Women in tech are often relegated to talking about “being a woman in tech.” What needs to change so women can instead be highlighted for their contributions?
The popularity of the debate about “women in tech” has always been a funny (confusing) thing to me. I don’t think the core issue around gender and employment has ever been limited to women just in the IT industry. I think women are the “issue” everywhere, all the time. We live in a world which thinks women are a problem. What needs to change for women is for society to stop thinking of women as a problem, and to start treating people with different kinds of physical makeups as equal members of the human race. There are other kinds of people who have trouble breaking into tech, too, who are not women. Why not address the real issue of the fear of the “other”?
I will raise a slightly academic point that I believe needs to be raised more often: Women in tech aren’t an issue if you understand technology in a broad sense. Women are nurses, women are bioengineers, women manage all sorts of machines in a lot of capacities and industries which require a high level of technical skill. Women in tech is a framing device that has limited value. This is not to say that women are common in executive roles or even in any role in startups, but women are considered a problem with or without coding or executive skills. We live in a world where being born a woman is a dangerous proposition.
Women so often have been denied respect, true respect. We need to extend this to each other. The conditioning which teaches us to see each other as competitors for men’s attention also tells us that relationships between women are not as worthwhile as those between women and men. The ability to respect another human being for what she is offering is the foundation for a friendship. It is not to be taken lightly.
Another bit from the interview of Maya Angelou in The Feminine Face of God.
(The Maya Angelou bits are the best part of this book, which otherwise comes off very dated in its discussion.)