How to Get More Women in Tech in Under a Minute

Apparently, as a woman, if you want to be taken seriously in technology, you need to stop reffering yourself as a “girl.” Ok there’s actually a lot more to this than just calling yourself a “girl”, but the basic idea is there. Do you agree? Disagree? Start by watching the video and then let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

[Via Gina Taprani]


29 Responses to How to Get More Women in Tech in Under a Minute

  1. Maybe it's just me, but I almost never refer to myself as a girl (aside from the standard phrases like "girls' night out") and neither do any of my female friends. Or our male friends, for that matter.
    Is this really an issue in other people's minds?

  2. I understand her point but I don't think it will help. The guys who have no problem calling me a girl will not change their minds even when I fix issues on the server, they couldn't. Those men who are respectful of my skills and do not care about my sex, need no reminder of my skills. I also think that some areas of the US, such as the southeast, are tougher on women in IT. Hence my move to the north.

    What would be nice is to see, is mentors for women in media. Someone who says it is OK for a women to be better then guys at tech. Think about the typical teen movie. How often is the nerd/computer geek a boy? How many female CEOs of tech do you see? Sure, we all know Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, etc. But how often is Grace Hopper shown seen by young girls.

    Coming from my experience in IT as a female.

  3. The idea *might* have merit as a general application. I don't see how this applies specifically to tech though. My outsider's perspective has been that if a woman is competent in the tech field, she's more highly respected than a similarly talented man. I would think this rationale would be more applicable in other fields, like business.
    "I'm not an expert" but that's how I see it.

  4. I already acknowledge this but I don't like the words "woman" or "man" because they imply a false sense of maturity most people simply do not possess. However, I DO call my female friends by "lady" rather than "girly," and I will call a few of my male friends "dude-man" rather than call them "boys." I'll even use "hey guys" without regard to gender because, for me, its simply more comfortable to use.

    Overall, I really don't think it makes much of a difference in other people's perceptions and ways of thinking, but it is what I personally prefer to do.

  5. Obviously there are some jobs / areas of life where gender does matter, but IT is not one of them. Who cares if it's a woman or a man fixing issues on the server? It's must be the colleague who is responsible for that.

    On the other hand, the "she's a girl" vs "she's a woman" approach towards a female person really depends on her behaviour and manners, just like as it's stated in the video, (giggling around with self-doubt and stuff), but it has nothing to do with the fact if that female is an IT expert or the secretary who's making coffee. The latter can be a WOMAN too!

    • You've been lucky, then, in your IT experience. At one point, I was hired to be the technical lead of a very large, very visible (and very technical) project at a good-sized non-profit. Facilities was renovating my new office, so while it was being built out I sat in the cubicle farm around the corner.

      Every morning for my first week, a PM for a different department (a man in his late 50's) would see me in my cubicle, and ask me to get him coffee, to make copies for him or to set up a conference call. Despite repeatedly – and politely – telling him that I was just sitting there temporarily and was actually a technical lead, he didn't get it. My boss – who was extremely annoyed when I told him about it – formally introduced me to him while we were all at my temporary cubicle space.

      The guy's response? "But she kept saying temporary – I thought she was a temp. Besides, I bet she doesn't really understand computers."

      And that's why I only have 9 months of that job on my resume.

  6. I think this depends on where you live within the US and the work environment your in. There are places where referring to yourself as a girl or being called a girl is demeaning and actually meant as a subtle kind of insult for women. There are other places it makes no difference at all. So this is one of those things where I think you have to take it on a case by case basis.

  7. While I can't watch the video right now, the comments kind of helped me get the gist of it. It reminds me of a book I read called "Nice girls don't get the corner office" – which discusses things women do in corporate environments to sabotage themselves. Things like referring to yourself as a girl, over smiling (which is something we're kind of preconditioned to do – especially here in the south – "you're so much prettier when you smile!" is something often said to little girls, but never little boys), and doing little things like only using your first name on your work voicemail or when you pick up the phone all combine to undermine your credibility. It's not something men or the government or our parents can be blamed for – we, as women, have to step up and acknowledge that there are some things we need to be doing differently – and a lot of female CEO's & Tech leaders know these methods – but like Christine said – who ever hears from them?

