We need role models!

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Working with the Student’s Union sensitised me to the problems women face in Technology. One of them is that while there are no biological reasons for it, there are way less women working in Technology than men. There’s got to be a reason for that, right?

Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California, at one point had less than 10% females majoring in computer sciences. As of 2006, an initiave was started to find out why, and how this could be changed. techcrunch.com published a video on how HMC changed their gender ratio to nearly 50:50. If you’re more into reading, there’s also an article on the changes on npr.com.

One important story told be all the young women the University approached asking for things that made them reconsider their choice of study is this: “People told me, and still tell me, that I shouldn’t try this. There are no women working in this field.” – Details may vary, it may have been questions, it may have been implications, but all in all, people tell girls, young women and also adult women that what they are trying to do is too hard for them, because no woman, or only very few women before did it.

So what I’ll be trying to do is the following: I’ll try to find female role models of all kinds of technology and science, and post something about them. One role model per week should be doable, and I’ll keep it up as long as possible, but at least until end of April 2014.

Submissions are very welcome, just post a name in the comments section below, or contact me on whichever channel that you found this post on. I’ll start writing the first post right away, posting it tomorrow: Sunday is role model day!

2 thoughts on “We need role models!”

  1. I’d like to jump in on the “only very few women before did it”. Fully true; but doubtful that this has to do with the fact of being “to difficult” or “too hard”. This might be the point for individuals (both female and male), but not for the majority.

    There is one thing I’ve come across about (studying) informatics (business informatics in my case) – it is a rather common negative reception of the term “informatics” or “IT” by females. IT people are sometimes considered as strange/geeky/creepy/”what-so-ever not so desirable” people to work with (What is purely a prejudice…). I’ve heard sentences like “I would never work with such people” or similar. So, to me, there is also some kind of “image problem” of IT studies/working in IT for at least some females as well. Possibly, you could also adress this with your role model presentations.

    1. Hi Stefan,
      thanks for your comment and the image idea 🙂
      In fact, the image of IT students being nerdy, creepy people was one thing that many female students at HMC also pointed out as being a reason for reconsidering their choice of studies. Fellow students who already had an IT background (e.g. computer summer camps and stuff) tended to make fun of people asking in their eyes “stupid” questions, which made people ask less questions and not enjoying attending lectures any more.

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