The following is the summary of a session that was part of the 2018 Annual Conference.
Mr. John Maeda, Ph.D., Global Head of Computational Design + Inclusion, Automattic, explained that his passions have changed from science and art to how to make technology more inclusive. He welcomed his guest, Lena Morita, to the stage to join him in the discussion.
Dr. Maeda asked Ms. Morita why computer programming is so difficult, and she answered that it takes grit, which not everyone has, and perseverance to stay with a project until it ends. Software is the modern craft of today, and it is heavily biased towards men. Ms. Morita discussed her global nonprofit organization, which inspires women to go into the field. A big problem is that there are a lot of women quitting mid-career because the pipelines lead to a sewage system; meaning, the paths in a programming career all lead to unfavorable outcomes for women.
Dr. Maeda asked Ms. Morita about the stress of being in the industry as a woman. She explained that it is alarming that, in Japan, there are all-male panels in this field and no one cares. Women do not feel comfortable going to technology conferences and including themselves on those panels. Dr. Maeda mentioned that the quality of men is sometimes not very good. When he created a panel mixed with men and women, it was much better than a panel with all men.
Dr. Maeda then asked Ms. Morita for advice for young women who want to get into the field. Her advice was to share well-documented facts about biases, and make people feel that having all-male panels is ridiculous. She also advised that if women are invited to be on a panel and the participants are all men, then tell them that you do not want to be on an all-male panel. To wrap up the dialogue, Dr. Maeda asked her what she would like young Japanese girls to do. Ms. Morita answered that they should learn English and not be afraid to make mistakes.
Click here to see the video of the session.