do we need to encourage women in tech?
I’m a woman in tech, Josepha’s a woman in tech, Rosie is a woman in tech, my sister is a woman in tech…Just looking at our family, it looks like women are doing just fine.
Look deeper and further, and you see a different picture. Women make up almost 35% of the workforce at the Big 5 tech companies, but that includes non-tech jobs.
Women are just 14% of software engineers in the U.S., and we fill only 26% of all computer-related tech jobs. Women in positions of leadership in IT companies are not as rare as they used to be, but we still make up just 5% of that group.
So, yes, we still have to conclude that women are underrepresented in tech. (More data on the women in tech from Jennifer Gregory, along with some suggestions.)
I remember the one and only time I was at a table full of women at a tech conference (it was in Omaha, in case you were wondering). We hadn’t done it on purpose, but we noticed it and were kind of excited that there were enough of us to fill a table.
I am really looking forward to the time when a major tech release led by women is not news. I want people to respond just as they would respond to a major tech release led by people wearing blue shirts.
We’re not there yet.
How can we encourage women in tech?
Women are 47% of the U.S. workforce. No way are there so few qualified female candidates for tech jobs that we can’t just hire women and solve the problem in that way.
Josepha’s version release helps to make people aware of the issue. We might need more projects like this.
And we should also encourage girls and their parents to think about a future in tech. My sister, a C++ instructor at a college in New Zealand until she recently went back to school, was involved in some research on why girls don’t go into STEM fields as often as boys. She and her colleagues found that the girls in their study wanted to help people and do good in the world. They weren’t nervous about math or worried that they wouldn’t look cute at a computer — they just didn’t see STEM fields as part of the world-changing opportunity they wanted.
We don’t need to persuade little girls that they are capable of going into STEM fields. We need to persuade them that it’s worth their while. We need to show how our work in tech fields helps people and makes the world a better place.
I think we can do that. Josepha, keep it up!