WomenBuild at Microsoft Sweden TechDays


womenbuild crop logo mod March 22 2010 Örebro Sweden. Thanks to Danwei Tran & Robert Rasmussen, the latest WomenBuild workshop ran the day before Swedish TechDays in Örebro. Danwei summarizes “Even though Örebro is a small town (walking distance to everywhere) and TechDays hadn’t started yet, we still managed to get 15 enthusiastic participants at the workshop. There were great discussions during the workshop and the buzz kept going afterwards. I saw positive feedback on Twitter and I met several participants during TechDays who came up to me and thanked us for an inspiring WB workshop. It also created an internal buzz and I have gotten requests from colleagues who want to participate at an internal WB workshop.”

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Challenges

Some of the challenges faced in IT with diversity as identified by the participants include:

Lack of information. They think IT is very one-sided
Women tend to take the easy, paved way that many have taken before.
Women do not see all the opportunities within IT
Women do not see the wonderful opportunities behind the barrier. There is an easy path towards traditional choices that is approved by people around. If you go the other way, you challenge the belief of the people around and you question their own choices
A misconception on IT being boring, unsocial and hard
The lack of rolemodels. Young girls do not know many (or any) women engineers
A perception that IT is boring
The walls that we build up around ourselves make it impossible for others to see the beauty of IT
Many men don't want to include or don't understand the value of including women at their working place
It is not presented in a way that is appealing to women.
Boys tend to play with technical toys while girls play with non-techy toys. They are raised into separate groups already as kids.
All the "musts" in our private lives. Patterns that are hard to break
The professional IT woman enjoy her work, but doesn't share the fun and exciting experience with younger girls/women
We don't try to make IT and technology interesting to young girls on their level and from their perspective

Solutions

Here are some solutions and suggestions for addressing these challenges.

Show that there are many different roles within IT. Women working in IT should get more exposure and show what they do. Start a blog, a network, go out to schools
We need to open a window to show women the alternatives. IT is natural to both men and women 🙂
Make the girls see technology in practice. Advertise and surface the good opportunities.
Women supporting each other in networks started by women and bring out good rolemodels from different levels (students, colleagues, "super-women")
Evangelize at schools. Tell the students why you chose a career in IT
Create a network for women and girls with different background
We need to show off all the beauty - technology builds the future. Who does not want to be part of that?
Tell people how much fun you have working with IT. If we all contribute in our own way, each small step will eventually contribute to turning the negative perception of working with IT into a positive one
The solution is to dare to challenge the guys. Show the value of a mixed group. It increases the creativity. Women has to stand their grounds and not remain quiet
Make "softer" games where it's not important to win. The game should evolve into something depending on the user's action
Parents have an important role in supporting their daughters to not just be a mom working in the kitchen. Support women to develop, ask the little girl (not just the boy) to hang out with dad when he is fixing his car
Start early to inform and inspire girls to "play with technology". Fill IT with color and joy.
By showing IT is fun, exciting, and "almost everywhere". Expose it, talk about it.
Sit down with the kids, put another hat on and show them what IT is from their level. It is everywhere and it's an international industry

More on WomenBuild Sweden

Read more and follow the buzz:

WomenBuild at IT-tjej on IDG.se http://it-tjej.idg.se/karriaristen/articles/womenbuild-en-kvall-med-lego/#blogContent
WomenBuild at ComputerSweden on IDG.se http://www.idg.se/2.1085/1.304882/klossbygge-ska-locka-fler-kvinnor
WWomenBuild on TV4 (around 2:20 minutes in to the videoclip) http://www.tv4play.se/nyheter/lokala_nyheter/orebro?videoId=1.1565525&selId=1.1062710&currPage=2
Microsoft official blog http://blogs.technet.com/microsoftnyheter/archive/2010/03/23/lego-st-rker-svenska-kvinnor-i-it-branschen.aspx
Danwei's blog http://blogs.technet.com/danwei/archive/2010/03/23/f-rsta-womenbuild-i-sverige.aspx
Interview with Danwei at LillaGumman http://www.lillagumman.se/intervju-danwei-tran/

 

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