Wednesday, May 9, 2012

To be an IT girl

I've been asking myself the question, "What does it mean to be an IT girl". I do not mean it as in how Kim Kardashian has what it takes to be successful in the fashion industry. I mean I.T. as in Information Technology.

As a women in the field, I know it can be a lonely, challenging world. The industry has held more men than women since its birth! Do the names Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Sean Parker, Sergey Brin, Mark Zetterberg ring a bell? Of course they do!

So why are these technical gurus and innovators all men? Some theories say that this is due to our social construct of gender. Men are expected to learn about machines tools and how things work. Their world emphasizes objectivity, rationality, control over nature and emotions. Women on the other hand are not expected to know much about these technical matters. They are to be good at interpersonal and social relationships that focus on people and emotions. Of course women also use tools-- everyone these days uses telephones, computers and TVs but you can see the important differences in the focus and the various behaviors and skill sets that are embraced early in our lives.

Thankfully this pattern is breaking. Almost as quickly as your new smart phone becomes yesterdays old gadget... views in technology are changing as well. Today more women are the decision makers. Women are taking over notable positions at big tech companies. The Chief Operating Officer at Facebook is Sheryl Standber, the Chief Executive Officer of Hewlett-Packard is Meg Whitman. Although these are the exception to the rule in the technology industry today-- it is a start.

So, now how can we get more women curious in technology? How can we make it appeal to more women? I am not talking about feminizing technology as in turning all things pink. Women possess critical problem solving skills, analytical abilities, communication skills, team oriented, and teaching capabilities all required to be successfully in technology. So why are they still shying away?   We have to realize that this day in age, it doesn't matter your age, sex, race, culture, politics, or religion. If your innovation is accepted so are you, and you can be successful.

We need to empower our future innovators and leaders. We should be inspiring our youth (boys & girls) to pursue their passions for technology. Will technology move from "geek to chic"?

Yes! In the words of John C Maxwell, “Change is inevitable. Growth is optional." the change will occur how we grow with it is up to us.