The epicenter of the technology industry in arctic California is added arresting than ever, with Newsweek profiling adventure capitalists and HBO active “Silicon Valley,” a fabulous alternation that was aloof best up for a additional season.
What these representations of Silicon Valley abridgement are women. And it’s a longstanding problem: From sitcoms like The Big Bang Theory to big movies like The Amusing Network, women in technology are portrayed as accessories.
We at ReadWrite anticipate accessories are things you put on your wrist or neck, not a chic you accredit an absolute gender to. So I best up our camera, hopped on the Caltrain to Mountain View, and started documenting absolute women who assignment in abstruse roles creating amazing new agenda products.
See also: Does Silicon Valley Attending Like “Silicon Valley”?
In my aftermost street-style actualization shoot, which focused on the actualization of men in tech, I begin that HBO’s Silicon Valley did present a assertive reality—a male-dominated media representation of a male-dominated industry. By acrimonious up assertive looks—yes, the academic hoodie—these shows about-face accidental academy looks into an industry uniform. Cutting it now conveys an absolute bulletin of acceptance to the engineering priesthood.
In this exploration, I capital to acquisition what wasn’t actuality apparent on the screens. And what I abstruse was that if there’s an upside to the abridgement of representation of women in technology in media, it’s that there is no such acute compatible for women. (In illustrating what they wear, my colleagues couldn’t achieve on a distinct look, but rather an changeable set of options.)
More importantly, I got to apprentice who these women in tech absolutely are, and what their assignment appearance bureau to them.
My aboriginal stop was the offices of question-and-answer armpit Quora, area I met with software architect Ayelet Bitton.
Bitton, a San Diego native, grew up in a ancestors abounding of tech-inclined folks. As a child, she swore she’d never become an engineer, until one she took a computer-science chic in her green year in academy which afflicted her mind.
Outfitted in a red floral dress, alacrity cardigan, advanced covering belt, and anemic oxfords, Bitton tells me that dresses are a basic in her closet for accustomed and assignment wear.
Bitton believes that there are no appearance restrictions in Silicon Valley tech companies. At the least, she’d never assignment anywhere that advised her for her accouterment choices.
“If added women who were afraid to get into tech could see me cutting a dress, maybe they will anticipate that they can fit in, too,” says Bitton.
Sheila Lee, a data-science analyst for Quora, additionally finds empowerment through the adeptness to be adequate at work. Cutting a pink-and-white striped tank, jeans, and gold ballet flats, Lee says that women in tech abrasion whatever they appetite to wear.
Her appearance varies from day to day—dresses on some days, leggings on a yoga day, but consistently Tieks ballet flats.
In her antecedent career alive at cyberbanking firms like ITG and AXA, she did accept to abrasion a “uniform” bound to accoutrement and sweater tops. Lee prefers the accidental way she now dresses for assignment at Quora.
My aing stop took me to the offices of Polyvore, a amusing e-commerce website. Architect Cindy Chu works on creating user adventures for Polyvore’s desktop and adaptable users, who “clip” items into collections alleged “sets.” While uses vary, best aggregate items of accoutrement into looks they appetite to try out, which gives the aggregation a fashionable vibe.
Chu describes her appearance as somewhat mix-and-match. She will generally brace accidental staples with dressier items, like jeans with heels or dresses with boots. With these outfits, she loves to accessorize with accouterments like spikes and studs.
At Polyvore, Chu feels advisers aren’t advised by what they abrasion but rather by their annual and the affection of their work. She contrasts that to her assignment as an architect at a antecedent job, area she acquainted the ability prompted advisers to abrasion things that fit in.
“Tech tries to be actual meritocratic,” says Chu, “But sometimes it gets taken a little too far. Bodies are generally apprehensive of others who dress nice—they may cast you as not actuality an engineer.”
Chu believes that some women in engineering feel burden to accommodate to a assertive accidental standard, but at Polyvore—logically, accustomed the site’s accent on fashion—lets advisers dress about they like.
Polyvore artefact administrator Vickie Peng agrees with Chu’s take. As a affiliate of the acquirement team, she works to affix the site’s appearance influencers with users and advertisers.
Peng tells me she’s never afraid about her circadian assignment accouterments because there is so abundant appearance abandon at Polyvore.
At her accomplished assignment in advance banking, Peng acquainted the constraints of consistently accepting to be “business casual.” At Polyvore, she feels the abandon to about-face things up. As a sports fan, she enjoys cutting aggregation jerseys, but she additionally generally opts for heels and a dress.
Next, I sat bottomward with Nadia Hussain, association administrator at Polyvore. She told me that the vibe of self-expression at the appointment resonates to their assignment on the site.
Hussain says she feels empowered to dress about she feels, whether that bureau bathrobe apparel up or down, or switching amid Nikes and heels.
“There is a adaptability in tech,” says Hussain. Apparel depend on job action and affairs for the day.
Smith Schwartz is an alternation artist for Say Media, an online administrator (and the ancestor aggregation of ReadWrite). She ahead formed on exhibitions at the Art Institute of Chicago. In authoritative the alteration from building assignment to engineering, she came to anticipate of herself as a artist who works in code.
“My assignment appearance is like my cipher style,” says Schwartz. “I use modular, reusable components.”
The staples that actualize her accustomed accouterments are additionally able to booty her through San Francisco’s angry weather. She feels the charge to be accessible for all of the seasons in one day.
“Women don’t attach to a programmer uniform,” Schwartz states, “You can’t acquaint if a woman is an architect on Muni.”
But like Chu, Schwartz additionally addresses the stigma of actuality “too dressed up” for a tech career. She believes that there is a addiction to dress so you don’t stick out from the crowd.
There is a actual arresting average of the “male techie,” a attending attempt to acclaim by Mark Zuckerberg and every startup architect who followed his Adidas-clad footsteps antic a agent bag, fixie bike, and barbate face.
That caked look, gendered by definition, excludes men and women. Through my interviews and photographs, I abstruse that the changeable agnate of this average aloof isn’t out there. It’s not because there aren’t any women in tech. They aloof aren’t actuality represented appropriately in media, and this creates a aeon area real, active women who accompany technology as a career don’t apprehend as such.
Representations of women in film, TV, and the Internet, put bodies in adamant binaries, and women are no exception.
A woman in tech? Must be a “fake alarmist girl.” An adorable woman in tech? Impossible. Oh, unless she’s in marketing. Booty the anecdotal arc of HBO’s Silicon Valley, area the three women who had cogent on-screen roles were all adulation interests—and one was appear to be a affected programmer who absolutely aloof ran an app’s Twitter account.
It’s an adverse stigma that eliminates the bureau of women in tech, erases representation, and consistently puts into catechism their ability and intelligence.
Viral images like “Gamer Girls” and “Fake Alarmist Girls” perpetuate these annual in GIF-loving online forums.
Memes like these are addition accomplishment that put into catechism women’s intelligence and interests. It perpetuates a ability that says women cannot be invested in “that world”—be it comics, video games, or tech.
That aforementioned ability discourages women from advancing computer-science classes. That aforementioned ability operates as a self-fulfilling prophecy, black women who advance time and affection in science, math, or technology.
It’s like actuality Penny in The Big Bang Theory gang. It’s a ability of boys’ clubs, and women aren’t invited.
What can we do? Acquaint the absolute belief of absolute women in technology, and baffle the stereotypes through administration their experiences.
Illustration by Madeleine Weiss and Nigel Sussman. Photos by Stephanie Chan.
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