A couple of weeks ago I was approached by a friend of mine, who was asking me if I take me seriously and wondered what I thought about this video:
Right from the beginning I just knew that this would upset me very much – sometimes you can just feel it when it’s coming.
She’s entitled to her opinion, but if it’s the truth she’s saying, then I shouldn’t have succeeded in anything I’ve ever done in the tech industry. I have been a woman in tech since I was 19, and I think I’ve done pretty alright for myself (to say the least). So now I have been thinking about it for a while, and I think what’s really making me tick, is that she argues that because I’m a woman in tech and I call myself a GIRL (I’m 31 so I’m still cool with that), I should be afraid not to be taken seriously in the tech scene – especially because I’m standing by “being a girl”. I’m the founder of geek girl meetup Copenhagen. And actually, after I’ve been thinking about it (and talking about it with my good friend Lone) I don’t want to try/ to do an effort to be taken seriously. No way! here’s why:
When I was living in another country, one of the things that mystified me was that the women/girls there always went out on the town in suits. I think they did it because they wanted to be taken seriously by someone – but no one really thought about it, apart from some of us foreigners who thought it was really weird that these women would wear suits when they were supposed to have fun. I think they wanted to show the world that they were to be taken seriously – and to me, it ended up having another effect – I ended up feeling sorry for them because they didn’t show a bit of themselves instead of being taken seriously by their surroundings.
It reminds me so much of something I have seen happen again and again in the tech scene – that women start to resemble men more and more because they don’t want to stand out and show the world what they are really like, because – what if somebody didn’t take them seriously. What if people deemed you strange or “not qualified” because you didn’t look or acted seriously enough.
I think I’m the proof that the tech scene has changed – and it can embrace both men, women, and girls because I don’t think that “seriousness” lies in a name or in a “girl” label. I think that seriousness lies in going after what you think is super important, practice what you preach and be a role model to other people. Do epic shit, right?
The reason I think Geek Girl meetups are so important is that it teaches our kids/daughters that Geek can be cool, and I don’t think “geek women” would do the trick. In my mind, it just wants to be taken seriously.
Actually, I think that my girl label (that I bear with pride) is the least of my “seriousness” problems. I build a large part of Toothless Tiger (my thriving 7-year-old business) telling companies that they should be like rock bands – think more in return on involvement instead of return on investment (big business no-no), (I wrote a danish book about that) and practice rockbandism and do business unusual. And most of the companies actually love me for it. And they do take me seriously – why? because I do what I think is the best fit for me. I firmly believe that I challenge the old systems and I am taken seriously because of it. I would never try to be taken seriously.
I will wake up every day being myself and do what I believe in. And I think that some people don’t take me seriously at all. That to them I’m the biggest joke on the planet. And I think that’s okay, they are entitled to. But to others – I’m the hugest inspiration. And the only thing that hasn’t done anything to aid the effect I’ve had in the
Scandinavian European global tech industry is probably ta-da! seriousness.
I guess what I wanted to say is that asking for seriousness, to me, is a sign of low self-esteem, it’s a sign of not believing enough in yourself to say “hey I can be totally different and they will still love me and take me seriously because of that”.
Because you take yourself seriously. The whole of you. And that, my rockers, is one thing I really do; Take myself seriously.