Why all women in tech are “Women In Tech.” It’s not a software engineer club.
A fellow female (who is a very talented software engineer) told me to my face today that I am “NOT a woman in tech.”
She also told the other two women in the room (who also work in tech) that they are NOT women in tech.
I saw a flash of sad disappointment across their faces as they accepted her viewpoint and I felt the word-induced slap across my face.
Her reasoning: I was a marketer.
One of the other women creates SOWs for complex cybersecurity solutions and the other gives technical demonstrations of software.
But we are not coders. We are not programmers. We are not software engineers.
We may barely dabble in HTML, but we don’t know Ruby or Java. We don’t speak their language. We are not a part of “the club.”
I disagree. We ARE women in tech. By working at a tech company, we are women in tech.
We have chosen to tilt the balance in a (nerdy) “man’s world,” where we shoot Nerf guns and sit in conference rooms named after Star Wars planets.
We have chosen to join a company where we have to constantly educate ourselves on technology. The innovation and the education never ends. You can’t read a text book and be done — it changes daily.
We have to understand our company’s technology and terminology and be able to speak about it in an educated way to our coworkers, sales leads, customers and market. We may not be able write the code that built the tech, but we certainly aren’t technical idiots. You’ll rarely see a tech company hire anyone that is.
And like most of the world, we have to use technology for every aspect of our job. Whether it’s writing a short script for social media growth hacking, or digging deep into a software for a client demo, or simply adding some equations to an Excel file.
Let’s see: I spend my day learning new things about cybersecurity, and then decoding technical and academic jargon into layman’s terms. Then I use HTML to get a blog formatted correctly, so that I can slip that YouTube iframe in and center it just the way I want it. Then I need to integrate my blogging platform with my email service provider, and then integrate that with my CRM. Then I have to whip out a little more HTML to get that email campaign to match my blog, where I’ve stolen a little code from our website to get that to match as well. I need to embed the little bit of code from my CTA landing page, so a pretty button shows up, which will then pop up and collect email addresses before storing it in my CRM. I’ll manage a workflow of data for my email drip campaign. I’ll grab the URL from that blog and drop it into an automation software that will schedule my posts on social media. Every week I’ll look into these platforms to collect data and analytics to see how my marketing campaign is performing and adjust. I’ll dig into another software to track my PR leads and sync up all of my communications from email and social media into one dashboard. I’ll use photo editing tools and graphic design tools on my images and press releases before crafting an email campaign to journalists that makes it seem personalized to them and their organization. I’ll analyze what links they click to garner their interest in the story and then add them to specialized lists on social media so that I can turn our digital relationship into a personal one. I’ll give them an interview via video conferencing or join them on a podcast or livestream. …I could go on and on.
No, I am not a software engineer. But I AM a woman in tech.
Yes, we need more women software engineers. It’s hugely important! Out of the low percentage of women in the tech workforce, there’s an even smaller percentage of women developers.
According to Huffington Post: At Google, women make up 30 percent of the company’s overall workforce, but hold only 17 percent of the company’s technical jobs.
We need more coding boot camps for women of all ages. We need to encourage the next generation of young girls to become interested in coding. We need to give them the proper resources to learn. We need to tell young girls that they are great at math and science. Rather than only signing them up for, say, ballet classes, we need to also sign them up for coding classes. We need to make coding a part of our grade school curriculum, the way ‘keyboarding/typing’ used to be. We need to celebrate the women in tech that we have today, and be sure that they are there for young girls as mentors or inspiration.
And we need to stop tearing other women down. A woman coder telling another woman at her tech company that she is not a woman in tech is not healthy. That’s an attitude that keeps us from making progress.
We need to balance the gender hiring scale first — let’s first have tech companies with a workforce that is 50/50 — and then let’s aim for 50/50 in the marketing department, 50/50 in the sales department, and 50/50 in the technical department. And let’s aim for equal pay while we’re at it.
Meg Nordmann is a digital marketer who specializes in social media marketing and Millennial engagement. She is an advocate for #WomenInTech and for #EqualPay. She currently works for a cybersecurity company and previously worked for a mobile payments technology company…she made the jump from publishing into tech after reading Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In.” She has been featured in many print and online publications on digital marketing, travel, and her views on women in tech, such as The Huffington Post, Travel + Leisure, TIME, Women In Tech, Origin Magazine, and Girl’s Life Magazine. You can follow her on Twitter at @MegNordmann, where her audience of nearly 20,000 Followers are engaged in conversations about tech and digital marketing.