Although we live in an advanced and open society there are numerous prejudices. You could call the time we live in the digital era. But exactly in this technology area, there are a lot of biased opinions. I want to have a closer look at this problem with you and tell you some of my own experience with women in technology.
I’m now studying law and this has definitely nothing to do with technology. Now you may think why would I encourage other women to pursue a career in IT if I’m going to be active in a totally different scope? Here’s why: In high school (some also call it secondary school) I had to decide if I want to start an apprenticeship or follow up with my school in order to start studying at university. For me, it was from the start on clear, that I wanted to go to uni in order to study law and eventually becoming a lawyer. However, my fascination for IT has not stopped with my studies. And whenever I feel like giving up my law studies, I day dream about this IT apprenticeship I would have started instead.
So let’s go back to the beginning: During secondary school, we had the opportunity to choose between several different subjects: photography, electronics, theatre and many more. I’ve decided on electronics but little did I know what I’ll be facing in this class. Electronics, I’m not sure if you would name it the same way in English, but this class was primarily about building electronic circuits. I mean how fricking awesome is it to build your own light signal system or place a catalytic converter and link it with light-emitting diode! I was totally hyped about the whole subject. When I registered for this class I didn’t expect to be the only girl. One girl and twenty guys. To be honest, this was first a little setback because at the age of thirteen there’s still a great barrier between the genders and I was aware that I had to sit on my own. However, I soon was accepting this and seeing it even in some way as a challenge. In my childhood, I always liked to hang around boys because they seem less complicated and much more straight forward than girls. But my enthusiasm stopped quickly when I experienced the first reactions from my classmates. Some of them were ignoring me totally and the other ones were making fun of me. They mocked because I was not one of them. I was interested in technology but was never a geek or gamer. My father was also not an electrician like the majority of the fathers of my classmates. Technology was not really my scene, I just had an immense interest in it, but I knew very little about it. Nonetheless, I was eager to learn everything about it, but this was not sufficient to get along with the others. I was left out.
Although I knew nothing about electrodes and soldering electrical circuits I quickly learnt how to handle the soldering iron to connect all the tiny pieces together. And at the end of each and every lesson I was always the first one who finished the project correctly. If there was a boy which was able to finish the task earlier than me, it was always wrong and the electric circuit did not work properly. When the teacher checked my project if it was set up the right way, the light-emitting diode always lit up as a sign that I’ve done the task correctly. To be honest, it was a great feeling. However, every lesson ended for me in the same way: I finished the project really quickly, the teacher tested if it was done properly and then I could leave class half an hour earlier. And every time I walked out of this classroom I got aggressive comments like: “That’s unfair. She’s a girl. That’s not possible that she can solve this task. No wonder she sits alone. Who wants to be her friend.” Of course, those comments were hurtful but I still or more than ever was sure that I belonged to this class and continued with it.
It’s not easy at all for women being active in technology although there have been huge improvements when it comes to gender roles. When you are a woman who is interested in IT and computer science I advise you to pursue this way. Just be prepared for negative comments. However, you can turn the tables and use these discriminating comments as a push for giving your best.
Be strong and prove them wrong!
(Wow, what a cheesy sentence 🙂 )
Show everyone that you are capable of learning quickly, grasping the problem fast and pursuing your own way.
It’s a really rough patch, I agree. Mainly because of these three reasons:
1. We women think it wouldn’t be interesting
2. We women are afraid of working in a masculine domain
3. We women think that we wouldn’t be good at it
Regarding the first point: a lot of women are deterred by the stereotypical computer nerd – a shy guy wearing thick horn-rimmed spectacles, a shirt related to Marvel or DC comics and always talking about his latest computer game. Of course, this is just a stereotype and is not the reality. The IT branch has a lot of interesting people who vary from each other with different interests besides their job. There’s the athletic technology guy, the philosophical one, the good-looking and so on. I hope you get my point. Technology is a diverse scope and many people work in it. Technology has also not only to do with programming an app, it can also involve communicating and acting as a connector between the IT and the management board of a company. This position is indeed very crucial because you are responsible for a well-functioning communication between the company’s different scopes.
The second point, I experienced not only during high school but also while completing several so-called “trial apprenticeships” in the IT section of companies. Women were definitely a minority and I comprehend that this can be sometimes very intimidating for a woman. Remind yourself:
Just do it! And don’t let other people’s opinion make you question what you’re doing.
The third point addresses a very similar prejudice society has about women. Women can’t drive, they have no sense of direction and they are not good with technology. Obviously, this is rubbish. There are a ton of men who are not good at driving, get lost in a city or can’t handle their smartphone correctly. However, the main problem with this point is that because these biased opinions became manifest in our society over those years, we women started to believe in this nonsense statements. We need to let go of these prejudgments and focus solely on our abilities.
Why Do We Need More Women In Technology?
1. Because there will be less discrimination and discomfort for women
This first reason is obvious. If we have more women working in technology there’ll be less discrimination and discomfort. We need to get loose of the stigmatised IT and technology branch and welcome women in it.
2. Women are different
Okay, I definitely need to elaborate more on this point. Clearly, women differ from men, but what I’m aiming at is that women tend to think in another way. Women probably also tackle problems differently and their notions can vary from the male ones.
3. More women will encourage others
Let’s assume the technology scope has the same amount of women like men. Then this would definitely inspire young girls to pursue their interest in IT. This would result in more people doing what they really like and shouldn’t this be already the case?
So what’s left for me to say? Just follow your interests and dreams, because women are highly sought-after in technology. So whenever somebody asks you: “Women in technology, are you kidding?” Just answer: No, I’m not kidding at all, I’m deadly serious and proud to say so.