Women in tech deserve more coverage, attention

by Mallary Tenore Tarpley

This New York Magazine story does a good job describing “the Steve Jobs & Mark Zuckerbergs of the future,” but it perpetuates the false notion that there aren’t innovative female programmers worth highlighting or quoting as sources. Not one woman is mentioned or quoted in the 4,200-word story.

As I read the piece, I was reminded of an April 2010 New York Magazine story featuring 53 tech innovators, only 6 of whom were women.  That story prompted Rachel Sklar to start Change the Ratio, a Tumblr blog aimed at changing the ratio of opportunity, visibility & access for women in tech. At the time, Sklar wrote:

If only 6 out of 53 featured NYC tech superstars are women, then are we using the wrong criteria? And by “we” I mean the royal we – we the media, in the criteria we are using to assess “success,” and in how we the industry are looking to galvanize, recruit and train. I would venture to say yes — below the surface (or, at least according to the average Foursquare leaderboard) there is a robust presence of women — more than 12%, at least! — making things happen and contributing to the whole. If the data is there, and the resources are there, then all that remains is to do something about it. If we can make a foosball table smarter, than surely we can do that.

I agree. I’ve written about the lack of women in tech several times and have been disheartened by how much more coverage men get. There are some efforts — such as Sklar’s Change the Ratio, Dan Abrams’ TheMarySue.com and The Huffington Post’s new Women in Tech site — that have helped change that. But there’s still a lot of work to be done.

You could make the argument, “Well, there aren’t enough women to feature!” But that’s hogwash. Just because there are fewer women in tech doesn’t mean they don’t exist and that we shouldn’t report on them. We just have to look a little harder to find them.