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Beyond the ‘Brogrammer’: she++ Breaks Stereotypes

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It’s not all boys’ toys and geeks in glasses: the she++ Video Library takes on tech industry clichés.

By Amber Rockwood and Alyssa Vann (Co-directors, she++ Video Library)

Through movies like The Social Network and The Internship, mainstream media has created a misleading image of the individuals who make up the tech industry – a bunch of hoodie-clad guys, typing obsessively at their laptops at 3 a.m., fueled by caffeine and junk food. Even this past week, the trailer for HBO’s new comedy TV series “Silicon Valley” featured no women, and a plethora of stereotypical male programmers.

Our Mission at she++

At she++, we’re trying to change that. We want to introduce you to the women in technology – the software engineers, designers, and program managers – hacking cool things all across the tech spectrum. There are countless women making an impact on the world through their contributions to technology. And regardless of whether you’re not sure if CS is for you, you’re one of few women in your CS classes, or you’re joining a company as their first female engineering hire, many of these women have been in the same position. With this in mind, the she++ Video Library team has set out to interview these women and feature their inspirational words of wisdom as part of the she++ Video Library, which launched exactly one week ago.

The she++ Video Library team hopes to make accessible these reflections on both the challenges and the triumphs, accompanied by the advice that these women have to offer. We want to show you what the unfavorable statistics don’t – the stories behind the stereotype-defying trailblazers in the field. In the video library, we hope you find someone whose story resonates uniquely with yours, and we hope you pass on their story, so together we can inspire the new generation of female technologists.

The TechStories Channel

For launch, we’re excited to present you with six women’s stories as a sampling of what is to come for the she++ Video Library’s TechStories channel. From Masha Sedova, a security expert who learned to code from her grandmother, to Jessica Lord, co-creator of GitHub and Government and prolific open source contributor, each of these six women’s stories include successes, failures, and everything in between, and we’re sure they will inspire and empower women at any stage in their CS journey.

As co-directors of the Video Library, we’ve approached the project at very different stages in our study of computer science. Amber is a senior entering a career in software engineering after graduation; Alyssa is a freshman who was inspired by the she++ Conference last April to join the team. We’ve been joined by our research and content lead Gabbi, also a freshman, whose passion for the intersection of politics and computer science has pushed us to seek out those who apply their computer science knowledge to government, biology, art, and beyond.

The Interviews

At first, the task of finding amazing participants, interviewing them, processing hours of content, and pushing the results out on a weekly basis seemed impossible, especially on a student’s schedule. But, the enthusiasm we’ve been greeted with by companies and participants alike has made all of this possible. Over the past 4 months, we’ve had the chance to visit companies such as Facebook, Salesforce, GitHub, Palantir, and Asana, where we’ve met dozens of individuals whose enthusiasm for supporting the next generation of women in technology has led them to bravely get in front of a camera and share their stories.

This initial launch of six videos is just the beginning! Every Wednesday, we’ll be releasing a new addition to our collection of TechStories. We will feature people from a diversity of backgrounds, interests and careers, including men like Justin Rosenstein (Asana co-founder), who are equally invested in attaining gender parity in CS. Eventually, we will expand beyond the TechStories channel to include a TechBytes channel, which will feature technical content, taught directly by individuals in the field.

Today we are releasing a video featuring Zavain Dar, a Symbolic Systems major who founded a startup, worked as a data scientist and now serves on the Investments Team at Innovation Endeavors, a venture capitalist firm. We have plenty more in store for you with the she++ Video Library! So, watch the launch videos, converse in the comments, and spread the word to aspiring girl geeks!

What other stereotypes do you think do a disservice to females in tech?

Amber_photoAbout the bloggers: Amber Rockwood is a senior at Stanford graduating in June in Symbolic Systems with a focus on Human-Computer Interaction. She’s interned as a software engineer at MindSnacks, and looks forward to joining Zazzle as a user interface engineer.


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Alyssa Vann is a freshman at Stanford planning to major in Computer Science. She attended the International Baccalaureate Program at Lamar Academy, McAllen, Texas. Inspired by the she++ Conference in April of her senior year, she now hopes to inspire other young women to try CS.