Jocelyn Goldfein, director of engineering at Facebook, is tired of working in a field overwhelmingly dominated by men. “Personally, I care that there aren’t more women in tech because I love most aspects of my job, and the one thing that I don’t love is often being the only woman in the room,” Goldfein told the Huffington Post.
As of the 2010 census, women were earning more bachelors degrees than men, surpassing them by about 1.2 million, and that number is only expected to rise as more women attain bachelors and advanced degrees. But less than 10 percent of computer science majors are women. With the rise of social networking programs and the increasing diversification of computer programs, women are potentially more important than ever for the computer industry, which demands more advanced and diverse skills than ever before — skills that women would be more than prepared to provide, if they were drawn to computer science education programs.
Goldfein, who hires engineers for Facebook’s programming team, believes that women are underrepresented in the computer science field because of simple lack of exposure. If college counselors and professors urged female students to take computer science classes early in their college careers, she believes that many more women would end up majoring in computer science or programming. As it is, most computer science programs are geared towards male students. Female students are left to discover them on their own, and many women may be missing out on opportunities they don’t realize are even available to them.
Facebook has begun to try to draw college freshmen, and women in particular, into computer science through ads posted on their site. Demand for talented programmers is growing, and Goldfein has some advice for aspiring computer scientists:
“The advice I give a lot of women is ‘fake it till you make it.’ I give it to men and women and I think it’s universally applicable. Sometimes you will be over your head, but the act of trying and the act of putting yourself outside of your comfort zone, and trying something you’re not sure you’re capable of, is what it takes to become capable of it.”
Photo credit: Ed Yourdon