Top 10 Developer Relations Outreach Tips for Women in Computing

When I started my computer science major back in September 1969, there was a higher percentage of women in my computer classes than you see today. With the advent of PCs, computer gaming and hacking, the percentage of women in computer science, software engineering and computer engineering has declined steadily until a few years ago. Our industry needs more women in software and hardware. Universities (Carnegie Mellon, Harvey Mudd College, Stanford, Cal Poly SLO and others) and companies are working overtime to encourage more women to get involved in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) studies earlier in life. Once in college, computer science and software engineering departments are working overtime to keep women in their programs. The rise of coding boot camps has also focused efforts to train women for the many unfilled programming jobs (if you’re a tech company in the New York area, check out the Grace Hopper Program at Full Stack Academy). These efforts are helping to prepare young women for entry into our industry. The results are showing positive signs with an increase in Women in Computing.

Women in Computing

A 2015 McKinsey & Company report, “Why Diversity Matters“, states “Our latest research finds that companies in the top quartile for gender or racial and ethnic diversity are more likely to have financial returns above their national industry medians. Companies in the bottom quartile in these dimensions are statistically less likely to achieve above-average returns. And diversity is probably a competitive differentiator that shifts market share toward more diverse companies over time.”


Women in Computing

A National Center for Women & Information Technology report, “What is the Impact of Gender Diversity on Technology Business Performance?“, says “Gender diversity benefits businesses in several ways. Gender-balanced companies: 1) Perform better financially, particularly when women occupy a significant proportion of top management positions. 2) Demonstrate superior team dynamics and productivity.” The report also reports that “gender-diverse technology organizations and departments: 1) Produce work teams that stay on schedule and under budget. 2) Demonstrate improved employee performance.”

Payscale has an interesting report with an interactive graphic that lets you see which tech companies have the highest percentage of female employees. The graphic compares 18 tech companies with 9 data points.  Check it out at The graphs show that the top 3 companies are eBay (43%), LinkedIn (42%) and Samsung (37%).

Evans Data’s Developer Research shows a growth trend of women in programming

The Evans Data Global Development Survey 2016 volume 1 survey shows that close to one quarter of developers identified themselves as female. Looking at the trend lines over the past dozen years you can also see an upward trend for women in programming. Some of the increased growth is being driven specifically in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region but is also increasing in other regions.


A good portion of this growth, I believe, can be tied directly to the increased outreach by universities, government organizations and industry. Universities are going out to the local elementary and high schools to evangelize the value of a technology focused college degree and the need for more women in computing. Government organizations are investing to get more young women interested in STEM. Technology companies are ramping up their efforts to recruit more women to join their teams.

Yet, there is still more to do according to a 2015 Huffington Post article which shows that while women are entering other STEM fields, there is still more work to be done in  Computer Science and Mathematics. The following is a trend line chart that was included in the article.

Women in Stem - 1990-2013 - Women in Computing


Top 10 Tips for Developer Relations Outreach to Women in Computing

What does this mean for Developer Relations Programs? What more can your developer outreach efforts do to reach female developers? Here are 10 ideas that will help your developer evangelism reach women involved in software, hardware and technology.

