Tag Archives: Women in Technology

Hot and bothered about Lara Croft

Lara CroftLara Croft, every geeks first cyber girlfriend and female aspirational badass has a new changed image.  This new Lara, scruffy, less polished and smaller bosomed is also more vulnerable.

According to Kotaku, you’ll ‘want to protect’ the new Lara. Executive producer Ron Rosenberg reckons this new Lara will make you feel like you are her help her – to protect her through her challenges.

Rosenberg says:

“The ability to see her as a human is even more enticing to me than the more sexualized version of yesteryear,” he said. “She literally goes from zero to hero… we’re sort of building her up and just when she gets confident, we break her down again.”

And the term “break her down again has some awful consequences for the action girl.

She is taken prisoner.

Her best friend is captured

Her captors try to rape her


Come on…

“She is literally turned into a cornered animal,” Rosenberg said. “It’s a huge step in her evolution: she’s forced to either fight back or die.”

I’m staggered. What a weak and insensitive plot line.

Now, one of the greatest female icons for women characters in gaming is now going to be put through a ‘development phase’ in the game that includes attempted rape – something that only a tiny percentage of men will EVER experience, nor will most understand the impact on another human being.

And the actions are being glorified as part of the ‘New woman’ that is Lara Croft. There are so many ways to build a character.  It does not have to be through rape. Does she really have to be a survivor of a rape attempt?

Lara was the original sexy strong woman.  Now the makers have tried to weaken her by subjecting her to behaviour that will not resonate with male game players. Nor did it resonate with the (predominantly male) game designers – I bet a female was not in the lead developer team for this.

Until we get more women developers into gaming, this stereotyping will continue to occur – and the next generation of gamers will come to assume that this type of portrayal of women is the norm.

This weakening of strong female icons should end. right now.  Before we find we have none left to use as role models.

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Credit: CherryDarling_6


What to do about the lack of Women in Technology

This is a guest post by Amy Blankenship, one of the good techy women that our industry is so short of.  She makes some great points here – so her post is well worth a read.  Thanks Amy, for sharing your thoughts…


I’ve been thinking about the issue of why there are so few women in technology, relative to the number of women in the general population.

As I see it, discussions about women in technology often boil down to one of two viewpoints: either the problem is our fault, or it’s the fault of those horrible men.

The first viewpoint at least implies there is something we can directly do to resolve this issue, but it suggests that somehow we are deeply flawed.

The second suggests that the only way that we can fix it is to enlist men to solve it for us.

Neither of these explanations is very palatable to me, so I’ve done more thinking than talking about this. I’ve come to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter whose fault it is (if indeed assigning fault even makes sense in this situation).

Just as it doesn’t matter whose fault it is that the specifications are incomplete, or that a key subsystem is complete spaghetti. What matters is looking at the problem, pulling it apart, researching potential solutions, and doing what you can to implement those solutions.

Guess what? We know how to do this. We do it for a living. But often we confine this type of thinking to strictly coding problems.

Bring your tech skills to bear on other problems

To give you an example, I have worked on three teams in the past few years where the concept of “loose coupling” was actually controversial.

The first two times the answer seemed pretty straightforward—point out that the current code base violated accepted best practice and was an unmaintainable mess, and suggest that we change our practices to use more dependency injection.

The result of this was, at the least, difficult relations with other relations on the team and complete incomprehension on the part of management.

I was beginning to feel that all the time I’d invested in learning good practices was not just wasted, it was working against me. However, I hadn’t seen anybody blogging about this problem, so it couldn’t be all that common, could it?

If all of us who were working so hard to know how to minimize technical debt were consistently walking into places where their knowledge was going to put them at odds with everyone else, surely people would be talking about it.

Then I started with yet a third team where the code had, in my opinion, significant maintainability issues.

This time, there was a key difference, in that I’d been informed up front that no conflict would be tolerated on the team. So I did some more digging, and I found a few places where people did talk (quietly, diplomatically) about this issue.

And my key takeaway was that I needed to make it safe for the other developers.

So when I put together a presentation to give at our next group meeting, I was constantly thinking of ways that I could put things that avoided blaming or insulting the current developers, and above all trying to avoid disrupting our manager’s good opnion of them.

The result, this time, was that I was given the green light to rewrite the codebase.

In part, this is because I made a more careful choice of where to work this time, but I am convinced that the care I put into the political aspect was the biggest difference between the result this time and the previous times.

