I fear this blog may be far less engaging than if I was a super-feminist, punching the air, disgusted by the radically gender-imbalanced world of tech. And don’t get me wrong, this is very much a subject I feel needs focused attention and change, but no amount of our bitterness would help solve this issue. And as professional dancer looking through the keyhole into the tech world earlier this year, I imagined every woman working in tech must feel that bitterness on a daily basis! Surely!?
Entirely outnumbered by primarily white middle-aged males in powers of position and made to feel out of place in the elevator full of grey suits, rectangular metal framed glasses, and balding heads! That’s exactly how I imagined it. Googling 2019’s 25 most influential figures in tech and discovering just 1 to be female, only exaggerated those expectations.
Embarking on a career change from performing in theatre and film, I undertook an intensive Web Development course and graduated into a Junior Software Coach role at _nology. And in both instances, although the guys largely outnumbered the girls, as expected, the stereotype of the ‘techy’ was baseless. They weren’t all unsociable middle aged males, sat on gaming chairs in dark cupboards, snorting at Star Wars quotes and looking down on females entering the field. In fact mostly, the complete opposite. Instead I have met some wonderfully driven, sociable people across a spectrum of ages, ethnicities and genders, enthusiastic about driving tech forward and shaping the future for the better.
If I ever feel conscious of being the giggly girl amongst my male colleagues, it is always my own mean girl voice in my head giving into my own insecurities. One morning I deliberated over wearing a headband for about 20 minutes before joining the google hangout. And was that self-doubt an effect of a male dominated environment making me feel unworthy of working in the industry? No. Not directly, anyway! It was just me over thinking as a result of a long history of gender imbalance in the tech domain and questioning my position there. What behaviour have been, certainly do not need to be. Whether I’m wearing earrings or have painted nails, should have no bearing on my ability to teach, code and help young inspiring web developers towards their potential. I never feel gender judgment from my male colleagues or students , in fact I feel really fortunate in having experienced an overwhelming sense of support as a young woman, new to tech, navigating a new career.
The current gender imbalance is definitely improving, very slowly but surely, and in our increasingly diverse, inclusive working environments I’m positive this imbalance will eventually be a blog subject of the past. And as for the ‘techy’ stereotype, this is well and truly on its last legs, as more and more people of all genders, sexualities, cultures and classes embark on careers in tech. As long as we are all passionate about developing technology together, discrimination by gender, ethnicity, disability or choice of headbands has no place.