I don’t agree.
As someone who has invested 12 years of their career in technology, “not teaching girls and women” coding is detrimental. In order to revamp, disrupt, invent, and redefine what is better for women in the technology world, regardless of industry, it will require women who are ALREADY in these fields to do it. How could we expect the tech (or any) industry to be better reimagined for everyone, if the next generation of talent does not include women? You have to be in it to win it.
These efforts to push for STEM is not directed to students who are not interested or appealed by it, and probably never will be. They are directed to those who 1) already understand what it is and want to pursue it further, and 2) haven’t come across it but are intrigued. That special push is absolutely necessary because no-one will otherwise encourage the female students in schools and higher education who potentially MAY want to pursue this as a career. The road to succeed is extremely difficult and challenges will come at every turn; limiting the opportunities to gain familiarity and access to tech careers is like removing the number of entry tickets for them to compete in the first place.
No-one is saying everyone must code. And women in “tech jobs” are not limited to the “easy” stuff such as project management either. Project management is not the easier route by any means. There are so many roles that require fluency in tech: strategy, product innovation, experience design, coaching, advisory, and many, many more that place tech at the forefront. ALL of these roles need great talent to fulfil them.
I got to where I am so far, because I had fought hard for it. There wasn’t nearly enough written or talked about women-in-technology. It wasn’t even a thing in career conversations in schools. In university, I was one of 7 women in a class of 120. Yes the odds are bad, but at least no-one had actively stopped me from studying it, or put a barrier in front of what studying computer science meant. At work, you will be a minority group most of the time. Being not-white-male, and not-Asian-male means you will have to learn to stand up on your own most of the time. And the odds are certainly stacked against you — BUT let me tell you, the reward is all worth it. It is only now I know the kind of journey that I’ve had to take to get there. What I would not have given for somebody to have talked to me, to have given me that chance to join a women in tech programme and get a head start?! So I didn’t have to stumble through it at every step?
For anyone who is reading, and have such influence to develop the next generation of female technologist: Do as much as you possibly can to encourage, inspire, and support — be a mentor, be an advocate — if people decided software jobs isn’t for them in the long run then fine. Male or female. At least they’ve been given access and have had a go at it. We need all the chances and opportunities as we could possibility get. The momentum is only starting to build up; don’t let anyone tell you to stop now.