This is a collective story about gender in ICT written by a group of young, empowered women at the Wagg when we played Mind the Gap https://commonfare.net/en/stories/264?story_locale=en
I have been reading and playing with these cards for the last few days looking not only for connections and emerging themes, but also for exceptions and silences. To answer the question
What it is like to be a female developer?
In these cards, gender was described in terms of 4 interrelated levels, including
• Individual Characteristic: the embodied person, their self-perception and sexual preference differentiating
• Personal Life: what people do in parallel to work, home, family, leisure, being important or meaningful, intoning
• Institutional Context: something specific to work or education, relating to a momentary experience, policies, and role models available to the individual;
• Societal Context: prescriptive and descriptive stereotypes mandating what is expected of men and women in society, independent of the specific leisure/work/education context.
The institutional context
The strongest focus of the cards addressed the institutional context which was the main frame of the event
These cards reported well known issues of pay-inequality and imbalanced possibilities for career progressions. These detriments were attributed to the institutional context, to the society at large, and to the self.
Society is described as a strong influencer of personality and possibilities, and this influence manifests since an early age while shaping boys and girls futures at several levels, and specifically in an ICT career.
Normative stereotypes about gender strongly shaped the ICT work environment, where male ideas appeared to have a stronger impact than female ideas.
In addition, female participants admitted disliking conflicts “Because you are a female you don’t dare to disagree. When you are a man, you challenge….”.
The ICT work culture was portrayed as strongly masculine requiring adaptation from the minorities.
This context is not inclusive. One card reads “You are the only female / *gender neutral person in a male environment. everyone is cool with that. Still a lot of funny jokes and remarks to handle on a daily basis takes a lot of energy.”
Ambitious and succesful women are regarded with suspicion. Their career is often attributed to sexual favours which some man colleagues feel entitled to pretend or are comfortable with covering up.
Some cards took a different perspective by celebrating stereotypical female skills and capabilities claiming that women in tech need to
“lead their way”
According to the players, empowerment is achieved by enacting stereotypical female skills which favour societal welfare over individual wellbeing, equality over privilege and are at the core of the Commonfare values. I will discuss them soon in the next gender story.
In the mean time Register and tell your gender story too --