    Hope that made sense; it's 8am-ish, the coffee hasn't settled into my brain yet.

  8. I unfortunately fell into this stereotype for a while. Then I got a job at a code shop and relized there were more women in the tech feild than I imagined. That coupled with the fact that I ran into several problems that the ladies were able to help me with, changed my views in a flash.

    • And I did have to change refering to a female coworker as a "girl" to a "lady". Just to be more professional and to give females the respect they deserve. For example, One of our team leads is a brilliant woman who could code circles around me and is more than willing to share her knowledge. Something that an older male legacy coder wouldn't "have the time for".

  9. Wow, what a powerful message that sends. I for one, as a woman in the workplace, can relate. I'm not in tech, but I think this carries over to ALL positions. What a way to start my day with an eloquent motivational speaker. Thanks for that, GaS! <3

  10. Okay, got a ramble here.

    I have a BS in Geology, and after that destroyed my joints, I went into the Internet industry. So I've lived in two different STEM worlds. I even went to TJHSST – STEM is not a passing thing, it's a passion for me.

    So I agree with the message of this video. I've been fighting that my whole professional life. But I think it needs to go one step further: you need to not make a fuss about being a woman in the workplace whenever possible. You aren't a woman who's a project manager – you're a project manager.

    I'm not saying that you need to be asexual or be masculine. Unless you have one of those gorgeous, preternatural faces like Tilda Swinton, it's frequently difficult to hide that you are, indeed, a woman. You don't have to be ashamed of it, or apologize for it either (though occasionally, you will find that if you play a little bit of a ditz, people tell you more ;) ) You do, though, have to not make that the primary thing that defines you in the workplace.

    For example, I caused a huge brouhaha among the women of my undergraduate Geology Department back in the day when I politely declined to join the Association for Women Geoscientists. Because I didn't consider myself a Woman Geoscientist – I was a Geologist, so the GSA was the professional association I was thinking of joining. I was branded a traitor and a misogynist by my fellow female geology majors for thinking this way – much to my amusement – because if the top student in the department didn't join the AWG, I was obviously not willing to help them. I didn't realize that my job was to help other women get jobs in geoscience – I thought I was supposed to be a professional geologist.

    When I was a plain old field geologist? Every time a man called me "sweetie", "honey", "dear" or "girly", I responded in kind without a trace of sarcasm, irony or anger. If they asked why I was calling them "honey" (and many did, thinking I was flirting), I responded in (feigned) honest surprise that I thought that's how we were addressing each other. I would apologize for calling them by a term of endearment and ask how they wanted me to address them. Some were happy to keep the terms of endearment (I was 24 with a great figure and long curly hair, it was inevitable), but the men at a higher professional level just started calling me by my name. No fuss, no anger, just a quiet example of me showing them that I was trying to be professional, without making a stand.

    When I moved to the Internet industry, I refused to attend any meeting that used "girl" in the title. (Like Geek Girls.) Not even because the word "girl" was used, but much like my position back in college, I didn't enjoy the concept that my gender came before my professional association. I ended up going to user groups, where I was always the only woman, usually sitting by myself for the first few times because the men didn't know how to approach me. But usually after the first time I created something cool to show to the group, I was completely accepted – they understood I had chops and wanted to share and learn new things, just like them.

    My female colleagues couldn't understand why I went to those "all-penis" groups, but I ended up with a deeper professional network and came away learning about really cool things than I did at their "geek girl" meetings.

    You know that old saying that goes something like you dress for the job you want? Pretty much the same thing. If you act like you're a professional – not a woman in a profession – the "girl" and "woman" labels start to go away after a while. There is always an adjustment period in a new job, but within 6 months at any job, no one I worked with directly called me "the girl" anymore. Some of my colleagues even pointed out I wasn't "the girl" to other people outside of the group, simply stating I was simply a part of the team, which always made me smile.

