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Women In Technology

July 28, 2010

I’m going to offer up a quick note about this and then I’ll simply point you to a great post that was written about women in technology.

While I do know of a handful of women that I’ve worked with since starting my tech job, a quick look around the office of any tech worker will undoubtedly tell of a male dominated profession.  I don’t think it’s changing a whole lot right now either, although I hope that we’re able to start down the path to change.  Sure there may be women who work in your tech office but, how many of them are actually coding?  That’s what I thought. I can count on one hand the number of women who were in any of my classes when I went to college for software development.  Actually I don’t think I’d even need to use my hand to count them, because quite frankly I don’t remember there being any.

There is no reason why the split shouldn’t be more even.  I’m fairly certain that given the right circumstances there would be just as many women who would love to code for a living as there are men.  But there are barriers, obvious barriers as well as subtle barriers.

As part of Google‘s ongoing commitment to encouraging women to excel in computing and technology,we are pleased to announce the Google JSConf.eu 2010 Conference Grant to encourage more female computer scientists to participate in the JSConf 2010 Conference, 25-26 September 2010, Berlin, Germany.

Good for Google!  I’m glad somebody is willing to do something, even if they are going to take some uncalled for heat about it from some.

Having worked in the field for a few years now, even I feel uncomfortable sometimes.  I’m not the stand up and proclaim how great I am kind of person, which is what a lot of coders seem to be.  I still don’t feel comfortable saying that I know what I’m doing, partly because I don’t grasp everything that I do completely, but, also partly because the way some people talk such a big game scares me into thinking that they must know so much more than I do.  Which when I sit down and really think about it, I seriously doubt that they do.  I’m just a little more humble, a little less self promoting and a little more cautious than most of the alpha-male types that seem to fill a large chunk of the software development field.  I have no interest in changing to be more like them either, this is who I am for better or worse.  I like it that way.

Anyway, this post by Nicole Sullivan says it all much better than I could.  Here you go.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 28, 2010 9:53 pm

    That might have honestly been the longest post I’ve read — and some of the comments were just as long! I had no idea there was such a hoopla going on, but kudos to Google for getting the discussion going — and her blog was brilliantly written (thought I’d post a comment here though than get wrapped up in all of that).

    I will say, I’m not sure what the anger or frustration or jealousy is coming from some of the men and there twitter-isms. Although a lot of other men were very supportive. I will say, it must be getting OLD and TIRESOME for men, particularly white men, to keep hearing that someone is being discriminated against. I have no idea. To me it seems rather simple — Google feels they can do something to increase the amount of women in the field, and so they put money towards it. They’re no fools. They know there’s untapped talent there and possibilities for profit in the futuer. Let’s not pretend this doesn’t benefit them money-wise — at the end of the day, it’s always about business.

    But , I do have some empathy for some of the suggestions/comments some of the men were spewing. Not so much because I agreed — but because you can almost hear the cry between the lines of “I’m tired of being the bad guy” or “it not my fault women don’t want to do work in this filed” .

    Honestly, working in the motion graphics field for as long as I did, it was also dominated (and still is) by men. Asian men in particular, but men nonetheless. Hardly any women and honestly, in the seven years I worked there, I only saw ONE black man work there as a designer. I’m not sure whose fault it is, or why, but fixing the “problem” if we call it that, can only benefit everyone.

    Bravo to Google. And Bravo to Ms. Sullivan. And Bravo to you for posting.

    Carmen

    • July 29, 2010 12:17 pm

      This might be the longest comment I’ve seen on here, lol!

      Kudos to you if you managed to read through the comments, I could only get through a handful of them myself. Of course Google has their own self serving reasons for doing it, but, as long as there is a pleasant side effect that comes out of it I’m all for it. You’re right, they definitely are not fools when it comes to this sort of thing. There is a HUGE untapped market out there and if they can find a way to access it, more power to them.

      The only time I, as a “white man”, find the whole discrimination thing old or tiresome is when I think it’s being misused. When there are legitimate reasons for bringing that argument out, I’m all for it. I think some of the biggest and most wide spread discrimination in this world, not just in the technology/software business, is against women. I also happen to think that it is one of the most overlooked and ignored forms of discrimination. There are far too many places where women are not allowed to own land, dissolve a marriage, or receive an education. The list goes on and on. While in North America many of these things aren’t happening, there are more subtle discrimination’s going on and because they are so subtle, or hidden from view, they can be even harder to change. If something is happening right in front of you and its clearly wrong you will most likely protest. But. If someone tells you that something bad is happening just around the corner, only you never go around that corner, or even if you did you wouldn’t be able to see it, you’re much less likely to protest it. Thus it continues to happen, hidden behind a veil.

      Where I work we have a number of contractors who work off site for various companies and a few who work here in my office. I know that we have a fairly large number (it’s depressing even to me that 10%-20% is considered a large number) of women programming. In my office we don’t have any women programmers, but then again including myself there are only 6 or 7 programmers here. We do have programmers that come from a wide range of countries and ethnic backgrounds though, from Africa, Canada, US, New Zealand, India, Pakistan and Russia, just to name a few.

      I was reading a forum where they were discussing a similar topic earlier and it’s funny (not funny ha-ha, but funny odd). Even the people who were saying they only judge a programmer on their code you could just sense that they want to do that. But you got the impression that really, there are subtle things that happen. When it’s a man writing the code they overlook certain inefficiencies and problems, hoping for the best. When it’s a women writing the code they expect the worst and almost seek it out until they find problems. That way they can say, “Hey, I’m only judging you on your code. See what I found here! That’s no good”. What they don’t say is that they had to go through it with a fine toothed comb in order to uncover that problem, something they wouldn’t have done if it was a guy writing it.

      As to why guys would have such a problem with it? Well, I’m sure there are varying reasons, insecurity, wanting to feel superior, not seeing many women in the field which makes you believe when someone says women can’t do it. I’m sure there are a million reasons…..scratch that. I’m sure there are a million excuses!

      I think this quote sums up one of the problems well.

      Women do two-thirds of the world’s work, receive 10 percent of the world’s income and own 1 percent of the means of production.
      –Richard H. Robbins

      The sad part is that it’s mostly true, and the quote is only about 10 years old!

      Sorry for the LONG rambling comment reply, lol.

      • August 1, 2010 5:40 pm

        I think between the two of us, we covered all of it! Hahahahaha! Hugs Brian!

        Carm~

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