Like A Girl

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Code Like A Girl

“Until the Lion Learns How to Write, Every Story will Glorify the Hunter”

Photo from: www.langhofc.com

-African Proverb

I recently came across a powerful article that both inspired me and broke my heart.

The article is about 15 young people under 15 years of age who are all doing mind-blowing things in cyber security. Seven of the 15 are girls. So far, so inspiring. But as I read each one’s story, a few quotes from these incredibly accomplished and pioneering girls (ages 12–14) really jumped out at me:

“This kid was like, ‘Oh, you’re a woman. You can’t go into cybersecurity. That’s just for men,” she recalls. “That hurt my feelings and I thought, ‘Oh, okay, I can’t do it.’” … [but] “after I walked away, I was like, ‘Why do I have to listen to him?” -Blanca

and

“Guys are meant to be energetic and more into adventure stuff and girls are kind of supposed to be like, princesses and very girly,” [but] “[Participating] helps us know that girls can be just as good as boys.” -Isag

15 under 15: Rising stars in cybersecurity

From: 15 under 15: Rising Stars in Cybersecurity by By Sara Sorcher & Ann Hermes

I felt like I had been punched in the gut when I read these quotes. The heartbreak in this for me is that these ideas are still out there, making the rounds through our youngest women’s lives, here in 2017. I thought, who is the kid in the first quote who believes a girl can’t go into cybersecurity? Where did he (or more worryingly, she) get that idea in the first place? How is this being perpetuated in the 21st century?

It makes me despair, as I know it would my incredibly feminist grandmother, born in 1924, who quietly broke all the moulds and became the backbone of three generations of capable and independent women. We fought so hard and thought we had come so far. What would she think of this?

Why are these sorts of gender myths and self-limiting beliefs still perpetuated in the 21st Century?

“Until the lion learns how to write every story will glorify the hunter” -African proverb

Then I read an article from someone listing the best books they read in 2016. In the original post, there were no female authors in the list. The comments on the article were interesting:

Not a single female author. There were a few that published this year, but my guess is that the omission reflects on the biases of the editor more than anything else. Author’s response: I didn’t read any books by women authors that made the my top 10 list this year…

No female writers. Just an observation.

Wow. That’s amazing. Only dudes wrote the best books of 2016.

And my favourite:

“Men only- read 10 books by men for an exclusively male view of the world”

The second article taught me why the first article was still possible.

Girls and women are often seeing and learning from an exclusively male view of the world. These are the stories glorifying the hunter and not the lion. This is just one cog in the machinery of why girls born after the turn of the millennium are still hearing and even sometimes believing that the hunter can have the glory and she can have none. Women and their achievements are so often invisible, or are made to feel that way. Why are so many books about tech and startups and entrepreneurialism written by the hunter (men), and not by the lion (women)?

In response to my dismay at the book list and the frustration of wanting to hear other women’s stories and wisdom, and also wanting to have a source of inspiration for girls interested in tech and business and anything else, I was going to put together a list of lists of books by women that had been recommended in the same vein. I searched for a while to find some and gave up. What kept coming up were lists of books women should read, or “women’s” books, or books for women. Not the same thing at all.

Until those lions start to write, we may all be left with the impression that only the hunter is succeeding, that you have to have the biggest gun and be willing to shoot to catch the prize. I know that’s not true, and I’m writing about it. Who are those other women out there writing about it, too?

This chain of events made me want even more to read about people like me, books that glorify the lion, and tell about women’s experiences and most importantly, I want to learn from other women. About business, and entrepreneurship, and tech and rocketships and any other random subject that is not just about “women’s things”. I know they are out there. I can name a few, but I want to make the momma of all list of lists.

I would love to get your recommendations of the latest and best non-fiction books by women on the sorts of things that might help me [and other women and girls] continue to learn my way through this new entrepreneurial techie journey so that I might be the next lion that writes.

Please signpost me to all the best female leadership, entrepreneurial, startup, techie writers you have read in the past year. I will compile and share out.

Now, let’s all sit down and write our story.

As I have written about before, my experience over the past few years as an older female in the tech startup space has been overwhelmingly positive, barring two really diabolical encounters with unenlightened male people who chose to behave like neanderthals (my apologies to neanderthals). You can read about those misadventures here and here.

Please click on the green heart so we can get the word out for others to share their best non-fiction books written by women on all things entrepreneurial this past year. I will compile responses and share out the list. You can read more about my own entrepreneurial journey here: https://medium.com/@eshassere

Check out more great articles at Code Like A Girl.