As we approach Girls in ICT day on April 24th many people are talking about women in tech and gender bias. All this talk made me think of EWIP, a conference I attended a little over a month ago.
One of the sessions featured 4 women on a panel all who have proved to be amazing women in their fields that consist mostly of men. Liz Howard, who has been programming since she was 12 and working since 14 as a software engineer. Her job now is teaching women to code at Hackbright Academy. Tasneem Raja an interactive editor for Mother Jones’, she specializes in web app production, interactive graphic and user interface design. Natalie Villabolos the women in tech advocate at Google. Last but not least Trish Mills Gray the software development manager of the Social/User Generated Content team within Expedia Worldwide Engineering.
Their common theme during the session called Women in Tech, the importance of talking to girls at a young age and letting them know it is okay to like science and engineering. Just about all of them recounted stories of teachers telling them they didn’t think they would get an answer right and the gender bias they grew up with. Liz even encouraged us listeners to think about presents we buy or daughters, “do we really need to get them a Barbie doll, or should you change things up?” Something I had never thought about as a mother of a 6 year old. She also said to encourage young girls to watch My Little Pony, Brave and Power Puff girls. All cartoons that include strong female characters, some of them work together as a team to solve a problem.
So during this month that we are celebrating and talking about Girls in ICT and women in tech – I will pass along this advice from the panel that now spends some of their time mentoring young talent to help get them to the next level. Please continue to talk about women in tech, don’t let this be a fad, look for those instances and talk about them and celebrate them. This month my teams’ monthly magazine called FOCUS will feature Women in Technology, take a look and tell us what you think, it will be live on April 21st.