Women developers. Seems like that is the talk in all the circles I’m in right now. How to get more of them. How to hire them.
I went to a panel that was following a short documentary last week. I arrived late, so I didn’t get to see the documentary, but the panel was very informative.
The panel consisted of these prominent KC women:
Sarah Hebert: CEO and Creative Director of Curious Pixel, Digital Communications Manager at Sprint, co-founder of Hack of the Sexes
Melanie Haas: Technical DIrector at VML, organizer of KC Geek Night
- Jennifer Wadella: Interactive Web Developer at VML, Founder of KC Women in Technology
- Sarah Withee: CS student, Software Engineering Intern at Perceptive Software, Binary Girls blogger
- Josepha Haden Chomphosy: Digital Analyst at MMGY Global, co-founder of WordPressKC
One thing that really stood out to me was that almost every one of these women had started out in a creative field. Everyone of them talked about the creative problem solving that was involved and the relatively small amount of math involved.
The misnomer that computer science and web development requires a deep understanding of Math, was squashed by these women. They also expressed the misnomer that people in technology fields didn’t view themselves in a technology field because they weren’t writing code, but that didn’t mean they weren’t in a technology field. There are many different roles in technology than just writing code.
One thing that kept coming up is the “impostor syndrome”. Wikipedia explained it as “a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments. Despite external evidence of their competence, those with the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be.”
Each of these women said they struggled with this. One way to deal with it was to put on a “super women” face. This included posing like how you view super woman would pose and trying to personify that when you are faced with a challenge that makes you feel inferior. Boys seen to be taught this, but girls aren’t. So we as women need to learn this later in life.
One woman who has been influencing this school of thought is Sheryl Sandberg with her book “Lean in.” She presented a TEDtalk about how there are too few women leaders. Everyone highly recommended it. It is half price at Amazon right now so I bought it and am in progress of reading it.
Women need to be introduced to the interesting elements of technology careers at an earlier age than high school and Stanford University who is promoting the documentary and the discussions around it are trying to raise awareness with this issue. For more information or to get involved go to http://sheplusplus.stanford.edu/index.php.
Also, some of the women on this panel are involved in starting a “Women in Technology” not for profit. They are kicking off their program later this week. Look for more information about that. http://kcwomenintech.org/