As a geek whose geekiness comes out in her work (social media consulting, blogging, web presence development), her achievements (only high school student with an essay in She’s Such a Geek, programmer for Stanford University Libraries at 18, three time presenter at Hopper) but not her major (Ethics, History and Public Policy [an interdisciplinary major between the History and Philosophy Departments], with a minor in Vocal Performance), it can be a little rough going to a conference for technical women.
Here are three of my coping mechanisms:
I am not my coursework–I am my ideas.
Whether you are on Brazen Careerist or not, expecting to be hired based on your web presence rather than an 8.5×11 sheet of paper is an idea whose time has come. My ideas–whether you find them in my presentations at this year’s Hopper, my personal blog, or just through conversation with me– are what makes me a woman in technology, not whether I have taken C++.
Focus on the conversations, not the initials.
The Impostor Panel was one of my favorites at Hopper last year. In it, incredible women (a presidents of a major University, inspiring technologists, groundbreaking innovators) stood up and told a roomful of women: “I am an impostor”.
Women in technology often feel like impostors, fakes, like we’re sliding by until someone notices we’re not up to snuff. As geeky humanities majors, we are particularly vulnerable to this feeling. Acknowledge it, process it, and ignore it. We have the ovarios to show up to this conference, and we are here because we have something to say. Once we say it, everyone will know we belong.
Technology is more than programming (Or, What Can You Do With a Humanities Degree?).
As a daughter of a programmer, and as a geek who grew up in Silicon Valley, I know the value of programming. But for any given technology to reach its full potential, it needs people to speak for it–policy makers, columnists and visionaries. Here are three humanities majors who are shaping how we develop technology today:
- Lawrence Lessig graduated from UPenn with a BS in management and a BA in economics.
- Annalee Newitz from Berkley with a PhD in English and American Studies.
- Clay Shirky from Yale College with a degree in Art.
So what can you do with a Humanities Degree? Rock the world. In the short-term, rock the Hopper conference.
Build your ideas. Focus on the conversation. Remember who sets policy. And enjoy yourself–this is a world-class chance to be surrounded by geeks like us, and to confirm we’re not impostors. Enjoy it, spread it, bring it home.
For there are two deserts: One is a grim desolate wasteland. It is the home of venomous reptiles and stinging insects, of vicious thorn-covered plants and trees and unbearable heat… visualized by those children of luxury to whom any environment is intolerable which does not provide all the comforts and luxuries of a pampering civilization.
The other desert — the real desert — is not for the eyes of the superficial observer or the fearful soul of the cynic. It is a land which reveals its true character only to those who come with courage, tolerance, and understanding. For those the desert holds rare gifts.–Randall Henderson (my quotes theme this Hopper will be the desert, since the conference is in Tuscon AZ.)