Originally posted on Women in Tech UK
This past summer I saw a post on the Life in Perpetual Beta site where Aliza Sherman, long time woman in tech, was interviewed. (Visit Aliza Sherman and Why We Should Start From Scratch to get more). It is an amazing interview for any woman who wants to become a part of tech or who has been in the tech community for some time. I highly recommend watching it and reading the commentary. There are several items that stick out to me. First, Aliza describes herself as a woman in tech, however she does not label herself a engineer or programmer. Instead, she calls herself a writer. I want to point this out in reference to another Women In Tech post I wrote, Seeing IT Through A Different Lens: User Experience, where I highlight that being a woman in tech does not mean that you have to be a heads down coder or hardware/software professional. I think that if you are those things, that’s great, however if you aren’t, it shouldn’t limit your ability to join the tech ranks.
Second, Aliza talks about the current terrain for women in tech, and she describes it as “not great”. She mentions that many woman start educations or professions in technology, but often leave because of the pressure of being the only women in their classes or teams. So the problem is obvious, because the current work and education environment for women is not good, we hesitant to join the crowd. Thus, males in technology remain the highest profile people.
This should be evened out. Both men and women should be high profile in our field. What do we do to solve this problem? Aliza makes a great point that I think is interesting to think about. She proposes that instead of building off of this old terrain, that we start from scratch. That means, first and foremost, that we show up and that we are present. From there, only we can define where we go. Obviously, if we are able to do this, to start from scratch and rebuild the terrain to include both men and women, then we’ll see a high benefit in several ways. We’ll be able to even out the numbers that we mention, but we’ll also be able to make our products and services better by having a more diverse mind set in the room (another thing that Aliza mentions). In total, it will be a win win situation. So what do you say women in tech? Are we ready to start from scratch. Further more, what does starting from scratch mean to you and how do you think we go about doing it?