Women have traditionally been underrepresented in the field of engineering. Not only engineering, you can say, women are under-represented in all STEM branches. According to a survey, 12% of the total computer graduates are women, which was 37% in 1984. This depicts, something is terribly going wrong. Since past a month, I have been constantly observing and finding at-least one instance per day in my vicinity, maybe, magazines, newspapers, talk with friends and colleagues, television, movies etc. which makes me realize, that there is a dire need for representation of women in engineering as well as to motivate and encourage them to reach almost 50% by 2020. Almost every esteemed companies have become conscious about the gender ratio and have released various detailed statistics about the same, sector-wise as well as country-wise. Most of them have taken up several programs to try to build a bridge for gender balance at workplaces.
Where I have encountered lack of feminist sexism in technology ?
I did my pre-higher secondary schooling from a girls school. I never realized the scarcity of women, until I entered my university and saw woman:man in the ratio of 1:6. The house of residence in the campus had 9 wings for men and just 2 wings for women. This was the very first encounter and then living with it for the past 3 years of my under-graduation, there had been several instances listed below -
The recruitment teams which come to hire freshers in my university, most of the companies had 20-25% females at-most. One of the company which selected me to proceed for next rounds, had not a single female in their recruiting team. In the personal interview, looking at my resume filled with many women in tech initiatives, we had a long discussion about the current scenario of women in STEM branches, the reason behind it and what can be done to improve it.
I was in the programming club at my university, one of the core 5 members. I was the only female and had a hard time some time, maybe, because I was the only female member.
I was the only female from my university selected as a Google Summer of Code 2013 student.
I was the only female from my university as a Google Code-In 2013 Mentor.
The list would go on and on, but cutting it down, I had a very hard and tough time making my place, taking a stand and getting a recognition as a "geek-girl". Today, when I receive many appreciation, it makes me very proud. I am short of words to describe the happiness when my friends and colleagues dedicate me positive words of enthusiasm and comments of what I am today.
What can individual girls do to overcome those hindrance and welcome women in technology related fields according to me ?
Learn to identify what’s discriminatory about this practices. Once you are able to recognize it, you can work upon it and get yourself better.
Befriend other women. Males, as far I know, most of them remain quite alienated and stay in their own groups. But, if you look in your vicinity, I am sure you will find a female friend, who is just like you. You share the same enthusiasm for technology and face the same problems. If you can't find such a female friend, you can ping me :)
Find woman-friendly environments. Get involved in open source and join hackathons.
Filter out the sensationalist, negative articles shared on social media. There are dozens of articles focusing on how woman are doomed and they even get likes and shares. Trust me, ignore such posts and focus on positive ones.
Explore and help inform other girls and women of the benefits of working in technology.
1. WOMEN WHO CODE, GUJARAT
I act as co-founder of a local chapter of “Women Who Code”(WWC) in Gujarat, where I am able to discuss important issues with other female engineers in my province. We, at WWC aim that women should have an equal representation in the technical sector and hence we promote Women in technology through free technical study groups, hack nights, career trainings and larger monthly events which feature influential tech industry experts. As a founder of WWC Gujarat , I am responsible for the Women Who Code Meetup group in Gujarat. I plan weekly and monthly events and am responsible for securing sponsorships, assigning leadership roles within the team and ensuring that the WWC mission and vision is appropriately represented in my state.
Links you would wish to connect with:
2. GOOGLE ANITA BORG MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP
Dr. Anita Borg devoted her adult life to revolutionizing the way we think about technology and dismantling barriers that keep women and minorities from entering computing and technology fields. In her honor, Google honors in Anita’s memory and support women in technology with the Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship. Google hopes to encourage women to excel in computing and technology and become active role models and leaders in the field. I am selected as a scholar for Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship Asia-Pacific 2014. I would be attending the retreat at Google Tokyo Office.The retreat will include workshops, speakers, panelists, breakout sessions and social activities scheduled over a couple of days.
Links you would wish to connect with:
3. TALKS ON INTERNATIONAL WOMEN DAY
On the International Women's day, Google conducted the Google Women Tech-Makers conference, where I delivered two talks, one on Google Cloud Platform and other how to get into Google Summer Of Code at Google Developers Group, Gandhinagar.
I am looking forward to get involved in more such activities, where I can contribute and make a change to the society ! :)
Disclaimer: The activities conducted for women, is not pointing by any means to Gender Discrimination to Male, it just a small effort to help the girls, who are able and capable but are not able to make up a position in the male-dominated field.
PS: One of my long term dream is to become a role-model for women who are interested in computer science or related fields. :)