I have to recognize, my childhood was not a typical one. Every Christmas I wished to get the largest Scalexctric of the year, that fantastic electric race track as a Christmas gift, or what about the 2XL the Robot, the one asking you questions and you had to push buttons to answer them, or those toys that could look like if they already had some type of programming inside, do you remember the Fabulous Fred, electronic game? What a great childhood I had. I admitted it! I was the an only child and I can say that I was not bored with my electric cars and robots, while most of my girlfriends were given Barbie’s with hundreds of clothes so that they can dress them up and play. I will not deny that I went to many playdates with my friends and play with their Barbie’s and now that I think it thorough, I had fun playing with them, although I loved to play around with the designs of the dollhouses. We would create handmade fountains with real water, we would cut little flowery curtains out of painted paper by ourselves, and had lots of fun, but in fact, to play to be a Barbie, put clothes on and pretend to go shopping … not really, that was boring for me.
People that know me would agree that I always say how I wish I could go back in time, and be able to study engineering. I studied business administration and made several (many more than I would suggest) grades in business, negotiations, management, marketing, but none in engineering. In my family we did not have any close engineer, if any, we would usually aspire to be journalists, because of those, yes we had. May be later, when I had a little bit more of awareness, I also wanted to be a lawyer (because by then I thought I needed to be a lawyer to be president of my country … Yeah, I also wanted to be that). Dreaming is fantastic when you are a kid. Oh well, I ended up being president of a company, but not of a country (as of yet!).
Coincidentally life always took me to that “masculine” world of engineering and telecommunications. It always interested me, I loved to attend all the operations and technological meetings to discuss network architecture. It was an incredible challenge to try to understand more and more on how it worked. As many people (I’m sure), I always used to say: “Oh if I knew how to code”. Although it’s never too late to learn, every time I met a female engineer, immediately she would earned my admiration. Always thought that women have some advantages over men on issues regarding to management and organization. They have a natural sixth sense that helps a lot to solving problems. However, today, in search of that talent so unique, I have to say that almost no women engineers encounter.
According to a study published by the government of the United States, for decades the number of women studying science computer was booming, even this adjustment was moving much faster than in the male segment. But then, around early 80′s that percentage began its alarming decline.
One of the reasons according to other articles published by NPR has to do with the coincidental factor that by those days the personal computer came out to the retail market. They were being sold more like toys. It is at this point I remember my childhood as a young girl and a teenager. Yes, myself (even though I was never the typical girl who received the “girly” games) I always wanted the computer. I remember perfectly that birthday when I got a Commodore 64. I would spend countless hours writing thousands of lines of code just to make the screen color of the monitor to change from black to blue, and exhaust more hours to make them yellow! Yes, I know, it sounds a little bit “nerdy” but I loved it. However, let truth be told, at that time in my world, those who received these electric toys, were usually boys.
And now I finally understand the cause of my predicament: Why can’t I find female engineers? In the last two years, we have expanded operations to hire an average of ten development engineers. In the past 3 months I have done approximately 200 interviews to cover 10 vacancies and so far, none of the candidates to engineering and developers had been a woman. Every time I speak to headhunters I ask, “Please, find me a girl” but no…No girls found! There are many females in design, marketing, industrial relations, any many other industries but none of those girls are coding.
If we want girls to have a saying in how the evolution of the economy of this world happens today and in the future, we need to change the state of our mind from now on. More likely inadvertently our mothers, friends, sisters, cousins, are avoiding their daughters to become the next generation of workers and creators of the future technologies, which are very related to the mobile revolution.
Little the mothers of today know that are carrying on with the status quo of making their daughters princesses and queens of the home are causing a detrimental economic and/or intellectual harm to their daughters. Unless the principality or kingdom they find for those girls are one made of cables, codes and formats to learn and do innovative things, so they can become the next generation of women in science. Nonetheless, it is never too late, but for now, I will keep trying to learn how to code. The good thing is that this time, it will not take me 5 hours to write the code to change the color of my screen.