TechHui

Hawaiʻi's Technology Community

When I started doing network and systems administration in Tokyo I was almost always the only woman in the department. Today in Hawaii I see a much larger percentage of women working in science and technology. I wonder how others view the changing role of women in science and technology fields in Japan, Hawaii and elsewhere.

Right now there are 1,479 TechHui members. 225 of them show up if you do a search by gender and probably 50 more are women but didn't indicate their gender when they signed up (I based this on looking through names and photos.) That makes TechHui 18.6% female. I remember 15 years ago on techie bulletin boards it would be closer to five percent. I wonder what it will be five or ten years from now.

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Replies to This Discussion

Thanks for initiating the discourse of women & technology!

Although men are still the predominant players in the technology sphere, it's great to see us, women, gaining momentum! Woohoo! ;) I think the female mind can be powerful and uniquely creative in designing integrated framework for innovative products and environments especially for kids and education. Looking forward to discussions with this group!
thank you for the invite. i am glad to see more women around, it's taken years, but it is a good thing :) it is still more male-based field but it's good to see women holding their own. when i first started working in the tech industry, i was the only female around! i maintained computers on a network back in college. everyone automatically assumed i was male, even with the name dawn. :)
I too have almost always been the only female in the room whether it was college classes or working in the industry. However I've had an equal number of male and female bosses over the years, so I don't think women are discriminated against so much as they have been in other fields (I think that has to do with how young the field is). Tech people overall tend to value merit (skillz if you will), rather than entitlement.

What I've never been able to puzzle out is why so few women are drawn to science and technology in the first place. This may start early on with how girls are educated and treated. 'Caring' is a more valued trait for girls rather than 'thinking', even though these shouldn't be mutually exclusive for anyone. Perhaps this means that many girls just don't gravitate science and tech because it's perceived to be less desirable.

For my own childhood, I can say that I was always interested in science and technology. My father in particular immersed me in a science heavy environment. My parents had thousands of books, focusing on science, history, nature, and science fiction. We watched PBS more than any other TV channel. My father would build things out of junk, cook up new and weird recipes, painted, wrote, and generally taught me by osmosis that the world around me was one big experiment to play with. My mother helped me along by teaching me to read and do basic math long before preschool.

When I was in school I was lucky enough to be seated in front of a computer by a librarian at the age of seven with a manual to LOGO (thanks to my school's gifted program). It didn't take anything other than the word 'go' for me to start experimenting with it. By the next year I was using BASIC.

In high school I had an odd experience. I was the top student in my art class. The majority of students in the class were female. I was also taking a computer science class, and I was the only female there. Somehow I encouraged several female students from my art class to try CS the next semester. When they started, I found they needed an inordinate amount of help. While they were perfectly fine experimenting with art materials, they somehow did not instinctively know what to do with a computer program. They would type in commands, and then ask me if everything was right before they tried running their programs. I would have to ask, "will did you run it?" Somehow they didn't see that a program was just another type of material to manipulate however they wanted.

Granted, that was a small group of girls, but I think it might be telling in why girls shy away from the field.
Hi Lynn, Dawn, Amy & Katharine. Welcome!

Katharine Osborne: What I've never been able to puzzle out is why so few women are drawn to science and technology in the first place. This may start early on with how girls are educated and treated. 'Caring' is a more valued trait for girls rather than 'thinking', even though these shouldn't be mutually exclusive for anyone.

I think thats true. In Japan there is also a strong sense of proper roles in the workplace. For example, in meetings with customers, women are generally expected to fetch drinks even if they are one of the more senior people in the room. In the big cities (Tokyo, Osaka, etc.) this is starting to change with the younger generation. I'm starting to see more women in senior management roles.

While they were perfectly fine experimenting with art materials, they somehow did not instinctively know what to do with a computer program. They would type in commands, and then ask me if everything was right before they tried running their programs. I would have to ask, "will did you run it?"

Thats interesting. So you think women are conditioned to be more cautious in terms of experimentation?
Mika,

what I found odd was that they were fine experimenting with art materials, but not with a computer, so I don't think they were conditioned not to experiment per se. Somehow though, the desire to experiment did not translate to the computer. I don't know why or how they saw it as being different (to me it's all just 'stuff', and stuff can be manipulated).

Mika Leuck said:
Hi Lynn, Dawn, Amy & Katharine. Welcome!

Katharine Osborne: What I've never been able to puzzle out is why so few women are drawn to science and technology in the first place. This may start early on with how girls are educated and treated. 'Caring' is a more valued trait for girls rather than 'thinking', even though these shouldn't be mutually exclusive for anyone.

I think thats true. In Japan there is also a strong sense of proper roles in the workplace. For example, in meetings with customers, women are generally expected to fetch drinks even if they are one of the more senior people in the room. In the big cities (Tokyo, Osaka, etc.) this is starting to change with the younger generation. I'm starting to see more women in senior management roles.

While they were perfectly fine experimenting with art materials, they somehow did not instinctively know what to do with a computer program. They would type in commands, and then ask me if everything was right before they tried running their programs. I would have to ask, "will did you run it?"

Thats interesting. So you think women are conditioned to be more cautious in terms of experimentation?
There is an interesting post on TechCrunch this morning: "Silicon Valley: You and Some of Your VC’s have a Gender Problem"

Vivek Wadhwa: “People in technology businesses are drawn to places known for diversity of thought and open-mindedness”, is what Professor Richard Florida concluded after studying the growth and success of 50 metropolitan areas in the U.S. The most successful regions were those with the most gays, bohemians, and immigrants. These groups flourish in Silicon Valley, and its diversity has undoubtedly provided it with great advantage. But after attending the recent Crunchies Awards, I realized that something important is still missing — women entrepreneurs. More...
Thank you for the invite. Its great to see a lot of women in technology. I just got my second degree is CIS. I am looking to make a career change. Please let me know if you see an potential prospects in job openings.
I am participating in Women in Renewable Energy or WIRE. We have brought together professional women with technical leverage. The Public Utilities Commission, HECO, banking, technology companies, consultants and developers are all memebers. We expet to have 100 paying memebers by year end. Amazing group that just started in January. We have made enough traction that I have been able to secure the Governor to be our guest speaker for our August meeting. Just a showing of how strong, smart professional woman can move the world to be a better place. I think there is a great opportunity here.

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