The summer before my senior year in college, I had the pleasure to intern with a powerful female lobbyist in New York. She was sharp, well-connected, tapped into the system and respected in a world full of dull pant suits. She was the first professional woman who I had the opportunity to get close to and to this day she remains a symbol of what in my mind it takes to be a successful woman in an often male-dominated political/business arena – superior intellect, a trusted network and an air of over confidence.
I graduated from college in 2002 as a poetry major and art history minor. Soon after I realized that the chances of me making money writing poetry were similar to that of me becoming the first female President. With that in mind, I decided to take my chances with a foray into the world of politics. I loved the idea of politics, the systematic appeal and downright passion involved in the process. What I didn’t like was that I was surrounded predominantly by males with few female role models to turn to for guidance. More often than not, I found myself actually trying to dress and behave in a more masculine fashion in an effort to be seen as an equal. No one told me to behave this way; I just identified two types of women that exuded success: 1) women who were atypically aggressive, or 2) women who seemed more apt to use their sexuality to climb the ladder. A former point guard, the aggressive approach seemed more natural. Still, I was confronted on more than one occasion with the harsh reality that politics was a man’s world where women had to fight the good fight on multiple occasions in order to enter what I deemed, “The Club.”
As I bridged the gap from politics to PR over those first few years, I was still confronted on more than one occasion with the realities of a former world where only men were allowed certain niceties. In fact, next to the building where I held my second job post-college stood a “Club” that had only started allowing women to enter their facility in 1988. I was eight years-old then. Now 30, I recently found myself yearning for a “club” of my own and have found just that in Girls in Tech – a social network enterprise focused on the engagement, education and empowerment of like-minded, professional, intelligent and influential women in technology.
Today, I work predominantly with tech-focused businesses ranging from burgeoning start-ups to established public companies. From SaaS to location intelligence and cloud computing, I’ve come a long way from the hallowed halls of political institutions to the land of female-dominated communications. Now, I’m slowly but surely noticing the influx of women entrepreneurs and CEOs and CTOs and see that real change and work place equality is undoubtedly on the horizon. What I still worry about is how long this same type of gender shakeout will take in the world of technology.
There’s been plenty of news, particularly as of late, in relation to why this female gap remains in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. And while I won’t get too deep in the weeds of issues such as gender differences (risk averse, lack of self promotion, etc.), I will give you a broader view as to the role Girls in Tech Boston (GiT) is playing in this effort to help drive female participation in the field of technology. In addition to supporting local groups such a The Science Club for Girls, GiT Boston offers bi-monthly professional networking opportunities and educational series such as our upcoming panel discussion in conjunctions with Mass Challenge and local women entrepreneurs.
I like the little bit of “geek” in me that I’ve grown over the last few years as I’ve been exposed to various technologies through tailored publicity programs. More so, I like how I’ve been able to find and connect with others with this same geek-a-tude and affinity for things such as robots.
Moving forward, I think the efforts of GiT will pay dividends toward increasing the ratio of women in technology. From fostering positive experiences with younger generations to helping current women in the IT space connect with the resources and backing they need in order to be successful, it’s clear to me that this two-pronged approach has the potential to help mitigate the “glass ceiling” syndrome.
Are you a geek in the PR space or in the world of IT? If so, we’d love to hear from you! In no more than two sentences, tell us what makes you geek-tastic. In the meantime, be sure to keep an eye out for hot news coming out of the Women Who Tech conference that convenes on September 15.
Stay geeky; stay proud.