Do We Have to Give Up Our Femininity?

February 5, 2013 § 5 Comments

Edit: This post was syndicated to the Women 2.0 blog on February 6, 2011, and can be found here.

I recently had a conversation with one of my lawyer friends who’s very stylish and fashionable, about blogging. It’s no secret that I have friends who choose my clothes for me since I’d be completely lost on fashion without them. I was recommending a few blogs that some of my fashion-forward friends run/own, and T (we’ll call her T), said I should start a blog. I told her I already have one and she said I should get all of my friends to follow it. The rest of the conversation went something like this,

Me: Well, my blog is kind of boring for anyone not in tech because I mainly talk about tech or anything related to tech. Which is fascinating to me, but boring to non-techies.

T: So? Start talking about other things. Cater to your audience. Give a makeup tutorial or something. That way girls will see it and go, “oh! She’s a nerd but also girly!” and can relate to it.

Me: But…I..my audience IS tech..

Women in tech

I NEED this. Anyone know if Toys “R” Us has any in stock?

I then started to explain why I couldn’t/wouldn’t talk about other things and realized that I’d been compromising my femininity. As women in technology, do we need to turn our noses up to anything that’s remotely feminine or girly to be taken seriously? Conversely, do we need to be ultra-girly in order to be relatable by girls, or by women who aren’t on the development side of product development – in either design or engineering? Why is it that when a guy finds out that I like video games but hate shopping, I’m no longer considered, a “normal” girl, or that I’m “practically a guy.” What does that even mean? And what does it mean to be considered a “normal” girl. What IS normal?

I’m used to being the only girl, or one of very few women, in a group (whether it’s a work group, a conference, or a meetup), but this ratio needs to change – and not for the sake of just changing the ratio, but for the sake of having more voices heard, and creating a level of acceptance that women can kick ass while still being “girly.” A woman that I knew (we were the only women in a group of guys), completely shunned anything feminine. It’s fine if you don’t care for the color pink, or shoes, or sparkly things, but is it really necessary to turn your nose completely up at women that do? Interestingly enough, none of the guys cared if any of the women were “girly” or not since they cared more about the work we did (THIS is the kind of environment that should be encouraged everywhere).

Maybe I AM weird – but when I was growing up, I admired people like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. I thought Madeleine Albright was pretty bad ass. But I also loved Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Spice Girls, and Destiny’s Child (all of which had messages that girls can kick ass – none of that Twilight shit). I was obsessed with science, but wanted to play with makeup (my parents were strict – there was no playing of makeup for me until I reached my Sophomore year of High School). I do love video games, hate shopping, love the color pink, could talk about software product design and development all day, and am obsessed with anything that sparkles (squirrel! Kudos if you get that reference), but I’ve been unintentionally hiding that side of me that loves shoes and the color pink.

Instead of outcasting women that hate shopping but love to play video games (pretty sure Fifa is the best game in the world), or looking down on women who love glitter and pink (hot pink glitter shoes – I NEED to find this), we should encourage women and girls to enter technology as a “builder” regardless of what their outside interests are. I love that there are organizations like Hackbright Academy (we need one that teaches women design also! I’m talking, fundamentals of UX, Photoshop, HTML/CSS) and Women 2.0, I just wish there was more outreach to the younger generation of girls to let them know that it’s okay to be feminine but also love traditionally male-dominated “geeky/nerdy” things.

We shouldn’t have to compromise our femininity to be taken seriously.

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§ 5 Responses to Do We Have to Give Up Our Femininity?

  • Excellent post! And I think you touch on both sides (1- That a woman shouldn’t be judged if she doesn’t like “traditional” female things. 2- A woman should feel confident about being ultra-feminine and liking”traditional” male things). This should be an on-going conversation.

  • Samihah says:

    Thank you, and totally agree that it should be an ongoing conversation! I just really wish there was more messaging to young girls that you don’t have to compromise. It’d create a more welcoming environment and interest towards careers in S.T.E.M.

  • Thank you for putting these thoughts into words! This is something that’s been bouncing around in my head for a while. I recently went from designing/developing full-time in an office to consulting from home and have found that I spend more time doing “feminine” things like painting my nails and playing with make-up when I work from home. There are a lot of contributing factors there, of course, but I think there’s at least a bit of subconscious understanding that appearing overly feminine may undermine my credibility when talking with overly technical teams. And that’s a shame that I can’t be me for the sake of looking better at my job that I’m good at regardless of the state of my nails.

    I would love to see more women bloggers write about fashion AND tech, but without it being a “I’m a nerd who’s also a GIRL” blog, you know? I am -definitely- going to consider shifting the content I write about, or where I post it, to this end.

    Cheers!

  • Samihah says:

    Re: “…but I think there’s at least a bit of subconscious understanding that appearing overly feminine may undermine my credibility when talking with overly technical teams.” <–That's what I'm afraid of as well – why can't we just be feminine if we want, without worrying about compromising how we're perceived? Sometimes I think that we overanalyze this though – I worked with a team of primarily males (mainly interfacing with engineers and other designers), and they couldn't care less if I rolled into work with a hot pink manicure or decided to wear a dress that day – they cared more that I was on top of my stuff and didn't hold their team back. In fact, it really didn't matter what gender/sex a person was as long as they kicked ass. I think environment plays a significant part also – that was a company where your accomplishments and work spoke volumes more than how you looked/dressed or your interests.

  • Reblogged this on Cecily M and commented:
    Another cool blog.

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