Women , Femininity & Techs

Maliha Momtaz Islam

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I wrote this on International Women’s Day celebration 2014 in my blog , thought of sharing with you all. 🙂

I’ve been working as a FSA and Womoz for 6 months now . It seems as if i started yesterday !! I’m still walking the path to achieve the dream I’m chasing after . Don’t know if i can succeed and achieve the ultimate goal of empowering every single mother , daughter and female friends through techs and FOSS . I dare to dream , i dare to dream a country where a girl will prefer to be techie or web maker rather than being a garments worker. I know it’s a long way to go but not impossible though .

Womoz came to me as that platform which paved me the way to work for my dream .Now Let’s see, how i’ve been doing that up until now !!!

So, how to get more women into tech ? Mentor ship programs ?? Sensitivity trainings ?? or may be Ruby on Rails barbie ?? NOPE !! I have a solution, that can increase the number of women in techs consequently and trust me, there’s no need of any conferences or any kind of memberships !! Anyone can do it , especially women themselves  😉  and we’ll allow them to get bolder and getting greater appreciation for what they do !!  Resolution?? If you wanna be respected in techs as women then don’t call yourself a “GIRL”. If we start referring all the women in tech as women, we’ll have a lot more women in techs getting rid of the girls . And when i say “women”,  i mean people who’ve Menstruated and pay taxes . If you do both you’re a women! It’s pretty simple!! 😀  Calling yourself a girl may be Cute and Fun but it’s hurtful to make an intact better working place and trust me i’m not alone who thinks like that !! Ask any working women around you  🙂  you’ll get your answers !! There are many people out there who are only steps away from self-emulation. It is time to take action which’s actually a pretty serious topic because words are incredibly powerful !! They reinforce and reflects suicidal power  structures . Words can be as powerful protest as actions can be! Cause at the end of the day it’s about power . When people refer to someone who’s an adult women as a girl, it implies authority  part of the speaker. Girl is a diminutive.

Now let’s think about the word “BOY” for an adult man. Boys no toys , boys club….etc . It’s always said with more than a hint of condescension . Boys are immature , they are not to be trusted etc etc. You don’t want an organization filled with boys , right?  Well , what about girls?? girls can’t drive,they can’t join the army , they can’t vote and girls probably shouldn’t!! but most important of all “GIRLS” aren’t threatening . And  appropriating the word girl for an adult women?? Just doesn’t make any sense  at all to me  at least. Because it’s not confronting sexism or inverting any power structures, it’s just using the word “girls” for someone who’s old and why do we have such a problem with being old? I am very happy to be out of College,  as i’m pretty sure you all are to have the freedom. And i look forward the time when i’ll have enough wisdom to finish toughest challenges in just one setting !

Research shows that a lot of  women sabotage themselves in the workplace by starting sentences with things like “I may not be an expert”. They try not to appear to be kookie but what they are doing is, they are undermining a threat to their own authority and they’re making people take them less seriously. It’s like a disclaimer !! Calling yourself a girl in the workplace is the same thing . It diminishes you ! And to some people it can be interpreted like an authority and slip revealing “i’m not totally sure i should be here”! So in your spare time, sure go out with your friends and family !! Go  refer yourself  anything want to, but in the work place “geekgirls”?? NA-ah! Women Engineers aren’t some kind of mythical heroes for people to fantasize  about . The fact is: Being a women shouldn’t have to be sugarcoated. You’re women! Just like you’re a product manager or a coder or a social worker or anything !! Take charge of what you do and don’t apologize. You may not know everything and you may not have  experienced everything. But then again, c’mmon which man had knowledge on everything? You’re a women and don’t apologize for it ! You define the women that you are and if you’re uncomfortable calling yourself a women then ask yourself “why ?” . Because it’s about taking your work and yourself seriously. Just calling yourself a girl , does it say you’re here to take charge? kick ass and take names ? does it say you’re here to lead?  And for all the manly readers : you can help us out by calling us women ! as There are not a lot of us in tech. Just because a women calls herself a girl in the workplace doesn’t mean that you can. She may not feel comfortable in the environment.

So,  No actually , i don’t have a solution that can really increase the number of females in tech instantly. My solution is to increase the number of women. I know it’s not the answer but it’s one small and important change that all of us can make to make tech a better place for tax paying menstruators among us ! So, I’ll leave you with this, if Britney can figure out that she’s not a girl anymore, why can’t women in tech?

-Special Thanks to Caroline Drucker who made me think 🙂

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  1. Lukas Blakk wrote on ::

    You’re correct in calling out the importance of words and how they can create a way of being seen (or not seen) that is not the desired outcome. I believe in calling adult women, women, too. Along the lines of words though I would like you to consider this statement “And when i say “women”, i mean people who’ve Menstruated and pay taxes .” and think about many women who may never menstruate for many reasons including perhaps being trans women. Just a kind reminder that inclusion means we can champion the use of the word “women” over “girls” where age appropriate without pushing any other expectations of what that word’s definition is that leaves certain women out.

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