As mentioned in my last post, a complaint I hear fairly regularly about female technology entrepreneurs is that they’re not really “techies”, but that they’re writers or marketing experts or consultants, and they can’t be included in lists of women succeeding in IT. Despite the fact they make a living from technology, and their businesses are based on and rely on technology, they are not real techies.
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I don’t agree with this, and think it’s symptomatic of the insular, vaguely snobby attitude (that can be associated with technology “geeks”) which can put girls and women off the industry in the first place. Irrespective of whether they climbed the ranks of developer or programmer jobs, the fact is these women work in technology. They have brought their skills, experience and ability to the technology industry. They should be applauded, not sneered at.
I do agree that more female technologists are needed, but I don’t like the fact that sometimes women are brushed aside because they’re on the “lighter” side of tech and they don’t know how to write code. If someone runs a successful website and uses the internet to market and advertise her business, to me she works in technology. As technology continues to creep into more aspects of people’s lives, the technology industry expands with it, and so too does the definition of someone who works in tech. Trying to deny that makes you sound like a luddite – you’re the same as the old-school newspaper hacks who can’t cope with the internet and so spend their time bitching about Twitter and feeling superior. New media and internet businesses are springing up and making money fast, and to do well in this sphere you need more than just technology skills.
If more girls are going to join the technology industry we need role models, and these so called “non-technical” women can provide that just as well as female CTOs. It seems a little self-defeating to write off large swathes of the female technology industry because they don’t necessarily fit a preconceived idea of what it is to work in IT. The sector needs a change of image, and clinging on to old ideas is not going to achieve that.