  1. When you post pictures of your program members and you company’s teams, make sure you show a diverse mix of developers. If the pictures from your developer conferences, hackathons, meetups and teams only show a bunch of guys, you may miss attracting women to your developer program.
  2. Post articles highlighting successful female members of your developer community. Everyone needs mentors and role models in their careers. Seeing women having success with your products and services, will help you attract more female members.
  3. Encourage your female members to take active roles in developer evangelism, blogging, video tutorials and other content that you provide. Adding a women’s voice to your content will help attract more female developers to take an active role.
  4. Send some of your company’s female software and hardware engineers and evangelists to local women in computing and technology meetups. Using the search you can search globally and locally for meetings of women involved in computing, technology, data science, programming, startups and more.
  5. When you are marketing your developer relations programs to developers try using a mix of gender neutral and gender specific messages and see which bring in additional new members.
  6. Coordinate your developer evangelism outreach with university and industry efforts to recruit more women into computing fields. Look for schools in your local area and partner with them to help each other increase the participation by young women. Look for female professors who teach computer, technology, data science, hardware and related subjects. These faculty members will appreciate your help and possibly invite you to present to their classes and women in software and hardware on campus organizations.
  7. Think about the sample programs and template projects that you deliver to your program members. Look for opportunities to have sample code topic areas that will appeal to women in computing and technology.
  8. Take part in the annual Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference. This is world’s largest conference/meeting of women in computing that attracts the top technologists, industry leaders and a strong student attendance. Keynote speakers at GHC 2016 included Ginny Rometty (President and CEO, IBM
    Chairman, IBM Board of Directors) and Megan Smith (Chief Technology Officer, United States of America).
  9. Highlight your company’s diversity program and web page. If your company doesn’t have a diversity page, make sure to create one.
  10. Look for partnerships between your developer relations program and other technology companies that are run by female executives. Partner with code camps that focus on educating women about programming and technology. I’m sure you’ll find mutual business opportunities for both of your companies in reaching out to developers.

Which Companies are doing a great job in reaching out to Women in Computing?

Before you read what some technology companies are doing to recruit more women to join their teams, I should note that some of the links below point to company diversity programs. For those web sites, you’ll can read through the page contents and you’ll find gender specific information and statistics.

  • IBMAdvancing Women at IBM: 2012-2013 Executive Research Study (PDF) and Grace Hopper 2016 – Women and the future of technology – “IBMers arrived early to gather at the front of the Toyota arena to support our CEO, who delivered a personal keynote that looked at the history of computing alongside her personal history as a woman in technology. She described her mother’s determination as a single mother to not let anyone else define you. She also shared a moment when she hesitated to take on more leadership, learning that growth and comfort never co-exist. Finally, she challenged us to work on something bigger than ourselves, such as Watson’s Health’s potential to aid in cancer treatment.”
  • Intel – Intel Celebrates Women in Technology at Grace Hopper Conference – “Reversing the gender imbalance in the technology industry is a crucial component of Intel’s Diversity in Technology initiative, announced in January 2015. In February 2016, Intel announced 100 percent gender pay parity in its workforce which was maintained as of the 2016 mid-year report. The mid-year 2016 report, released in August, also revealed that an increase of female representation to 25.4 percent in the U.S. workforce (one of the highest figures in recent years), increase of technical female representation to 21.2 percent, and that women represented 42.9 percent of new leadership (VP-level and above) hires in first half 2016. In August, Intel signed the Equal Pay Pledge to commit to take action to advance equal pay.”
  • AppleThe Most Innovative Company must also be the Most Diverse. – “Representation among new hires.
    We strive to better represent the communities we’re part of. We believe this will help to break down historical barriers in tech. Global Female: 37% new hires, 32% current employees.”
  • GoogleWomen at Google – “Technology is changing the world. Women and girls are changing technology. Creating the right environments, programs and policies can support women in pursuing their dreams and building tools that change the world.”
  • FacebookFacebook Diversity Update: Positive Hiring Trends Show Progress – “Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. In order to achieve that mission, we need an employee base that reflects a broad range of experiences, backgrounds, races, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, abilities and many other characteristics. A year ago we launched our Computer Science and Engineering (CS&E) Lean In Circles program in partnership with LeanIn.Org, LinkedIn and the Anita Borg Institute. This program aims to support women already in college who show an interest in computer science. Our hope is that with additional support, they will stay the course through graduation and we will experience an improvement in the number of women graduating with these critical skills.”
  • MicrosoftWomen at Microsoft – “We believe that more diverse teams create greater innovations with more diverse approaches, questions and ideas. With this belief in mind, we strive to be a leader in attracting women to careers in high tech. Inside the company, and in partnership with others, Microsoft is involved in a wide range of programs aimed at trying to attract, recruit, retain, and develop women from around the world in the field of computer technology.”
  • AmazonDiversity at Amazon – “Affinity groups at Amazon provide mentorship, opportunity for education and also help identify great talent at external events. For example, Amazon Women in Engineering (AWE) organizes cross-company participation at Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. They host career development and social events such as our annual AmazeCon Conference, which provides education as well as an opportunity to expand their networks.”
  • TwitterWomen in Engineering at Twitter – “The official page for Women in Engineering @Twitter. Our goal is to share content and resources to inspire girls & women to pursue technical studies & careers.” Also: Twitter Inclusion & Diversity careers page.
  • LinkedInDiversity and Inclusion – “We believe magic can happen when we create diverse teams in an inclusive work environment, where every person feels that they truly belong.”
  • eBayDamien Hooper-Campbell (eBay Chief Diversity Officer) On Why Tech Has a Shot at Moving the Needle On Diversity – “To be clear, diversity and inclusion for us goes well beyond gender and race. It obviously includes those two things, but it also focuses on how people think, on introverts vs. extroverts, on generational differences, on the fact that we are a Silicon Valley- and US-based organization but have offices all over the world – how do we ensure those offices feel represented at HQ. Inclusion for us is not just focused on under-represented minorities and women, it’s also about making sure that majority stakeholder feel included and safe in the conversations that are often tough to have.”
  • SamsungEmpower Tomorrow – Ask any scientist and, chances are, she’ll tell you she is where she is today because another scientist empowered her to follow her childhood dreams. Samsung’s emPOWER tomorrow program is exactly about that: getting young girls excited about STEM. Studies show educators must influence girls at an impressionable age – usually in the fourth and fifth grades – to get them interested in pursuing STEM studies.
  • AdobeDiversity and Inclusion – “Much of Adobe’s success can be attributed to a simple belief that our founders instilled in our culture: Great ideas come from everywhere in the company. In today’s ultra-competitive environment, it’s critical to cultivate a strong, diverse workforce who bring their best ideas to work every day. We are committed to making Adobe a great place to work, where everyone can contribute and succeed. Shantanu Narayen, President and CEO, Adobe”


