What an incredible week this has been. I met (virtually) so many inspiring, encouraging, supportive and positive women in technology. I went to workshops on Eclipse, Pair programming, Java, Python and of course, presented my own talk "Java Development: It's easy when you know how" on Thursday. I connected with women all over the world with all different backgrounds and stories to tell. I also connected with women in the Rhein-Main region which is where I live in Germany. We have already said that we'll meet in person too. It's been a really great week and luckily enough I also had a day off in Germany the day that I presented so I managed to get to do the talk without any time management concerns raising with work. I will definitely go again. I found the talks regarding representation really interesting as we start encroaching again upon technology - remember the first programmer was a female, the first person to discover a computer bug was also a female. Being represented offer different perspectives and a balance is needed.
Different perspectives can come from a simple thing like a cycling rack. For example, I went cycling recently and parked my bike outside the apartment on the bike racks - this is again, an example of the detachment of design from someone that cycles. The bikes are squashed together, the spacing between racks might even be industry standard, however, that does not make them any more practical and should be rethought by actual cyclists. Pulling my bike out from the handle bars of another bike is not something anyone wants.
The same goes for all products - you can do as much market research bringing in your audience into a room to test a product (I have done that and it's not very well researched - coming from a researcher that is saying something!) and colleagues tend to become excited by the fact that consumers like the product and miss the entire area that is lacking in the product. This goes the same with all products when a group are underrepresented.
A major example I spoke about is gaming when you play a game and there are no female characters to choose from or the ones that are available are either 'the princess to be rescued' like in Mario or a sex object with unrealistic beauty standards. We cannot help but be influenced by the photos, images, videos and external inputs from society and the unrealistic demands imposed upon us. When a 10 year old boy is playing a computer game with men all represented as giants with large muscles - this is also an unrealistic beauty standard and that's another topic.
The other trend I spotted throughout some talks was that women are more cooperative in conversation while men seek status and/or competition. Being too cooperative can be seen as weak in some work places and the competitive nature can be seen throughout the industry if you are working in a toxic workplace. If you are working with mature, evolved humans, it will be balanced. Men won't seek status as they are comfortable with who they are and women won't be people-pleasing as they will also balance into their own strengths and not shy away from them. This also doesn't have to be gender specific - this is also unbalanced or unconfident humans too.
Overall I have a lot to consider and it was a really positive experience sharing some of the confrontations that are faced in technology due to gender differences and some of the other elements that make it an absolute need for women to be represented more in this industry. Some issues faced like in gaming where women may not even be represented at all or the men represented are also unrealistically buff too. That's another story regarding the unrealistic standards set upon by our society. Regardless of representation some of the technology and products available lack the perspectives of females to make products complete. They are missing a component. They are, effectively, incomplete.
I would even go as far as saying, they are missing huge opportunities to get others into a product like gaming and the ones that want to get into it may feel excluded or even intimidated and shy away from games like that. So tech industry, the time is now, innovate, include women more, include underrepresented groups more - this is, after all, the summer of gaming.
My own talk is available on Prezi with a video following soon. It spoke about Java Development and some tricks on how to learn/concentrate and get the best out of your time is available here: