A new year has started, 2014. I wanted to write during the Xmas holidays many of the pending posts that I have in mind, but of course, going back home, enjoying being with family and friends, eating, drinking and talking a lot, does not set writing posts as a priority 😀
One of the topics I wanted to write about is “Women in tech”, something that I find quite difficult to talk about without misunderstanding the real meaning, but I like the idea of making this the first topic of the year.
Since I moved out of Spain, I realized that my way of living technology is quite different from the new people that I meet, is as if I had been living in a kind of bubble, outside reality.
Being involved many years (many!) in Spanish free software community meant to talk about technology and politics, to learn with others in squats, to self-organize events without even thinking sponsoring a possibility, to experiment with others because we enjoyed it, we liked technology but specially when it means changing the world for good, the “world domination plan” was always present, that would be the moment when technology would help people to self-organize, to empower them to develop whatever they wanted, it meant talking about freedom, yes, just freedom, not Internet’s freedom but people’s freedom.
In this context, I cannot say that there were a lot of women, but I can say that the spaces that were build were women friendly, everybody could just join, all kind of conversations took place, not just expert-technical, technical but social, political.
I’ve known great women hackers, as the ones from donestech who have a great project Lela Coders, thanks to amaiac I knew eclectic tech carnival, which is been going on since 2002, and is a gathering of women with a critical interest in ‘Free Information and Open Standards’ technology, and there were many other initiatives lead by women interested in technology, but women tend just to do things without needing to showoff, like Margarita Padilla
Now, what I find is something different, to talk about women in tech is cool, mainly the ones promoting it are big cool IT companies, but I cannot avoid thinking that is not that society has understood that women can like technology, that they can be good at it, that is fun, I have the feeling that companies need women because there is a lack of developers, they need workforce, but to say it like that is a bit hard, so is nicer to promote women in tech.
On july 13th 2013, I gave a talk in geekgirlsmeetup, about the difference between open source and free software, something that I had never done because I took for granted that the aim was always free software and that to be politically correct some used open source but that in the end it was the same, but also moving out made me realize that is not so, a lot of women don’t know what is the difference or what is free software, is quite simple to say, free software points out freedom not technology.
In this event I was quite nervous, not because of the talk but because of the context of the talk, when I arrived I found that in one of the first talks of the event, the women in tech that were set as reference were the women CEO of Facebook, Google, etc, and the aim seemed to encourage women to become like them… mmm …. why?
So I started the talk just saying, that those women for me were not the reference, that I believed in other way of creating technology, that though many times ignored a important thing is to think why do we create technology for, what is the goal. Here I come back to my origins, technology should be there be gain freedom in every sense, and free software has shown a path to it, by developing technology in a cooperative way, open, where sharing knowledge is a gift and empowering people a goal, and this way of doing is extending beyond the IT context.
Then all I can say is that I seek for free women. For me, women in tech means to empower women to make them individuals capable of contributing to the structuring of the future society, individuals who have learned to be self- determining, not to follow blindly the dictates of any organization, my wish is that they are encouraged and supported to fulfil their full potential.
The good thing was that some of the women that were present in the talk, came to me to thank other vision of women in tech, each of them had a different relation with technology, some were newbies, others engineers, software developers, all were doing different stuff, women are present in technology the thing is that people don’t see it, so maybe is time to change how to look at things not to set mainstream values as a reference.