Category Archives: women

Things Have Changed — But…

Young women today don’t realize, I think, how things were, and not that long ago. Gail Collins’ new book reminds us of how things were.


When I was in high school I decided to be a “lady lawyer” — that was the term for women lawyers, since there were so few.


In college at a Jesuit university, if we women EVER wore pants, we had to leave campus by the shortest route possible.  My dorm roommate could go to breakfast in her nightgown with a coat over it, but not in pants.  This wasn’t just about what we wore — it was about control.

When I got an “honorary” scholarlship at my first choice Jesuit university — i.e. no money — a male friend who was a student there told me they never gave scholarships to women.

In one of my first jobs, at a bank, a woman co-worker in a low-level clerical job pointed out to me that she had exactly the same educational credentials as the male junior executive in our dept.  Our dept. was managed by a woman, who said that she got into management because she couldn’t type.  If she could have typed they would have made her a secretary.

When I was married and tried to apply for a credit card in my own name, I had to fight with the bank.  And some friends had to fight with the hospital when their first child was born — the wife had kept her own name, and the hospital wasn’t about to register a child with a different last name than its mother.

When I got my PhD and went on the academic job market, at the major job-hunting conference someone I interviewed with (fortunately) told me my dean was undermining me. He was telling people that I had a husband in SF and so wasn’t mobile, even though I was interviewing for jobs all over the country.

And in today’s NY Times, an op-ed by a woman who went to college in the 80’s who says “My generation was wrong to think the fight for equality was over.”

Women Who Tech TeleSummit

Kaliya Hamlin sent the following message to the members of She’s Geeky.

Registration is now open for the 2009 Women Who Tech TeleSummit scheduled for May 12, 2009 from 11AM EST to 6PM EST. I’m so excited about this year’s line up and I know you will be too. Check it out! http://www.facebook.com/l/b2146; http://www.womenwhotech.com/2009-panels.html.

Women have really rocked the tech and social media world this past year and we are proud to be featuring Lisa Stone of BlogHer, Allison Fine of Personal Democracy Forum, Rashmi Sinha of SlideShare, Charelene Li, co-author of Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies, Shireen Mitchell of Digital Sistas, Holly Ross of NTEN, Rebecca Moore of Google Earth Outreach and so much more.

Our thought provoking panels (held by phone and web) will inspire you and give you the latest resources and tools that you can take back to the office and launch a successful and meaningful campaign or build your online personal brand, determine the ROI of your organizations social media outreach, get that big promotion or even launch your own startup. Check out these awesome panels: http://www.facebook.com/l/b2146; http://www.womenwhotech.com/2009-panels.html

* Launching Your Own Startup * Breaking Through the Digital Ceiling * Social Media ROI * Women and Open Source * Tools Galore in Online Communications * Democratizing Data and Watch-Dogging the Government * Video Activism * Tech Marketing in a Recession * Social Networks and Diversity Barriers * Innovation and Tech Career Reinvention * What Shirky Didn’t Tell Us * Feminine Mystique

Click the link below to view the full panel descriptions and register now! Like last year we expect the panels to fill up super fast. http://www.facebook.com/l/b2146; http://www.womenwhotech.com/2009-panels.html

Also we will be having fun after-parties after the TeleSummit on May 12th in Washington, DC, NYC, San Francisco, and London so save the date and come get your tech on with us. I will send a follow up email about the after-parties next week. I would also like to thank our amazing sponsors for their generous support of Women Who Tech. FreePress, Democracy In Action, Rad Campaign, Convio, Care2, NTEN, and Massey Media. Questions, comments? Email me anytime at Allyson@womenwhotech.com. You can also reach me on twitter @womenwhotech.

Off Ramps and On Ramps: Keeping Talented Women on the Road to Success

woman scientist with men peering at herToday’s NY Times has an article about the continuing lack of women in science and technology, based on a study by the Center for Work-Life Policy, a nonprofit organization that studies women and work, to be published in the Harvard Business Review in June.  The purpose of the study was “to measure the size of the gender gap and to decipher why women leave the science, engineering and technology professions in disproportionate numbers.”

