Women in Technology
Meet Computer Engineer Barbie. Originally a gag gift, she sits on my desk and reminds me that I am a female in technology. I laugh and roll my eyes at her for her sparkly leggings, bluetooth headset, and pink laptop. I embrace her for her attempt to encourage girls to pursue technology-related fields. And I resent her for, in some ways, reinforcing the issue rather than helping to solve it. I love and hate her all at the same time. And what’s most ironic is that the emotional tension I feel towards her is something I never actually feel at my job. The very thing she’s supposed to be addressing – that I am, in fact, a minority in my line of work – simply does not bother me, yet the Barbie does.
True, men have outnumbered me by far at every job I’ve had. And, yes, there will always be some dudes that might not know how to handle the “situation”, may question my intelligence, or be less likely to listen to my input. But that is very rare, and is not a problem that is exclusive to the tech industry. To be completely honest, I’ve never worked with more respectful, hard working, passionate, friendly, authentic, and intelligent people than the (mostly) guys I’ve encountered in tech. But I’m left to wonder: if the world’s first programmer was a woman, why aren’t there more women in the field today?
The reason I am writing this is because the R/GA Tech Blog has a category labeled “Women in Tech” and I was asked to contribute to it. It’s definitely an important topic and something that seems top-of-mind for many tech groups and companies as of late. In fact, this year’s JSConf dedicated a panel discussion about this very issue. But what’s there to say, really? In the near term, there’s little promise of a major reversal of the trend since late-in-life career changes are unlikely to bring many women into our field.
That leaves us to turn to the younger generations and provide girls (and all kids, for that matter!) with the exposure and learning needed to help them discover all the amazing things they can do in tech. There are a lot of groups already working towards this (see resources below), and since you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that you’re somebody in the industry who can be part of these sorts of groups too. And as for our “Women in Tech” blog category, our first reaction was to change it to “People in Tech”. But then we just decided to remove it. Because at the end of the day, we are all people in tech.
A small sampling of resources (Google can give you a lot more):