.let karma handle the finances

This piece is cross-posted in Wellesley Underground.

I listened to a student presentation today about how important it is to encourage women to pursue computer science. I listened with an open mind and suppressed the urge to correct “all girls school” (it’s definitely “all women’s college” – who doesn’t know that?!) and “women don’t…” (women are not a solitary entity) in favor of internalizing their message. The presenters talked about the stereotypical relationship women have with tech and computer science the way one would a fear of dogs. “If we can show them that it’s not scary and that it can be fun, women will love computer science. They’ll be cuddling and playing fetch in no time!”

There is a fundamental flaw in this ideology. This ideology isn’t about developing environments for women to pursue fields that interest them, uninterrupted. This ideology is about encouraging women to subscribe to society’s ideals about what it means to be a woman – oh yea, and pursue tech. If women see that tech can be easy and fun (things society assumes women are capable of) they will be comfortable pursuing technology.

Tech can be easy. Women can do easy. Therefore women can do tech.

I often ponder the factors that contribute to tech being a male-dominated field. I recognize that my upbringing (predominantly Black upper middle-class suburb), subject interests (always computer science), and formal education (Wellesley College) skew my perception. I’m even in a co-ed, tech-related masters program that is predominantly women. So, when we talk about the underrepresentation of women in tech I think, “but there are SO many brilliant women in tech around me“. I have to remind myself that this is not the norm. That there are entire business, academic departments, and development teams that can count their women developers with one hand in their pocket.

So I ponder. Today I had a revelation.

I’m sure you’ve heard about Satya Nadella’s complete screw up, in telling women not to ask for raises, but to let karma bring it to them. He attended the prestigious (and well attended) Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, sat on a stage in front of several women, and advised them to let karma handle the finances. In a world of women being told to Lean In, Nadella suggests we leave altogether.

As I thought about my colleagues in the audience listening to a successful man encourage them to not be pushy or aggressive, to wait it out and let things come to them it hit me: society refuses to recognize that women can do hard things. Of course women can navigate salary negotiations, pursue STEM career paths, and climb the professional ladder. (Also, do not soften the things women can do by throwing in “and have dinner on the table by 6!” Who doesn’t know that?!) The gender divide is not the professional equivalent of cynophobia, and cannot be solved with soft strokes behind the ears or puppy licks.

People are working to create environments in which women can pursue tech. Successful allies in the field (let’s just say men) support and extend the message because diversity is good. We are effectively asking women to subscribe to a system that has systematically put them at a disadvantage, and promise that tech will be different. Women in tech are brilliant, powerful unicorns until someone tells them to let karma handle the finances.

Every time a woman is discouraged away from tech, I imagine some patriarchal figure cooing “Don’t you worry your pretty little head off about that.” Nadella is basically saying that being a nice gal will get you ahead. But wait, didn’t we learn that nice finishes last? That hard work, determination, and pursuing the rewards you rightfully deserve are respected and encouraged in the professional world. The Boys have different rules and even in their advice to women, women still get 77 cents to the dollar.

A statement was released. Nadella took it back. But does that change anything? Not really.

While it’s disappointing that we’re still having elementary discussions about gender equality, its important that we continue to show up. That we encourage women (in and out of tech) to understand the issues, care about the impact, and show up.Create forums for successful women to advocate for collective interests and offer informed advice to other women. Push girls to pursue the things that interest them, to become women that show up for the things that interest them.

And anyone will tell you: when you show up, you better show out.

.sopa (not the soup) and pipa (not the middleton)

I imagine we’ve all heard about SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act) by now. Wikipedia’s English site is unavailable for the day in protest, Google has blacked out their logo in solidarity and other sites have done the same.

Imagine a World Without Free Knowledge

Tell Congress: Please don't censor the web!

My opinions about the censorship and piracy aside, I was impressed with Google’s data visualization graphic. In their Take Action graph, they laid out all of the numbers for both bills – from the number of internet and technology companies formally opposing the bills (9) to the number of petition-signing Americans (3,000,000).

I think the metaphor is easy to digest and the design is effective in creating drama. Few things in this world range from 1 to 3,000,000 so the variability is intriguing; however, the graphics don’t speak for the tiny text. If the text is that small, I imagine the icons would be more explanatory.

To be honest, it took me a second and third glance to digest the two elements to the far right (the “Add Your Voice Here” column and the red “SOPA PIPA” computer). I was anti-red-computer and then realized it represented the end goal. That all of these numbers plus your voice means no SOPA and PIPA bills. Well done with the data visualization, Google.

I am also fond of this video:

With a smile,



This iPad application for digital letterpress work takes remarkable strides to incorporate modern technology while upholding the integrity classic artistic processes. Check it out!

Thanks for the link, Richard!

With a smile,


.evolution of apple

I love my on-campus job because two days are never alike and the environment is really welcoming. Anyways, I was particularly tickled one day because my boss asked me to transfer some old files…from a floppy disc! I forgot about floppy discs and was surprised to realized that computers no longer come with floppy disk drives. Since then, I’ve been thinking about the evolution of technology.

On the brink of graduating college and other grown-up endeavors, I have begun to feel…old. I realize that 21 is not ancient, but my sentiments change when I read things about the wonderfully progressive evolution of Apple computers. Of course, I grew up in a time when computers were a little more than 8×8 machines that spat out numbers. However, in a time when computers are small enough to fit in your palm, it is astonishing to look back and see how far we, as a technologically oriented community, have come. From monster machines to microscopic processors, it’s a great source of pride knowing what computer scientists/technicians can accomplish.


.webgrrls international

A lot of people talk about the disparities in the technology workforce, particularly for women and minorities. There are a ton of support groups for these communities and a family member recently showed me a really cool one for women. Webgrrls International is an international community of women marketing their businesses and expanding their networks as they relate to computing, technology and business via the internet.

I find Webgrrls particularly interesting because there is an equal emphasis on cyber AND face-to-face community. There are chapters all over the world, regularly scheduled events and ample opportunities for women to join the community and utilize Webgrrl’s resources.

Webgrrls International