Woman Entrepreneur in Tech

Product designer Anne Katherine Halsall provides an interesting perspective on what it’s like being a woman entrepreneur in the technology sector at different career stages. She says when she was younger and worked at Google, she was flattered to receive compliments on being a good woman programmer. As she started doing more serious coding (” learning how to learn to program”) she realised her previous attitude was a problem.

No engineer who takes her job seriously wants to be treated like a unicorn. It is simply too hard of a job to be handled with kid gloves.  It was when I started to push at the boundaries of my role that I saw the social consequences emerge. At conferences, people assume I’m a nontechnical designer. At parties, they assume I’m someone’s girlfriend. If I am well-known on the Internet, people say it’s because I’m female and therefore have some magic thrall over nerdy men.

People always treat you better when you don’t challenge their assumptions, and people assume women are nontechnical. Therefore the experience of being a “technical”* woman in tech ended up being very different from that of being a nontechnical” woman.

*Halsall notes this is a loaded word but she uses it to denote the difference between professional coding for business product design and her previous coding efforts.

Source: Quora http://goo.gl/XBJaFZ

Photo:  Ed Yourdon via Flickr.

6 thoughts on “Woman Entrepreneur in Tech


  1. When I was starting out, people reading my papers or grant applications assumed I was male, being unfamiliar with my name. The reviews came back with “he” and “his”. I used to be secretly pleased because I figured that I couldn’t be discriminated against if they thought I was a man. Last week, I went to a conference after exchanging many emails with the other attendees. When I met one of them and introduced myself, he was taken aback. He assumed I would have been a man and apologized. 

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  2. That’s so interesting! You have to wonder about the peer review and grants processes! I’d be keen to know how much this happens to other women scientists? Since I started blogging, I find a few people assume I’m a man, even though I’m blogging about sociology, with a focus on gender equality and otherness (challenging Western constructions of culture and knowledge). I get comments like, “Thank you sir!” I never correct people because it doesn’t bother me if people misread my gender. It says more about the other person than anything else. But I’m always disappointed when sociology students do this because they should know better than equate authority with men.

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  3. You have just given me the laugh of the day Rajini! That’s awesome and a great way to weed out applicants! Honestly, if someone makes the “Dear Sir” presumption and thinks they can work in science (and in a lab headed by MadamScientist no less), they haven’t really learned much.

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