It’s not easy being a woman in technology. It’s not easy supporting women in technology. It’s not easy watching the culture of abuse and misogyny that repels women from technical careers, like software development, hardware engineering, and IT administration. It’s not easy changing the culture.
If you are a woman in the technology profession, you know what I mean. If you aren’t, this may seem to be a non-issue: “All women need to do is try harder,” perhaps, or “Women need to relax and get over themselves.” Nope. If you’re a guy, talk to women techies and you’ll swiftly learn that their career path looks very different. And different is not better.
The more women we have in technology, the better for everyone: for the workforce, for the company’s bottom line, and for the customers. Everyone wins.
I have recently started working with an organization called WITI—Women in Technology International—that provides resources both for women in technical professions and for companies that see the incredible value in building and supporting a diversified workforce and management team. I encourage you to see what WITI, and related groups like the Anita Borg Institute, Million Women Mentors and Girls in Tech, have to offer.
Not sure about the problem? Not sure about the solution? Here are some stories about women in technology that you should read. Some about the professional challenges, and others about the incredible abuse that women receive all the time on the Internet, at some conferences, on Twitter, and even in open-source project forums. I’m not talking about challenges based on their ideas, their skills or their expertise, but rather hostility based purely on their gender. As a guy, I find these stories unbelievable and incredibly depressing. Let’s do something about it!
Pacific Standard: “Why Women Aren’t Welcome on the Internet,” by Amanda Hess
Network Computing: “Women in IT: Suffer Silently?” by Michele Chubirka
Los Angeles Times: “Sexism a problem in Silicon Valley, critics say,” by Jessica Guynn
The New York Times: “An Uptick in the Hiring of Women for Tech Jobs,” by Claire Cain Miller
The New York Times: “Shopping for a Girl? Consider Science and Engineering Toys,” by Claire Cain Miller
BuzzFeed: “A Woman Walks Into a Tech Conference,” by Courtney Stanton
Internet Evolution: “Women in Tech: The Long, Slow Climb,” by Laura Sanders
The Atlantic: “We Need More Women in Tech: The Data Prove It,” by Derek Khanna
Network World: “Dreadfully Few Women are Open Source Developers,” by Amy Vernon
Fast Company: “The Loneliness of the Female Coder,” by Ciara Byrne
SlideShare: “How does biology explain the low numbers of women in computer science?” by Terri Oda
Smarterware: “Designers, Women, and Hostility in Open Source,” by Gina Trapani
Techworld: “Breaking down the gender divide in open source and open culture,” by Rohan Pearce
And my favorite, although it’s slightly off-topic:
Ars Technica: “How not to design a woman’s product,” by Casey Johnston
Are you a woman in a technology field? I’d love to hear your story—both the good and the not so good. Write me at email@example.com.
Alan Zeichick, founding editor of SD Times, is principal analyst of Camden Associates.