Welcome to the WildWest: When Women Take on Tech Because They Want To

A day does not go by when I don’t hear about an event from the numerous “we support women in technology” groups:  Girls in Tech, Women 2.0, Bay Area Girl Geek Dinner and Shes Geeky.  All of these groups have merit, and all have a target audience, from software developers to marketing analysts.  I’ve certainly benefited from these organizations, participating in Women 2.0’s Business Plan Competition back in 2008, attending a plethora of Girls in Tech events about journalism, business development, and so forth, and going to the Shes Geeky conference at the beginning of this year down in the Peninsula.  I’ve been lucky to meet some amazing women which include intense athletes, creative and insightful product managers, and even friends that help me out with reservations to Chez Panisse!

A portion of the dialogue that is pervasive in these types of groups is dedicated to asking the question to ad nauseum “Why are there not enough women in technology?”  The women that are in tech are quick to point out that most conferences are dominated by men, mostly white, and that few of these conferences feature any women speakers at all.  Day in, and day out, the conversation and complaints flood my twitter stream and my RSS feed to so much annoyance that I’m almost tempted to start spending my free time speaking at conferences (which I’ve done), or organizing a survey to better understand why women in tech do not attend conferences or try to speak at them on their own volition.   Just to make the noise go away.  It’s not that I don’t believe there are valid concerns, it’s that I find the conversation is tired, and somewhat generational.

In the pop culture of the online world, it seems that women in technology fall into three roles which I can relate to Save by the Bell characters.  The Kelly Kapowskis use their sex appeal to attract the tech geek guy to pay attention to them without knowing a lick of what they’re talking about.  The Lisa Turtles are the peppy chicks that “overcompensate by pushing their ‘geekery’ on everyone” (quote), displaying a mastery of social media but not of the separation of the application and presentation layers (you dig?).  And, the Jesse Spanos are quite qualified women of tech, who also sound like feminists ranting everyday that women are somehow being purposefully left out of the tech equation.

I don’t buy into it.  And neither does my friend Amy Ziari.

Last August Amy approached me at a Girls in Tech event (we thank you for that GIT!), tired as well of the same old conversation, with an idea to create a video series featuring women in technology who talk about what they are interested in.  Not to prove to anyone that we’re competent, or that we’re “geeky just like you!”, but to let our audience draw their own conclusions.  We didn’t want to be Kelly, Lisa or Jesse, we wanted to be ourselves, comfortable with our role in the industry, with our peers (male, female, black, white, hispanic or asian), and what we find interesting.

In mid September we teamed up with Camille Ricketts of Venture Beat to put together the pilot episode of the WildWest show.  We hoped to put together more episodes, but time passed, and now I’m leaving soon to take off on an excellent adventure (I’ve alluded to this trip, but have yet to post details).  So enjoy this first episode, where we interview Joey Mucha from Sprout and talk about some of our biggest tech snafus!  Also, visit the website – www.wildwestshow.tv – to learn more.

Credits to Amy for doing all the video editing!

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2 thoughts on “Welcome to the WildWest: When Women Take on Tech Because They Want To

  1. I couldn’t have said it better myself, and your Saved by the Bell analogy is pure genius. So spot on.

    I’m going to miss having you as a compatriot and partner in crime in this big, bad city. Until next time, Tabas.

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