A Portrait Project by John Davidson
Job title: Design Lead, Watson Education
Years working in the tech industry: 4 in tech exclusively; previously, almost 20 years in digital design.
On the opportunities for career advancement for women in tech, and whether those opportunities are increasing:
I hear a lot more discussion about it than ever before, but things still look real white and male above the middle management level. As an industry we need to work harder to support women — particularly women of color — as they progress toward senior leadership positions.
On whether pressure in public life is exeerting change in work culture and opportunities for women:
I see signs of it here and there, but I think there’s still a lack of awareness among men in the industry as to how the deck is stacked in their favor.
On how women can contribute to lasting change in sexual politics in the tech industry:
Keep being vocal — even (especially) when it’s uncomfortable. But the onus isn’t all on us! We need men (well, and ALL women) to understand what an inclusive culture looks like, and how they can play a part in building it.
On one book you’d recommend to every tech CEO, Senior Executive and entrepreneur in America:
Technically Wrong: Sexist Apps, Biased Algorithms, and Other Threats of Toxic Tech, by Sara Wachter-Boettcher.
There’s a really troubling lack of attention being paid to the ethics of technology, particularly in leadership. Every person who builds (and sells) digital products is accountable for the way they ultimately shape culture, and this book sheds light on the many ways we’re failing to do that, and how we can do better.
*Quotes may have received minor editing for purposes of clarity only.
Women Who Tech Are Dangerous: A Portrait Project (author’s note)
Encouraged by the rising tide of women making their voices heard on the subject of gender bias in the tech and corporate world, I’ve embarked on a portrait project that seeks to feature women with a stake in the issue, and hopefully, provide a platform for them to share their experiences and express their views.
About the project’s title:
The first suggestion of this project came to me via a book on my wife’s bookshelf — Women Who Read Are Dangerous, by Stefan Bollmann. It’s a collection of paintings from throughout the centuries, each focused on a woman reading a book — the very act of which has, at various points in history, been considered ‘subversive.’
Are women who tech dangerous? To those in Silicon Valley, and elsewhere, who seek to perpetrate the hegemony that unquestionably exists in the upper echelons of tech at present, perhaps. One woman I asked referred to the project’s title as being, for her, about ‘the notion that I’m not supposed to be here because I’m a woman — but I am [here]…we are [here], and we’re not leaving.’ Still another women described the idea that women in tech are dangerous as being, ‘in this context, almost patronizing.’ Clearly there are a range of views and experiences to be expressed.
My goal is to put faces to some of these women, to compile a portrait of women at all career levels, to elevate their voices and contribute to the dialogue.
The project is ongoing. Contact me at email@example.com if you’re interested in taking part.