When women don’t ‘get tech’ …

Rethink - When women don't 'get' tech

Not everyone is an techie, yes, but what about the users and adopters?

I recently met a business school friend who’d moved to a new role in marketing for a technology company. When I asked for details, I got the indulgent brush-off — too complicated to explain, he said.

A marketing guy who can’t explain his own product? More likely, he thought I wouldn’t get it, so why bother.

If a professional like me who’s worked on many technology initiatives is seen as a lost cause, it’s no wonder so many other women struggle under the cloud of ignorance.

In effect, we’re perpetuating a stereotype similar to the one where women can’t read maps or get the math. I promise you, millions can.

Girls don’t always Code!

But pure-play tech jobs aside, what women professionals seem to frequently encounter is a well-meant but unfortunate notion about their lack of comfort with basic technology. Unless it’s an IT professional, the general belief is that most women are not overly competent to handle technology as a user or as an adopter, beyond the Office Suite or a few basic apps. And as it turns out now, even the Pros are falling victims to the prejudice and bias.

And what about the women whose work has a technology backbone — e-commerce, graphic design, UI, Analytics, Modeling, to name a few.

I work with women in careers — hundreds of them. Women who are Entrepreneurs, hiring, looking for work or building their professional presence. Most of them are not only knowledgeable about using technology in their sphere, they are also constantly looking to learn more either online or at the workplace. Even from friends & peers.

The end user in skirts!

As an active social media user, Hannah Furstein found plenty of online info on prospective clients for her boss. Her trick — she compiled brief profiles on their interests and preferences that helped her boss (who had no social media presence) engage better with them. One client played recreational softball; yet another one’s Facebook pictures showed that he loved broadway and was a Red Cross supporter. This kind of background info helped them connect at a more personal level, leading to better conversions over time.

I taught a skills based workshop that in New Jersey recently – I was pleasantly surprised by the savvy amongst women from non-native english speaking, moderate income segments. Many of them had pretty good work ideas and the smarts to follow through on them. Anna Perez’s English was limited, so created a resume using online templates (at the library computers) to land a data entry job at an Amazon virtual facility, while Leticia Samson is a regular on Craigslist to get hired out for temp office assistant jobs.

Samantha Chu who works marketing, helped set up a Slack channel to manage PR and promotions for her bathroom fixtures company after she saw friends use it successfully. She put together a complete plan on how the team could use it and secured the GM’s approval to buy the premium package that helped them cut down on the email back and forths.

Learners inherit the earth!

Pallavi Rajan took online courses and built her own pet products website to save costs. And then, she taught many of those tips to others in the community!

Alicia C went from design to trend forecasting (with a promotion) in her fabrics company, after she volunteered to learn about marketing and statistical modeling software. On the other hand, Fatima Qadir’s willingness to brush up her quickbooks skills saved her employer a bundle on outsourced accounting costs.

So many others are building on what they know, have a strong sense of initiative to take on something out of their comfort zone and a desire, even eagerness to learn where needed.

Women are learning and sharing everywhere — classrooms, online communities, Facebook groups.

Sure, not everyone (man or woman) is cut out for a STEM career.

But when the front-runners in technology creation get undermined, we are also setting back everyone else who makes that very same technology enjoyable, usable, even viable!

We are stuck with technology when all we want is stuff that works, says Douglas Adams.

And maybe, just maybe, we need to apply this to our mindset & perceptions too.

Because maybe it’s not broke, but right now, it ain’t working either!

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(Names changed to protect privacy. Image: Pexels)

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5 Comments
  1. Renata Green 8 months ago

    It surprises me a little bit that this is still an issue. I know many women – organized in digital networks.

  2. Kate 8 months ago

    I admit that I have a ton to learn still, but I’ve definitely come a long way with my own tech skills.

  3. LAUREN 8 months ago

    Wow, that’s upsetting to think that you wouldn’t understand his job. Even if was foreign to you, he should have felt confident enough to explain it to you.

  4. Luci 8 months ago

    I feel that women know tech quite a bit but they don’t the opportunity like males or supported to a tech job.

  5. Laura 8 months ago

    I’m surprised this is an issue to be honest. I know a lot of women in tech! I’m sorry to hear that you were in a position where someone felt you wouldn’t be able to get it.

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