Code like a girl, dress any way you want
Code like a Girl, dress any way you want
I think one of the issues of getting girls into Computer Science and other STEM areas is the idea that you have to be nerdy to do it. What I have learned is this is not true.
In my early years in tech, I wanted to be one of the guys. I would try not to show off my feminine side. What if I got caught, what if they found out I was a girly girly?!
Over time I realized this did more harm than good. This reinforced the stereotypes that girly girls can’t code, or be competent in tech. What it was really saying was “women can do this, but only if they acted like men”. This is bad both for men and women.
If men believe this, they won’t hire women unless they look the part, they will think girly girls won’t fit into their culture. I in fact heard a friend tell me recently that someone she knows did not hire a very good women developer as he was worried she wouldn’t fit in. Would she have been hired if she showed up in comic t-shirts, jeans, and talked about video games? This has to change.
The idea that you have to act like a guy to work in tech will also stop other women who might consider it. They may have no interest in giving up their clothes, and interests and friends just because they think they might like coding. That creates a huge barrier to getting more girls and women into tech. This is so wrong and I didn’t want to keep reinforcing this.
Now I am just myself. Take it or leave it. I am awesome at my job, I love tech, I am sometimes girly, I am sometimes super geeky, but I am always myself. But it took me awhile to get there.
It is very important to me that my daughter and other girls also knows this. My daughter loves princesses and her collection of princess dresses. She also loves her dinosaur stuffy she bought with her own money, going to science camps, playing scientist with her science kit, playing lego, playing dollies, animals, painting her nails, wearing sparkle shoes, wearing blue and green over pink, wearing sweat pants, and playing princess.
I want her to grow up in a world where it is ok for her to do every girl stereotype AND anything else she chooses. I don't want her to think she has to be a tomboy to be interested in STEM and hide her girlyness. I want her to just be herself and be empowered to do what her heart desires.
I love that she dresses in sweats and her soccer camp t-shirt one day and the next she is in a ballerina skirt with pink top and pink leggings, sparkle shoes, and tiara the next. Just because they are girly it should not preclude them from liking diansaours, science, or sports.
Let’s make the conversation for our young girls about the possibilities of what they can do with their lives, and not about how they have to dress to do it. This is why I love this quote by Amanda Baker:
Thanks to Chantal Jandard for her fantastic feedback on this blog post!
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