It has been some time since we have visited the topic of women in tech and the coordinating #IamRemarkable movement. We brought Sophie Eng on for a podcast back in September 2017 after she wrote her manifesto promoting women in tech. I would like to take a look back at Sophie’s interview. We will compare her thoughts with the progress of women in technical fields and how that has evolved since we last spoke. We will also look into two support networks (#IamRemarkable and MotherCoders) to help show available groups. Finally, let’s talk about what we can do to help amazing women achieve their goals.
Sophie claims one of the major reasons that women are often cast aside in technical roles is due to social conditioning. She claims that social conditioning starts early during our childhood. By assigning specific characteristics to the male or female genders, we grow up under false pretenses. Girls have dolls. Boys have Legos. Why can’t these roles change?
Through early social stigma, society drives women to grow up different than boys. Yet, Sophie is attempting to break this outdated norm with the development of her own daughters.
“I've got daughters and starting at a young age yeah, we've got some dolls and we've got some playhouses lying around. But I'm also exposing them to things in stem, right. So not just all of what would be considered like a female dominated, girl dominant toys. But things like Legos and robotics and she enjoys it. Although, even now in those classes they're mostly boys.”—Sophie Eng
So, has this social conditioning started to change over this year? Absolutely. There has been a rise in the “gender neutral” approach to raising children. Experts today believe that raising children in gender neutral homes is great. This can elevate the child’s self-esteem and gender identity. This can lead to a stronger empowerment of women in the upcoming years.
Empathy and Innovation
“Innovation comes from empathy and empathy comes from understanding the consumer, the buyer.”
According to Sophie, innovation comes from empathy. She also claims that women are more empathetic. Are her claims true? In a 2018 study conducted at the University of Cambridge, women proved to be more empathetic than men on average. Then, what’s the importance of empathy in tech? During production, user-friendly software is the ultimate goal. Through empathy, a programmer can feel what a consumer wants. By using empathetic social skills, great software can exist. It is very advantageous to have women and their unique emotional skill sets working in tech fields.
Fear of Publishing
After Sophie had completed her manifesto, the next task was to publish it. Despite all her hard work, she put into creating the manifesto, pushing the publish button was the hardest task.
“This is me in the raw, it's a vulnerable moment. It's apparently like an eighteen-minute read. I think it was like ten pages of single space that I worked on. So a lot of that and it was a fear of what are people going to think, what are they going to take? But ultimately, at the end of the day, what got me to hit that publish button was knowing the fact that what other woman and a woman a minority is going to be able to respond at this time to this manifesto. And if I didn't do it, who else is going to do it?”
So, why is it so difficult to publish as a woman? According to a study completed by Barbara Annis, women still struggle with the concept of self-promotion. Often women undervalue their worth only speaking of past successes vice future potential. One way we can help women self-promote is to provide a support network for those still uneasy. This support group should comprise of not only women but like-minded men as well.
The movement is a Google initiative focusing on empowering women and underrepresented groups. Through workshops, they teach women to celebrate their worth and achievements in society and business. These workshops started in 2017, and now in 2018, they continue to celebrate. Those who attend the workshops claim it to be a real eye-opening experience. A key part of the workshop’s experience is the admission of remark-ability. The initiative encourages women to write down why they are remarkable and to share out loud with the group. This is a crucial step to unlocking the door of self-promotion and gender equality in the office space.
During our interview session, Sophie Eng spoke of MotherCoders.
“MotherCoders is expanding the tech talent pool by helping women with kids gain the skills, knowledge, and connections they need to thrive in today's digital economy.”—MotherCoders.org
According to MotherCoders.org, their mission is to help break moms into tech. Based out of the San Francisco Bay area, MotherCoders provides hands-on classes for learning code writing and web design. MotherCoders also offers exposure to a network of technological peers. They also help guide students down potential career paths. Since the students are also mothers, some class locations provide on-site childcare. This helps those who cannot find reliable child care services.
What can We do to Help?
The best way to help women achieve equality in technical fields is to be proactive. Men and women alike must work together to register the change. Supporting causes such as #IamRemarkable and MotherCoders is only the beginning. We must keep moving forward and speaking out against gender inequality in technical fields. Women have so much they can offer in the realm of tech. We must not allow them silenced.
HEAR US ROAR!
The movement for gender equality is not dying. The movement is driving forward every day and pushing the boundaries of inequality. Women who crusade this battle, such as Sophie Eng, are a true inspiration to all those who believe in the justice of equality. This is only the beginning.
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How have you had to deal with inequality in the workplace? What ideas do you have to help this cause? Join the conversation in the comments below.