The Villain in the Women in Tech Story

From June 18, 2019

There are fewer women in tech than there were 30 years ago. More black women helped program computers in the 1950s and 1960s than they do today. What the hell is going on?

This is a question we sought to answer over the last two years with the Chasing Grace Project. We’ve interviewed hundreds of women and have shot on location and screened in every major city in the United States. We’re preparing now to shoot episodes 3 & 4 in Los Angeles in just a few short weeks. And we’ve started to get some answers.

Yes, people talk about the pipeline, but anyone working in tech knows this ain’t the issue. Witness the hundreds and thousands of girls and women coming out of programs like Girls Who Code and Women Who Code and schools like Holberton. Higher education is changing. You can’t just look to college graduates for your recruits. A lot of women are learning to code and coming from other industries, because they want access to some of the most lucrative jobs in the world. Tech can mean economic independence for many women.

Other people say it’s because we lack female role models. I think that is true, especially those in positions of power. But why? Why do we lack women in leadership positions? It’s the same reason there are fewer women in tech today than 30 years ago. It’s the culture. And it’s systemic. The culture is our story’s villain, and we must slay it or transform it into our hero.

The good news is we know how to do it. We know how to transform the villain into our hero. Sharing stories changes behavior and culture over time. It’s one of the most effective tools we have to influence the culture in which we live, and the women who are coming to the literal table next month in Los Angeles are doing exactly that. When other women and men see their stories on screen, it changes them. It changes all of us. And we take those stories with us when we leave the theater and it becomes part of our individual fabric and then our collective fabric, our culture.

The rise of AI and machine learning demands that we have everyone at the table today building and designing these technologies lest we risk living in a less inclusive world tomorrow. We can’t risk repeating the last 30 years of decline. At this pivotal moment – when 5G networks and Edge Computing are poised to roll out in the coming months, creating a whole new innovation cycle of production development with AI – we must act. That means telling your story, screening these stories and helping to support this work as a sponsor. Be a part of the army of warriors that slays the villain.