Resource links to Universities, Industry Groups and Organizations focused on Women in Computing

News and Articles about Women in Computing


Videos About and by Women in Computing

  • TED Talks by Women in Computer Science – YouTube playlist – “A collection of TED talks by women with computer science degrees – one of the hottest career paths out there!”
  • A Tale of Two Ladies: On Generating Opportunity for Women in Tech (YouTube video) – “Cornelia Davis (Sr. Director of Technology, Pivotal) talks about how she came to technology, the path many other women face, and how we can be good models and encourage women to pursue computer science. Keynote recorded at SpringOne Platform 2016 in Las Vegas.”
  • Code: Debugging the Gender Gap (documentary web site) – “CODE documentary exposes the dearth of American female and minority software engineers and explores the reasons for this gender gap. CODE raises the question: what would society gain from having more women and minorities code?” – View the Trailer (YouTube video)
  • Women in Computing – Computing Heritage YouTube playlist
  • Helping Bridge the Gender Gap in Computing Careers (YouTube video) – Microsoft Research. “By 2018, there will be 1.4 million open technology jobs in the United States, yet at the current rate of job growth, only 29 percent of future computer scientists will be women. In order to build the most innovative technology solutions and solve the world’s toughest problems, we need teams that are diverse. “


What is your Developer Relations Program doing to reach out to Women in Computing?

I’d like to hear more about what your developer outreach program is doing to attract women to your technology products and services. Send me an email and I’ll include links to your women in computing and developer outreach programs.


David Intersimone “David I”
Vice President of Developer Communities
Evans Data Corporation
Skype: davidi99
Twitter: @davidi99