I want to preface this post by saying thank you for everyone that contributes to the movement of trying to get women into software. I respect each of you and appreciate that something that is important to me is important to you as well.
There is something that has been weighing on my heart for a long time now that I feel I need to get out. This may make some folks angry, and I apologize in advance. However, I think it's imperative to open up this dialogue.
I don't need to tell you about the horrible deficit of women in programming. Less than 10% of the 2009 CS grads were female. This is down an incredible amount from two decades ago where the equivalent degree program (MIS) attracted nearly 40% women.
As you can imagine I get asked about this issue a lot. Some of the more cynical men I have spoken to have asked, "Why do we need more women in software?" I'm not going to sit here and say we're better at project management and design it drives me crazy when people go there. Though our biology does predispose us to these things I like to think that I contribute the same value as my male counterpart. Suggesting we are better at some things also says we are not as good at other things. I don't want to reduce the value of my sisters.
The answer to the question of "why" is simply: we don't. The industry would survive and likely thrive just as much without us. If you are someone who is super into white and asian guys software is for you. If you don't mind your daughters being completely turned off by the idea of being the only female on most teams and having no female role models then definetely keep the status quo. However, if you want to make this a community that is full of excellant men and women something needs to change.
I have been invited to countless "Women in Tech" events by some really awesome people. I understand that these events are beneficial to some, and I don't dispute that. I choose not to go because I don't like to segregate myself from my fraternal brothers in software. I also believe that nothing is accomplished by discussing this over and over again. We have been talking amongst ourselves for a long time and we are yet to find a solution.
One of the biggest issues in this movement hit me yesterday in the PDC Keynote. Some developers of now successful start ups such as Icanhazcheeseburger and Seesmic. I have seen a lot of these cool products demoed, both here and at the New York tech meetup and they all have one thing in common. Their creators? Men. All dudes.
THAT is where we are lacking, not in support groups, in end product. Off the top of my head I can think of only two female developer leads on projects, Sara Ford and formerly Leah Culver. THIS is how we will attract girls to programming. When they look at us and say "wow, I can do that." We can talk until we are blue in the face, however, unless we take action we are not role models.
So, I'm challenging you ladies, GET OUT THERE. Fail, over and over until you succeed. Let's show this crop of high school girls how awesome it is to be a woman that produces awesome software. Let's focus on clean code, and beautiful apps, and getting the recognition for what's important; not being a WOMAN in software but for being an amazing developer with great ideas. Let's be the ones on stage showing off our super popular new apps. In short: let's stop talking about it, let's get out there and get awesome.