The marginalization women experience in technology often overshadows their accomplishments. That's why Facebook software engineers Erin Summers and Zainab Ghadiyali co-founded Wogrammer. Wogrammer is a project that makes visible the diverse success stories of female engineers from around the world. Summers and Ghadiyali interviewed over fifty engineers, "from Cape Town to Silicon Valley in all types industries."
When asked why did they create Wogrammer, the Facebook engineer duo explain that, "As software engineers, we get asked a lot about what it’s like to be a woman in tech. Are there any horror stories? Have we experienced sexism in school or at work? We would much rather be asked about our technical accomplishments and the technology we’ve built. We decided to take control and do something about it, and that’s how wogrammer was born."
Erin Summers and Zainab Ghadiyali, Co-Founders of wogrammer
But not all women in tech want to be labeled as wogrammers as Carole Bennett explains (Read the full article here). Bennett states, "I'm usually very supportive of anything that highlights women in technology, but I'm not feeling very sanguine about this "#wogrammer" surge. With all due respect to the efforts of Erin Summers and Zainab Ghadiyali, I don't want to be accepted in the industry as a token, or held in regard because 'hey, she's a woman, and she writes code!'"
My thoughts? Yes, many women in tech still battle workplace harassment, unconscious bias, and the fear of disclosing their marital and/or family status (See CNN tech article to learn more). Making visible the achievements of women in tech should not be at odds with other efforts to address gender inequality. Surely there is room for women in tech to be recognized and for techs (who just so happen to be women) to be recognized.
Ideally, women should be acknowledged for the work they do, and not just because they are women doing it. However, our world is not going to stop being gender-sensitive anytime soon, nor should it. Reason being, if we strive for "gender blindness" we invite the potentiality of disparities across gender being overlooked.
Furthermore, young girls aspiring to enter this field need to know there are people who look like them who not only overcame various obstacles but have succeeded. Providing a platform for women, from diverse backgrounds, to tell their own stories is one way to help combat the negative stereotypes of women working in technical positions. Wogrammer is a platform that is helping to do just that.
If you want to share the story of a female engineer, you can nominate them here.
To learn more about how Summers and Ghadiyali are helping to combat pervasive gender stereotypes in tech, please visit their website and don't forget to follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.