It’s the International Day of the Girl and something is bothering me. I’m a girl in tech and so far in every company I’ve worked for, I was one of the few. And the girls who worked with me almost all operated on the soft side of tech and IT: most of them were analysts, testers, UX-professionals, marketeers. Not engineers. This is not new, of course. Nor will you be surprised when I tell you the demand for more women in tech/IT triggers conversations in board rooms and even governments. We acknowledge the problem. Create policies. Offer sponsorships. Even start mentoring programs.
But let me ask you something…
how can we possibly expect girls to choose technical fields, if we program them to want very different things from an extremely early age? When I was still in kindergarten, I was the only girl who preferred playing with cars to playing with barbies and I was mocked for it. When I was 8 or 9, around Christmas all commercials centered on either girls playing with dolls or boys playing with adventurous toys, cars and constructors (yes, lego focussed on girls as well, but commercials on girls’ lego very much focussed on hospitals, schools etc). And now I’m 27 and I get advertizing for pregnancy tests. Strangely, my boyfriend never gets them.
I get that marketing targetting a specific gender does so with reason: our society is programmed in a certain way and we just surf the wave, choosing marketing that reflects our society and is therefore more effective. But make no mistake: as long as we keep doing that, we perpetuate the choices men and women make when they grow older. And so, not from a commercial point of view, but from that of a human being wishing one day men and women will truly have equal opportunities, here’s my plea: let’s base marketing outings on other characteristics than gender. Maybe it will impact our profit. But I’m pretty sure it will pay off in the long run.