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11Jun 13

Raspberry Pi, no female developers, why?

At the BASDA Software Thought Leaders’ Summit May 2013, I had the pleasure of watching a presentation by University of Cambridge lecturer and founder of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, Robert Mullins.

The catalyst for Robert setting up the Raspberry Pi Foundation was a drop in the number of applicants for Computing at Cambridge. To generate interest in Computing, Robert wanted to create an inexpensive tangible device that encouraged coding and exploration among school children.

What a success it has been! From an original estimate of shipping 10,000 Raspberry Pis they have now exceeded 1 million.

During his talk Robert touched on a current gender imbalance in Computing with just 15% of undergraduates at Cambridge being female. This is the worst male to female ratio on any course at the University.

As an employer of developers I can vouch that the issue gets even worse in the real world. 100% of our development team is male and I would estimate that 99% of applicants are too.

Hopefully, projects like Raspberry Pi will encourage interest in Computing from girls at a younger age, although it will take time to see this work through the system.

As an economy increasingly moving to information services there is already a shortage of good developers. There is a simple solution to double the supply. Female developers.

I want a piece of this pie

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