    It used to annoy me, but now I just brush it off when someone who has only dealt with me over e-mail finally meets me in person and they say "But your name is XXXXX. I thought you were a man – your work is so good!" (My IRL name is gender neutral, but generally a man's about 75% of the time) I just hope deep down that it makes them take other women in STEM more seriously, so the women coming up behind me don't have to work quite as hard as I did (and still do) to be taken seriously. But I also hope those women don't call themselves girls.

  11. Ohhh, I get it, I'm only a real adult and a respectable female so long as I do what the scary troll lady tells me. Men shouldn't be allowed to tell us how to act, because that right is clearly reserved only for manly, abrasive women. No. I'm an adult, I'm successful, and I'm in tech. And guess what else I am? A GIRL!!! Yeah, you heard me – I'm standing up for my right to be a girl. Just listen to her, she's intentionally trying to make you feel like you are doing something wrong or bad for calling yourself what you prefer to be called – that's not someone who is 'pro female' that's a women who HATES females. She's trying to validate herself by implying that she's better than females who call themselves girls. Stand up to people like that, don't cave! Who the hell does she think she is? Absolutely nobody, that's who. Don't let this kind of person push you around through your computer screen. You want to be called a girl, do it – you want to be called a woman, do it – you want to be called a spider-monkey… I'm not gonna lie, it's going to be hard to get people on board with that, but I'm pulling for you!

  12. Can i then take a stand against being called a "guy"? I have decided that this term is not only offensive to me but any male human! All MEN should rise up and fight being called a "guy" because i don't like it. I was going to do something productive like become a double Nobel prize winner for my work in radiation, play a major role in the discovery of nuclear fission, or invent poly-paraphenylene terephtalamide — better known as Kevlar. But because i was called a "guy" and not a man i couldn't and felt this was a more, noble cause, with far more purpose for humanity.

    • Damn, to think of all you could have done with your life if only you hadn't been referred to as a 'guy' in the workplace. We've lost so many potential great minds to the massive guy/girl outbreak of 2011. It'll be in history books, I'm certain of it.

    • and for anyone wondering yes those are all scientific advancements made by females that im sure were too busy being brilliant to hear what other people were calling them

    • I don't mean to be contrary, but I thought the opposite of a girl was a boy. It is insulting, at least the last time I looked, to call a man (or even a teenager) "boy". Men don't want to be called boys because it makes it seem like they're being treated as a child.

      Were as "guy" can refer to young and old men. It can also be used in a general sense when addressing a group ("Hey you guys"). So it doesn't quite the same tone to it.

      • Wow, you seem to have completely missed the point. The point is that it's stupid to claim that your lack of success has anything to do with what you are called. You could call me a Fart Gremlin and I'm still going to be successful because I'm skilled in my field. If you aren't successful at something it's probably because you're bad at it. The 'woman' in the video makes her living by preying on weak minded females – and she appears to be very good at it, which makes me weep for the world just a little bit. If you're truly a respectable, empowered, talented female you can call yourself anything and still be successful. And if you are truly an empowered female you aren't ashamed of being a girl.

  13. This isn't a general solution because of the simple fact that the word "girl" isn't a diminishing word for everybody (regardless of their gender).
    But sure, there might be enough people who really think "girls" can't do anything (as opposed to women) that it really makes a difference… but I doubt it. For every person you find that thinks "girls" can't do it, you'll find another person who thinks exactly the same thing about "women".

    (Example: "Yes, it's a woman driving. That's a very strange kitchen. Go make me a 'sammich' instead!")

  14. I think I'm saying that the basic thought is good, you shouldn't assume that people lack skills just because they seem to fit into such a category… but the particular 'solution' in the video only addresses one specific reason for assuming such a thing.
    It's like saying "you shouldn't call black people nigger", but even if you don't you can still have all the prejudice against them.
    Trying to stop a word from being used will only do so much, it won't really solve the basic problem. It's more worth to bring _awareness_ to the issue. Which this video does… In other words, what she's actually saying is of less importance than the reason for the video to exist in the first place. :P

  15. Wow, her rant is kinda offensive to me…
    Also, everyone pays taxes from the moment they are born so I don't quite get why taxes are included in the equation for womanhood.

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