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Women in Tech: We Need You

Kristina on June 02, 2017

Originally published on my personal blog We need you. Yes, you. Yes, I know, public speaking can be some scary shit. Mentorship takes time, an... [Read Full]
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Very nice article!
Very uplifting

I would like to add my own story, if I may.
Looking back, there were a few hurdles for me as well, but only at the beginning. Then again, those were big enough:
We had to choose one of the three following classes: french, biology or IT.
I hated bio with a passion and thanks to neopets pet pages, I just recently got into html a bit, so I signed up for IT. This class had a limit of 30 students. 32 singed up. 2 women. "They are just girls, they won't be able to do this anyway" -> the two of us ended up in french then -.- (same for an other set of electives with the same teacher a few weeks later)

Thankfully, there was an other teacher (he was in his first year at the school) who did not throw girls out of his IT classes. There I did learn a bit HTML (mostly "This is html.org, this is some webspace, good luck and have fun"), while 3/4 of the other girls there learned how to actually operate a PC, how to use mouse and keyboard where to switch it on and so on.
Some weren't allowed to use their fathers PC, since they might break something, so this was the very first time in their live, that they were using a PC. (No.. their mothers did not have a PC either) Before this class, one classmate described a PC to me as "this really expensive and complicated machine, that I must never even look at or I might break it!" <- I am now 32 so all of this happend more then 15 years ago.. still... with this kind of "encouragement" it is no wonder, why there are so few women in tech.

Thanks to this one teacher (and my father and elder brother who had no problems at all with me using a PC or owning a gaming console), I did not give up on IT then. And thanks to my own computer und my playstation I got more and more interested in tech. (Lara Croft turned out to be my very first kinda role model)
From then on, it was rather smooth sailing for me.
Sure, in every IT class there were never more then 2 other girls but we also never got trouble from the boys and I got into quite a few healthy rivalries from time to time. ( I did Judo at the time and looked like a tomboy, so I guess this helped ;-) )
Since those early school years I also never experienced any gender based negativity from teachers either. (Now that I think about it, all the way up to and including uni, the only female teachers I had in any technical school, taught languages or law. Nothing directly related to IT. Unless you count that female substitute teacher once, who insisted that 370.255.0.0 is a valid IPv4 Address...)

Without this one teacher, I most likely would have given up on IT and started to believe, that this is "nothing for girls".
Thank you.

 

Thank you so much for sharing! So happy you had your family's support and encouragement and were able to push past the shortsightedness of your teachers <3 I also started learning HTML through Neopets back in the day!!

 
 

We need female developers. Not only females need them, but all of us. One of my programmer inspirations is Lea Verou; we can only guess how many talented women like her weren't able to be part of dev community because of the stereotypes and insecurities originating in our culture. The programming is not what it could have been if more women and girls were encouraged to be programmers. Thank you for writing this article and encouraging women to be part of it.

 

Awesome essay. I also had an uneven road to where I am, but in reflection, it's clear that there were few forces telling me "no, this isn't for you". At every step of the way, people expected and/or encouraged me to choose whichever path I felt most comfortable with because I look like someone who might do those kinds of things. The path for women is filled with micro-discouragements. The industry needs role models as well as all the allies as possible.

I recommend this talk: Lending Privilege.

I made embarrassing Geocities websites first, with sparkly fairy gifs that I am now incredibly grateful weren’t archived anywhere.

Same 🙃

 

Thanks Ben! I'll take a look at Lending Privilege :) Happy to hear you also ended up where you were meant to doing something you love (and being part of a duo building such a fantastic site!)

 
 

Great article! If you're from a group that's already well represented in tech are wondering what you can do to help: You don't have to be a minority to connect students to role models who look like them! There are a bunch of great tech conference talks available for free online, which put faces and voices to potential role models. You can find the relevant ones of those talks and share them with kids who'd be interested in their subjects, to make them aware of the work done by those who might inspire them.

Kids can have a favorite actor, or a favorite author, or a favorite athlete, without ever needing to meet the person. Anyone who influences what kids see and read can help push things toward a world where they look up to their favorite programmers, as well.

 

This is a really useful tip! I'm going to try this with women I mentor. Thanks!

 

I had a similar beginning experience as you... got hooked around the same age in the world of personal websites and hoping to get chosen to be hosted on someone's domain. Unfortunately when I entered college, I never encountered anyone telling me that coding is actually a career path, so it took me 10 years to find my way back to tech. Thank you for the reminder. I'm inspired to get more involved!

 

We stand ready, in formation, and intend to persist! Thanks for writing this article!

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