Women in Tech

A friend of mine recently gave me a copy of the July edition of Elle, which featured an article on ten top women in the tech field (read it here). This article goes hand in hand with the whole discussion on how more women are needed in STEM fields (for facts on gender inequality in STEM, click here!). The Elle article was very interesting read, and I highly suggest it if you have the time.

 

But, it got me thinking.

 

Most of the women in their top ten list used crowdsourcing to get their idea out. (Crowdsourcing is using contributions from an online community to obtain services, ideas, or content.) The companies these women work for have all begun in the past 15 years; most of them from a start-up aspect.

These companies aren’t the typical ‘buying and selling of a product’ businesses you would usually think of. I don’t know about you, but normally when I hear the words “start-up,” I think of either developing a new app/mobile solution or a self-designed boutique that sells a specific type of goods.

 

However, these start-ups, ranging from a website used to crowdfund healthcare for individuals in developing countries to a widget that helps the Internet run faster, all share one thing in common: they directly benefit Internet users.

 

My real question out of all of this, is: Did the use of the Internet help their companies succeed more because of its anonymity? If someone is pitching an idea to you face to face, you see the person. You notice the gender, the look, the size, the personality of that person head on. First impressions are so very important, and there’s been a lot of talk about women not receiving the amount of respect they deserve in science fields because of the way they look. So, if a woman has the opportunity to boost her company online, is she more likely to be more successful because all the investor can see is pure text, words, about the company? It makes me curious to discern how receptive recipients are to names in situations like that- are people more likely to notice the gender of the founder, given just the name and not a picture?

 

I’m definitely, in no way, saying that these women did not get where they are today without hard work. It takes an incredible amount of skill, talent, and dedication to start something from nothing, and have it be so recognized in a magazine such as Elle. But, if women really do thrive more when gender is taken out of the equation, then we have clearly been underestimating what women are capable of as a world for centuries.

 

It’s only with the prominence of the Internet that this can persist. Companies can be born virtually, websites don’t have to contain true information about the founders of such companies until they grow big enough to warrant it. It’s amazing to me that I can book a room in a bed and breakfast in a little village in Belgium (thanks to AirBnB) with the click of a button. We have the power to transform the world digitally, and Elle recognized these women because they are working to do just that.

 

I do not have a high range of technological skills. I don’t know how to code, although I wish I did. I think everyone should learn how to, seeing as the Internet is not just a “fair weather fad.” It’s not going away any time soon. It is astounding to me what we can accomplish through the use of the Internet, and if gender really is disguised by websites and such, then I’m all the more intrigued.

 

Bottom line: women are amazing and more tech-savvy than you think.

 

P.S. If you have any thoughts about gender and tech, send them my way @ sparklesandsolutions@gmail.com.

Throwback Thursday: The Digital Edition

Happy Thursday!

In honor of social media’s dubbed, Throwback Thursday, let’s take a trip down memory lane… What was your first computer?

I got my first computer, a Toshiba laptop, as a Christmas present in middle school. My dad found them really cheap during Black Friday, and bought both my mom and I one. Since then, I’ve gone through 4 laptops..I think? Usually a laptop will only last me about two years (a.k.a. I drop everything and never buy protective cases). But, why this sudden splurge into my past? Because I finally got a new laptop! 

If you follow me on instagram (@the_leighpster), you would see that about 6 weeks back, my laptop was holding on to one hinge. I honestly don’t know how it has survived this long (it still works!!), but the wires are coming out from behind and you can’t close it correctly. Suffice to say, I needed a new laptop like Britney Spears needed a new hairstylist in 2007. 

Now, I have to transfer all of my files from my old laptop to my new one. I’m not so certain how I feel about all this “Cloud Storage”, but I think I have to give it a chance… I had zero space left on my old laptop. And then I read this article by the Daily Beast, and it showed me the light…I AM a digital hoarder. 

I love collecting information. I love organizing files in color coded and cleverly named folders. But this problem has really gotten out of hand as of late. I want to save every article I read (which is really hard to do online..), so normally I keep articles in my browser for days at times, never closing them (or shutting down my computer…). 

It’s really funny to think about how quickly information passes in and out of our lives now, due to the internet. In an instant, I can read an article that was published in France. I can communicate with someone in China. Someone in India can read this blog post. Even though there’s so much information and communication happening between the people of the world digitally, we shouldn’t forget to put the laptop down and interact with an actual human. Or read an actual book. 

I believe that there is so much power in knowledge gained outside of the computer. As much as I love those free, online college classes you can partake in (what up Coursera.org), it’s no substitute from learning by experience. 

I know that I’m a digital hoarder and I love every part of it. But, sometimes it’s worth it to put away the computer. That article will be there tomorrow. The experience that I’m missing out while being glued to my computer screen, will not. 

Now stop reading this and go talk to a real living being!