Yesterday, an idea I had with a few others (hackofthesexes.org) got some much deserved attention/heat on twitter. The idea of a boys vs. girls challenge in the tech space sparked a lot of controversy because let’s face it – it is a controversial topic. In the past, women have been outnumbered and seemingly outperformed in this area. I think this is about to change.
Much of the heat came from people who were opposed to the premise and thought that dividing the sexes is counter-productive and a step backwards. That, in addition to the fact that the original site verbiage was not entirely clear, led to some decisive feedback. Some responders posted thoughtful articles on the topic. – binary curious , genders and drop down menus – and I think a collaborative and open discussion is very important and needs to happen.
A little history
I played sports as a child, and my town’s soccer clubs were co-ed… so since I was 5 years old I have always felt there was an equal playing field between men and women. The truth is that there is not, especially when it comes to women in tech and women entrepreneurs. But the FACTS are that women are as capable and are as inspiring as the many men who get the higher pay, publicity and the attention.
Up to the challenge
A few weeks back the military lifted the ban on females in combat roles. This great accomplishment was met with some Sunday morning pundit conversations that questioned whether lifting of the ban would lower the standards for our front lines. This reinforced what I already knew was true, some people believe that by involving women we have to operate at a lesser level. I disagree.
The idea of a friendly contest was born out of the above premise. I wanted to be part of something that inspires women to get involved. I feel that “women focused” hackathons just prove that we can’t hang with the boys and women tend to shy away from gender neutral hackathons because typically men dominate those arenas. This is a BIG dilemma. I believe that we all add unique value to the creation of powerful ideas because of our differences in race, sex, social status, economic standings, etc. Creating a platform where everyone is invited and encouraged to share ideas presents a unique opportunity. By providing a friendly competition where women are challenged to work with other women, but also challenged to compete on the same playing field as men was intended to create a foundation for involvement, not division. The hope is the combination and promotion of great ideas from both sides can lead to a really powerful results.
This is an idea that is still in the works and worth debating thoughtfully. Don’t You?