Last week, I tweeted about something fascinating – researchers and astronomers were able to capture the first-ever image of a black hole – a remarkable photo showing a halo of dust and gas 500 million trillion km from the earth. This was previously thought impossible until Katie Bouman, a 29-year old computer programmer developed an algorithm that made the breakthrough possible!
What an inspiring role model for female developers and a fine example of how the power of code to solve some of the world’s biggest mysteries and problems is exponential. Another great example for this is the Call for Code initiative, for which IBM is the founding partner.
While such role models are, inspiring and motivating to millions of girls and women around the world, women still only constitute 11 percent of the developer workforce.
Lisa Seacat Deluca was an executive, is a Distinguished Engineer and IBM’s most prolific female inventor, holding close to 400 patents. But today women like Lisa are far and few in the world of business – Only 26 percent of technology professionals are female, and only 10 percent of executives in tech are women.
IBM, over the years, has invested in programs and policies to drive women in leadership (Elevate for Tech, Pathways to Technical Leadership), bring women back into the workplace (Tech Re-Entry Program, New Collar) and cultivate the future pipeline of talent (P-TECH, Girls Who Code).
In March 2019, IBM announced tie-ups with governments of Karnataka, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh in India to ready 2,00,000 girl students in the field in STEM. A subset of this program, ‘Girls of Code’ will provide 50,000 top-performing female students a unique opportunity to participate in coding challenges and ‘Code and Response’ hackathons.
We know that STEM skills, including the ability to code, are vital to our future and as business leaders, we have a responsibility to lead from the front to:
- Get more women into STEM
- Ensure being a developer is aspirational
There is some amazing young talent – role models for girls thinking about coming into STEM and pursuing a career as developers and I wanted to share a few of their stories in the hope that, like Katie Bouman, they will go on to achieve breakthroughs and great milestones in the careers.
‘You can’t be what you can’t see’ – we all must play our part in driving visibility of great role models within our organisations. It’s now time for us to focus on supporting the next generation of coders who will transform the world!