Women in STEM. We’re Not Special.

On Friday I finally started listening to the Google I/O coverage. I had to wait the weekend to get my thoughts in order and not rage all of the screen. Why? Because Google basically said “Look at all the women here! Look at how awesome we are for having all these women!” And that is not helpful.

Then I started looking for articles to pull quotes from, and I saw stuff like this:

“There are signs that more women are starting to brave this male-dominated sector…” – Business Insider
“The gender gap at Google I/O is always most obvious in front of the restrooms: long lines for men, none for women.” – USA Today
“Google developer conference features tech industry’s latest trend: more women” – Fortune

So now we’re “brave” for entering the world of tech. And it’s a “trend,” not unlike the newest gadget. And look, a joke about lines for the bathroom.

Stop it.

Women who have careers in STEM fields are not special. We’re not unique and precious snowflakes. And most of all we’re not your prize pony to trot around for good PR. We are professionals, just like any man in the room. This kind of behavior is patronizing, and really just brings attention to how few women there are in STEM fields. It reinforces the stereotype that we’re outsiders. That we’re “other.”

While there may have been more women attending Google I/O, there still aren’t enough presenters. There were two women presenters, which admittedly is better than the zero at the year before. The way to make women more visible in technology is not to point out that we’re in the audience. But to work towards having more of use doing the presentations to the audience. Don’t point out that we’re women. Don’t make it seem like a big deal. Just let us do our jobs.

Seeing women just doing their jobs, and being respected for doing so, is what will make women in STEM a normal thing. It’s what will make young girls realize that they aren’t “other” for enjoying these things. And really, the young girls are who we need to focus on. Grown, professional women who are already in the field do not need to be reassured they belong. It’s the girls who need to know their skills are wanted.

2 Responses to “Women in STEM. We’re Not Special.”
  1. Emelie Samuelson says:
  2. Skye @ Planet Jinxatron says:

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