Don’t let these classic high school pictures fool you. These young women are wicked smart. These girls have built Robots (one even has a club called Robo Chic), written papers on Fuzzy Quantum Logic to Learn Facial Gestures and even have helped design intelligent wheelchairs. They have interned at Google, Microsoft, NASA and Intel, among others.
And they are all 18 and under. They are the future of tech and they are the answer to the persistent question, “How do we get more women interested in Math, Science and Technology?”
The way to overcome the persistent pay gap for women is to kill stereotypes that say women with children might be distracted from work, that they are less likely to get venture capital funding and that they face an uphill bottle in tech. Even ludicrous examples of why women are afraid of money – imagine that!
Instead we need to focus on, and advance, excellence. One of the biggest criticisms of the equal opportunity argument is that people should be recognized for their skills rather than their gender or skin color.
I wholeheartedly agree!
The biggest problem is that people tend to only look within their own little circle, and not beyond these boundaries, to recruit talent and fill power positions. It’s time to expand the horizons.
There are women like Lisa Barone from Outspoken Media, who are fed up with this relentless onslaught of reasons why women can’t succeed. In her brilliant letter of apology she takes on many of these myths head on. Moreover, she refuses to accept the impossibility of the fight.
After all, why should there be 10 women who secretly run the Internet when they could be obviously running it? As a women and an entrepreneur and a mother of three kids (one a girl), I have a bone in this fight.
I listened to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s TED talk last December about some of the obstacles faced by women in top C-level jobs. She made some good points about what we CAN do. Her real message was to take your place at the leadership table without apology and don’t discount yourself.
What Can We Do?
Self reflection is great, but more important is promotion of talented women at ALL levels. The girls who have won the NCWIT Awards for Aspirations in Computing are a really good place to start.
- Donate $10: Just that little bit will help to inspire a whole new generation of tech leaders through the NCWIT Awards for Aspirations in Computing (go read the winners stories and be inspired). Also, today only, Network Solutions is offering a matching grant today, so your money is multiplied.
UPDATE: The NetSol match was made. So, I am going to put up $500 of my own money and match any donations made to my Crowdrise page today for NCWIT.
- Change Your Avatar: Change your avatar on Twitter and Facebook today to a picture of yourself in High School to represent the promise we all had and are now living into (see mine below).
- Talk About It: If you have a blog write a post or send a Twitter or Facebook update about what you think of this issue. (I will happily link it to it here if you give me the URL in the comment section)