What I learned from this is that the political aspect is also a skill that can be learned, and that the previous failures I’d had did not mean that I “just couldn’t do it” (or that a bad outcome was inevitable). This is the same lesson I learned for technical skills when at one point I found it hard to visualize what the difference between padding and margin is in CSS.

With research and experimentation, I did learn to use those properties effectively.

Prioritize your self-development

However, the stakes for not developing my political skills have been much higher for me than whether or not I have any particular technical skill.

It can be the difference between getting the difference between getting the resources I need when I need them to meet deadline and failing to meet deadline because the graphics or the subject matter expertise or what have you are late.

It can also be the difference between being asked to renew a contract and not.

This experience has opened my eyes to how many things there are that I could have been applying the skills I have as a developer to, and I think if all of us did this, we could make a huge difference.

I approach programming problems like eating an elephant—by breaking it down into lots of smaller problems and solving those. And I think each of us has access to a different part of the problem where we can lead the way in solving the problem.

My piece of the elephant

One of the interesting things about my current position is that I am building assessments that companies use in assessing people who are applying to work for them, usually in management positions.

This has opened a window for me into what companies are looking for and how people are hired. Just exactly like understanding a new design pattern helps you solve a common problem better, understanding this process can help us be where we want to be.

By the same token, companies who want to encourage diversity can use Industrial and Organizational Psychology (which is what these assessments are based on) to not simply hire diverse people, but to find and/or train managers who manage diverse work forces more effectively to maximize its benefits.

And I think that it makes good sense for women who are in a position to affect these decisions to encourage their companies to do this—not just to help with the low representation of women in technology, but because it’s also really good business.

I recently found some research by a Procter and Gamble psychologist that explores the making of such an assessment. Professionally, I found this paper fascinating, since it goes into depth about how the materials that I see every day are arrived at.

As a person in the workforce, I find the appendix most interesting. It contains the diversity assessment, but it also contains a series of “benchmark” assessments that are commonly used to assess candidates.

I’d like to call out a few of these questions and what I think they tell us about what employers are looking for:

1. I find it hard to imitate the behavior of other people. (F)
2. At parties and social gatherings, I do not attempt to do or say things that others will like. (F)
3. I can only argue for ideas which I already believe. (F)
4.I can make impromptu speeches even on topics about which I have almost no information. (T)
5. I guess I put on a show to impress or entertain others. (T)
6. I would probably make a good actor. (T)
7. In a group of people, I am rarely the center of attention. (T)
8. In different situations and with different people, I often act like very different persons. (T)
9. I am not particularly good at making other people like me. (F)
10. I’m not always the person I appear to be. (T)

It doesn’t say in the paper what the (T) and (F) mean after the questions, but I think it’s a good assumption that this is the “correct” answer. In aggregate, these tell us that employers value people who can present themselves as very outgoing and who are very good self-promoters.

In a way, this information is nothing new—we’ve been told for years that we need to learn to promote our work better—but what is new is the idea that promoting yourself, perhaps even to the extent of appearing to be more skilled than you believe you are, is a skill that companies value.

Eat your piece, too

This is just one insight we can get by looking at things with a slightly different eye, the eye that years of analysing problems before sitting down to code have given us. And I have no doubt that other women have access to other pieces of the puzzle that I don’t.

What do you know that could make a difference to the issue of getting more women in tech at all levels?

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Credit: National Archives and Records Administration

Ladies, would you consider a career in the US Marines after looking at this site?


Update/addition below:

I received a press release the other day asking me to blog about a new set of social resources that has just been launched for the US Marines web site.

The image above shows a small arms repair technician fixing an M32 grenade launcher, the other shows a woman attending to an RQ-7B Shadow. Perhaps the photos are of the same woman.  Both images sow the woman with clean hands and nails.

These women appear to be accessories to the main task force.  The site and the press release is filled with male specific gender terms like ‘Best’, ‘tough’ and ‘elite’.

I took a tour around the site.  Almost all of the images I could find were of men.  I found the site really off putting.  The images, language, the bullishness, all seemed to be aimed at men.  I certainly wouldn’t want to apply for a role there.

I was a pioneer in achieving in a male environment, working as an officer on oil tankers for 10 years.  I did not feel as discouraged to join the Merchant Navy as I do now browsing this site 35 years later.

