Oct 21, 2010  •  In Geek, Guest Posts

Guest Post: Women in Tech, Where for Art Thou?

Susan is another reader whom, upon first glance at her own blog, I immediately added to my Google Reader. A fellow girl geek and a fantastic writer to boot, I truly feel honored to be able to share three of her posts in the upcoming weeks.

This particular post talks about a topic I often struggle with myself, and I remember bookmarking the exact same piece from TechCrunch with the intent to blog about it. Lucky for me, Susan has done the job herself in a succinct and well-written post that is worthy of much praise. Enjoy!

I work in a technology field, though sometimes my technical skills leave much to be desired; the copier at work ate one of my documents recently, leaving me staring helplessly in horror. So you might think I’d be offended by this post/rant from a while back at TechCrunch, a site I read daily, saying that everyone (ahem, women) needs to stop whining about the lack of women represented in the tech industry. They fully support women in tech, despite accusations to the contrary. They support the women they can find, that is. The reason they don’t have more women speaking at their events is that the women they ask to participate are already booked.

I don’t disagree. Sometimes it seems there are not a whole lot of us. There are even less women out there with their own start ups, though I am pleased to say I know one. But it’s not for lack of encouragement, which I think is the claim some people register. In fact, TechCrunch says that press and other outlets are falling all over themselves to shine a positive light on women entrepreneurs. An example of this is the recently failed search engine Cuil, which received extensive coverage on TechCrunch.

Women traditionally have been caretakers, and for someone who likes that role, it can be difficult to go from towing the company line to writing it. Not to mention the financial instability of starting your own company from scratch. If you are a Mom, I can see where that might make you uncomfortable. Kids are always needing expensive stuff like food and clothing. If you don’t know how well your business might do from month to month, it’s hard to figure out how to take care of your family. Read some of Penelope Trunk‘s blog posts and you’ll get the idea.

It doesn’t mean we lack ideas or even motivation. But I think it can make us more careful about carrying them out, which is not always ideal in the world of the fast and loose start up. So what will it take to get more women in tech? I don’t have the answer, and neither does TechCrunch. But I am going to keep my eyes open, and see if anyone is still complaining about it five or ten years from now. I have a feeling we won’t.

Image by Mike Licht.

About the Author:

Susan Cruickshank is a feminist, blogger and owner of too many pairs of trousers. She investigates women’s career and other work-related issues on her blog Wearing the Trousers. When not blogging, Susan enjoys the local Boston music scene as fan and sometimes performer and spending time with her husband Rob. Her other favorite activity is posting ridiculous pictures of her cats on Facebook.!

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5 Responses to “Guest Post: Women in Tech, Where for Art Thou?”

  1. Nice to read about another woman in the industry. Am subscribing to her blog!

  2. Susan says:

    Glad you enjoyed it! I am definitely a new fan of your blog since your guest post. Good to know there's a few of us tech girls (ladies?) out there.

  3. I no longer count as a woman "in tech," since I quit eight years ago to be a SAHM, but I was there once. I'm still a geek, and I'm the mother of three daughters if that adds any weight to my opinion. 😉 Personally I don't see why it should matter at all how many women there are in tech. What matters is whether women who are interested and talented are welcome there. To any woman who has ever been asked in an online forum, "Are you really a girl??" the answer is pretty obviously YES. Geeky guys are overwhelmingly accepting of their female counterparts — as long as we know our bits from our bytes. 😉

  4. Eileen says:

    I think a key way to get more women into tech related fields is for those of us who are in these careers to reach out to younger women as teachers and mentors, since there are not that many of us. I've been involved with organizations like SWE and the Association for Women in Science, and they have helped tremendously in terms of forming relationships with other women who have gone through similar experiences. Women have different issues from men in our careers, due to the fact that we are the ones who do the childbearing. Talking to other women who have gone through the challenges of dealing with women-specific issues in a men-dominated field and and hearing their advice can be a huge help as our careers progress.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this topic – it's one that I think is really important!

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