Go ahead and Google Image search “Girls in IT” or “tech girls” and look at what pops up. You have to scroll down a bit before you find pictures of women working with computers (if you find them at all).
Why is this true? Even though women are working in and with technology, why is it so hard for some people to believe that women are working in the field and are here to stay?
Women in tech are known for things like Pinterest, which is stereotypically a female-dominated site. But people fail to think about the women who are leaving a mark in our everyday lives. Take Arianna Huffington, the founder of Huffington Post or Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook. People think of Facebook and think of Zuckerberg, or Foursquare with Dennis Crowley, but why not eBay with Meg Whitman?
This summer, I’ve been working in the Syracuse Student Sandbox as a manger for the developers who are working with our startup teams. In a recent email to a friend discussing my position this summer, he said , ” it’s very rare to find someone I can geek out about IT to. And to a GIRL!? That is just crazy talk.” But why is it crazy? Is it absurd that I hold a position of power within a startup incubator or ludicrous that a girl can actually manage technical projects?
A sexist cartoon depicting the “female computer”
Further discussing the issue, he wrote back saying “It definitely still feels like a man’s profession with the numbers I’ve seen at firms in the city (New York City). That being said, I’m always happy to see people breaking the mold…its a much more fun environment when its not just a bunch of dudes hanging out.” Although the atmosphere is more fun with women working, he failed to mention any increase in productivity, an introduction of new ideas, and different perspectives on problems within an IT firm.
While some men are very accepting of women in the workplace, others are immature and refuse to acknowledge talent over looks. While working in corporate last summer, I traveled to different companies to make the most out of my experience. While in an elevator with two older males, I overheard them chatting about the new interns in the office. “Did you see the rack on the blonde intern? Damn!” They both laughed and continued talking about women in the office.
As a peer advisor for the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University, I’m often asked what it’s like to work in a field dominated by men. Parents and female prospective students are often surprised to here my candid response of “I don’t notice it.” I’m just like the guys, but I add value by bringing new ideas to the table with my feminine thought processes. I’m president of an organization and people tell me they’re so impressed by a woman holding a position of power. But why? I’m a person who studies and works hard; it doesn’t matter what my gender is.
So hey, boys. Women are here, they’re working, they’re making big changes, doing big things, and they’re here to stay. We’re more than a set of boobs in pencil skirts. Pay attention: there’s only more of us coming your way to rock the IT world.