FGM in Egypt »« The most religious and most conservative first-world nation

“Are you a tech girl? Are you a web diva?”

Not a good way to recruit women? Act as if they all like pink frilly pink frills all over everything.

To start, there were the pitches from college engineering programs in curly purple typeface accented by flowery images. She started to notice that many websites for budding female engineers are pink. Then there was the flyer for an after-school program hanging in a hallway of her high school. Printed on purple polka-dot paper, it read, “Are you a tech girl? Are you a web diva?”

The soon-to-be high school senior aspires to become an engineer of some sort. She has absolutely no interest, however, in a career as a “web diva.”

“It seems so degrading,” Wheat said. “If you’re a girl interested in building websites, you’re a ‘web diva.’ If you’re a boy, you’re a web developer.”

Well it’s because you’re a girl, which is not normal. Real, normal people are engineers. Girls who go into engineering are engineeressettes.

Wheat had discovered what Elizabeth Losh, a digital culture scholar at UC San Diego, calls “ridiculous, pink, sparkly techno-princess land.”

Pink websites and polka-dotted flyers are what happens when an entire field overcorrects.

Recruit women! Make the environment welcoming to women, by all means. But vanishingly few women want to live inside a Pepto-Bismol bottle.

…as Wheat sees it, the problem with techno-princess land is that it attempts to combat the stereotype that technology is a guy thing with stereotypes of what women want.

The overflow of pink in her inbox moved the Virginia teen to pen an opinion piece, which was recently a runner-up in a New York Times teen editorial contest.

“It says that the only way you can be interested in technology is if it is girly,” said Wheat. “I’m very girly. My room is purple. I have floral bedding. I think I’ll probably be a very feminine engineer. I just don’t like the idea of being pigeonholed.”

But pigeons are so sweet and girly and adorable.

At a recent Bay Area tech mixer put on by Girl Geek Dinners, the tech company that chose the decor elected to replace office lightbulbs with pink and purple ones, bathing the entire event in a fuchsia glow. An open bar was covered with a pink sequined runner. Guests were encouraged to take a Cosmo-style personality quiz revealing their nerd girl personas and given slap-bracelets and strawberry lip balm at the door.

Siiiiiigh.

 

Comments

  1. says

    It is like they never met, looked for, sought out, or asked the opinion of any engineers who happen to be women.

    I’m in school, in an engineering program. The women in my classes cover lots of the spectrum of possible womanhood, but the one thing they all have in common is that they are ADULTS, not weirdly stereotypical preteen girls looking for ribbons and glitter glue in order to make career decisions.

  2. Tessa says

    Ugh! This is also what happens when nobody gives a fucking thought as to why there’s such a disparity. “The culture surrounding our industry is fiiiine. Women just aren’t attracted to it because it’s not pink and frilly.” It’s this kind of thinking that makes the industry less welcoming. I’m totally going to go fishing using a live great white shark as bait. The fish won’t be able to stay away.

  3. says

    Pink websites and polka-dotted flyers are what happens when an entire field overcorrects.

    Overcorrection, it ain’t. Undercorrection I might buy. If this had involved a small aircraft off course, it would be like half-correcting the course, then opening the door opposite the direction of turn and peeing out of it for no readily apparent reason. Overcorrectiion!

    But OK, I just think it was a poor word choice, not necessarily intentional, but possibly infected with assumed intent, awareness, and ability of those involved with the correcting. Maybe. I don’t know the writer (or editor, perhaps), I’m just reacting to that one word in the given context.

    Aside: Autodesk? Lol, what could go wrong there?

  4. Gemma Mason says

    See, now, if they were instead embracing these changes for everyone — promoting the idea of useful, traditionally feminine qualities in the workplace as being good things for both male and female engineers — that could, in theory, be done well. Of course, the “useful, traditionally feminine qualities” would be less frills and pink, and more understanding that, say, dressmaking is an exercise in 2D to 3D design, and that knitting and crochet are crafts on a par with woodworking when it comes to developing a sense of how things fit together, and that co-operation and communication are not “lesser skills” when they are being employed by a woman. They’d have to learn to value those qualities for themselves, as part of a broader appreciation of the talents of all their engineers as understood outside of the masculine gender role that gets attached to it, instead of using them as ways of justifying why being female might be useful, maybe, if you squint, ooh look at me I’m so progressive I can almost appreciate women. But it could be done.

  5. drken says

    This reminds me of a recent post here (or somewhere) showing ads recruiting men to be nurses that showed male nurses performing all sorts of extreme sports. There was another ad that showed a man being a nurse by comforting a seriously ill small child while he injected her with medicine, that didn’t run from the stereotypically feminine aspects of the job (e.g. caring is for girls). That ad looked like it might attract men who would be good nurses, rather than those who might be happier as Navy SEALS. My point being is that they’ll be much more successful if they don’t try to convince women that being in tech won’t harm their femininity, just show women (heck, you can even have some of them wearing dresses) working in tech. Of course, neither campaign will have any long term success without addressing the gender based discrimination and harassment both groups face instead of sweeping them under the rug so as not to “scare them away”. The harassment and discrimination will scare them away eventually, but not if they think somebody with power has their back.

  6. Pliny the in Between says

    The strangest example of this I can recall is from my childhood. Lionel trains were trying to create a product more appealing to girls. In their infinite wisdom they produced a train set based on their minuteman nuclear missile train. In the girl version the train cars were all pastels. Nothing appealed to young women more than a nuclear missile rising out of a hot pink train car. Surprisingly, it did not sell well. It is however, highly sought after in the collectables market.

  7. drken says

    The strangest example of this I can recall is from my childhood. Lionel trains were trying to create a product more appealing to girls. In their infinite wisdom they produced a train set based on their minuteman nuclear missile train. In the girl version the train cars were all pastels. Nothing appealed to young women more than a nuclear missile rising out of a hot pink train car. Surprisingly, it did not sell well. It is however, highly sought after in the collectables market.

    At least that can be explained by “people who are already willing to buy ‘non-girly’ trains are already buying our stuff, this is for the ones who might buy stuff if we make it more ‘feminine’”. They’re looking to expand into a new market so as to make more money. I can respect that as Lionel is in the business of selling toy trains, not female empowerment. But, I think Nerf had a better go at it with their Rebelle line. They at least did a little more than just “make them pink”, which smacks of laziness and I think young women (and men) can sense when somebody is just phoning it in.

  8. tiko says

    But it’s been totally proven by science guys that women won’t touch anything unless it’s pink and fluffy.I can’t remember or understand everything they said because it wasn’t written in pink but it has something to do with evolution and nuts and berries.

  9. Crimson Clupeidae says

    “engineeressettes”

    I’m so stealing this term to use on my wife. Her current favorite phrase involves ‘fluffy pink lady brains’. :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>