Here's What Some Women In Tech Would Tell The Next President

At Grace Hopper, an annual conference that celebrates women in tech, BuzzFeed's own tech team asked fellow attendees what they thought our next president can do for women in STEM. Here's what they said.

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What should the next president do for women in STEM?

Fifteen thousand women descended on Houston, TX last week to attend the Grace Hopper conference. The event, which has been taking place for more than 20 years, both celebrates the careers of women working in technology, and serves as a space to discuss the unique challenges faced by woman engineers, developers, coders, hackers, designers, programmers, product managers, and more.

Those challenges are significant. This year, a study using data from Glassdoor found that male computer programmers earn 28.3% more than their female counterparts. According to a report published by the Harvard Business Review, 41% of women end up abandoning careers in tech, compared to only 17% of men.

Five of us: Jane Kelly, Director of Data Products, Phil Wilson, GM of Minneapolis office, Paola Mata, iOS Engineer, Jennifer Wolner, Sr. Project Manager, and Swati Vauthrin, Director of Engineering, went to Grace Hopper to represent BuzzFeed. We had a few goals in mind that included building our BuzzFeed Technology brand, meet individuals in industry to talk about their work, and also talk about the challenges that women in technology often encounter. While we were there, we chatted with women from Google, Microsoft, General Assembly and more about what they think the next president of the United States could do to make tech an easier and better career choice for women.

(The photos below were taken by Jennifer Wohlner, Jane Kelly, Paola Mata, and Swati Vauthrin.)

More transparency around diversity

From left to right, Stefanie Swift and Sophie Cooper are software engineers at CourseHero, Aracely Payan is a student at USC and Malvika Nagpal also works at CourseHero. They want to the next US president to push companies to publish more data around diversity in tech.

Equal pay for men and women

From bottom left, Paula Paul of AmWINS Group Inc., Joey Capolongo of Lending Tree, Hannah Lehman of General Assembly, Simone Battiste-Alleyne of the Tax Management Association, and Felicia Jacobs of Microsoft want the next president to help women to earn the same salary as men doing the same job.

Says Paul, "I'm a bad ass coding goddess!"

Paid time off after a baby is born

Preeta Willemann and Ariel Aguilar, both program managers at Microsoft, want the next president to help get paid family leave for all parents, regardless of gender.

In San Francisco, both mothers and fathers receive six weeks of fully paid leave after a baby is born. Tech companies have some of the most generous parental leave policies — parents at Facebook get four months, parents at Spotify get six months, and parents at Netflix get up to a year.

Of her experience at Grace Hopper this year, Aguilar said, "I gave a talk on salary negotiations today. It was awesome."

Get young girls excited

Kiera Krashesky and Cosi Goldstein, are students at the University of Michigan and Duke University, respectively. They hope the next president will help foster excitement about STEM among young girls.

This is Goldestein's fave emoji: 🐛

Pay for more STEM programs in early childhood

Lots of the women in tech were interested in education. Teresa Aguilera and Alexa Roman, designers at Spindle Desco and Burner App, respectively, want the next president to fund STEM education for girls in early childhood.

Change the industry, not the people

Despite the focus on educational policy changes the next president could make to help women in STEM, Anne Lauren Hoffmann and Elaine Sedenberg of UC Berkeley's School of Information, said it's important for our next leader to remember it's the industry, not the female engineers and computer scientists and designers, that has to change.