22
Mar
2021

According to data from the National Science Foundation, more women than ever are earning STEM degrees but only 38% of women who majored in computer science are working in the field compared to 53% of men. And this should be discussed?

Have you watched The Social Network?

If this heading piqued you to open this blog, I assume you must have.

Remember the great opening scene in The Social Network, where Mark Zukerberg’s character (and remember, this is a work of fiction, so it is just a character) is being dumped by his girlfriend and she says something like, “You’re going to think that people don’t like you because you’re a geek, but that’s not it, it’s because you’re an asshole.”

Indeed, the rest of that movie seems the perfect depiction of the “brogramming” attitude that swept the tech industry.

What’s Brogramming?

Brogramming is an internet slang term used to refer to computer code produced by “bros” — slang for male friends, particularly fraternity brothers — who are programmers. Apparently, this internet meme kicked off in summer 2011 with some threads on Quora.

The cool programmers’ boy clubs who code hard and party hard (maybe we can consider all those Ted Talks/Pep Interviews/Sassy Linkedin Comments/Expensive Cars/fly 20 days a month- as current-day party definition). In the U.S there was an entire wave of this community in Silicon Valley (not saying it has vanished completely now) with Startups like Uber, Napsters, Go Daddy, Klout and many more.

And why should we care?

One of the main problems is the fraternizing culture’s “exclusionary aspect,” which further alienates women from an already male-dominated profession. It’s a club ladies can’t join.

The imbalance of men to women in tech should be addressed much earlier than by the time women are old enough for the workplace.

Guy Kawasaki often quips that you should never do anything in business without checking with a woman first. Although I tend not to buy into gender stereotypes but he posits that men possess a “killer instinct” that they can’t always turn off. They want to kill the competition, kill the pitch, kill kill kill! And to do so, they need to be badder, louder, bigger, tougher and faster than the competition.

Is this a wave of Brogramming in the Indian Startup Ecosystem?

With the momentous rise of the Indian Start-Up Ecosystem, India is the third-largest, startup ecosystem in the world and is home to 21 unicorns valued at $73.2 billion. By some estimates, more than 50 soonicorns’ startups might join the unicorn club as early as 2022.

Diversity in the technology industry workforce worldwide has been a topic of deliberation for a long while. Numerous reports suggest that the ratio of women opting for STEM courses in their academics and technology streams in their careers is not sufficient. Indian IT industry attracts more women, but many exits within the first 5 years in the job.

Gender disparity across the Indian startup ecosystem has increased in 2020 with nearly 77% of firms having less than 20% women in leadership roles, compared to 69% in 2019, according to a report, Startup Outlook Report 2021.

“Whether it is founders hiring from STEM backgrounds, or making lateral hires from corporate leadership pools, there is a gap in gender diversity already prevailing which is spilling over to startups as well,” — Ashish Sharma, chief executive, Innoven Capital India.
Building a startup means growing as fast as you can before running out of money. You hire whoever’s available right now who you can afford. If you do that in a male-dominated field without thinking about it, you wind up with a ton of men. Left unchecked, that can create the sorts of toxic conditions for women we’ve been hearing so much about lately; at best, it’s terrible for business, since your team should reflect your customer base. So maintaining the status quo isn’t an option.

But when did this become A Man’s World?

Was programming always about men?
Not really!

The world’s first computer programmers, according to historian Nathan Ensmenger, author of The Computer Boys Take Over, were six women who ran one of the first electronic computers, an ENIAC machine, at the University of Pennsylvania in the early 1940s. By the 1960s, women made up 30% to 50% of all programmers.

This story was shown in Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race, adapted from Margot Lee Shetterly’s book the film focuses on three real-life African-American female pioneers: Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson, who were part of NASA’s team of human “computers.” This was a group made up of mostly women who calculated by hand the complex equations that allowed space heroes like Neil Armstrong, Alan Shepard, and Glenn to travel safely to space.

So, what should we be mindful of?

Diversity is critical in tech, as it enables companies to create better and safer products that take everyone into consideration, not just one section of society. Moreover, a 2020 report from McKinsey found that diverse companies perform better, hire better talent, have more engaged employees, and retain workers better than companies that do not focus on diversity and inclusion.