Wednesday, February 20, 2013
I love being asked to talk to groups of women or girls. Especially high school girls who are a future untapped resource for technology and so if I can move just a few of them to consider tech I'm happy.
Last week I had the opportunity to do just this at Wycombe Abbey in England. Wycombe is my alma mater and one of the top girls schools in England. Really smart kids (and definitely privileged, but that is not their fault). It was surreal for me to go back for the first time in 34 years as I had left swearing never to go back (yes, I was a terrible rebel in high school) but walking around the school and talking with staff, old friends and kids I was transported back and it was not all bad.
I took the opportunity to challenge the girls with three ideas that dramatically influence them today and will shape what future they craft for themselves. A few gasps, some embaressed laughs (yes, I said porn and pornification a few times) but overall I think they were intrigued by...
1. Software is everywhere - being able to write and understand software is as important now as being able to read and write. High school students spend on average 10 hours a day working with software, they just don't know it.
2. You are being watched - every action you take is being stored and analyzed and this creates a fascinating area called Big Data. Understand it, tap into it and have fun with the technology. Build you own app.
3. Don't believe what you see - women are objectified, hyper-sexualized and diminished by our media (advertising, TV and movies). Don't buy into the stereotypes. Educate yourselves so you see it, and see through it, and then get involved in changing it - become a part of #NotBuyingIt. Yes this is where I showed some shocking images and said some shocking words, but my 16 year old niece told me afterwards it was "cool".