In a press release announcement that dropped today, it was revealed that Entain — the largest global sports betting and gaming entertainment operator — celebrated International Women’s Day by making a six-figure donation to Girls Who Code.
Entain’s donation falls in line with the organization’s mission to bridge the gap for women in technology. With outreach efforts in the United States, Canada, the UK, and India, Girls Who Code offers free — yet invaluable — tools to girls, and young women, who are entering the Brave New World of technology in the 21st century and beyond.
And that, said Dr. Tarika Barrett, is the point.
“I’m absolutely thrilled to be the new CEO of Girls Who Code, and I have to say it’s been quite the journey to get here,” the current Girls Who Code COO told AfroTech exclusively. “But, the way I see it, my work isn’t just about giving the girls the education they need to get out there into the world. Certainly, that’s a big part of the job. But an even bigger part of the job is preparing them in other ways — and a failure to do so will only result in the widening gap between men and women in technology.”
Dr. Barrett, of course, is addressing the harrowing statistics about the modern workplace for women today. Without even addressing the racial disparity between men and women — which is, frankly and horrifically, the “default setting” of a tech workplace — the number of women who are entering the tech workforce is actually lower than it was 20 years ago.
And that’s just one of many gobsmacking factors that the new incoming Girls Who Code CEO has to address. To wit:
- Despite making up more than half of the workforce, only 25% of all tech jobs are held by women. For purposes of comparison, women held more than that percentage of tech jobs in the 1980s.
- Even though women have been responsible for some of the biggest technological advances in the modern era, their contributions not only go unrecognized, but the credit for them is actually stolen by the men in the industry.
- Women are more likely than men to hold junior positions in the tech field, regardless of their age, education, or experience level.
“And this doesn’t even address the social issues that women in tech face today,” said Dr. Barrett. “GamerGate was the first sign that what women had to face in the tech world was unprecedented, and certainly not something any man would have to face — or at least, nowhere near to the same degree.”
Online harassment is a hard, but necessary, conversation to have with aspiring women in tech, as is the multi-dimensional conversation about race, gender, socioeconomic status, disability, and educational opportunity. But while Dr. Barrett acknowledges that the work ahead seems daunting, on the surface, it’s work that she’s not only duty-bound to undertake, but is honored to do so.
“When it comes to women in tech, we as a society are woefully behind where we should be,” said the new Girls Who Code CEO. “It’s my hope that the girls and the young women we help on a daily basis are part of a growing paradigm shift to make tech more accessible and equitable.”
Dr. Barrett will officially take over the role of CEO on April 2, 2021.
Editorial note: Portions of this interview have been condensed for clarity.