Feminism | Posted by Pippa B on 05/28/2014

Why Does ‘Success’ For Women Still Ignore Tech?

I recently had the chance to attend two events meant to inspire my burgeoning professional career: Glamour Magazine’s “Top Ten College Women” event and the Bloomberg Enterprise Tech Summit. However, I felt that both events’ presentations of the meaning of success left a lot to be desired.

At the Glamour “Top Ten College Women” event, each finalist was briefly described, called up on stage, and presented with a framed certificate before being ushered off stage to make room for a panel entitled “How to Get Your Dream Job in 2014: Secrets of Success from Women who Know.” Every few minutes during the panel, the girls I was with and I would look at each other and chuckle. Yes, the women participating were all wonderfully successful, but the conversation did everything but tell me how to land my dream job. My biggest takeaway was that the best way to get on a panel for Glamour is to work in the entertainment industry.

Exactly one week later, I attended the Bloomberg Enterprise Tech Summit (thanks to the Kairos Society, which waived the $1,500 price tag). The content presented at the Summit was interesting, but I was disappointed that only 1 in 10 of the attendees, and 2 of the 30+ panelists, were women. Do so few women work in enterprise tech? Are there no women at the top of Cybersecurity, cloud storage, or trading? Do no women dream of being in those positions? You would think so based on their lack of representation at this event.

The huge lack of women at the Summit made it even more obvious to me how narrow the scope of the Glamour panel a week earlier had been. Each and every one of the successful women included by Glamour was in the entertainment industry. They were actors, writers, producers, directors, and sometimes all-in-one. Being female in this field, though certainly still not prevalent enough, is arguably at least culturally accepted in the mainstream in a way that women in STEM are not, as evidenced by the lack of women included in the enterprise tech event.

We need more women in tech and the best way to get there is by presenting ambitious young women with plenty of role models, like Virginia Rometty, CEO of IBM, Meg Whitman, CEO of HP, Kara Swisher, world-renowned technology journalist, along with the millions of women who are working their way to the top. These women should be held up as examples of what it means to be successful on the same stage as actresses and directors.

Young women should not be presented with stereotypically “glamorous” careers, but a full range of potentially fulfilling professions. As long as the concept of a “dream job” is isolated to the glitzy world of Hollywood, women won’t be able to claim their rightful place in the corner offices of Silicon Valley.

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