Girls in Tech: How You Can Get Involved
Its not news that silicon valley and the world of tech startups is and has been for some time, male-dominated. Study after study has proved this all starts very young, with girls not excelling at math and science at the same rate as boys and then not applying these skills in the same ways in college and in life. Due to the lack of representation, organizations, mentoring groups and female targeted incubators have cropped around the country to encourage women not only to take a dip in the tech pool, but to jump in and swim in it. Unfortunately, for some teens and 20-somethings, even that can be daunting when you have no engineering background – or a business one for that matter – know very little about coding or algorithms and have no familiarity with the tech space. Don’t worry, here are five ways to get your foot in. Don’t fret, each and every one of them is free.
- Research – This the fairly easy part. Tech blogs have grown in quality, popularity and usage and make updates on the latest news, product launches, influencers, and resources up to date and available almost to the minute. Subscribe to RSS feeds, follow them on twitter and build your knowledge daily, there is no barrier to entry. Great sites to reference include Tech Crunch, Mashable ,Â Â Wired and Women 2.0.
- Connect – I couldn’t count the number of professional contacts and relationships that began via Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin on my hands and feet, they are far too numerous. Twitter in particular, gives you first person access to people you may or may not have otherwise ever met in person. Make a list of people you’d like to reach out to, follow every single one of them and spark conversation.
- Announce Your Interests – This should likely go before number 2. Noone knows that deep inside you’re dying to launch a new mobile app if you don’t speak up and tell them. For lack of a better term, raise your hand in class. I use class in the sense of the world around you, tweet and Facebook about your interests in tech, respond to or tweet with other people talking about similar subjects, pose questions to experts you think may be able best answer you and make it very clear what your interests are. This alone will attract people with similar interests to you.
- Meetup - I must admit, I was incredibly nervous about going to my first meetup group. I’d been a member of Meetup.com for quite sometime but something in me still found attending an even with a group of strangers I’d never met to discuss subjects I new little about somewhat daunting and not particularly worth it. I was wrong! One of my first meetup meetings was a Hackers & Founders mixer where I met tech entrepreneurs who’d sold companies, young businessmen looking to start them and engineers itching to create. I also find an abundance of information and advice from people who knew the tech world like the back of their hands.
- Just Do It. – You know, Nike was on to something. Just Do It works as a slogan for two reasons, 1. Its the hardest thing to actually do 2. Its the easiest thing to actually do. Draw out a blueprint for your tech idea, career goals or business. Use all the resources you’ve pooled from all over the internet, teach yourself a few tricks with resources like Codeacademy , build the best blog in the world withÂ WordPress or work on that newsletter model with MailChimp . These resources have been the root of many great ideas and successful products and they’re just begging to be used by you.
While mentors and female tech superstars may still be lacking, resources are aplenty, much more now even than when the Sheryl Sandbergs of the world were coming up. The biggest deterrent is often not taking initiative, taking advantage of resources they may not be targeted toward us (after all, who cares?) and being afraid of not fitting in. Stop that today, after all, the only thing to fear is fear itself and its high time we get rid of it.