The United States has produced viable female presidential candidates, women athletes who command millions of dollars in endorsements, and the first female Nobel economist. Yet there is still no female equivalent of a Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, or Mark Zuckerberg. Women continue to lag behind men in computer science, where their share of the workforce has actually declined over the past 25 years. Today, women hold 27 per cent of all CS jobs, down from 30 per cent a decade ago, and account for just 20 per cent of undergraduate CS majors, down from 36 per cent in 1986.
The tech gap begins at home, where boys get their first computers and video game consoles at a younger age than girls and are more likely to play with toys that build spatial reasoning skills, like Lego. It continues in schools, where female students voice less confidence in maths, science, and computing, and it persists in the corporate world. Even among the younger generation of tech companies, including Facebook, Google, and Twitter, fewer than 10 per cent of all computer programmers—the field’s core job—are women, according to industry insiders.