"Right now, a lot of diversity efforts focus on women getting into the so-called 'pipeline' but that pipeline isn't producing more than a trickle and has a lot of conditionals built in, a lot of 'if-then' statements, " Gates said.
Examples Gates gave of those conditionals in women's' lives include:
- If you get girls to take the right computer science and math classes in high school, then they'll succeed in their computer science classes in college.
- If they pass intro, then they will start their second-year courses on time and graduate in four years
- If they do that, then they can get their job in Silicon Valley.
But Gates pointed out that "not everyone is going to meet those conditions and many don't want to and there's no reason they have to in the first place." She proposed that society instead begin from the "premise that people get interested in computing in different ways, at different times in their lives and for very different reasons."
These are the four steps Gates said she would like to see implemented with women as explained as for-loops:
- Reach them early
For girls growing up, let's create plenty of pathways to explore tech inside and outside the classroom.
- Tech as a tool
For women who are already in college, let's make it clear that tech is a tool for solving real-world problems.
- Combine computing
For women already majoring in some other field, let's offer programs that combine computing with the rest of their coursework and lead to the degrees in things like bioinformatics.
- Not just four years
For women who discover their passion for tech at different times and different places, let's open up more pathways into the field.
"All of this comes down to the same point: For anyone and everyone who has talents and interest, there should be a way into tech," Gates said. "This is a transformative moment for women, men, tech and the future."
"Women did not create the barriers in tech and we cannot break them down all alone. Male allies are absolutely critical in this work and we'll need more of them. But we can lead the way."
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