This Women in Technology post from Tech Flash has gotten me thinking about, well, women in technology.
John Cook wrote the original article back in the Spring, which received some interesting comments about why he’s even writing the article and the validity of the top 100 list.
Now, Tech Flash is hosting a reception and networking event open to all, to discuss women in technology with respect to leadership, science, computing and other topics.
Being in business and technology, as well as being a mom to a young girl and boy, I have many thought about women in technology that I wanted to share.
What is ‘In Technology’?
At first, my idea of someone who is “In Technology” was of someone who directly produces technology. So, when I first read the original article, I didn’t really think many of the women were ‘In Technology’ so much as working for technology companies. Most were not software developer geeks, did not have a engineering/computer science background, and were not THE head of a software company. Without this background of being in the trenches, it is more difficult to establish credibility as a ‘Woman in Technology’, at least in my opinion.
This is not to say that none of the women are not ‘In Technology’. Women like Marianne Marck, who I know back from my days at the Disney Internet Group, is an example of a former software/db developer who has moved up the ranks to become a VP of Technology for Blue Nile. This is how most of us imagine moving up the proverbial ladder.
I think issues come into play when you start mixing people who come from a technology background with people who work for tech companies.
After reading John’s article, I really had to think about what ‘In Technology’ means. For me, ‘In Technology’ spans a range, and at the core is how many degrees of separation someone is from actual software development. The closer you are, the more you can be called a geek (or a former geek) and a technologist.
So if you were to put a simple measure of how geeky one is (now or in the past), call it a GEEK-DETECTOR, and 6 levels (to keep it simple), I think the levels would be:
- 1st level – developing software
- 2nd level – front end development, network engineer, systems administrator, low level software testing writing own scripts, database administration
- 3rd level – technical program management, sw testing, web designers
- 4th level – directly managing level 1-3 people,
- 5th level – your company sells technology, so you know something about technology, but you’re not creating the technology in levels 1-3
- 6th level – Everyone else
I know I’m missing some and this is quite simplified, but this is what’s coming to mind right now. The reason I put sw developer as the 1st level is because they can get applications up and running without any of the other levels. Even though network engineers and sys admins are very technical jobs, they’re unnecessary if there’s no software for them to actually get onto the internet and administer.
So if you applied the Geek-Detector measure to the list of women in technology, it’d be interesting to see how many women have been at level 1. I think very few have and that most started in the 3-5 level range.
For me, I think the purpose of having a networking night for women in technology is to acknowledge there are women who work in all levels of technology, but to also recognize the fact that we need to work harder at getting more girls into levels 1 and 2. These positions are key to organizations, are usually in high demand, and pay very well. To get them there, we need to support each other so we can beat a path for young girls to achieve this.
I’ve got ideas on how to do this that I’ll write about in the future. Stay tuned.