Women in Tech
The most common response I receive when people find out that I work in a technology-based company is surprise. There is nothing about my being female, blond, young, and a professional dancer that lends people to believe, without some double-take, that I'm telling the truth about my position as Lead Creative in a tech company. My first rebuttal to all of the skeptics is this: why would I lie about something like that? And if I were going to make a joke about my career, or to lie my way into a men's profession, I would certainly be a little more creative than graphic designer.
I think this perception—and it is only a perception—of the technology field being synonymous with a boy's club is the real root of the problem, (although my blond hair doesn't usually help when I'm being stereotyped.) Women have worked hard to gain respect and professional positions in the STEM fields; I only wish the media had worked as hard to give them their due in the spotlight. While a mainstream movie was being made about Mark Zuckerberg's success with Facebook, women were founding or co-founding companies such as Eventbrite, Flickr, The Skimm, Traveling Spoon, ClassPass, Paperless Post, Birchbox, and, my personal favorite, Hopscotch, an app and program designed to teach kids the basics of computer programming. Women now hold high ranking positions at companies including Facebook, Yahoo, Etsy, BBG Ventures at AOL, Time Warner Investments, and Gilt Groupe, only to name few. This lack of media coverage and, much more importantly, recognition, stems from the same misogynistic society that cares more about female politicians' hairstyles than what they really have to say.
Luckily, women are doing what we always do: fighting for our voices to be heard and respected. In spite of some very real hurtles women still face, including gender discrimination and severe pay gaps that only get worse when you factor in race and sexuality, we stand together in hopes of showing the next generation that women shouldn't be kept in the shadows.
After turning to the internet to find support in my field as a female, I was pleasantly surprised by the community that exists for women in technology and STEM fields. Here are some of my favorites:
- Women in Tech NYC helps to network women working in technology and offers courses and symposiums to further women's education.
- PowerToFly helps to connect companies looking to hire women for tech positions with qualified women seeking work. If you're looking for qualified women, look no further.
- Lesbians Who Tech host courses and summits in order to build the community of LGBTQ women and their allies in technology fields. They have resources, a blog, and events, as well as a scholarship for women looking to learn to code.
- Women in Tech Huffington Post is a little known subsection of the Huffington Post online site devoted to covering women in STEM fields and the challenges we face. I'm always finding good reads here.
As a lesbian in technology, I hope that one day my sexuality and, of course, my career will no longer be met with surprise. I, and so many women strive to be seen as a viable option for STEM jobs and not as an outlier, have already proven my skill and worth.
As for my second note to the skeptics out there: we are here, we're growing, and we aren't going anywhere.