Women in technology?

A while back, Tatiana Apandi—my long-suffering editor at O’Reilly—asked if I’d be interested in writing an essay about women in technology for a project she was working on. I was a little skeptical at first, being naturally suspicious of things that put the focus on sex rather than, oh, I dunno, how a person thinks (which might be about sex—a lot—but I digress). She convinced me, however, that it would not be lame.

So I wrote an essay. And then I rewrote it completely about 8 times before it met with both Tatiana’s and my approval. And it went live today, as part of Tatiana’s brainchild, the O’Reilly month of Women in Technology. I’m pleased to see how many of the essays so far take a positive approach rather than a negative (go Tatiana!).

And me, well. I’m waiting to be dressed down. It should be a fun change of pace.

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  1. My observations about women in technology (particularly Computer Science undergraduate) was that they tend to be competent and interested in their field–in fact I’ve never met one who wasn’t–and I can’t say the same for men. I met all kinds of slackers and rejects who were in computer science either for money, or because they were uncomfortable dealing with people, or cheated their way through a great program just to get a degree, or who knows what other reason besides being passionate about the subject.

    Now obviously the sample size is much smaller than the men, but out of 20 or so women I met in the CS program, not one of them exhibited those traits. My conjecture would be that’s because IT is not a particularly comfortable place for women. They have to deal with a lot of prejudice and other bullshit, so they wouldn’t likely put up with it if there wasn’t some deeper reward there.

    Since I’m a man maybe that’s not even valid as an anecdote, but thats by $0.25. Now I’m off to read your essay.

  2. Hi Amy, Thanks for writing, I quite enjoyed your article and found it applicable to life in general. Now off to take responsibility for myself… instead of sitting around hoping someone will care. – Nathan.

  3. Tatiana says:

    Thanks for your support on this project, Amy…and, indeed, with many things. 🙂 Tatiana

  4. Andrew Vit says:

    Enjoyed your article. You didn’t even use the phrase "big girl panties" once! Or was that cut in one of the 8 rewrites?

  5. Mat says:

    Great article! Kind of reminds me of Bill Cosby’s more controversial speeches. And as far as I’m concerned, that’s a good thing.

  6. gabrielle says:

    Me again, just wanting to tell you (again) that I liked your article & I’m glad you wrote it.


  7. Shaal says:

    I personally had an opinion (when i was in the mid teens) that there are a few things in the world that are not just quite the perfect things for a women to even play with, computers and web-designing was one of them, but with the passage of time as i grew up and saw many brilliant women coming up with extraordinary projects and having skills as good as and at times better than the Super Freak Men of that particular field, i just came to the conclusion that a 21st century woman is no where behind man, but infact better at times since women tend to be more serious at work than men do, technology is just yet another field where i think women can really work wonders and they have as well, its all about how we (3rd world country individuals) think.

  8. Rex says:

    Nice article and I really enjoy its reading it.Some stunning sentences which made me read it thrice are

    Take complete responsibility for your life, because nobody else will. We humans are basically choice-manufacturing machines. They’re not victims of anyone or anything but themselves.

    Also I like the Lioness analogy by Tatiana Apandi.

  9. Paige says:

    As a tech newbie and a girl I can only say that any conversation around women and technology makes me giddy with glee. Personally I feel like I can’t do anything but try to flatten irrational barriers to clear a path for someone coming up behind me.

  10. Amy says:

    Hey all, thank you for taking the time to leave comments.

    Gabe, I don’t think there are higher barriers for women in technology. But I think slacker women are less drawn to computers than slacker men. Call it a difference in variety of laziness. I have, however, met some pathetic female programmers who were in CompSci for the perceived prestige/money. Not much of a difference in the intersection of greed PLUS laziness, I suppose.

    Andrew, yes, "big girl panties" got struck out in rewrite #2. Alas!

    Mat, thanks. That’s a high compliment. (But, for the record, there’s not always room for Jell-o. Don’t ask.)

    Paige, welcome to the fold. Do you really think there are irrational barriers? I’d be interested in hearing your perspective.

  11. Jodi says:

    as you know, i loved the article. and now i can’t stop thinking about it in correlation to our conversation about the sausage men in berlin and you asking geoffrey if it was women like us that kept men out of technology. it cracks me up even now.

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