It’s such a shame, that investment to create a great website such as this is wasted on half the population of job seekers,,

The website is interactive and contains social objects.  the Facebook page highlights a special incentive for men to enrol (or do women play American football these days? The Female Engagement team is hardly mentioned – but hidden in a post on Facebook


It’s really sad that in 2012, we still get stories that don’t showcase diversity in all of its forms.  There are serving women in the forces all over the world, and yet the main focus for this revamped website is again on men.

Even on International Women’s Day, as we celebrate the achievements of half the human race, it appears that we still have a long way to go…


Since I posted this, I’ve been pointed to this report of a lawsuit posted 2 days ago: http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/46637869/ns/today-today_people/t/lawsuit-claims-rape-misconduct-dc-marine-barracks/

Read and decide for yourself…

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Worldwide events for International Women’s Day


International women’s day has been growing in momentum for years and the cause has very much been taken up by female technologists and geeks to try to inspire and encourage women to consider a career in technology.

So here’s a round up of some of the things that are happening on March 8th to inspire and energise you. Other events can be found on the IWD website so go along and get inspired…


BCSWomen Poster Competition for International Women’s Day

Encourage and promote a career for women in IT and you could win a Special Prize.
BCSWomen’s poster competition invites every BCSWoman to design an A5 or A4 poster to be used mainly in schools (secondary or primary), to promote and encourage girls to consider computing as a career.
The poster should portray the benefits of working in IT, by including the use of photos, for example the skills used, the exciting places that you could visit for your organisation as part of your job, and/or maybe the interesting hobbies or sports that you do outside your job. More details and the rules for the poster competition can be found on the BCS website:


Join me on the Bridge 2012

Throughout the world hundreds of thousands of women are living with the physical and emotional scars inflicted by war. Join me on the Bridge is a chance for people to stand in solidarity with these women on International Women’s Day (March 8th), and join their fight for peace and equality.

Bag Storm

From Aberdeen to Zimbabwe, Aerobics to Zumba, Asda to Waitrose – show us what you’re doing with your BCSWomen bags. Send us a picture of you & your BCSWomen bag to bcswomen.bags@gmail.com and we’ll put together a montage of fabulous old bags. We’ll be doing this in time for International Women’s Day – so get snapping, and email us photos by March 7th.   There is a BCSWomen Bag Storm facebook event and you can upload your photos there too.

WIE Symposium event – the Hospital club London – tickets: £150 per person

Subjects to be addressed at the conference include Tools for the Entrepreneur, Women and Leadership, Women in Media, The Luxury Industry and Financial Tools for Success. Additionally the Symposium will launch the WIE Mentorship Scheme – a program designed to provide long term support and advice from leading businesswomen to young women about to embark on their careers.

Diamond Lashes Ladies Network – International Womens Day £35.00 per person

Every woman is a role model so why not join us for drinks and canapés and meet some fabulous women in London. An inspirational evening of wonderful women coming together to celebrate style and substance.

07/03/12-12/03/12 – Women of the World Festival 2012 | Southbank Centre
Katy B, Annie Lennox, Jess Mills and Emeli Sandé confirm for the annual festival to promote, recognise and celebrate women Wednesday 7 – Sunday 11 March 2012, Southbank Centre.  Katy B, Jess Mills and Emeli Sandé will perform on stage with host Annie Lennox at a one-off awareness raising concert in association with gender […] 
08/03/12 – Funny Women Charity Challenge– Tickets £65 per person

Celebrating INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY THURSDAY MARCH 8 2012, 7.00pm Grange Tower Bridge Hotel, City of London. Please join us in the luxurious surroundings of the Grange Tower Bridge Hotel in the City of London to celebrate Funny Women’s 10th Anniversary and International Women’s Day 2012. 10 high profile and inspirational women from the

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Credit: woodleywonderworks

A Social Network for women only? We certainly wouldn’t talk about men..

I wonder whether Luluvise will be successful. Luluvise is a social network for women only. 

Women only.  it’s an odd concept…

I agree that women sometimes want to tell things to other women only.  Perhaps sharing privately on Facebook has got too challenging since the new Timeline feature rolled out. Perhaps women want to network with other women and share things that they perhaps wouldn’t want to share on a more public (mixed sex) forum.


The first thing that I saw on joining the site, was men.  Luluvise uses Facebook authentication to harvest the list of men in my Facebook friends list.  It then gives me an opportunity to rate them.


