All of the articles for this class touched on the issues regarding women in technology. The general consensus of the readings is that women are vastly under represented in technology and that efforts need to be made to encourage women to pursue careers in technology and computer science. What appears to be one of the major problems preventing this is a lack of confidence among women interested in this field, due to the overwhelmingly male employment at most tech companies. Below each article are discussion questions, but I would also love to talk as a class about what can be done on a larger societal scale to combat these issues. I would also recommend you read the comments on the online articles, as they provide some very interesting perspectives.
Directly below is a commercial that aired earlier this year aimed at girls who want to be engineers, and an article in the New York Times about its impact. I would love to discuss it with all of you, as I feel that this kind of early education—telling kids that they can be what ever they want to be, regardless of gender—could greatly improve upon this issue.
Greenbaum, J. (1990). The Head and the Heart: using Gender Analysis to Study the Social Construction of Computer Systems. Computers & Society, 20(2), 9–17
Greenbaum begins by very clearly laying out her purpose for writing the article, which is, “To show how the system development process builds on the base of natural sciences, and in so doing borrows from gender-based myths inherent in the sciences.” (Greenbaum, 10). She attempts to prove this by comparing the framework of the “hard sciences” and “soft sciences” to the framework of binary gender; that hard sciences are more masculine because they demand hard data and reasoning based on facts, and that softer sciences (or often consumers of software) are more comparable to female sensitivities. She primarily develops her comparison through language and communication examples, articulating that a barrier exists between consumers and developers. Simply put, she argues that not enough qualitative information is taken into account when designing systems.
This article possesses a few limitations insofar as it makes sweeping assumptions about both men and women within the field of software development and their clients, thus placing people in both positions in gender-defined boxes:
“For women workers the problems are particularly acute, for socialization thwarts their ability to ‘play hard ball’ with managers and system developers.”
“Men may be socialized to ignore it (feelings) more often, but I have a feeling the effect is similar.”
Is there merit in this argument?
Could this same argument be made without bring gender into it? Why or why not? How so?
How could actions and language Greenbaum described as “feminine” (subjective, feeling, personal, emotional, love, people), be introduced and implemented in the “masculine” (objective, reason, impersonal, rational, power, things) world of software development and analytics?
Clark, L. 4/17/13. How to Bring More Women to Free and Open Source Software. Linux.com
In this article Clark highlights the efforts to bring more women into the open coding community. She, and the person of focus in the article, Karen Sandler, bare the statistic that only 25 percent of all software developers are women and that only 3 percent work in free and open source software. Karen Sandler, a technological professional and Executive Director of the GNOME Foundation, states that there is a lot of subtle sexism still going in technological workplaces. To try to recruit more women into the field GNOME has developed an Outreach Program for Women, an internship designed for that purpose. To recruit women into these programs the developers focus on why women are not as involved, and attempt to break down those barriers. Since the commencement of the program there has been an increase in women in attendance at technological events such as the Google Summer of Code and GUADEC.
Many of the comments say that women are welcome in the coding community and that these programs are putting more of a focus on the differences between women and men, rather than trying to create equality. “It's not sexist if there is a 10% women to 90% men ratio in developers for open source.” says one reader; “It just shows a lack of interest on their part.” Is the type of organization in place to encourage female involvement pushing to hard on a lack of interest that exists naturally? How can we address if this is true or not?
Impostor Syndrome. Geek Feminism Wiki.
This wiki briefly outlines Imposter Syndrome and how to combat it. The wiki defines it as, “a situation where someone feels like an impostor or fraud because they think that their accomplishments are nowhere near as good as those of the people around them.” Simply put, it says the way to combat it (Imposter Syndrome) is to have self-confidence, and not to compare yourself to others.
Liu, A. Overcoming Imposter Syndrome, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Coding Tech Talk, Medium.com
This short article provides an example of Imposter Syndrome and how getting over it, and ultimately taking a job in coding despite the authors self-doubt, led her to be a happier and more confident person.
What are some other examples where Imposter Syndrome could occur? Different populations than women? Different fields than coding and technology?
Shanley. Misogyny and the Marketing Chick. About Work, Medium.com
This article addresses the issue that all women are branded as the marketing chic within the technological workplace. Shanley touches upon the fact that men hate the marketing chick because she does work that is “less important” than theirs, and women hate her because they are all put into the box of being her until they work to break themselves out. Shanley then goes to say that this woman, or chic, does not even exist, that she is societally constructed by men to degrade women.
What are some reasons why men would create this marketing chic?
What is so bad about being a marketing chick anyway? (Don’t companies need marketing to make money and pay salaries?)