Since we get up in the morning until we go to bed (and even while we are sleeping), we are affected by software. Our alarm clock, the selection of news offered by browsers, our car, our work … The list is endless. Every day new technological challenges require a variety of perspectives and different ways to face them. Because of that, the incorporation of – more – women into the world of software and entrepreneurship related to development and programming is, today more than ever, something imperative.
However, what do they say? Here are some testimonials, comments and opinions of two women who bet on their peers inclusion in software industry.
Some testimonials of women in software industry
Stephanie Cuchacovich, co-founder and CEO of JobOK, a company dedicated to job recruitment through artificial intelligence, says that for her ‘starting to work in the software industry was unexpected’. Software entrepreneurship allowed her to transfer her knowledge about neural networks and human learning to its application in artificial intelligence modeling.
According to Stephanie, although there is still a huge quantitative difference between women and men in the world of software, the possibility of training, even coming from very different disciplines, contributes to build a technological ecosystem where there are opportunities for everyone. Stephanie recalls her personal experience as an educational psychologist with a specialization in neurological development: the possibility of complementing her knowledge in learning and neuronal development with training in business and entrepreneurship, through the training provided by Start-Up Chile, was crucial to develop JobOK.
The future is bright for women in the software industry, says Stephanie. Although she acknowledges that sometimes she is ‘the only woman sitting at the table when modeling a robot or talking to programmers’ they do not regard her ‘differently and the results have been excellent’. Finally, she argues that startups run by women have much higher rates of survival than others. Why? Because ‘we are more empathetic and better handling with work teams. Today, technological development invites us all’.
Briana Osorio, co founder and CEO of Signamy, a mobile application which helps people with hearing disabilities and facilitates learning sign language, believes that the gap between men and women in the world of software is due to cultural issues. According to her, there is a direct relationship between the role imposed on women since their early years, in which they are instilled to play with dolls, while being isolated from science and technology.
For Briana, although the number of women in the industry is gradually growing, female models are needed to counterbalance the success stories in the software world, almost entirely starred by men. One of the female characters that inspires her is Coco Chanel who, although she is not linked to the software industry, she was ‘a great revolutionary among women and in business’.
To generate more success stories ‘we need to make more noise, let us go out more and show what we are capable of doing’, concludes the CEO of Signamy.
A bit of history: when software was a women’s thing
As strange as it might appear to us today, it was the women who dominated the beginning of the software. In the ‘40s, programming was considered ‘a female profession’. One reason was that men were not interested in this area, they used to prefer developing hardware. For them, their prestige was dependent on designing and building giant computers. The programming tasks were considered routine work.
The trend continued until the ‘80s, when there was an important turning point in which men began to compete strongly for a place in the IT field. One of the reasons was the emergence of important, well-paid positions related to programming knowledge. The rising geek or nerd stereotype, always represented by a male figure, also created an environment of exclusion in the technological world that was gradually introduced into the popular imaginary. We must add the traditional models of parenting, in which children were linked to video games and computers, areas in which girls were relegated.
Keys to recover these spaces
As we can see, most people agree that the main obstacle to overcome is the cultural one. Even though gender stereotypes are still powerful, they will not last forever. The key, as in other cases, is providing information to show how the life of software professionals is, insisting that this is a profession like any other (but with full employment) and that it is not necessary to be a genius in mathematics. Through software we can solve everyday life issues, so everyone can try it. In addition, it is an activity that crosses various fields, such as medicine, engineering, social networks and art, among many others.
Although in the (short) history of software there were direct and indirect actions that moved women away from software, the truth is that it has been also democratized and begun to be used for thousands of activities, in which, without doubt, women have a lot to contribute.