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.

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Giving Thanks

I’m always late on these blogging things. The posts write themselves in my head, just transferring the thoughts from my head to the computer is always the hardest part. But, yesterday was Thanksgiving.

For me, Thanksgiving is just one of those holidays that just, is. I don’t love it, I don’t hate it. My family is pretty small, so there’s never a big to-do with tons of food and family time. I mean, yes, there is tons of food, but that’s because we always cook so much so that we can have leftovers for days. (#turkeyandstuffing5ever)

Thanksgiving is also that time where everyone on social media posts things like “I’m so thankful for…” and “#thankful, #blessed,” etc. I get kind of stingy around Thanksgiving because I like to think that I’m thankful all the time, when in reality, I’m not.

If you think about it, we say the word, “Thanks” for almost anything. Someone gives you a present? “Thanks!” Someone asks how you’re doing? “I’m good, thanks.” Someone holds the door open for you? “Thanks.” We fill our lives with this word without really taking into account what it means each time we say it.

 

Thank (v.)- to express gratitude to (someone), a courteous response, “a heart full of thanks”

Did you read that correctly? A heart full of thanks? Now, how many times do we have a heart full of thanks when someone holds the door open for us? I’m grateful, but I don’t feel like it’s the greatest gift in the world. Sometimes the word “thanks” can be used ironically (it was the second definition Merriam Webster gave me).  The irony here is that a heart full of thanks is quite the opposite than saying thanks ironically- it kind of shows that you don’t really care. Perhaps if we started structuring our thoughts around the heartful definition, we would actually be more polite. The sense of unimportance in doing kind deeds would disappear. And, it would make ourselves more gracious to actually notice how our actions affect people.

 

But, enough with my criticism of society. I am eternally thankful for several things:

  1. I’m thankful that my parents pay for college. I don’t know where I would be if they were not here to support me, verbally and financially. (I would be in a lot of debt, that’s where I’d be..) I know for a fact I don’t say thank you enough to them, so I extend my first heart full of gratitude towards my parents.
  2. I’m thankful for my friends, whether they be the friends that let me vent all of my anger and rage over silly things or the friends that make spontaneous plans and allow me to forget all of my current troubles. I would be an emotional wreck without my friends, and I don’t give them enough credit for all the work they do in my life.
  3. I’m thankful for the parts of me that make me, me. Wow, that didn’t sound like an egotistical statement at all. But seriously, I am thankful to be unique. I don’t embrace my crazy enough (more on that thought will come later, my friend), and sometimes I wish I were different. But, at the end of the day, specifically, Thanksgiving day, I am grateful to be myself with all of my flaws and rough edges.
  4. I’m thankful for the Internet. This post would not have made its way to you without the Internet. I’m also thankful for this free country we live in, with no media restrictions. I’m free to voice my opinions, whether they be with the mainstream argument at the time or completely contradictory. Thank you, First Amendment!

And with that, I’m off to get some sleep before a busy day of Black Friday shopping. I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and truly remember what you mean when you say the word, “Thanks.”