Let’s prove them wrong! – Thoughts about 4YFN 2017
They say tech is not for women. And, unfortunately, this belief is reflected in the low average percentage of women present in most Silicon Valley companies, on the number of girls studying at tech schools, or - what’s worse - on the raised eyebrows you can see whenever a woman talks about coding.
I have to admit that I was a bit sceptical before attending the Women4Tech conferences at the 4YFN congress, which was held at the beginning of March in Barcelona. The thing is I never liked the idea of a certain – usually minority – group of people gathering in meetups or conferences in order to discuss about the disadvantages they are suffering in comparison to another – more influential – group. It reminds me of these political parties which meet at conventions to share their messages with those who already are voting for them anyway.
Anyway, as I attended 4YFN thanks to the invitation I received from Women Who Code, I thought I had to at least have a try and go to any of the female-related round tables which were going on as a parallel event of the congress. Well, what I heard was so empowering that I stayed for all women conferences and even attended the Women4Tech Summit, which was held on the last day of the Mobile World Congress.
I’ve changed my mind completely after 4YFN, and here is why:
- This sad belief that tech is not for women lies also among women. Apparently, many of us don’t even try to learn how to code. Mostly because they were never motivated to, but also because they find themselves in an almost hostile environment to do so. They don’t feel secure and opt for another profession.
- 72% of coders in the world are men, which means that men are coding our future, and they are not the best ones to understand our needs. As Sabeen Ali, founder and CEO of AngelHack, pointed out, if we are the primary consumers of women products, we should be involved in their development, shouldn’t we?
- According to the World Economic Forum, 5 million jobs could be lost by 2020 due to digitalization and automation in 15 major developed and emerging countries. There will be new opportunities in sectors such as technology and media, but jobs growing at the quickest rates have the lowest representation of women.
- Approximately 31% of entrepreneurs in the European Union and 37% in the US are women, and yet you don’t find enough female funders who can understand and support women’s needs. So, even if we do get into STEM and do have the courage to start up a company, we are going to have it very difficult to get funds to grow.
Imagine what the consequences would be for us if we don’t begin getting more women into tech. We need to start changing things from the school on. We need to normalize the fact that girls learn to code, that girls like tech. We need to contribute creating a more welcoming ambiente for girls and women to enter the technology world and to keep them engaged.
And we can only do it if we get together and do it with a strong united voice. If we support each other. Motivate each other. Congratulate each other. Look out for each other. Share our knowledge with each other.
But we have to involve men in this process. We have to get them on our boat. We have to let them know which advantages a diverse team can bring to companies all over the world. And, most importantly, we have to prove them wrong: Tech is also for women.
I am truly thankful to Women Who Code for having offering me the possibility to get free entrance to this startup congress and to the Mobile World Congress.
Alicia Rufino González