The Geek Girl Tech Conference was an opportunity to talk to women entrepreneurs and freelance professionals in the tech industry.  The software development workshops were standing-room-only and I was impressed by how they turned out.

There is a growing interest in software development from women professionals, this made me think of how long we have come as an industry. But recent news around harassment and why there are so few women C Level executives in tech. Inspire me to write this post.

Women As Risk Takers

My first interaction with technology and women professionals was through the Women 2.0 movement in Barcelona.  There, I saw a small crowd of women who wanted to connect with each other.

It has evolved into a stronger movement with many other similar projects sprouting all over the globe,

  • Epic Queen, started in Mexico City and it now takes place all over Mexico.
  • GeekGirlsMX, originally from Guadalajara, where they are encouraging young girls to be coders.

These and other events are making an effort for women to have a better representation in the technology field.

The community is good and it is getting positive results.  There are many women entrepreneurs in Mexico pushing the limits.  They are making it clear that they are also risk takers.  For example,

Breaking Down Barriers

One of the biggest hurdles for women has been their upbringing.  They range from money to  culture,

  • The more affluent a family, the more likely they are to raise their children to be independent and progressive thinkers.
  • This can also influence children’s self-esteem and confidence to face life’s challenges. In developing countries like Mexico, this makes a huge difference.
  • Dealing with sexism at home. Denying children to participate in activities that are not suitable “for girls.“
  • Gender segregation at home, where boys are encouraged to play with boys and girls with girls.
  • Lack of progressive role models at home and in school.

We need an inspirational story to tell our younger generation.  It is not enough to point to Marissa Mayer or Rachel Sandberg.  We need to guide them to the knowledge and the tools needed to create whatever it is that they’re passionate about.  We need to guide our children through the steps for them to get involved and make major contributions.

The schools need to tell this story.  They can help lead them on to brighter futures.  They are the gatekeepers to unlocking children’s potential, particularly girls.  Give them technology instead of dolls and pans.  Make sure that they learn that they are the equal to boys.

For their families to be supportive of a career.  This is not the same as being “against marriage,” which is a big part of Mexico’s culture.  The old view that girls go to University to find a suitable husband is harmful in many ways.

We need to break down traditional barriers so our future generation stand a chance to participate and compete in the new economy.

Chores to Be Done

The community being built around the tech industry is vital for change to start happening.

  • Volunteering.  Share your time with communities you have an affinity for and that you can contribute to.
  • Listening.  Listen to what the community needs in order to move forward and then take action and follow through.
  • Educate.  Younger boys need to learn to not exclude girls.  It starts with games and online roles. Let them know that it is not “fine” to exclude girls and keep them from participating.  Teach them that they are worthy team players and opponents.

We need women in a more prominent roles in order for humankind to help make the next century of technology advancements.

What about Nearsoft?

We have started to work with different communities around Mexico and also starting our own initiatives to support women that are interested in the technology field.  For example Django Girls will be hosted in our Mexico City office on February 27th.

Beyond Nearsoft, as an industry, we need to work together to make this a reality not only for Mexico but for the world.

And Finally …

My thanks to Amber Bradner from Connected Dreamers for giving me the chance of being part of the Crowdsourcing Panel. I had lots of fun exchanging views with all of them.