NeoMatrix & Gender
What you see is what you get
The causes for the lack of women in tech are numerous, but a major one is how we look at gender to begin with. If you follow right back to where the gender divide-problem begins, it is in the youth. Body shame, access to quality education, access to STEM courses, access to inspiring female tech leaders who shine. Body and Gender is the divide, and NeoMatrix wants to do its share to fix this. Not by airy-fairy education, which is also important. But by looking at the problem from its core. What is gender? Why is there shame? What can we do to alleviate and normalise gender in the minds of the youth, so they grow up with less divide, and thus more women are likely to study hard for STEM, if they want - as some early barriers have been removed, and more support provided.
Period poverty leads to Coder Poverty
One major aspect of the problem is that body shame causes period poverty. Period poverty describes the condition in which women lack access to safe and hygienic sanitary products. This is not only a problem in the developing countries, but a global one, even here in the West:
Who knew that even in major western countries, period poverty was keeping a lot of girls from school? These government initiatives are beyond any doubt commendable. Yet period poverty remains a global problem. Relatively minor body differences should not be in part responsible for the incredible lack of smart women in tech.
Let's talk about Period Poverty, baby
One way to tackle this is through changing consciousness by changing words. It is sad to see sanitary products called… well, sanitary products... like what... clean products? Is a man's razor a sanitary product? Do we use these euphemisms because we cannot call a spade a spade as women's bodies are regarded as offensive?
Fortunately, this attitude is changing at least. Note menstrual cups are cheaper and can be safer, left in longer, and do not pollute the environment like tampons... but who even knows what these are? Because we do not talk about it!
Talking about this can help solve the computing gender divide in women, working like a butterfly effect in gender relations. It does not start with grown women training for a career, it starts way back in small ways. So, let us fix the problem much closer to the source, in both age and body. Let us teach children that it is ok to call things by their real names. Let us rethink being comfortable with our bodies. Let us free ourselves from false shame. Remove the gender barrier and shame by open discussion early on.
So, if you want to talk about the gender divide in computing, but find genitals or periods offensive, and favour gloss over words like sanitary and 'down there' and prefer blue liquid in ads, and don't see men should have a voice in this area - you may be missing real opportunity to effect change.
www.thecupeffect.org/about-cups - Safer, cheaper, less landfill, and thus better for the environment. Wonder why companies like selling tampons and pads? Because you have to pay for more than half of your life. Cups last ten years! Help spread the word, and reduce ONE of the gender barriers in girls studying at school, so they can become inspiring tech and business leaders in the future.
Just your cup of tea
For menstrual cups, helping to secure easier access to clean water in some countries in the developing world is also important, as these links demonstrate:
Imagine all the daily water needed for health, hygiene, and cooking, delivered free each day, for a $3.50 cost, in a non-mechanical, non-electrical solution. Technology can solve barriers to girls studying. And more girls studying STEM enables more work to be done in tech.
Links on these issues below. (Click to expand)