This weekend, a group of hackers and computer programmers will meet in Boise for the annual Code Camp. For the first time, the event will feature a discussion about women in technology. Panelists will include Marianna Budnikova of MetaGeek, Rep. Melissa Wintrow, D-Boise, and Boise State professor Carrie Semmelroth.
Cindy Gross is the moderator of the free panel on Saturday. She’s worked in technology for decades, and says she’s witnessed the number of women in computer programming decrease over the years – not increase.
“I think a lot of people see that there is some kind of a problem," says Gross, "but they don’t know what to do about it or they aren’t quite sure exactly how they personally are impacted. So what we’re going to do this weekend is show people some of the side effects of not having enough women in the tech world."
She points to something that happened earlier this week at the annual South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, Texas. Google CEO Eric Schmidt got some backlash after his participation in a panel. The discussion – which focused on diversity in the tech sector – ended with a pointed comment from an audience member. Schmidt was asked if he noticed whether he had repeatedly spoken over the only woman in the forum – the federal government's Chief Technology Officer, Megan Smith.
Gross says this kind of behavior is a big problem in the tech industry, and is pushing women away from this kind of work. She says she’s experienced subtle discrimination as a female programmer, and wants to help figure out a way for women to feel more welcome in the industry.
By highlighting Idaho women already working in tech, she hopes to show some positive examples for young women to emulate.
Find Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill
Copyright 2015 Boise State Public Radio