Oh dear.  Fail Luluvise. Not everyone on my Facebook friends list is a potential lover.  Some of these are colleagues, customers, and just friends of mine.

I’m not necessarily a fan of theirs, nor an ‘Ex’  They’re just friends, colleagues and acquaintances.

I’d like to have different types of conversations with my girlfriends than just weighing up the datability quotient of my Facebook male friends.  I’d like to talk about careers, share stories to inspire other women, or read their stories of success.

It’s not enough that I can chat to my girlfriends.  I can create a list in Facebook and do that.  I want more than you can offer

As Belinda says, Women are calling for more varied methods of participating with friends than current networks provide.

Sorry, Luluvise, until you get more established and get some credible content on the site that appeals to the woman with a brain, a career and a social life, I won’t be back.

…Unless I want to bitch about my male colleagues in a female only environment.

But I can do that in a wine bar with my friends….

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

The power of changing one just word in Tech. Women

This post is for women.  And for men that hire women and who work in the technology industry. 

The gender imbalance is still huge and the gap doesn’t seem to be narrowing.  Programs such as Microsoft’s Digigirlz and e-skills Computer Clubs for girls are targeted at school and college girls. 

Not women.

Girl geek clubs, networks and events run across the world and are key to giving female technologists a network that they can use to find like minded geeks across the industry.  There aren’t many.  Corporate networks, like the network that I founded, recognise that there’s a need for change. 

There’s a really simple way to address this issue and it’s covered within the first 59 seconds of this video



There’s a lot of rebranding that needs to be effected across the industry, the social connections, the networks and the language before we can truly address the gender imbalance – and get businesses to avoid the unconscious bias that exists across the workplace. The Royal Navy don’t have gender specific names and have promoted a Lieutenant Commander to take command of a frigate.  The fact that this Officer is a woman is of no consequence to the Navy..

So why do we still persist with stereotypical, power sapping naming of our female technologists?  Why do we complain about the gender imbalance and do nothing to fix it?  Why are we allowing this to happen?

Changing one word will make all the difference… Come on women, its time to grow up and assume command – just like Sarah West.

Eileen is a social business strategist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Do you reward your women in technology?

Perhaps you should… Nominate your unsung heroines of the technology department..



Nominations open 01 September – 25 November 2011

everywoman, the UK’s largest female business community, is inviting entries for the second year of its everywoman in Technology Awards, supported by Women in Technology www.womenintechnology.co.uk

The everywoman in Technology Awards seek to recognise and celebrate the success of women working in this fast-growth sector, encouraging more women into the industry and ultimately providing a pipeline of talent and future industry leaders.

Gender imbalance in technology is an issue of concern to business, government and education. While 47% of the UK workforce is female, only 18% of IT & Telecoms professionals are female, down from 22% in 2001. Likewise female representation within the IT & Telecoms industry as a whole is also on the decline, down from 27% in 2001 to 25% by the second quarter of this year.

e-skills UK, Technology Insights 2011

The statistics are quite alarming and suggest that women are not as well informed as they could be of the career opportunities technology offers. This points to the need for more inspiring female role models who can be ambassadors for the IT & Telecoms professions and industry, women who will encourage and inspire more young women and girls into technology. This Awards programme was created to showcase the diverse range of careers technology offers, profiling the women leading these exciting careers and also celebrating the businesses that are investing in their female talent.

The everywoman in Technology Awards are free to enter and the 2012 categories include:

  • Rising Star – awarded to a woman under 26 who is excelling in her technology career and is the one to watch.
  • Team Leader (in an SME with under 500 employees) – awarded to a woman whose team leadership has greatly contributed to the organisation’s success.
  • Leader (in a corporate organisation with over 500 employees) – awarded to a women operating in a senior management position making a contribution to the strategic direction of the business.
  • Innovator awarded to a woman designing, developing, researching or implementing technology in an unconventional and innovative way.
  • Entrepreneur – awarded to an owner/operator of a technology business whose vision and talent will inspire others.
  • Inspiration – awarded to an individual (male or female) for their active commitment to encouraging, advancing or championing the progress of women working in technology.
  • Woman of the Year – awarded to an exceptional woman whose vision, innovation and success makes her an outstanding role model for future generations.

Entries are open from 01 September until 25 November 2011 and full details are online at www.everywoman.com/techawards.

Image credit: flickr

Eileen is a social business strategist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.