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AZ Tech Beat | July 21, 2019

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CODE, a quest for an inclusive society – interview director Robin Hauser Reynolds & CEO GoDaddy Blake Irving

CODE, a quest for an inclusive society – interview director Robin Hauser Reynolds & CEO GoDaddy Blake Irving
Tishin Donkersley

One could feel the pulsating energy and sense of empowerment fill the room during the prescreening of the documentary CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap at the GoDaddy campus.

CEO GoDaddy and executive producer of CODE, Blake Irving, hosted the film for his employees followed by a panel discussion with director Robin Hauser Reynolds.

Inspired by her daughter who left a college engineering program due to lack of support and a sense of belonging, Reynolds delved into the lack of representation of women and minorities in technology and explores the reason behind the gap.

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In our interview, Reynolds explained her mission is to change the mindset of women in engineering and encourage change.

“There were more women in computer software engineering in the mid-80s than today,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds interviewed experts from some of the most prestigious institutes, well-known organizations and renowned companies like PIXAR, to discuss the realism of being a female engineer in a male-dominated industry.

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Many gasps and under-the-breath commentary came from the audience as women engineers described their interactions with brogrammers (a mentality within the industry that’s has been referred to as the ‘old boys club’ for coders) and how they were consistently undermined and overlooked for their talents.

Reynolds also exposes how society, even retailers, are feeding the mindset of gender stereotypes.

“We’ve learned making the film that choosing gender specific toys and activities for our kids, I think that’s a problem, we assume that our girls like pink frilly things and not the cool things that help understand the basics of engineering. I think the more gender neutral toys we have the better,” Reynolds said.

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With technology positions growing at lightening speed, the U.S. isn’t churning out the workers to fill them fast enough, especially women coders. One terrifying stat that came up is close to 41 percent of women in engineering will leave the industry entirely in the next 10 years.

Reynolds also takes a chapter to educate the audience on the benefits of having women on the team that ultimately results in higher quality of product and increased profit.

Danielle Feinberg, Director of Photography for Lighting PIXAR, described the importance of having women during the designing and coding for the light, movement and expressions of a bold teenage girl for main character Meredith in BRAVE.

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Turning to the executive producer, Irving has been an advocate for diversity and is “dead serious” about shifting the paradigm at GoDaddy and influencing others in the tech industry to do the same.

Recently, at the White House Demo Day, Irving pledged to achieve compensation parity.

In our interview, Irving shared they increased their women interns and new college hires for tech  from 14 to 39 percent since last year.

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GoDaddy has also been recognized by the Anita Borg institute and named them one of the Top Companies for Women Technologist Leadership Index.

WATCH: “I never got the memo I wasn’t supposed to be an engineer” interview CTO GoDaddy

The film seemed to spark various emotions and positive responses from the audience, something Reynolds was counting on.

A female software engineer from Infusionsoft said, “I thought what was amazing was the amount of males in the room. They got to hear the perspective on the other side of what some of the things that was talked about in the film and how to better support their coworkers and work together as a team.”

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A male engineering intern at GoDaddy said, “I think the film was very eye-opening. I see that happening a lot whether at a university or working with friends. I’m really glad to have a chance to see it and personally I think I can encourage more of my friends, to get into it [and] encourage them. Just because you see a bunch of guys doing it doesn’t mean you can’t do it-go for it.”

During our interview Reynolds said they are taking the film around the country to share with corporations, women’s groups and schools. She said having male allies, like Irving, are important to help bridge this divide.

“A true male ally, is a man who will stand up in the room and defend women when there are no women in the room,” Reynolds said.

Watch the interview with Reynolds and Irving above or click here.

Read more AZTB coverage about CODE here.

Read more AZTB coverage about GoDaddy and diversity initiatives here.

All pop out quotes above were stated in CODE

Learn more about CODE documentary here.