How to prepare CS-inspired girls for a vibrant career?

Research shows that gender diversity leads to creativity, productivity, and innovation. However, gender diversity in tech is a serious and self-perpetuating issue. According to the World Bank data, 43% of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) graduates in India are women, which is the highest in the world, but their share in STEM jobs in India is a mere 14% indicating that there is a leaky pipeline. An Observer Research Foundation report tells us that the reasons for the paucity of women in STEM jobs range from unequal responsibilities at home, gendered stereotypes, and internalized self-limiting beliefs to limited organization support and discrimination within systems. Women in STEM face a lot of challenges including a lack of role models, stressors related to marriage and childbirth, and sexual and other types of harassment at work. To bring diversity in tech, it is important to inspire more girls to take up STEM courses including coding. Moreover, the priority should also be to prepare them with the mindset from an early age to keep overcoming the obstacles to pursue a career in STEM. One of the ways could be sharing examples in the classroom of female role models in STEM fields that defy stereotypes can be a powerful tool to motivate girls. Bringing attention to the challenges and dispelling misconceptions can help them prepare for a successful future. While it is considered okay for boys to take risks and fail, girls are sometimes ingrained with the idea that they must be ‘perfect. Girls need to be encouraged to take risks and learn from failures, as engineering is often about this. Coding won\’t just help in jobs but empower girls by building their confidence at an early age. Reshama Soujani beautifully explains beautifully in her Ted Talk “Teach girls bravery, Not perfection.” At a community level also there should be significant steps taken to support girls to pursue careers in STEM overcoming odds. Gender sensitizing boys at a young age about the problems girls face now and later could be a huge step. Just talking about the UN\’s campaign He for She could be a huge beginning step. The campaign advocates that it\’s important for all genders to fight for gender equality in the world because everyone is and will be affected by this issue one way or another. Encouraging teachers to promote a supportive and inclusive environment within the coding classrooms through differentiated pedagogies could work wonders.  Finally, parents, community, and companies can together play a role by building a supportive ecosystem where women can thrive in all fields. Just by appreciating smallest achievements and being there in tough times can lead humans to more peace and harmony.
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