A Call for Corporate Action to Meet Labor Needs and Diversify Computing
Valerie Barr wrote a recent blog post about the state of the labor pool for STEM workers, especially in computing. I particularly liked her point about the need to provide learning opportunities to bring women back who have left the tech industry. Caroline Simard’s report on the needs of female mid-level tech managers (see blog post here) is what got me thinking about ebooks originally. Caroline’s female mid-level tech managers needed to learn about new technologies, while still balancing a demanding job and more family responsibilities than their male counterparts. That’s where I saw a need for something like our ebooks, to provide computing learning opportunities that fit into busy lives (see ebook post). I see Valerie calling for something similar — we need more pathways to learn about computing for adults (see blog post here), and those pathways might help us to broaden participation in computing.
It is true that the industry changes quickly in some ways, with new tools, new approaches, and new languages. But there is a rich pool of potential employees who are being completely overlooked. The many women who have left tech positions could be brought back in and given training to bring them up to speed on the newest languages and development practices. But this is a reasonable approach only if, at the same time, the tech industry makes a commitment to improving climate. There is no point in bringing back people who left tech if they are simply going to want to leave again in another 5 years. In fact, I imagine that bringing back a group of tech veterans who have greater maturity and experience could do wonders to improve climate in some of the tech companies. But the companies have to commit. And they have to recognize that you can still be a cutting edge agile company even if the average age of your employees ticks up a bit.