Tag Archives: girls in tech

Wall of Spam, by freezelight on Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

Flying by the seat of my linkspam (29th July, 2011)

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the “geekfeminism” tag on delicious, freelish.us or pinboard.in or the “#geekfeminism” tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

Quick Hit: New Brunswick girl youngest to discover a supernova

Having been part of a field naturalist club when I was in public school, I really love stories of amateur scientists with big impacts:

Ten-year-old Kathryn Gray had lots of fun over the winter holidays. She especially liked going to Nova Scotia to visit with family.

Then, after returning home to New Brunswick, she discovered a supernova about 240 million light years away.

You can read more about her discovery in the Globe and Mail.

Dot Diva: The Webisode

This is an amended version of a post I wrote for the CU-WISE blog (my local Women in Science and Engineering group). See below for additional comments to geek feminism readers.

Dot Diva logo

This Wednesday fun is actually something connected to CUWISE: We met the fine folk working on Dot Diva at GHC09 and got to hear about some of their plans to make computing seem like a cool career for girls. While most of us seem to focus on fun outreach science programs, they took things in a different direction: seeing as crime shows like CSI have increased the public interest in careers in forensics, they thought perhaps TV would be the best way to make younger girls realise that computer science is actually pretty cool.

They’ve released the first episode of Dot Diva:

KATE, a sarcastic fan of alt- and indie-rock. ALI, a lover of kittens, chick flicks, and the mall. Two girls with NOTHING in common… except for being ace programmers at a seriously-crazy video game company.

As they work to launch Rocklette’s first-ever game, these two Dot Divas have to outwit their smarmy boss, Kate’s doofus boyfriend, and the spy within their midst.

If the video embed doesn’t work for you, click here to view the video

I wasn’t too sure about the first episode initially, since it seemed like they were throwing a lot of the stereotypes in there, but I think they dealt with them ok for a first look, and I expect we’ll be seeing more nuanced stuff as the characters develop. I found myself caught up in their story despite my initial feelings of awkwardness. One thing I really loved was how different the two women main characters are, while still both being programmers.

Now, I’m actually guessing some of our readers here on Geek Feminism are going to be irked by this video because it’s once again conventionally pretty young women depicting geeks, but I’d really like to hear comments about more than their appearances here. Would this show have appealed to you as a tween (their target demographic)? What else would you want to see? What other stereotypes would you like to see them deal with and maybe overcome? What else do you think could make the career of programmer appeal more to girls? Do you think this actually does make it more appealing to girls? Have you shown it to girls you know? What do they think?

Please be constructive in your comments — remember the women who produced this are genuinely trying to help the image of computer programmers in a way beyond Barbie, and that they actually have a decent amount of media savvy but likely had to choose their battles to make something appealing to both their sponsors and their target demographic.

Note: I’ll be taking a heavier hand to moderation here than I usually do because I don’t feel like hosting a whole lot of hate towards this project, though I do think readers may have interesting suggestions, criticisms and ideas for future episodes. If you’d like to rant, you may wish to keep a copy of your post for your own blog, or find a way to balance it with constructive ideas.

Women in tech/women near tech

I subscribe to a lot of blogs related in some way to women and technology, and skim through them at least daily in my feed reader. Lately I’ve noticed that there’s some vital mismatch in terminology going on. And I’m not the only one.

Image credit: Dori Smith

Image credit: Dori Smith

Dori Smith posted about it a couple of months ago with the above image, and Sarah Mei’s comment (which I only just read today, when I revisited the post) really struck me:

… as a programmer myself, I remember a time not so long ago when “women in tech” meant “technical women” – programmers, chip designers, system administrators…etc.

With the mass popularization of tech, starting in the 90s, “women in tech” started to mean “women who work in the technology industry,” which is a very different (and much broader) group.

In the process, the issues faced by technical women, which are quite different than the issues faced by women in other parts of the industry, have fallen off the radar. And that’s sad, because we do need more women actually *doing* tech.

At OSCON, I gave my keynote on women in open source first thing in the morning. As people filed in and took their seats, this video — “Her Code: Engendering Change in Silicon Valley” — was playing on the big screens:

In the video, those women who have technical backgrounds aren’t identified as techies: Leah Culver talks about open source, but is identified as the founder of Pownce, not as a programmer, although she is one. Marissa Mayer (who has a degree in computer science) says she thinks of herself as a geek at Google, but the job title the film shows on screen is VP. All the rest of the women profiled are company founders, venture capitalists, and the like.

We absolutely need more women founding tech companies, investing in tech companies, in management at tech companies, and all of that. But… there really is something missing when you treat those women as if they represent all “women in tech”. Where are the women who actually, every day, build technology? Not just use it. Build it.

We see this time and time again. Look at this post about Geek-ternships (a new trend? really?) on the Girls in Tech blog. The only one that mentions any technical skillset suggests HTML and Excel proficiency would be helpful, but aren’t required. All the contributors to that blog are in marketing, except one who is a designer. Dori also pointed out the Technically Women blog, and HuffPo’s Cracking the Boys Club: 10 Pioneers in Tech and Web 2.0.

“Women in tech” articles and blogs like those make me feel invisible. Not cool.

Here are some “… In Tech” groups that are actually for women *IN* tech, not just near it:

  • Anita Borg Institute for Women in Technology: We are women technologists. We use technology to connect our communities. We create technology because it is who we are — intelligent, creative and driven. We lead with compassion and a belief in inclusion. We develop competitive products and find solutions to problems that impact our lives, our nation, our world. Together, through the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology (ABI), we are inventing a better future.
  • Women In Technology Project: Our mission is to build and strengthen the education to workforce pipeline by encouraging girls, women and other underrepresented groups into science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers.
  • NCWIT: We believe that inspiring more women to choose careers in IT isn’t about parity; it’s a compelling issue of innovation, competitiveness, and workforce sustainability. In a global economy, gender diversity in IT means a larger and more competitive workforce; in a world dependent on innovation, it means the ability to design technology that is as broad and creative as the people it serves.
  • Girls in Technology: The mission of Girls in Technology is to support academic and community programs that engage school-age girls in technology and computer-related learning. Currently, GIT furthers its mission by supporting summer camps and after school computer clubs for girls that provide technology/math/science enrichment and promote leadership skills.

(And, for the record, none of their websites are pink, and the only one with “girls” in the name is for school-aged children. Just sayin’.)