April 24, 2017 Women in Tech

Girl Power? Man Power? NO! Just power.

With all those judgmental eyes starring upon Russia, we might be surprised to find out that the giant most of us connect only to negative news, sets the standards in an IT world where gender inequality and gender stereotypes don’t even exist.

How do they pull it through? Simply by backing up women from a very young age and letting them know they can be whoever and whatever they wish to be.

And the results of such an approach are fantastic: compared to the recent 29 % share of women amongst worldwide scientists, Russia records a 41 % share. All women and all having shown their interest in engineering and mathematics, most by the age of 10.

An old saying teaches us to avoid creating diseases for two reasons:

  • they might become popular, leading eventually to all of us getting sick;
  • they will hold us back from living a healthy life;

Believe it or not, these two pieces of advice work just fine when it comes to the “women in IT” model. As of interviews published by BBC no longer than a couple of days ago, the head of the Russian chapter of Tech London Advocates HERSELF (yepp…a girly face with the brains) reveals that the secret to making IT a women-friendly environment is as straightforward as one could imagine:

“In Russia the ´women´s issues´ in the IT industry are neglected. To us there is no problem at all.” Hence chances that women professionals will come across stereotypes decrease, right? Makes perfect sense.

Whether as assistant professors at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, researchers, or programmers, all the ladies featured in the interview agree on one common idea: the moment we stop talking about sexism altogether, sexism ceases to exist.

No wonder 3 out of 3 women in Russia with a strong technical background on their CVs raise their eyebrows and give you a relaxed smile once you bring into discussion the challenges women are expected to face in tech.

“What challenges?” they insist.  “Everyone here collaborates with everyone in a very productive way and treats everyone the same. Results: that is what we should all focus on, because results are the ones to decide if we stay or pack our bags.”

It may seem outrageous to some that “an issue” on which thousands of blogs and articles have been written over the past years could be so simply cancelled out by one fast change in attitude. In essence, all it takes is looking at women in tech from a different angle, right?

“Wrong!” many will continue believing. “IT is by definition a sexist environment where the love for computers is by nature attributed to men; not women.” By definition? Now, let´s stop there for a minute and ask ourselves. Isn’t it people like us to have nurtured gender stereotypes?  Isn’t it also their definition the one we are referring to? If so, through logical induction,  wouldn´t it only take people like us to redefine IT , but this time, without a pallet of gender stereotypes in mind? Of course it would!

Yes! IT might have been a lion’s den for female professionals 30 years back, but times have changed. Today, we all work together towards the common goal of great innovative products no matter if we are men or women. And why shouldn’t we be encouraged to do just so, as a gender mix benefits our employers more than exhibiting gender stereotypes could ever do.

Come on! If you are a woman in IT, it´s time for you to admit to your men colleagues being a lot of fun, helpful and great team players. Of course every now and then you might end up at loggerheads with one or two of them, but don’t they cheer you up with their sense of humor? Besides, in IT as in any other industry, aren’t there 50/50 chances that you might get into a conflict or might have to resolve a conflict you equally could have developed with a male or another female colleague?

To put it differently, gender has become more and more of a legend rather than remained a reality across most of the IT companies on our planet (if not, ALL). By the same token, the standards on which recruiters employ, colleagues ask for advice and managers share responsibilities are less and less (if not, not at all) based on gender stereotypes. Why? Because creativity, imagination and talent are gender free, and that, dear readers, we have all come to understand a long time ago.

So next time you see that great position winking at you from across the screen, don´t hesitate and apply for it. Who cares if it is in IT, finance, education or healthcare? Remember the “If it fits, I sits” memos on 9GAG? 🙂 Well, try thinking more like a cat and go for it! I promise you that your future colleagues, managers and employers will all be grateful for your choice of reaching to them and joining their team, irrespective of whether you are a woman or a man.

As for yourself, you will prove to the world once again that gender stereotypes are a thing of the long gone past. And more examples like your own will  wipe off any remnant of sexism faster and more thoroughly than any other anti-sexism blog will ever be able to do.