Sometimes I feel like I’m having an identity crisis (and not just because I’ve entered the last year of my twenties) but because: I am a woman, I work for a technology company, yet sometimes I feel like a fraud for calling myself a “Woman in Tech”.
Why? Because my role isn’t technical. There’s a lot of focus on getting women and younger girls into technical roles. This is the right thing and I am not trying to detract from that. But, it is equally important to ensure that women are visible within marketing, communication and HR roles at technology companies. I’m starting to come to the realisation that I am still a woman in technology and that just because I’m in a marketing role, it doesn’t mean it’s any less value than others. Here’s my thoughts on why:
The thing with privilege is it’s hard to recognise in yourself without being called out on, usually by those with less privilege than you. It also means that it can be harder to recognise when external representation of you or your brand doesn’t match up to the internal values you hold. For example, as a woman, I nearly always pick up on when content only includes or refers to men. On these occasions, when bringing this up to a man, they nearly always say “oh, I didn’t even realise”. Similarly, I admit I have been in a position in the past where I haven’t noticed straight away the lack of racial diversity within content. Awareness of inequity and lack of representation definitely helps us to recognise gaps and although it isn’t the responsibility of underrepresented groups to tell us when we’re failing them, we do have a responsibility to culture check and listen to those who look and think different to ourselves.
Am I allowed to squeeze in an early 2000’s cheesy rom-com reference to talk round my next point? The film, What Women Want, is the story of two advertising executives trying to succeed – one male and one female. The male is, at the start, hugely chauvinistic and thinks he’s the greatest gift to women and knows exactly what women want. The woman is hired because she kicks arse and manages to secure a pitch for the much lusted after Nike campaign – to appeal to women. Of course, the male thinks he knows what is best (i.e. how to market to women) but it’s only after a freak accident that enables him to read the minds of women does he realise he doesn’t have a clue. He ends up reading the mind of the female marketing exec, stealing her ideas (of course) and then winning the pitch. Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that the male point of view on how to appeal to women wasn’t aligned with how women actually wanted to be marketed to, and this happening isn’t just limited to the film. This is why it is important to have a diverse team in your marketing and communication departments. Diverse people lead to diversity of thought, which is a necessity for companies looking to break the status quo and create a more equitable workforce. Don’t expect to attract top talent who aren’t white heterosexual men, if the only people in your marketing and HR teams are white heterosexual men. Likewise, don’t expect your content to appeal to women if your marketing team is entirely men.
I truly believe that technology has the potential to be equitable for everyone . It is SO important to show young girls and women that a career in technical roles can be for them. It is important to provide the representation so those thinking about starting a career in technology have role models to aspire to be like. It’s important that these role models represent not just white able-bodied women but all women.
It’s important that all women are represented across the entire organisation.
I am a proud woman in tech, that gets to ensure that we are telling the stories of other women in tech.