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Jakarta Post

The code girls should know about

  • Mariel Grazella

    The Jakarta Post

  /   Wed, April 29, 2015   /  08:29 am
The code girls should know about

AFP/Loic Venance

Women are a rare find in the information technology sector, especially when it comes to coding. The paucity in women tech experts stem from the social construct that '€œsofter'€ studies, in place of hard core sciences, befit girls better.

The industry has recognized that the lack of females reduces the diversity of ideas '€” an opportunity loss, considering that the tech thrives on innovation. Thus, people from CEOs to future women coders have started to call for more girls to take up IT and shake up the industry.

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo

To encourage more balanced participation in technology, Twitter is granting scholarships to female students taking up computer sciences at the University of Indonesia (UI). The announcement was made when Twitter CEO Dick Costolo visited Jakarta in March.

We have a very big partnership in the US with this organization called Girls Who Code. The idea behind Girls Who Code is that there are not enough women taking computer studies. We saw that when girls are in grammar or middle-school, they think that science is cool. Then they get into late middle-school or early high-school and they think that [science] is not cool.

So, our program with Girls Who Code is to help girls in late middle-school or early high-school to learn programming and understand why programming is so amazing.

We also have a partnership with the University of Indonesia through which we will annually fund, for the next three years, five scholarships including living expenses for women who take computer sciences.

Dick Costolo - Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Vanity Fair/AFPDick Costolo - Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Vanity Fair/AFP

Doku COO Nabilah Alsagoff

Nabilah, who handles operations for the leading payment gateway company Doku, says that her IT team, which comprises roughly 60 percent of her company, is mainly male - despite efforts to recruit more women through various channels. Nabilah, who once worked in database management, believes that women in IT must find their own voices, and the bravery to break through barriers.

I have told my head of IT to hire more women, but the problem is, no one is applying. We held an internship program and out of the five interns, only one was female. I think young females perceive coding as boring, behind-the-desk work. That'€™s far from the truth because coding requires a lot of creativity in finding more efficient ways to write the code.

We need to incentivize girls by getting a few females to lead the way and show that there is a career path in IT. This is the best time for people in IT because the sector will have grown into a very interesting industry within the next 10 years.

I personally want to hire more females because I see that women are more detailed, and in terms of work discipline, are more dedicated. Women also see things from a different perspective and this could change the way codes are written, or challenge how things are previously done.'€

Nabilah Alsagoff - Courtesy of Nabilah AlsagoffNabilah Alsagoff - Courtesy of Nabilah Alsagoff

RedBlood Founder Leonika Sari Njoto Boedioetomo

Leonika, currently in her eighth semester at the 10 November Institute of Technology in Surabaya, founded with three friends a startup called RedBlood Indonesia '€” a blood bank database that can ease the critical process of finding blood donations. RedBlood has won multiple awards. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology selected RedBlood for its MITx Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp.

More than 50 percent of the students in information systems studies are male, and there is this lingering stereotype that coding is a male thing, while analysis is more suitable for the females. However, girls must show that they too, are highly capable of coding.

When I entered university, I had no idea at all on how to code, which resulted in me getting C grades in my first semester. But, coding is something one can pick up quickly and so, I was able to score As by the second semester.

I assumed the helm position for my team, called RedBlood, and as a leader, I should be able to code to set an example for my teammates, who all can code. intend to continue my efforts with RedBlood because I want to achieve my dreams of making this startup into a success.

There are two factors affecting girls taking up coding. One is ourselves - we should never let anyone define our self-standards. If we believe that we have the potential to achieve our goals, then go for it.

The second is stereotypes. We must not buy the stereotypical view that that women'€™s only place is in the household. That thought is out-dated because now, women are equal to men.

That is the reason why my friends and I made FemaleDev. FemaleDev is a community of like-minded female developers with the mindset that we could do well typically male work. When we get together, we encourage and motivate others because there really are no limits to what you can achieve.

Leonika Sari - Courtesy of Leonika SariLeonika Sari - Courtesy of Leonika Sari

Microsoft Technical Account Manager Atimas Nurahmad

Atimas received her bachelor'€™s degree in computer science from UI in 2012, followed by a Master'€™s degree from the same university. She worked as a software engineer at Ice House before joining Microsoft.

I want more women to be in the technology sector to change the perception that we are gaptek [technologically clueless]. My work involves ensuring that my clients are applying our IT solutions properly. However, client teams are mainly made up of men, and hence, my abilities were initially underestimated. This made my start really tough, and I had to invest in the time to gain their trust. I did this by providing solutions to their problems, thereby showing that my advice is of value.

I think that the females are overall better organized, and this allows teams with females to be better structured. There is already more diversity at Microsoft, and the company does want to have more females to join its ranks in the future.

Atimas Nurachmad - Courtesy of Atimas NurachmadAtimas Nurachmad - Courtesy of Atimas Nurachmad

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