Naples Film Festival Documentary shows “CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap”
By: Janusz Zalewski, Software Engineering Professor
See Review below:
What may be a real hit at this year’s Naples International Film Festival, which opens on Thursday, is
“Code: Debugging the Gender Gap” (dir. Robin Hauser Reynolds), a documentary about participation of
women and minorities in computing, or actually the lack of it. The filmmaker takes on a discrepancy
between the numbers of males and females filling the job positions in computing disciplines, such as
computer science, software engineering and alike, for which a demand exists in nearly half a million by
the year 2022 (according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). What apparently inspired her to make
the movie is her own daughter’s dropping from a computer science program in college. The daughter is
quoted as saying: “I am really bad at it. I’m the worst in the class. I don’t fit in.”
This is in support of a theory that females are at disadvantage in entering the profession. But isn’t it just a
matter of learning the right competencies? The first programmer ever is widely considered to be a
woman. Ada Augusta Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron, and the first programmer to write code for
Charles Babbage’s analytical engine was that woman. The best programming language I could put my
hands on, introduced in 1980 by the U.S. Department of Defense, was named after her – Ada.
Newer history, too, had female programmers, such as Real Admiral Grace Hopper, who worked on
programming the Harvard Mark I computer in the 1940’s, and is credited with coining the terms “bug”
and “debugging”. Closer to my heart are a couple of girls who just graduated this spring from our own
Software Engineering program at FGCU. One of them got a job at IBM and another at Northrop
Grumman. One may be surprised that the department faculty is 40% female, likely the most diverse
computing department in the nation.
Closing a gender gap, no matter in what area, has always been a fascinating subject. The film would not
diagnose the problem, though, neither would I. I am not even sure if there is a problem, although the
Computer magazine, a flagship publication of the professional Computer Society, devoted to this topic its
entire March 2013 issue. At any rate, even if the film is not going to resolve much, an attempt like this
may be a good reason to watch the movie, since it gives us a rare opportunity to take a closer look at the
closed circle of geeks and nerds who raise the bar so high that not only girls may feel intimidated.
The shows are in Silverspot Cinema at Mercado, on Friday (11/06) at 5:30pm and on Saturday (11/07) at
More information on CODE visit: http://www.codedoc.co/
Full-length review is scheduled to appear in the Saturday 11/7/15 issue of Naples Daily News.