Someone posted this article in a Slack team the other day: “What I want other parents to know about women in tech”. I read it and while I agreed wholeheartedly with what it was trying to say — it brought up something I had been thinking in my head for awhile, but hadn’t put words to it.
There is a trend I have been finding problematic: our current push to put girls in technology — I say this as a woman in technology, and it’s not for the reasons you might think.
I don’t say this because working conditions are bad and because men make life hard for women in technology. Some of that continues, but for the most part (as the article says), it has been drastically reduced. A lot of companies are making great strides in being more family friendly. Companies are realizing having diverse perspectives is game changing. Not my point.
My point is that a push in a particular direction is not helpful for any child, much less the masses.
When I was in college, I attended the Grace Hopper Conference which is an awesome conference for women in technology, and in particular tries to draw college students. It was during the school year, so most of us had some homework to do while we were there.
I overheard countless conversations and tears of girls who were struggling and hated it. They were there because they had been pushed by the promise of high paying jobs and parents that wanted their girls to be in technology.
Then there’s myself — I have a CS degree and made it through just fine. Then I discovered the world of UX and really found myself — now any coding task honestly feels just short of torture. It’s not for me anymore, and while I struggled to come to terms with that, I did and my life is better for it.
But I also know several women who love their job in technology and have total passion for it. I would hate for them to feel like they couldn’t be in technology.
What I want parents to know is that it’s not about encouraging your daughter to code or to like science, or history or art even. What I want parents to know is that they should expose their children, regardless of gender, to all sorts of occupations. Show them the huge variety that is out there, and show them that you believe they can do whatever their body and mind is capable of.
I don’t know what happened to those girls I met at the conference, but I hope they’ve found what they love.
In short — yes, technology is an option and should be explored, but if it’s not for your daughter or son, that is just fine too.
Ashley is not a parent and her thoughts come from her experience of being a child with parents who were generous with praise and belief in her abilities to do whatever she believed she could. Thanks mom and dad :)