Film director Robin Hauser Reynolds began thinking about the gender gap in tech early one morning in the spring of 2013. "My daughter called home from college announcing she intended to drop her computer science major. ‘I’m really bad at it,’ she says. ‘I’m the worst in the class; I don’t fit in,’” Robin recounts. “Her confidence was shaken by being one of just two women in a class of 25, and by not having the resources to support her. After taking three computer science classes, she drops the CS major. Turns out she was earning a B.”
Hauser Reynolds’ new documentary CODE: DEBUGGING THE GENDER GAP, questions why girls and ethnic minorities are less likely to pursue careers in technology. It examines workplace culture and stereotypes, as well as educational hurdles – and comes back with some compelling answers. Then it shatters one myth after another, with a verve that has brought in rave reviews from women in tech everywhere that it has screened. It is a subject that has finally built up some momentum in mainstream media. The film premiered as part of the Official Selection at Tribeca Film Festival last year, and since then has been racking up festival selections. Even more exciting for its potential impact: companies like Google, Ericsson, Microsoft, Pixar, Expedia and Wieden & Kennedy have been quick to set up private screenings for their employees – as have the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Congress.
The film combines interviews with inspiring female tech superstars like Megan Smith, Chief Technology Officer of the United States, as well as Danielle Feinberg at Pixar and Tracy Chou at Pinterest, interspersed with witty animations and insights into flashpoints in popular culture. It also retells the history of computing to spotlight the contributions of women like Ada Lovelace and Grace Hopper. Women were among the pioneers of coding, but have since been written out of popular history in favour of men.
Ultimately, CODE argues that tech should be diverse not just because it is the right and fair thing to do, but because it will lead to better products that serve a greater breadth of humanity. It is not just a film about where we’re going wrong – it is a film that inspires us to do better.
It is on Amazon here
And it is on iTunes here