I am a pre-final undergraduate computer science student, and it has always been a passion of mine to increase the number of women in technology and to upskill those who already work in it. I've worked for a number of NGOs with similar missions, and I've also taught programming to roughly 250 schoolgirls in my home country of India. In my institution, I started the first-ever Women In Tech mentorship program, which has matched over 90 aspiring women with mentors.
Because I had never had somebody to mentor or lead me, I had always felt compelled to mentor and guide women. I was determined to excel in technology, so I forged my own path and tried a variety of approaches. I was determined to impart this knowledge to my juniors so that they wouldn't get lost and could follow a clear path.
My mentee circle has had a lot of success, with three of them earning Google offers in their second year and one currently interviewing with them!
Teach Bravery, Not Perfection
When I look back on my coding journey, I'd always been hesitant to share my ideas since I'd always thought I wasn't good enough and something just didn't feel right. Later, I was reaffirmed in my ideas after listening Reshma Saujani's Ted Talk "Teach girls bravery, not perfection."
Most girls are taught to avoid failure and risk. To smile pretty, play it safe, get all A’s. Boys, on the other hand, are taught to play rough, swing high, crawl to the top of the monkey bars and then jump off head first. By the time they’re adults and whether they’re negotiating a raise or even asking someone out on a date, men are habituated to take risk after risk. They’re rewarded for it. In other words, we’re raising our girls to be perfect and we’re raising our boys to be brave.
I observed the same reflection in my mentees when I was mentoring them. Some of the most typical trends I've noticed are:
- Women do not apply for jobs, scholarships, or fellowships until they are totally qualified and know "everything there is to know". Unfortunately, no one knows everything when it comes to coding. We must accept our flaws and work diligently until the code is free of bugs.
In addition to the aforementioned fear of rejection, they would rather have a mediocre profession than face many rejections, as Reshma would say, "playing it safe." I urge my mentees all the time to apply to any opportunity comes their way; rejection isn't the end of the world! You're squandering all of the 100% opportunities you don't take, and you just need to succeed once to change your life!
Even if they are able to overcome their dread of applying for jobs, they get very demotivated when they receive a rejection and opt to stop coding immediately.
They are afraid to take initiative because they believe that if they ask questions, it will reveal that they are flawed, which is not acceptable to them. They are reluctant to take the initiative until no one else joins them, and they are afraid to speak up in a group discussion.
I'm not suggesting that all women are like this, but I've noticed that there aren't many women that perform exceptionally well in tech. Some psychological factors are preventing them from working hard.
They have so much potential; all they need is a little help from the community!
Your Role As a Mentor
Mentors must step in and assist them in confronting their imaginary concerns. Mentoring women consists of 10% technical assistance and 90% psychological drive. They are insanely talented and are natural hard workers. There are several organisations that provide exclusively female mentoring, and there is a strong rationale for this. They require special guidance because, in most cases, psychological reasons prevent them from functioning at par with their male counterparts.
Telling them you've been through the same phases as them and there's no harm in feeling lost is the best method to build their trust and ensure they're disclosing everything. Pushing them to apply to major opportunities and jobs and clearing all the self doubts in them is all they need. I used to do this virtually every week during our weekly meetups, and I think this simple thing really helped!
Contribute to Close the Gap
It's terrific that so many organisations are developing and assisting people in narrowing the gender gap in the tech industry these days. Whether you are a male, female, or non binary, there are numerous organisations to which you can contribute
- The Girl Code
- Girls in Tech
- Code First Girls
- Girls Who Code
- Code Like a Girl
- Girl Code It
- Learn IT, Girl!
- GirlScript Foundation
- Women Tech Network
- Women Who Code
For More Details Please refer to my Medium Article here
As Reshma would say:
Because when we teach girls to be imperfect, and we help them leverage it, we will build a movement of young women who are brave and who will build a better world — for themselves, and for each and every one of us.
Let us build a more confident, bold generation of female coders!