You might think recent news headlines about discrimination against women in tech would discourage girls from considering that career path, but a group of local students say they feel emboldened to confront those problems and overcome the challenges women face in a male-dominated workforce.
“We’re working on issues like the wage gap, even things like ‘mansplaining’ or sexual harassment,” said Emme Osborne, senior at Vashon High School, who is participating in a seven-week summer computer coding course at Adobe in Seattle for girls considering technology careers.
Osborne’s team designed a game to help explain some of the challenges women face while working in the mostly-male tech industry.
“We’re just trying to educate young girls that they can do it, but also maybe teach men problems that women face and how they can help,” Osborne said.
The Adobe program, organized by the non-profit group Girls Who Code, is not new, but its importance could not be more obvious. A few examples: There's Uber and its prominent problems with sexism among its top ranks. And then there’s a Google memo which was widely shared this month. A male engineer suggested women don't get ahead because of biological differences.
“It makes me want to go in and pave the way and not be afraid to tell people that women can do things just as well as men,” said Josephine Athappilly, a junior at Ingraham High School.
“Whenever we've met a woman in tech, they've always asked about sexism in the industry, what's it like being a woman in tech, what's it like being the only girl in the room,” said Brittany Weinert, an Adobe software engineer who is teaching the group of girls.
The students will soon head back to class, better informed about what they're in for, but undeterred.
“It kind of makes me want to do it more,” said Osborne.
Some of the students in the Adobe summer program have gone on to land internships with the company.