My wife is a rather amazing woman. In addition to being an amazing song writer, performer and guitarist, she is insanely smart, with a heart to help. This summer she will be helping out Girls Rock Camp. Austin also has a great program called GirlStart that aims to help girls get excited about math and science. What is so great about programs like Girls Rock Camp and GirlStart is that it provides young girls a chance to be feel empowered. What excites me most about these kinds of programs is the opportunity for perspective.
My wife and I play music together and have throughout our entire marriage. I can’t tell you how much I have learned from the experience. The biggest benefit is the constant exposure to a women’s perspective. I’m convinced that men and women are simply different in how problems are approached. If you’ve ever worked on a problem for a while, only to talk to a coworker that provides an entirely different approach that is more elegant and better in all measurable ways, then you get an idea of what it is like to have a women’s perspective. It is something totally different from your own, and the vast majority of the time it is enlightening.
I recently read an article on why girls should consider a career in IT. The author mentions programming as art and it made me think about my own experience creating something artistic with my wife. I’m confident that without the perspective my wife brings to the music, the songs and band as a whole would be nothing compared to what it is now. I can only imagine what the software landscape would look like if a women’s perspective were more prevalent.
Assuming there is a wave of ladies infusing this male dominated software industry, us guy should get prepared. The first step is losing the derogatory comments. Anytime you speak of a person as though they are an object or less than a person, you are training yourself for failure because you are refusing to step up to the challenge of acknowledging equality. The next step is recognizing when you are allowing a person’s gender or differences influence how you evaluate contributions. Becoming attentive to when your internal dialog includes derogatory comments can be scary. On a personal level, realizing that you have bigoted thoughts is a tough pill to swallow. But, if you are to move beyond your own insecurities, you must be in control of your views. Lastly, practice really listening. Learning to listen is a valuable asset, and what’s more, it places the attention on what is being said instead of who is saying it.
Hopefully in the near future more women will find their way into the software industry. I truly believe it could revolutionize how software is written in addition to helping change society for the better.