Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The IT Girl

The Hack Shack is a place where students can let their creativity flourish, and as staff, we have chosen to be the individuals that guide them through their learning process. However, to  this day, the staff members have been primarily male. I'm the currently the only female Hack Shack staff member, and only the second female in its first two years. I have been asked to share my experiences. We all know that there is a gender gap when it comes to women in technology.

The role of women in technology has significantly stalled and, in some cases, even declined. In 2008, women on average held 25% of IT-related jobs in the US, a drop from the 36% occupied in 1991. Also, women between 25 and 34 are reporting increasing dissatisfaction with their tech careers. 56% leave their jobs at the highlight of their career, which is twice the quit rate for men. According to a Reuters study, 30% of 450 technology executives stated that their groups had no women in leadership positions (Kvochko, 2016).

Women are becoming increasingly invisible in the thriving technology and computing sector, one of the top U.S industries and one of the fastest-growing professional occupations among U.S workers with an estimated 1.8 million jobs in computing by 2018, according to the U.S Department of Labor (Kvochko, 2016).

There are females out there that don't get the recognition that they deserve or the encouragement that they desire. Luckily, I get to work in an environment where I don't feel judged. So, no. I'm not going to concoct a sob story about how being a girl in the Hack Shack is difficult. There has never been a day in my many years of schooling, where someone has told me that I would never be good enough to work with technology.

Oyster River does a good job trying to motivate all of its students to pursue whatever they're passionate about, and providing them with opportunities to get there, especially in the STEM area. No one treats me differently for being a girl, and in fact, the males that come into the Hack Shack will even ask me to assist them with their projects. None of the other members hold me back and we all coexist seamlessly in that little room.

Well, I guess I will admit, it can be intimidating at times to be around people who have extensive knowledge of this technology. It can be weird to sit with them during our meetings, and hear them talk about things that I have no idea about. You can compare it to skateboarding as a kid. Because I'm a girl, I feel like I stand out as the odd ball, but any other guy at the skatepark wouldn't be given a second glance. Sometimes it can be frustrating to know that I'm doing at things at a much slower pace than the other guys are. However, this doesn't stop me from continuing to learn.

 I have taught myself how to use the Silhouette Cameo, which some members don't even know how to use. That machine can be used for artistic projects, which is my area of expertise. I've made various things, like temporary tattoos, and stickers. It gives the Makerspace a whole different perspective.  In the Hack Shack, we can all learn from each other. People can learn how to use the Silhouette Cameo from me, and I can learn how to use the MakerBot from the other members. We all aren't knowledgeable about everything, but that's the point of the class, to keep learning. Just because I'm a girl, doesn't mean I know any less, or any more than the people around me.  

So, we should keep encouraging women to join technology, because I'm having a wonderful time. One thing I can say though is this: The Hack Shack has been given some flair because of me (Obviously because of my awesome signage).

Kvochko, Elena. "Why There Are Still Few Women Leaders in Tech." Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 4 Jan. 2016. Web. 01 Nov. 2016.

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