SF/Oakland, CA January 31, 2015
Coding Like a Girl

The brand "Always" ran a campaign where they asked people to act out charades with the phrase "like a girl" tacked onto the end. Participants were asked to do things like run "like a girl", hit a baseball bat "like a girl", fight "like a girl". All the participating adults in the study took the phrase "like a girl" to mean "ineffectually" and "wimpily" and "badly", and acted out their charades accordingly. When asking young girls to run "like a girl" they took "like a girl" to mean "as hard as possible", and acted out the phrases accordingly. Heartbreakingly, at a certain age, we come to think of the phrase "like a girl" to be synonymous with incompetence. Society holds women to a standard of femininity, while devaluing and dismissing people who perform femininity. This presentation is intended to bring to attention the biases we have against people who present as feminine, especially in tech. I will use my personal experiences of being a feminine-presenting person in the male-dominated field of technology, which include being told I won't be taken seriously if keep pushing my hair behind my ear during academic presentations, my outfits being a daily topic of discussion over lunch in a research group where i was the only woman in the group, and repeatedly being assumed to be non-technical because I'm wearing a flowery dress. Let's talk about how we can work towards making tech a place where people feel comfortable presenting as any gender.