From buildings and bridges, to ultramodern products, websitesand applications, engineering touches almost every facet of human life – changing the world for the better.
But, did you know that even now women make up only 13% percent of the engineering workforce?
Despite all the talk around gender diversity, inclusivity, and women empowerment, the technology landscape still has space to accommodates many more female engineers – there aren’t that many yet. Ever wondered why?
Perhaps because of deep–rooted, but a bit misplaced, ideas about gender roles in our society, upbringing, and ideologies. The pink aisle in the toy store is dedicated to little girls who are expected to spend their childhood playing with princesses and dollhouses, while the boys’ toys are way more diverse and technologically driven (think drones, remote-operated cars, Lego, and video games).
Believe it or not, around age 6, kids begin to develop or lose interest in science and technology. This, in turn, may dictate career choices in the future.
The fact that women continue to be a minority in the software engineering space is down to the conventional notions around this field of work.
Common Misconceptions and Challenges
Boring, intimidating, tedious, monotonous, and male-dominated are some of the terms that are generally associated with software engineering. However, except for the last one, the rest of the words are far from the truth. Unlike conventional opinion, engineering isn’t boring. It is, in fact, quite the opposite.
The misconception that this domain is tailored for male engineers, and there is no place for women here has been defied by several female software engineers. Breaking free from toxic notions and practices, many women have successfully shattered the proverbial glass ceiling. The first female engineer at Google, Marissa Mayer, for example, was at the forefront of successful projects and products like Gmail and Google Maps. She eventually went on to spearhead Yahoo!.
Mayer, Julia Liuson, Natalia Burina, Jade Raymond, Kimberly Bryant, Leah Culver, Saron Yitbarek, and Jessica McKellar are just a few examples of women who are software engineering stalwarts.
If anything, the scope and involvement of women has only increased in this area in the recent past. Ask people in the industry, and they will vouch for the fact that having the female perspective makes things better.
How can women become software engineers?
The United States’ Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted a 13% growth in the employment of software developers and a 19% increase in the demand for app developers in the 2019 to 2024 period.
This spells good news for girls who aspire to make a long-term career in software engineering and app development.
These golden tips from women who have broken that glass ceiling in the software arena can ensure that you carve a niche for yourself in this domain:
1. Get the right education
Any career you choose begins with acquiring the right set of skills. Formal training is extremely important when it comes to an intensive field of work, like software engineering. As mentioned above, the minority aspect of the industry reflects in the education system, too (or vice versa). However, now, a lot of young women are opting for a career in the software field, getting a head start with top-notch courses like NEIT’s degrees in software engineering, bachelor’s, or associate’s.
2. Work hard
Software engineering is one field that requires a lot of hard work and dedication. While some people are naturally gifted and good at some subjects, ultimately, it all depends on how much hard work you put in during your engineering program and even after you enter the industry as a professional.
3. Be fearless
The apprehensions around male dominance and the complex nature of work might make you feel like you don’t belong here, but the only way to rise above this challenge is by facing your fears. Don’t be afraid of challenging the status quo, taking risks, or getting out of your comfort zone.
4. Keep evolving
The world around is constantly evolving and the only way to survive and thrive in the software engineering sector is by striving to upskill and learn continuously. Keep that curious streak inside you alive and burning – at no point of time should you feel like you know it all.
5. Put your hat in the ring
The field has endless opportunities for both men and women; all it takes for you is to believe in yourself. It is also important to understand the various avenues and roles in the tech industry and find out which specialization excites you.
Talk to like-minded professionals in the industry and attend as many events and seminars as you can in order to build your network. Did you know that there are events and workshops for coding enthusiasts where you get to learn and work on practical projects simultaneously? You can also have meaningful conversations with other people (especially like-minded women) in the software engineering domain, share your ideas, thoughts, and struggles, and learn from their experiences.
7. Never lose your creative voice
The last thing you want to do is fall prey to the notion that software engineering and coding are dull and uninteresting things. Make sure you find your creative voice and sustain it by being innovative and artistic with everything you do!After all, one little thing you do as a software engineer ultimately makes a difference to someone’s life – apply your artistic skills to your job and you will never have a boring day at work.
And now for the last piece of advice – have fun!
With business organizations, big and small – Fortune500 companies and start-ups – acknowledging the place of women in the tech space, it is a fantastic time to enter this industry. Be the change you want to see. All it needs is a mountain of confidence and a leap of faith.
The term “Software Engineering” was coined by a strong woman – mathematician, computer scientist and engineering legend, Margret Hamilton.
About The Author