These Women Are Dispelling "Women In Tech" Stereotypes

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There’s a popular motto that, while fading from the lexicon, still pervades the tech community and tech press: It’s so easy your mom could do it!

It’s used to mark a product that’s straightforward and intuitive to use — so easy to use that a complete luddite would be fine. And that’s insulting. Many moms are incredibly tech savvy. Snapchat is as likely to baffle your grandpa as your grandma, and an iPhone settings quirk might stump your dad as often as your mom or your siblings. But while many folks have caught on to the fact that mothers don’t appreciate being treated like they’re dumb at tech, there’s still a disconnect in the way the relationship between moms and technology is portrayed.

We talked to five mothers in the tech industry about this frustrating issue. Here’s what they had to say.

More Like 'Tech So Easy Dad Could Do It'

“'Even my mom could use it' is an often used phrase to describe usability in the tech press. This is one of those subtle statements that undercuts the fact that many women — moms, grandmothers, and otherwise — are actually really proficient at tech. In my family, my son will often say things like, 'Oh that’s a tech thing, Dad, let Mom handle it. We all know she’s the whiz when it comes to computers.' I’ll be really sorry if he says someday, 'so easy that even my mom could do it.'”

Kakul Srivastava
VP of Product, GitHub

Women Aren’t Just Caregivers

“When do you see an advertisement on TV that shows a mom coaching her kid on how to write code or how to get to the next level in a video game? When do you see a movie or a story in which a mom is fixing a non-working device or fiddling with the cables to get something to work?

Women are mostly shown in traditional roles: caring, comforting, wiping snot, making snacks, driving to sports, etc. Where are the portrayals of moms working with kids on their science projects, explaining the inner workings of a frog, or experimenting with chemicals to show combustion? These are not topics I have seen on television, magazines, or other media.”

Leena Joshi
VP of Product Marketing, Redis Labs

Social Media Can Be Way More Powerful Than Mainstream Media

“While you don’t see many technical women or moms in the mainstream media, this completely changes on social media. Connecting with technical women on social media helps me build a virtual community, which is more comforting than any technical female movie character; for example, when a ditzy 'Computer Engineer Barbie' book was released a few years ago, women and supportive men stepped up on social media and the book was pulled. To me, the best part was how women were able to hear 'Yes! Women can be technical!' from each other, at scale, even if a for-profit company fell short on that message.”

Natasha Litt
Software Engineer, New Relic

Women Make Big Tech Purchases

“When it comes to moms, people recognize them as the important decision makers for purchases in the home, but they assume tech purchasing decisions are made by men, and that’s not fair. When it comes to tech proficiency, women have actually mastered using technology to make their lives better.”

Julie Crabill
Founder & CEO, Inner Circle Labs

We Love The Same Apps That Male “Techies” Do

“It’s interesting, the technology and apps you think of as being appealing to the stereotypical millennial male techy also appeal to moms, and especially new moms in many cases. Delivery providers like Instacart, Postmates, and Munchery are all great for mothers with busy schedules who may not have much time to peruse the grocery store. Car services like Uber and Lyft make doing errands and going to appointments easier. On top of that, there are family-friendly apps popping up such as Shuddle, a car service for kids, and UrbanSitter’s baby-sitting service.”

Elizabeth Schnitzer
Director of Brand Marketing & Communications, AnyPerk

This piece originally ran May 6, 2016.

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