Goldman Sachs’ Joanne Hannaford on Encouraging More Women to Code

On “meritocracy” drawing her to work for Goldman Sachs:

“Throughout that 150 years [in Goldman’s history] there’s been constant innovation, so you never feel that you’re done. There’s always something more interesting to do. As for the idea of having a career, I was actually very fortunate in that I chose to go to GS, it wasn’t my first company and I chose to go there because my friend said that it’s a meritocracy. You can have a career there. It think it wasn’t true of many firms in the city then – it’s completely different now. It was one of the smartest moves i ever made in my life was to actually seek out a company where I could be valued not because I’m a woman, but because I just wanted to have a career there based on meritocracy. I want my work to be judged in the same way other people’s work is judged.

I think that’s all women want ultimately is to be treated the same way. Not to be treated differently. You don’t stay at a company for 22 years if you don’t feel as if your work is valued or you’re valued.”

On why we’re going backwards with women in coding:

“The controversy around why there’s not more women in computer science didn’t exist when I took it up in the 80s. When I was at school it was considered to be a really good job for women and I had a maths teacher at school who retrained as a programmer and who began to teach computer science. I took her class and really enjoyed it… I was in a class with 35 other girls doing computer science at that time.

It’s odd to be close to 30 years later that it seems so difficult to replicate that in a school but at that moment in time it was considered to be. Nobody ever questioned the fact that you would do that. No one even questioned that we decided to do computer science. It was considered in the same way that we were doing physics or chemistry or mathematics.”

On democratizing tech skills for women:

“I mean look there’s a commercial argument to skilling. Half of the world’s population, actually over half of the world’s population are women. And yet for whatever reasons and they’re quite complicated reasons and geographical in nature — geographically diverse — those same skills do not seem to be avail to that population so if you think about a company in today’s world, most companies, in fact every company you could argue is a technology company, and we don’t look to provide technology skills on a gender basis to that population. You’re restricting how many skills, its an obvious argument. Very rarely, and maybe it’s because I’m a woman, but very rarely do I hear any problems in terms of men’s reactions to these programs.”

Specific clips available on request.

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Author: Yash Hirani

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