Like A Girl

Pushing the conversation on gender equality.

Code Like A Girl

I am woman. Hear me Tech!

Me in my happy place!

I have a confession to make:

I am a woman and I don’t work in the tech industry.

I’m actually a Registered Nurse and I am currently working towards my Masters in Nursing to become a Nurse Practitioner in Ontario. I’m passionate about the outdoors, walking my dog, playing with my kids. So why am I bothering to add my voice to this? I think that women NOT in tech should be adding their voices to the cause because, unfortunately, we face a lot of the similar issues…….sort of……

WHAT?

I’ve experienced this more than once: a bunch of women sitting in a board room when the dreaded projector comes out. Everyone starts squirming because this means we have to figure out how to get it to work. I’m often the one that gets the thing working because most are unaware of what an HDMI cable does and how to get the iPad connected to it!

Once the projector, which is mounted on the ceiling just wouldn’t turn on! We had to call IT to come and check it out, I felt stupid, because of course they asked “did you try powering it off and on?” “did you replace the batteries in the remote?” (the answer was yes, we did do all those things). In the end, I had to get a different portable projector and set it up. The problem was, that right away it was assumed that we hadn’t tried these very obvious things first. Some of us may be tech averse, but we aren’t idiots.

Another, and maybe the worst, is…nurses and math. There is this wall that is put up, nurses have decided they don’t like math. That’s why they entered the field in the first place. I find this frustrating…the math that we do as nurses is not complicated, there’s no reason we shouldn’t understand it, or start shaking in our boots because of it! I’ve taught a math course to a group of young nurses and I’ve experienced the trembling first hand! They are damn scared of math!

I am not writing this to diss nurses, heck no! They are some of the smartest, hardest working people out there. I just am trying to point out that bias and misperceptions exist in all forms and in all sectors, and unfortunately, it resounds strongly with what women in technology are facing as well.

I was always strong in science, I even took a physics course in summer school to bolster my science knowledge before going into University and I loved it. I took advanced math in high school and got in the 90’s.

Yet, somehow I was always under the impression that I was bad at math, that I was destined for a non-math degree in university.

I ended up having to take calculus in order to get my BSc in Psychology and I did terribly. My now husband, an engineer, desperately tried to teach me, but it was hopeless. The wall was up “I don’t understand calculus”. I had to hire a private tutor and in the end I passed but not with flying colors. To date, it is the worst mark I ever received in University.

So why am I going on about this?

I believe it is perception: I believe that had I not had that mental block, I might have done better.

Fast forward about 10 years. The evolution of the smartphone had begun and I was WAY behind the times! All I had was a pay as you go flip phone. Thankfully, my husband knew it was time for me to move into the 21st century! He bought me a BlackBerry. A fancy one with a track ball and everything! I was a mess, didn’t know how to use it, and was scared to try for fear of making a mistake!

Things have changed, I’d like to show you what my life looks like now:

I own an iPad, a MacBook Air and an iPhone, and my kids all have devices that I help manage. I’ve even lead the integration of new technology in my place of work as a nursing manager.

The wall was up among our nurses though.

Uh oh! Did you hear that? NEW TECHNOLOGY! EVERYONE RUN AND HIDE! HOLD ONTO YOUR PAPER AND PEN BECAUSE THAT IS ALL WE KNOW!

(disclaimer: not everyone had this attitude, but that same mental block I had had for math was certainly evident among our workforce towards new technology).

To the amazement of my family (because everyone was thinking that Pam’s the least tech oriented of everyone), and to the astonishment of myself really, I became the go to nurse manager to help set up the new technology and explain to our nurses in a way that made sense. I wrote instructions that were sent out company wide.

I’m not saying this to brag, but what I am saying is that for so long I had decided I couldn’t do it, just like the math.

Women in all fields need to be empowered to take risks with technology!

It's everywhere, and will be introduced to all sectors at some point, in some way, in the future. In 20 years, when I’m the CEO of a nursing company, then I need the vision to the take that company further, and that really means having an excellent sense of current technology.

I have another confession to make: My sister is Dinah Davis.

We couldn’t be more different in our careers, while Dinah struggled with gender based obstacles to succeed in her career, I have struggled to find my place in technology, in a field that is predominantly women.

The work Dinah is doing is essential in providing young girls and women with opportunities they may never have known about.

I want to assure these young girls and women that they can bring their love for math and technology to any career they choose, but they need to have the knowledge first!

Dinah and I at MakerClub, our kids are doing snap electronics!

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