Levels of Feminism in the Tech Industry

A recent Facebook-based conversation with Susan Mernit got me thinking about my place in feminism and technology.

I started to argue that “I’m not a feminist tech geek.” I play along with the male-dominated industry by adopting the behaviors of the men around me. I have a history of working on all-male teams and being treated as “one of them” rather than as “the woman.” You’ll find me in a button-down shirt, but you won’t find me in a dress. I expect the same respect and treatment as any man, and I nip any potentially sexist situation in the bud before it escalates. I have a firm handshake, I look people in the eye, I speak with confidence, and I refuse to be pidgeonholed by my gender.

And yeah, okay, I guess that could make me a feminist tech geek.

Argument lost.

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4 Responses to “Levels of Feminism in the Tech Industry”

  1. Lea de Groot Says:

    Hmmm… for me, when I am working, my gender is irrelevant.
    Yes, when I went to an office I wore the heels and the correct dress, but I never paid them any attention.
    I guess that shows me not a feminist?
    I always think of myself as a humanist, anyway :)

  2. Koan Says:

    “Feminist is as feminist does”, as Forrest Gump might have said… in other words, does it matter if you think of yourself as a feminist, or call yourself a feminist, if in fact by your actions you embody a feminist approach?

  3. sarah Says:

    Thanks for chiming in, Lea. I think it’s great that gender feels irrelevant for you at work. I certainly don’t think feminism is all about clothing (that was actually my way of trying to argue that I’m *not* a feminist, but I put my foot in my mouth anyway).

    I do think that there are still spaces in the workplace — and even in the tech industry — where gender is a dividing line. And if you are moving through the workplace without gender being a factor at all, some might argue that you are a feminist — simply because you are helping to open up space for other women in the world.

    Koan — that’s true — the actions are far more important than the labels. But (I think you’ll agree that) conversations about identity are important, too, in that they create awareness and help us define “right action.”

  4. Electrolicious» Blog Archive » FAQ: Postfeminism Says:

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