October 4, 2022
By Ashu Chatterji, CEO at Caravel Labs The underrepresentation of women in both the creative and executive jobs in the tech industry is a handicap greater than what meets the eye. Like all kinds of underrepresentation, not only is it unfair to women who represent much closer to 50% of the human population, it denies the other tech community of the wisdom and perspective of close to half of humanity, thereby severely diminishing its impact and reducing its potential.
Underrepresentation of women and minorities is not a simple accident that can be addressed with the flip of a switch. In the 1950s and 1960s, tech jobs were mostly staffed by women and minorities. Of course, that changed rapidly as the reputation of the tech industry as a source of wealth for its participants was established. Long-held prejudices were invoked, and discriminatory frameworks were tweaked systematically. The result is that the underrepresentation of women and minorities is now at least one generation, and probably two generations deep.
At Caravel Labs and among all of those who have been seeking to correct underrepresentation of women and minorities know that it is as much about the culture and policies inside the organization as it is about the societal norms that discourage women and minorities from considering careers in the tech industry as suitable for them. And as time progresses, role models that are contemporary and relatable become scarce. Organizations like Girls Who Code work on creating and elevating role models who encourage women and other underrepresented minorities to not only join the tech industry but also embolden the activism necessary to expedite the demolition of systemic discrimination that allowed the underrepresentation in the first place. Every real-life role model inspires others, but when the underrepresentation is as severe as it is with women in the tech industry, that cascading effect is still not sufficient. This is where the importance of fiction writing plays such a huge role. There is nothing new about this. The effectiveness of fictional role models is well proven for as long as there has been mythology. As avatars, they amplify the sphere of influence of the real-life role models and in the process provide deeper inspiration to far more people than direct contact can ever do.
We therefore endorse Girls Who Code’s book series and would like to encourage everyone to invest towards these for themselves or the young women in their sphere of influence (and yes, I daresay that if you have none in your sphere of influence, you are not giving yourself due credit, or put more bluntly, working hard to not look). And for the creative writers (and other content creators) who feel passionate about addressing underrepresentation of women or other minorities, perhaps it’s time to create more virtual role models who can inspire.