Like A Girl

Pushing the conversation on gender equality.

Code Like A Girl

Women In Tech — Are We Telling the Right Story?

If you listen to conversations surrounding the lack of “women in tech” you’ll hear a common phrase used over and over … “pipeline issue.” It has become the easiest and most accepted way to answer the question: Why aren’t more companies hiring and promoting women within their tech company or tech department? I make no issue with the phrase and I believe it to be absolutely true — and believe it will remain true — if we don’t start telling the right story about what it means to be a women in technology.

PROBLEM:

So, how do we alleviate the “pipeline issue”?

SOLUTION:

“LEARN TO CODE!”

Except, I believe that’s only a single part of the bigger story we should be telling.

Girls are growing up, young women are graduating, moms are re-joining the workforce, women are seeking a career change, and mature women are resisting retirement. If we want to fill the pipeline, what is the right story we should be telling these women to persuade them into tech?

THE ANSWER:

Learn to leverage technology as a competitive advantage for a business.

This means:

  1. Learn to write code.
  2. Understand the benefits, nuances, and limitations of various types of technology platforms, tools, and services that can fuel the inner-workings of a company.
  3. Be the liaison between a company who communicates its business needs and a technology team that needs clear requirements.
  4. Mine, identify, and solve problems using technology as the solution.
  5. Research, observe, and intimately understand how users engage with technology to improve user experience.

These are all valuable roles within tech, and one is needed as much as the other.

As the saying goes…

The world’s most popular media company doesn’t create its own content.

The world’s largest taxi firm doesn’t own any cars.

And, Steve Jobs wasn’t a software engineer.

To build a technology pipeline full of women, we need to be smarter about our communication. We need to tell the right story.

As with any occupation, there’s an inherent lifestyle that comes with it:

I changed my major from Graphic Design to Marketing after one internship as a graphic designer. I simply couldn’t get through my day sitting in front of a computer, in Photoshop, designing, making revisions, receiving feedback, making more revisions… etc. My brain hurt, my back hurt, and I craved human interaction. We aren’t all cut out for every career.

If we tell women that coding is your only ticket into tech, the “pipeline issue” is going to continue.

I make a living solving company problems with digital solutions and I don’t write code. I have a lot of skills I’m anxious to develop, but writing HTML or Javascript is no where near the top of my list. And, to be a woman in tech, it doesn’t have to be.

Do I want women to learn to code — absolutely, heck yes. If that’s their passion and that occupation suits their lifestyle. But, let’s not let that be the end of the story.

If we focus on coding, we lose. If we focus on well-rounded careers within the endless opportunities that technology provides, we win.

Let’s tell the right story to the future Women in Tech — the whole story.

Melissa Barker | MEL BAR MAR | Digital Marketing Studio, Charleston SC