#RSAC: Reschma Saujani: We Can End Cyber Gender Imparity in a Decade

Speaking at RSA 2018 in San Francisco Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code, said that she believes “the solution to the current tech talent deficit is women,” and that the industry has the potential to solve gender imparity in cyber within the next 10 years.

However, that will not be achieved without challenges, and there are changes that need to be made in our culture and policies to do so.

Saujani explained that for too long cyber and the tech industry has been presented to girls as an attractive career choice and something only suitable for males, and that we need to start showcasing the industry in the same way as the medical or law professions – both made up of at least 50% of women. 

“We’re turning girls off by the images that we’re showing them,” she argued. “We teach girls to be perfect, and we teach boys to be brave,” but if we want more girls to go into cyber, we have to change that, as coding is a skill that “teaches failure, over and over again. It teaches you how to be brave.”

The positive though is that, because the tech talent deficit problem is currently so bad, we can make a “big impact quickly,” and the important thing to remember is that it’s not simply about solving gender imbalance for parity’s sake, it’s about “giving girls the skills to code so that they can make a difference – because girls are change makers.”

“We have to change our culture,” Saujani said. “Culture matters, I really believe that culture can help change this and we can make that difference.” We also need to make changes in our policies, she added, and whether it’s in a classroom or in a company we have to “continue to track how we are doing in terms of race and gender – we can do better.”

“I am so proud [of what Girls Who Code has achieved] but we need more – we need more support, we need to teach more girls, we need more facilitators, more advocates and more male allies. I believe there has never been a better time to be a women, and there’s never been a better time to be a male advocate. We’re living in a really, really important time, and this is a problem that we can solve.”

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