Gender Matters in Computing—Hear Why

Monday, October 21, 2013 - 14:15
Reshma Saujani

UPDATE 10/31/13: Due to a scheduling conflict, this event has been cancelled. It may be rescheduled at a later time; stay tuned for updates.

Everyone talks about the lack of women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) jobs. Reshma Saujani isn’t just talking; she’s doing something about the gender disparity.

Last year, Saujani founded the national nonprofit Girls Who Code, which teaches computer science to teenaged girls from low-income areas.

“There will be 1.4 million jobs open in the next 20 years in STEM, but currently only one in seven engineers is a woman,” Saujani says. “Girls Who Code wants to change that.”

She’ll speak about “Gender Matters in the Computing Fields: Re-booting for Gender Parity” on November 11 at 7 pm in Clapp Laboratory’s Hooker Auditorium.

Saujani is an unlikely leader of a computer-based program because her background is not in computer science. But after working at top NYC firms in law and investments, she decided at age 32 that she was on the wrong path. In 2010, she became the first Indian-American woman to run for Congress, but when she lost big, it led her to realize that girls and women need to get comfortable with being rejected and trying again.

“If you haven’t failed yet, you haven’t tried anything,” she said in a PBS Makers documentary. This message is central to her just-released book, Women Who Don’t Wait in Line: Break the Mold, Lead the Way

“We live in an era when girls are told they can do anything. So why aren’t we seeing more women rising to the top ranks of corporations and the government?” Saujani asks. “Why don’t our girls have more women in leadership roles to look up to?”

The need for female role models is especially clear in STEM jobs, and that’s why Saujani is putting her energy into closing the gender gap in technology.

Saujani’s lecture is part of the Weissman Center for Leadership’s yearlong series, The Power of Resilience, and is sponsored by the Weissman Center and the Pruitt Lectureship Fund. 

—By Emily Harrison Weir