It seems that more women are getting degrees in the fields in question — engineering, the hard sciences, the life sciences.  And they get good early job evaluations, so the problem isn’t quality.  And men do leave these professions — but proportionately more women do.  The reasons, they say, are varied, but can be subsumed under “pervasive macho culture.”  They don’t like the culture; they suffer harrasment; they are out of the loop; they don’t get mentored.

One story is telling: a woman named Josephine who was nicknamed “Finn” found it to her advantage to send email as Finn.  She got information that “Josephine” didn’t. Her advice: “Get yourself a Finn.”  (Apologies to my Finnish friends — you’re not the kind of Finn that she meant.)

The full report is a book available via Amazon et al: Off Ramps and On Ramps: Keeping Talented Women on the Road to Success (Harvard Business School Press).

Gloria Steinem on Gender and the Presidential Race

If you missed this in the NY Times, it’s well worth reading:
Women Are Never Front-Runners by Gloria Steinem.

By the way, most of audio/video reports on Hillary’s emotional moment in New Hampshire stop after the first few seconds and don’t play her whole response.

Excerpts from Steinam op/ed:

So why is the sex barrier not taken as seriously as the racial one? The reasons are as pervasive as the air we breathe: because sexism is still confused with nature as racism once was; because anything that affects males is seen as more serious than anything that affects “only” the female half of the human race; because children are still raised mostly by women (to put it mildly) so men especially tend to feel they are regressing to childhood when dealing with a powerful woman; because racism stereotyped black men as more “masculine” for so long that some white men find their presence to be masculinity-affirming (as long as there aren’t too many of them); and because there is still no “right” way to be a woman in public power without being considered a you-know-what.

I’m not advocating a competition for who has it toughest. The caste systems of sex and race are interdependent and can only be uprooted together….

But what worries me is that he is seen as unifying by his race while she is seen as divisive by her sex.

What worries me is that she is accused of “playing the gender card” when citing the old boys’ club, while he is seen as unifying by citing civil rights confrontations.

What worries me is that male Iowa voters were seen as gender-free when supporting their own, while female voters were seen as biased if they did and disloyal if they didn’t.

What worries me is that reporters ignore Mr. Obama’s dependence on the old — for instance, the frequent campaign comparisons to John F. Kennedy — while not challenging the slander that her progressive policies are part of the Washington status quo.

What worries me is that some women, perhaps especially younger ones, hope to deny or escape the sexual caste system…

This country can no longer afford to choose our leaders from a talent pool limited by sex, race, money, powerful fathers and paper degrees. It’s time to take equal pride in breaking all the barriers. We have to be able to say: “I’m supporting her because she’ll be a great president and because she’s a woman.”

Fewer Women in IT

I don’t work in IT, so my opinion on this is based on anecdotes and hearsay, not empirical data or my own experience. But I find this interesting — from Silicon.com — excerpt:

Are women ‘too smart’ for IT?
Best of Reader Comments: Or is it too macho…

By Gemma Simpson

Published: Tuesday 23 January 2007

Women are abandoning techie careers, with many put off by the long-hours culture and lack of flexible working. Currently only 16 per cent of tech workers are women, of which few are in management roles, according to IT industry trade group Intellect.

The female flight from IT may not be a question of sex discrimination but more about poor working conditions, say silicon.com readers, as the IT workers suffer from a lack of flexible working schemes and the threat of losing their jobs dues to offshoring.

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Charles Smith, a consultant from London, pointed out IT workers worry their jobs will be exported and are expected to work long hours of unpaid overtime by myopic management.

Women, readers argue, are simply being more choosy about life-work balance than men – and thus they are leaving the industry.

One reader pointed out that women were “maybe just smarter” for shunning IT careers in favour of “much easier jobs” such as being a doctor, lawyer or accountant.

Others said it was a lack of interest in the subject matter. An anonymous reader said he had tried to encourage women to learn more technical things but “only men seem to want to be technical”.

Some female readers said IT has become unattractive due to the ‘macho culture’ and offensive behaviour of their male colleagues.

Book: She’s Such a Geek!

I haven’t seen this, but today’s SF Chronicle has an interesting review:

She’s Such a Geek! Women Write About Science, Technology & Other Nerdy Stuff
Edited by Annalee Newitz and Charlie Anders

SEAL PRESS; 231 PAGES; $14.95 PAPERBACK

Looks like it would be of interest to a lot of young women I know.