Hi Mark Nutter - finally, as promised, here is my lengthy response to the great points you raised in your comment:
Firstly, thank you for taking the time to share this — it is always good to hear alternative points and, as a parent, I totally understand where you are coming from.
My response is this — if school said your daughter did not need to learn to write, would you stop teaching her? In years to come, I believe there will be no need for us to write — we will convey our message, and interact with others, via audio and video. From writing almost all our communications in time gone by, most of us now type them. Before my grandfather’s death last year at 97, he had typed all of his correspondence versus the many years he had spent letter writing.
You are right that there are a lot of pro-STEM media — perhaps too much for many but there is no avoiding the fact that the industries of tomorrow, the jobs of tomorrow will all lead back to a greater understanding and use of tech. Nurses will use tech. Ballerinas will perhaps improve their dance techniques and share their work and performances via tech. There is simply no escaping it… in my opinion.
I think all our children should consider STEM, and technology, in particular as a major part of their education. A fundamental subject as much, if not more so, than the English, Geography, History etc we were taught as kids. So perhaps a better way to address this is to consider it an essential field and make it part of the curriculum (this is already happening here in the UK)? If a child accepts that it is fundamental to their learning and any choice they make career wise, and it can be made fun via the likes of Kano, Technology Will Save Us etc. then perhaps we are already half way there to make kids, especially girls who have traditionally been left out of this relationship, more drawn to it?
In terms of getting more women into tech — there are two reasons I personally feel women should enter the field — one is selfish on my part and perhaps the other could be considered selfish on behalf of women. The first part is that I believe the tech industry as the most empowering of all industries — what it allows all genders, races, abilities to do is far more powerful than any other, yet it is male-dominated due to several reasons — some outlined here. I want more women here to make it more diverse because that is important on several different levels from equality to customer experience to building better products and businesses.
The second reason is because I don’t want women to be left out of what will be the most important seismic industrial shift we will see in this and the next generation.
I have never advised any woman to enter tech because of the money and I hope this is not something being brought up when children are encouraged to enter the field. Like you said. finding meaning and doing a job you love and feel passionate about is 100% the way to go. What I have found though is that a woman who is empowered to be whatever she so desires is an incredible force and that is what I encourage — women, and young girls, to be empowered. So that they can set up their own business, work on their own terms, find their niche and do this at the same time as e.g. being a mother who is able to drop off their kids and collect them from school each day. This is my own experience.
I also agree with you that the noise around women in tech is traditionally about the negatives (such as discrimination, pay disparity etc) and that is why I actively fight it on a daily basis and why I wrote Female Innovators at Work. I am fortunate to have worked in several different industries and I know from friends that these issues are by no means restricted to tech.
I love how you talk about your wife and her role as a mother and homemaker and I always say this is the most important job of all however, like Mills from ustwo, I would also love to see it not be just a woman’s job. As I mentioned previously, I am a mother too and thanks to technology, I have been able to write and start a business, whilst being a full-time mother. This would not have been possible even 10 years ago. So I get that we should allow all people to be what they want to be and follow the exact path or paths they so choose but I want to continue actively encouraging people — especially women and girls — to enter the field of tech because I believe ultimately, it will be more critical to one’s path than learning the ABC.