Women in Technical Jobs

24Mar09

A myth? Impossible? Highly improbable? Can’t work? A bad joke? Or not as unusual as people might think.

A few days ago the Spanish Inquisition came to my door to interrogate me about my job in a male-dominated area. After they had forcefully pushed open my fluffy pink door they sat me down on one of my several comfy plushy chairs to make the whole process of question-and-answer as unpleasant as possible. Women in technical jobs still seem to be a rare phenomenon that needs to be investigated further. Women working in the sales department, project management, HR, assistants, secretaries – these jobs are not unusual, no one asks these women how they got there, how it feels doing this job, what was required for them to finally get the job (despite all the male combatants).

No one asks a female receptionist how it is working as a receptionist for a company. No one asks a kindergarten teacher how it is to be a kindergarten teacher. No one asks a nurse, a cleaning lady and all the others that work in an area that is regarded as a female-dominated area. Women in technical jobs, though, women in game development, they seem to be a rare breed.

So it happens on a regular basis that I am confronted with questions regarding my occupation (“What exactly is it that you do?”), how I got there, how it feels working with a bunch of guys but also more bizarre questions, like how I design as a woman.

It seems as if the concept of women in technical jobs is still a rather new and abstract one. Most assume that the rather low number of women in the IT is due to the fact that these jobs require certain skills that only a few women have. I think it is because of our upbringing. How we were raised, how most of us had a teacher or two who discouraged us to work in a male dominated environment (I know I had one), how we were constantly reminded that women and natural sciences do not go well together. My parents at home tried to encourage me that I can be anything I want but the strong influence from the outside deconstructed any well-meant support from home.

These days I see more and more women in games development and IT in general. The ones who did not listen to anyone negative are now working in a highly technical field and are just as good as their male colleagues. The number is growing and I would like to see it grow even further. I like working with men but find it positive and refreshing that more and more girls and women have the guts and the self-confidence to maybe fulfill their dreams and become game designers, programmers and whatever else their heart desires.

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