UC Berkeley Student, Salesforce Software Engineering Intern
At every engineering event I attend, people tell me: “You don’t look like an engineer.” In a world that grooms young girls to believe their career, personal life, and skills must stem from their femininity, it is no surprise that attitudes like this still exist. Just because I have long brown hair and prefer wearing floral dresses over company-branded t-shirts, does not mean I am not a competent engineer. It is impossible to look like an engineer, because all engineers look different.
While it’s hard to believe women are still isolated in any career field during a cultural period that champions equality over exclusion, the narrative is no different in most corporate settings. Walk into even the most diverse technology company’s twenty-person engineering meeting and you will be lucky if you see one or two women engineers. Even worse, for those strong women who do pursue engineering, few stick with it because of the climate. We must break down the existing walls of engineering stereotypes, and help to rebuild them with a more inclusive image in mind.
Change must come
It isn’t that the narrative around women in coding should change, it must change, and we have the power to do that. Technology is ingrained in our society and is not leaving anytime soon. Teach young girls computer science at an early age. Through programs like Girls Who Code, Black Girls Code and many others, we have the capacity to familiarize young girls with coding and equip them with the skills to change our tomorrow. We can create an environment where all coders are welcome. If we raise young girls coding, it will not be possible to keep the engineering industry a boys-only club and will help increase diversity in one of the most unequal fields in present day.
Girls of tomorrow
Through coding games on the internet, clubs at school, online courses, and coding camps, teaching young girls to code will increase their critical thinking and set an example that women can succeed in the technology industry irrespective of gender. As technology comes to dominate industries from healthcare to education, the possibilities for women in engineering are endless.
No woman should ever feel like her gender holds her back. Teaching young girls to code will change our future for the better. Now is the time to pave the way for the girls of tomorrow, so let’s get started.
Alexis Polevoi, UC Berkeley Student, Salesforce Software Engineering Intern, [email protected]