I’m constantly seeing articles and news reports and facts and figures all relating to Women in Technology. With the recent resurgence of Feminism into popular culture, Women in Technology has become a hot topic and everyone wants a piece of the action.
Whenever anyone uses that phrase I picture women like Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity from The Matrix, Tricia Helfer as Number Six in Battlestar Galactica, or Scarlett Johansson as Samantha in Her, beautiful women who are all-seeing, all-knowing and ridiculously attractive (even if Samantha doesn’t have a corporeal form!). These women are strong and powerful, they know what they want and how they are going to get it. To my mind, these are Women in Technology.
Imagine my surprise when someone recently pointed out that I am in fact, technically, one of these women in technology.
After some limited desktop research, the figure that came up time and again was 30%. Within the tech industry, women make up less than 30% of the workforce, and in the UK this figure drops to 20% for computer graduates and 10% of app developers (Tech Women UK).
As a woman working for tech startup Memberoo, albeit in the Marketing Team, I became part of that 30%.
It made me adjust my perspective completely. How could I be a Woman in Technology? Surely I wasn’t qualified?
I wasn’t prepared to be one of these great and mighty Women in Technology. It’s a lot of pressure. I haven’t studied anything even remotely computer related since I was 14, and even then it was only how to create sums in an Excel spreadsheet and use Google. I am more technologically minded than my parents, but I imagine that’s true for most people.
Everything I know about computers (more or less) I have learnt along the way. But I’m pretty sure completing 88% of a CodeAcademy course on Python (and 11% of on on Ruby!) does not qualify me to compare myself to the likes of Sheryl Sandberg or Susan Wojcicki, two of the most powerful women in technology sector.
So, after a minor panic attack and serious amount of tea, I made a plan. I decided, and trust me it was a conscious decision, to accept my fate as one of the women in technology, and own it.
In my experience, it is often women who shy away from owning up to their abilities, with a constant feeling of not being able or qualified to do something. It’s called imposter syndrome and everyone suffers from it. Or at least most people do.
But what does owning it actually mean? It means accepting it as part of myself. When people say “women in technology”, I recognise that in a very small way they are talking about me.
I think I’ve improved because of it. I’ve stopped shying away from the more technical questions in the Memberoo office, stopped thinking “that’s not something I need to know” or “that’s not something I need to understand”. And I can feel myself growing as a human.
Which is why I’m writing this blog. I recognise that I will never by Sheryl Sandberg and no one will ever be Samantha, but that doesn’t mean I am one of the women in technology. I’m proud to be one of the 30% and I hope to encourage others to own it too!