Sometimes IT is hard to be a woman

The fight for the right to be measured, recognised and valued on equal terms is far from over.

"It doesn't objectify women. It objectifies men. It all makes us look like a bunch of repressed retards."

Two other tech female journalists attended Dreamforce with me. It made a refreshing change from being the only one with XX chromosomes. However, it is their observations that further highlight the sad state of affairs.

Jessica Twentyman is a journalist of great pedigree, having honed her skills at Information Age, she is now a freelance journalist who works for the FT and Diginomica among others. She also picked up on the use' of women at the show. Though her requests for comment/clarification (via Twitter) went unheard.  

Computer Weekly's Jennifer Scott was left with a sour taste in her mouth after the trip. She thought Silicon Valley was the land of dreams (for men and for women) but she came away with her rose-tinted glasses lying in the gutter along with any hope of fairness anytime soon.

"Vivek Wadhwa, fellow at the centre for corporate governance at Stanford University, pointed out being young, attractive, blonde and white made it much easier to be allowed into the white boys club," Scott writes.

"Wadhwa has been compiling a lot of research around women in Silicon Valley and his findings of how females have been treated were shocking. He described how even a global phenomenon like Twitter had sexism running through it, with every party for staff following its IPO being hosted at strip clubs," she continues.

"I knew there still weren't enough women on the boards at the big tech firms across the US and I knew there was still work to be done even in this Mecca of the industry. But to hear about the active discrimination going on in a place that prides itself on its openness, innovation and forward thinking has made me sick to my stomach."

For some females once they get their seat at the table, the only way they can keep it is to claw at others and do other women down, rather than being supportive. It's drummed into them that that's the only way to stay there. It's a sad state of affairs too.

That's why, despite Computer Weekly being a competitor, I am happy to share Jennifer's post. In fact we could do more as females to support one another and help make the change that's needed.

Past, present, future?

My career in this industry started in 1999 at Computing magazine. I was one of few women there at the time. That was just the way it was. All of the guys I worked with were lovely though and looked out for me like the nave little sister I was. I'm still good friends with most of them. However, growing up in this industry and considering the wider facts - has painted a somewhat bleaker picture.

There will be those of you who argue that the percentage of women in the IT industry generally is scant in comparison to the number of men and that is why we're still a minority. My response would be that we need to do more to encourage males and females into the industry and, certainly, once they get here not put them off.

We're not asking for special treatment. And we certainly don't want to be given a job or a promotion or a seat at any table just because we have breasts. All we're asking for is a fair deal for everyone. The same language, the same judgments, the same treatment and access to the same opportunities. Then we'll all be on a level playing field and you'll be able to stop reading articles like this. Is that too much to ask?

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