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How can HR help close the gender gap in
Create and meet diversity targets. HR
plays a huge role in providing the structure and road map for doing that. We also
know that there’s a problem retaining and
promoting women in the workforce, and
HR needs to help create company cultures that support female engineers.
You ran for Congress and lost. What did
you learn from that experience?
A lot. Losing the race is why I started
Girls Who Code. On the campaign trail,
I visited schools and witnessed armies of
boys learning to code—training to be the
next Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs—
but there were no girls to be seen. In fact,
girls’ interest in coding declines dramati-
cally in middle and high school, at the
same time that boys’ interest grows. My
experience opened my eyes to the gender
gap in tech, which I believe is one of our
country’s most important issues.
You encourage women to take risks and
embrace failure. Why is that important?
We’re raising our boys to be brave, while
teaching girls to avoid failure and risk.
Boys are taught to play rough and aim
high. By the time they become adults,
they’re in the habit of taking risks—
whether they’re negotiating a raise or
asking someone out on a date—and
they’re typically rewarded for doing
so. It’s often said in Silicon Valley that
no one even takes you seriously unless
you’ve had two failed startups.
Our economy—our society—is los-
ing out because we’re not raising our
girls to be brave. That’s the main reason
women are underrepresented in S TEM
[science, technology, engineering and
mathematics], in C-suites, in board-
rooms, in Congress and pretty much
everywhere you look.
Are you optimistic about future opportunities for women in technical fields?
I am. We’re seeing encouraging early
signs. Dartmouth graduated more female
than male engineers this year. Additionally, research we did with the consulting
firm Accenture shows that we can triple
the number of women in computing and
grow their share of tech jobs from 24 percent today to 39 percent by 2025 if we
can spark and sustain girls’ interest from
middle school into the workforce. Our
programs do just that.
Joan Mooney is a freelance writer in