Getting More Women in Technology
While women make up a significant portion of the global workforce, their representation in the tech and computing fields remains depressingly dismal. One of the primary reasons for this is perhaps that technology and computers are considered a male terrain and women are simply not expected or encouraged to approach it. Perhaps the most sustainable and effective approach to addressing this gender gap is from within the classroom or the lab.
There are efforts underway at Lahore’s Information Technology University to encourage women to look towards careers in the sciences from a young age. The upcoming Robotics Competition- wherein students will compete against each other with robots that they’ve built – is not just a final project for the course MATLAB. It is also the culmination of instructor and ITU Faculty member Abbas Akhtar’s experiment in interactive, hands-on learning. He believes that by making such competitions open to public, the university is encouraging a wider range of potential recruits to the Computer Science and Engineering stream, especially young women. The audience gets to see, often to their surprise, how creative the discipline actually is, as well as the fact that girls do indeed study robotics and computing and are just as competent at it as men. Programs like the Lego Robotics Battle also address the difference in learning style and seek to change the pre-conceived notions in this regard.
In future, ITU hopes to see the emulation of such initiatives such as Reshma Saujani’s Girls Who Code, which seeks to convert more young women towards the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) streams as they pursue higher education. Girls Who Code aims to train the next generation of female engineers.
It can be hoped that, with more innovative programs replacing traditional teaching methods in academia, soon the gender equity issue in the technology field will be a thing of the past.