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Documentary on gender gap in tech industry will be shown at Cal Poly

GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving was the keynote speaker last year at Cal Poly’s Architecture and Engineering Department's commencement ceremony. Here, he takes a selfie with the entire graduating class behind him just before his speech.
GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving was the keynote speaker last year at Cal Poly’s Architecture and Engineering Department's commencement ceremony. Here, he takes a selfie with the entire graduating class behind him just before his speech. ldickinson@thetribunenews.com

A bespectacled computer engineer sits in a cubicle in Silicon Valley. The employee at a leading tech firm is a self-described geek, intelligent, socially awkward and male.

It’s a stereotype ingrained in American culture that’s been difficult to shake, and it’s just one of many reasons women shy away from careers in computer science.

With her film “CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap,” director/producer Robin Hauser Reynolds sheds light on the gender divide in the tech industry, which has long struggled to attract and retain women.

Reynolds — along with San Luis Obispo resident Blake Irving, CEO of GoDaddy and an executive producer on the film — will host a special screening of the documentary Tuesday evening at Cal Poly’s Spanos Theatre. The event is free and open to the public. Doors open at 6:20 p.m.

The film, which was shown at this year’s SLO Film Festival, explains the factors behind the reluctance of women and minorities to choose careers in technology and the cost to American companies that fail to diversify their workforces.

Irving, an advocate for women in technology who has worked to change the way GoDaddy represents women in its brand and advertising efforts, said society will gain tremendously from diversifying the tech workforce.

“There’s absolutely no difference in a woman’s ability to code than a man’s,” said Irving, who partnered with Reynolds after meeting her at a Grace Hopper Conference, the world’s largest gathering of women in computing. “A more diverse workforce produces better results and better code.”

The film is for women and men in computer science and those in senior executive positions who can “look at this, and say, ‘Wow, this is accurate. I have to create a better working environment for women,’ ” he said. “It’s for moms and dads raising boys and girls who want to give the same opportunities to both genders to achieve great things in a very high-paying career.”

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If you go

What: Special screening of the documentary “CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap”

Where: Spanos Theatre, Cal Poly

When: Tuesday.

6:30-6:45 p.m: opening remarks

6:45-8 p.m.: film screening

8-8:25 p.m.: Q&A with GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving and CODE director/ producer Robin Hauser Reynolds

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