Vogue Codes: Ladies in Tech

More than just ‘Girl Power’

vogue1Did you know computer programming used to be a job mainly for women? Well, neither did I.

In the 1960s, Cosmopolitan Magazine (yes, you read that correctly) ran an article called ‘The Computer Girls‘ insisting that computing was women’s work and ‘just like planning a dinner party’.

Not only was computer programming seen to be a woman’s job, the original computer programmer was a woman. Ada Lovelace, daughter of famed poet Lord Byron, was the world’s first computer programmer and her algorithms were crucial to early computing.

This historical snapshot is a far cry from the male-dominated landscape of Silicon Valley today. Many of you have probably read about that Google memo that has divided audiences, with some labelling it anti-diversity, and others supporting it as freedom of speech or even ‘scientific fact’.

These are some of the wonderful discussions that were had at Vogue Codes, an event that has been one of my passion projects for the past few months. Vogue Australia, with the support of the University of Melbourne (my workplace), worked tirelessly to bring to fruition the inaugural Melbourne summit of Vogue codes.


Vogue Codes is a fantastic initiative created by Vogue Australia to inspire women to code and get interested in STEM. Last year, its inaugural summit was held in Sydney and had great success. This year, Vogue opened up an additional Melbourne event in partnership with the University of Melbourne.

Assisting the Vogue team in ensuring a smooth running event has been a tremendous experience and I believe my friends and family will all heave  a huge sigh of relief to know that it is over and that I will not blabbering on about it for another year or so.

The event was an inspirational (and beautiful) half-day consisting of panel discussions centering around women in technology, capped by a brilliant presentation from keynote speaker Alex Klein, CEO of Kano.

I think that lending the esteem and image of Vogue to this cause is a great way to diversify the narrative of STEM, especially for women who may often feel alienated from the overarching ‘geek male’ prototype that has become the Silicon Valley standard.

vogue3So, what are your thoughts on women in tech? Are we disadvantaged? How could we change the game? Share your ideas in the comments below!

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  • Ah I wish I could have gone to such an event! I actually go to a STEM high school and it is pretty sad to see how disproportionate the gender ratio is in my coding classes (around 6:25). I personally try to push for women empowerment in my clubs at school (helping elementary school girls with labs and demonstrations) and especially through organizing an event called Techstravaganza (if anyone lives in the Northern Virginia area, go to techstravaganza.org for more information which I just so happen to be coding right now). Its amazing that you helped organize such a great event and worked with such a great company!

    • Wow, Megan, that sounds amazing work that you are doing and I will look up Techstravaganza! One of the best things about working on this event was meeting people with such passion like you! I hope there will be more events across the world that help promote a diversified and more welcoming image for STEM.

  • The advantage women have is they arent afraid to admit what they dont know.

    Not to stereotype, just to say that in my experience, men are less likely to try coding (and admit they havent learned about it before) whereas– again, in my experience– women are more likely to admit they dont know it already.

    This really is an advantage, because Ive met men who will lost out on an opportunity just because it means admitting something they havent already learned. I dont blame the men– we are still kind of expected to just know things, even when we dont.

    But if you have the right approach, women are more likely to accept help with learning a new thing.

    When you consider the number of people of all genders, who wont learn on their own– theres a definite advantage in accepting help with learning. Id encourage everyone to accept the help– we need fuller computer literacy to function in society now, and coding is the quickest route to more complete literacy no matter what your field will be.

    • That’s a wonderful and positive thought. I do agree that women tend to feel more comfortable with asking for help perhaps because our culture makes it a somewhat unmasculine thing. The power of admitting you don’t know something is huge and I think it’s an interesting aspect to the women in tech conversation.

  • What a great event! Will there be another one in 2018? I’d love to attend

    My thoughts on women in tech (and the rest of the STEMM fields) – is that there aren’t enough of them! It’s so important we have the diverse perspectives of both females and males in the industry that is powering our everyday lives and shaping future technologies we don’t even know exist yet.

    Women in tech are disadvantaged when they are stereotyped, feel isolated and unsupported, and face challenges in climbing the corporate ladder. However, I do believe we are heading in the right direction towards gender equality in these fields, with so many initiatives including company-wide and external Women in IT groups and events such as Vogue Codes!

    The way we’ll change the game is by supporting one another, providing resources and opportunities to other women in tech, and talking about the issue’s women face in the industry so we can find practical solutions. I also think mentoring and networking events/programs will have great benefit in ensuring women in tech feel supported and reassuring them they do belong in the industry.

    I speak about some of the challenges that women in STEM face in my blog – you should check it out! https://brilliantmindshng.wordpress.com/blog/

    Looking forward to hearing more info about Vogue Codes


    • Hi JC, thank you so much for your comment. Yes, there will most definitely be more Vogue Codes events in future and I imagine it will only get bigger! I agree wholeheartedly that we must support each other and one key point to come out of this event was that we not only need more women in STEM but more female leaders in particular! I will make sure to check out your blog 🙂