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Top 9 Must-Read Books About Women In Tech And CS In General

By Spandana Bansod

The world’s first programmer was a woman: Ada Lovelace. And yet women only make up about 26% of the world’s CS workforce. But that number needs to change, and it will. Because we definitely need more representation.

If you’re a female aspiring to be a part of the tech industry, these 18 books are must-reads. From gorgeous coffee-table style books to motivating non-fiction to big-fat textbooks, this list has got you all covered.

1. HTML and CSS: Design and Build Websites

This 4.7 star coffee-table style book is every beginners dream. It’s extremely visual and intuitive, making it non-intimidating for absolute beginners. It’s easy and fun, but yet not shallow; it’s 514 pages long, with each page providing heaps of information. By the end of this book, you’ll design your own (not very interactive) website, the book even teaches you some basic SEO techniques. As a beginner or hobbyist, this might be the best starting-out book for you.

2. Female Innovators at Work: Women on Top of Tech

Read about the struggles and obstacles faced by the top female innovators and entrepreneurs, how they overcame them, and their advice about how you can too. Interviewer Danielle Newnham’s interviewing and writing style is so immersive, that you’ll feel as though you are chatting with the women in the same room.

3. A Young Innovator's Guide to STEM: 5 Steps To Problem Solving For Students, Educators, and Parents

Written by the Time’s first kid of the year, this fast-paced book walks you through her famous innovation process, right from brainstorming, to teamwork, to finally creating your project. Though not exclusively about CS or women in tech, a must-read for young activists, innovators, and all sorts of creative people, programmers included.

4. Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II

This is a highly fascinating and well-written non-fiction book that just won’t let you leave it midway. The book is about the heroic and highly underrated profession of code girls, the sharp-minded female code breakers who saved a number of lifes and significantly shortened the war, during World War II. Due to strict laws, their work and struggle almost went unnoticed. That is, until recently, when interviews with surviving code girls and books like this exploded, bringing forward the truth and their tribute.

5. Girls Who Code: Learn to Code and Change the World

Written by Reshma Saujani, the founder of the famed non-profit Girls Who Code, it ought to be great, and it is. With quirky illustrations, light-hearted humor, real-life examples and motivation to bring change, this book might be the perfect start for a young programmer intimidated by other resources. Some readers report the content being too simple and easy, though, so it might not be the best fit if you’ve already got the basics down.

6. Girl Code: Gaming, Going Viral, and Getting It Done

A highly immersive and relatable memoir about the perseverance it took for two teenage girls to build their own games, at a girls who code summer camp. At first, it was intended just for their own friends, but it soon blew up, not by accident, but by the girls’ sheer marketing efforts, and the duo became world famous. The book can get a bit too technical at times, but is still more about girl power and perseverance above anything else. Overall, a fiction-like non-fiction book both extremely inspiring and full of quirkiness.

7. The New Girl Code - The launch of a fashion app

With cute roald dahl illustrations, nitty gritties about being a south african teenager and an inspirational story, this fiction book is a hit among young teens. It’s about a girl being awkward and just your typical teenager, until she discovers the world of programming. Her app, project prep goes viral, and she’s famous now. Everything’s like a fairytale until a fake friend steals her code...

8. Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys' Club of Silicon Valley

This well written book with strong voices and claims exposes the dark side of the silicon valley, for women.This book is disturbing, eye-opening and also gives a ray of hope for change, all at the same time, throughout the book. Note that the book is better suited to a bit older readers, though.

9. Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change

Written by former reddit CEO Ellen Pao, she talks about why she lost the case in which he sued the then CEO Kleiner Perkins Caufield, her employer, for gender discrimtination. And how she replaced him after, and what she did to reduce gender discrimination, both for her employees, and reditt users. A really fascinating nonfiction read.

Statistics show that just 1 in 5 programmers are women, but with more and more girls taking up programming, programs like Girls Who Code, GirlsCodeIt, Technovation etc, ancd books like above, It’s slowly changing.

What other books about women in tech do you find inspiring, fascinating, motivating, or helpful?

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