Women in tech: when the media isn’t helpful

BBC profile appears amazed women can succeed in technology

There's one time when it's best to treat women in tech like one of the guys: not at the strip club for lunch (yes really, and that's not cool) or in "bants" around the office (unless you know they're down with your "jokes"), but in the media.

On one hand, the BBC profile of VR marketing start-up founder Samantha Kingston is good news: it highlights on a global platform a talented woman who's clearly found success in the technology world. On the other hand, the language used is "perfectly" disappointing.

Let's start with the headline: "The female tech boss who says she is perfectly capable'."

Ten words, and so many problems. 

First, the news in this case isn't Kingston's successful start-up, or her thoughts about the potential of virtual reality, as it would be with a male subject. Rather, the focus is the fact she's female. That is her accomplishment, it would seem. 

Second, not only is she a women in tech, but it's (apparently) news that she's good at it, that she's "perfectly capable". As though that was ever in doubt in the founder of a company.

It isn't news. It's obvious if she's running a company that's a success, she's surely "capable" by definition. (And surely I can't be the only one who sees something in quote marks and automatically reads it as sarcastic, though I'm sure that's not the intent.)

Third, look at the phrasing. Our evidence of her capability isn't her evident success, but her own word on it Kingston "says she is" able to do her own job. A headline used elsewhere on the site describes Kingston as "the female tech boss who says she is just as good as the men". That emphasised workd introduces doubt, and raises the question of whether other people would agree. 

I'd argue she's better than many men or women, the combination of which are called "people" at their jobs, which is why the BBC is taking the time to talk to her.

Imagine a profile of a "male nurse who says he is just as caring as the women" or a "male teacher who says he's good' at his job".

If those make you flinch or sound ridiculous, so too should the headline on Kingston's profile. Now try it with any descriptor beyond gender. Would you put that in a headline? Of course not. 

The rest of the story  which you may notice is written by a woman  follows in a similar tone, which is a shame. By all means, celebrate women for succeeding in an industry that doesn't favour them, but if Kingston's worth writing about - and she is - then focus on her accomplishments. Her startup is the story, not her gender alone. 

Featured Resources

How to scale your organisation in the cloud

How to overcome common scaling challenges and choose the right scalable cloud service

Download now

The people factor: A critical ingredient for intelligent communications

How to improve communication within your business

Download now

Future of video conferencing

Optimising video conferencing features to achieve business goals

Download now

Improving cyber security for remote working

13 recommendations for security from any location

Download now

Recommended

Aberystwyth computer sciences department named UK's ‘most gender diverse'
Careers & training

Aberystwyth computer sciences department named UK's ‘most gender diverse'

19 Jan 2021
Coronavirus creates new challenges for women in tech (and every other industry)
Careers & training

Coronavirus creates new challenges for women in tech (and every other industry)

24 Nov 2020
Trend Micro and Girls in Tech join forces to tackle the tech gender gap
cyber security

Trend Micro and Girls in Tech join forces to tackle the tech gender gap

2 Jul 2020
The IT Pro Podcast: Bridging the gender data gap
Data & insights

The IT Pro Podcast: Bridging the gender data gap

5 Jun 2020

Most Popular

How to connect one, two or more monitors to your laptop
Laptops

How to connect one, two or more monitors to your laptop

25 Feb 2021
How to find RAM speed, size and type
Laptops

How to find RAM speed, size and type

26 Feb 2021
Ransomware operators are exploiting VMware ESXi flaws
ransomware

Ransomware operators are exploiting VMware ESXi flaws

1 Mar 2021