A new documentary takes aim at gender bias
When Robin Hauser Reynolds discovered that her daughter was only one of two women in a college computer science class, she began asking some hard questions—questions that initiated her 14-month journey to find out why. The result of her investigation is the extraordinary documentary film CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on Sunday night.
CODE exposes the lack of American female and minority software engineers and explores the reasons for this gender gap and digital divide. The film highlights breakthrough efforts that are producing more diverse programmers and shows how this critical gap can be closed. Ultimately, CODE asks: what would society gain from having more women and minorities code and how do we get there?
All of the film’s screenings sold out in a flash. We caught up with director and producer Reynolds to learn more about the documentary that is taking the festival by storm.
What does the gender imbalance in computer science mean for women and for society in general?
Tech jobs are growing three times faster than our colleges are producing computer science graduates. By 2020, there will be one million unfilled software engineering jobs in the USA. If we don’t get more people (women and men alike), the USA economy will falter. This is a Rosie the Riveter type situation.
Computer code forms the foundation of modern society. Cell phones, apps, navigation systems, medical equipment, banking, movie animation… are all driven by code. The more diverse a team of coders is, the broader their perspective of society’s needs, which can ultimately result in products that serve a greater breadth of humanity.
What’s the number one best way to shift attitudes about girls and coding?
Showcase fabulous women-in-tech role models.
When did you know there was a film there and how long did it take you to make it?
In the fall of 2013 the daily newspaper headlines mentioned the number of job opportunities for college graduates with computer science degrees, and yet Silicon Valley had less than 13% women in tech roles. We made the film in 14 months.
What do you want people to take away from seeing the film?
– It’s cool to be a smart girl.
– Girls can, and should, do anything they want to do.
– Anyone can learn to CODE.
What are three of your favorite documentaries?
Born into Brothels, Catfish and March of the Penguins.
To find out more about the film go to www.codedocumentary.com and follow along on Twitter @CODEfilm.