I was inspired to write this post by Geek mom, Dakster Sullivan, who recently penned a blog post on Women in Technology, and, more specifically, just why women are such a minority in the IT field. Some of the reasons given in her article are “the fear of sexual harassment, women not being smart enough, and the tech world not being friendly enough to women.” She writes the first two off as possible causes for a decline in women who tech. She cites that sexual harassment is present in almost all careers and not limited to just women, and she proves through experience that women do have technical aptitude (besides, women not being smart enough is a completely outdated concept not worthy of any other response…let’s get with times, critics). She points out that the biggest culprit is that the tech industry is not friendly to women, making it an uncomfortable choice as a career. I think this last statement does have a grain of truth to it.
Dakster Sullivan’s idea to remedy the problem is to turn things around and create a tech industry that is more female-friendly. She suggests that we start in the school systems with encouragement to BOTH genders to take technical classes. I agree that this is a great place to start, but I think we are not looking at a real solution. I believe the solution lies within the individual.
We should encourage, teach, and support our friends, family, or colleagues to work through that uncomfortable feeling, don’t let it stop you. You should “go for” what interests you, regardless of what others think, say, or do to discourage you. As a result, changes to the industry, school systems, and even culture will cascade from those individuals, effectively creating change from the inside and working its way out.
I’ll be frank here, I’ve encountered bias against my professional opinions, that I can absolutely attribute to the fact that I’m female as the underlying reason for the opposition. Does it anger and frustrate me? YES. Does it stop me from doing the best work that I can possibly do or make me wish I had chosen a different career path? Hell, NO.
In life, there will ALWAYS be uncomfortable or difficult times. I think we need to get used to that feeling and work through it instead of avoiding it. Because once you do, when you encounter a similar, uncomfortable situation, instead of blaming the industry, the culture, the schools, and avoiding it, you won’t give it a second thought. You’ll have the skills and confidence to face and overcome that challenge…then, look out world!