Women in Tech: a different experience

A tweet from @FindingAda this week brought my attention to a blog post by Cate Sevilla of WITsend asking “Are Women in Tech Their Own Worst Enemy?” Cate summarises the lot of women in technology neatly and with some accuracy before going on to bemoan:

….another little ingredient to add to the recipe of female-tech-doom: petty, ridiculous cattiness amongst other women in tech.

She then goes on to ask:

Have each of us done all we can (within reason) to help and encourage our female peers in tech? Or are we fiercely and unnecessarily competitive? If there’s a younger women that’s asking for what tech events you go to to meet new contacts, do you tell her? Bring her along? Or at least point her in the right direction?

@FindingAda described the post as being:

….fabulous, and brave, …. something I’ve seen too much of myself.

While I can identify with being:

….a woman standing in a sea of men at a tech conference….

I can genuinely say that in the domain of educational technology and interoperability standards I have never experienced the kind of attitudes from female colleagues described by Cate and @FindingAda. I have certainly had plenty of arguments and differences of opinion with lots of colleagues regardless of gender, however I really and truly and never experienced this kind of bitchiness.

As evidence of this I’d like to point you to some of the posts that have appeared online to commemorate Rachel Heery.

Sarah Currier commented in response to my own blog post:

I always looked forward to seeing Rachel at meetings. You always knew you had an ally- not an ally in the back-room handshake sense, but in the cut-the-crap, ‘let’s work out what’s best’ sense. She was fun and funny and an excellent role model for younger women coming through.

To which Lorcan Dempsey responded:

….(Rachel) was also very conscious of being a woman in a male-dominated, often techie, environment. I think she would have been very pleased by Sarah Currier’s remark on Lorna Campbell’s blog entry.

This has been my over whelming experience of working with other women in educational technology and other related domains. They may not give you any easy breaks but they are endlessly supportive and encouraging, even while questioning your opinions and picking your argument to pieces!

2 thoughts on “Women in Tech: a different experience

  1. Hi Lorna,

    I think that’s fantastic that you’ve never experienced any female bitchiness in tech and that you have evidence to support this. I’m not suggesting that every woman has had the same experience in the tech field as I’ve had. I know women who have, and women who haven’t.

    We all have different experiences, as is the way of life. I suppose it’s when people start to say, “Well, I’ve never experienced this, and therefore it isn’t possible.” is where we run into problems.

  2. Hi Cate,

    Thanks for your comment. I absolutely agree, just because I have not experienced the kind of negative attitudes you describe does not mean that they don’t exist. I also suspect these attitudes are perhaps more prevalent in corporate tech than in HE where I’ve spent most of my working life. I did one brief stint as a junior techy in a large print and digital media company and it was absolutely brutal. So I agree, there are few enough women working in the technology domain and it’s vital that we support each other. And of course, this is also why it’s so inspiring when you do come across such support.

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