#ConfidenceisBeautiful

By: Steph Wulz and Laura Martin

It is a well established fact that the tech industry lacks women in leadership roles. Powerhouse women like Marissa Mayer and Sheryl Sandberg are changing the way women are perceived in the tech world but events like SXSW and CES, still have a much higher male to female ratio. Which is why we were surprised to stumble across a dainty white house filled with women on our first day at the SXSW Interactive Festival.

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Upon further investigation, we discovered that this white house was home to the Ipsos Girls’ Lounge, a safe haven for women to band together in an environment designed to boost confidence. At the pop-up location, interactive badge holders can take a moment out of the hectic day to connect with other females in tech. Feminine empowerment messaging was everywhere, from the candy dishes (men must pay more) to the seating area with a hashtag #confidenceisbeautiful. The Girls’ Lounge helps women embrace their feminine leadership powers and work together to transform corporate culture.

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One of their main events within the lounge was a panel discussion open to all interactive and film attendees entitled, How Shattering a Stereotype Will Save Tech.

 

CODE documentary (link below) director, Robin Hauser Reynolds, lead a panel discussion with the CEO of GoDaddy, Blake Irving, UCLA Sr. Researcher, Jane Margolis, and the Chief of Community of Engagement, Cedric Brown, on changing the stereotype that girls and people of color do not fit into the tech industry.

 

If you’re wondering which tech stereotype they wanted to squash first, it was the “brogrammer.” Many immediately relate this word with thoughts of a socially introverted male, wearing a hoodie and coding away in his basement. The panelists were quick to bring up just how dangerous and limiting this stereotype is for women in tech, mainly because they had no role in it. “Greater diversity drives innovation that improves profitability & creates products that benefit a wider breadth of society.” Their opinion was that changing this stereotype and becoming more accepting of programmers being both men and female, hoodie or no hoodie, will do more than prevent a future crisis

 

They also gave a quick recap in programming history, which all begins with the name, Augusta Ada King. King was an English mathematician and writer, known for her work on the early mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. That’s the long version for saying that she was our first computer programmer. So where is that in the history of tech? Why has she fallen out of the narrative or hidden in the dim lighted coding chambers?
In four years, we will have one million unfilled tech jobs, mainly because we are missing half of the work force. Ladies, it’s time to push for more coding, squash the brogrammer stereotype, and reinsert the female in the story of tech.

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