Tech scene

Women in tech and gender stereotypes

By August 18, 2016 No Comments

In case you do not know me yet, let me introduce myself: I am Ana Cidre, a freelance frontend web designer. What does that mean? I design and create websites and I build them myself, using HTML, CSS and JavaScript. I am moving more and more from pure graphic & web design into the more technical field of programming. As some like to call it, a woman in tech.

Recently, I decided to learn more about JavaScript, as I only know the basics of this programming language so far. I want to be able to create more animations on the websites I build, and I also want to learn to create things I have not done before.

In order to broaden my horizon within the world of coding, I recently attended the Progressive Web App Dev Summit Extended in Vigo. Before I continue I just want to say a big “thank you” to the organisers of this great event and to the speakers that shared their knowledge there.

The programme of this event consisted in short talks about different aspects and features of Progressive Web Apps, followed by so-called code labs, where the participants could learn how to code the presented features themselves. At the end of the evening, there was time for networking while enjoying free pizza provided by one of the sponsors.

One thing that really caught my attention at this event is how important the debate about “women in tech” is and how bad the situation actually is here in Galicia. Normally, I do not like this debate, because I would prefer to live in a world where we do not need to talk about this issue. However, attending the Progressive Web App Dev Summit Extended in Vigo showed me that in 2016, we are nowhere near a world like that. And, to make things worse, it does not look like things are going to change anytime soon.

When the event started, I looked around and there were about 80 of us. Out of those 80, only 3 were women. Halfway through the event, one of the women left, leaving only two of us: me and another girl who was actually not a programmer, but an online marketer, and mainly joined the event because of her partner.

progressive-web-app-summit-vigo

I know that some other parts of the world are a bit more advanced, but here in Galicia things are still pretty tough. Society is ruled by gender stereotypes. People on the street regularly think that my daughter is a boy because she does not wear earrings. Here in Spain, it is typical to get the baby girls’ ears pierced right after they are born.

I am 26 years old and I think that my generation should work on making things better for the next generation. I sometimes blame myself for making my daughter look like a boy because I decided not to pierce her ears against her will. When I get this kind of feeling, I quickly brush it off and remind myself that it’s not my or her fault if people try to determine her gender based on just one feature.

Now what does all of this have to do with the event?

Being the only female interested in programming among 80 people does not only make you feel sad and lonely, it shows how far we have to go to make things equal and do away with gender stereotypes, be they related to something trivial like earrings or something more defining, like the profession you are expected to choose for yourself. If we do not change our behaviours to help the next generation, gender stereotypes will persist.

women-in-tech-event

This is what it looks like when there are 80 men and 1 woman

Why are gender stereotypes a problem in the tech world (this can apply to all fields)?

If you want a good service or product, the best way to get it is by seeing the whole picture. Hiring both men and women (as well as people from different backgrounds) is necessary to get diverse views on different aspects of your development.

women-and-men-working

How can we reach equality between men and women and what does equality actually mean?

Equality for me would be a world where initiatives like “Women who code” or “Women techmakers” did not exist. It would be a world where I could hand in my CV and know I would not be judged for being a woman. It would be where salaries are the same for both women and men. It would be where a little girl can go play football and not be told she cannot because she is a girl. It would be where we could go to a programming event and see both men and women.

From a very young age we are taught that the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) are for men and the creative fields for women. A boy is given a ball and a girl is given a doll. Later on a boy is given an adventure kit and a girl a set of pencils. What are we doing to our society and when is this going to stop?

childrens-imagination-equality

I hope this short article has made you think about things a bit. I would love to hear your comments and talk more about this topic, so feel free to share, comment and like 🙂

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