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The Blog

Finding Ada - tech heroines & stereotypes in the Czech Republic

March 24th, 2009

Ada Lovelace Day is a blogging event created by Suw Charman-Anderson:

“Recent research by psychologist Penelope Lockwood discovered that women need to see female role models more than men need to see male ones. That’s a relatively simple problem to begin to address. If women need female role models, let’s come together to highlight the women in technology that we look up to.”

There are a couple of people I would like to mention locally: Tania Le Moigne is the boss of Google cz and Jane Gilson is the CEO of Microsoft in the Czech Republic. It is particularly important to see these people in leadership roles in tech companies in the Czech Republic.

As I’ve said elsewhere - at the last TechCrunch meetup in Prague, one of the participants in the pitch-off claimed that his product was “so easy that your wife could use it”!  He clearly wasn’t  addressing his comments to the men in the room who are married to software developers. And he definitely wasn’t talking to the women in the room - who made up maybe 1% of the total head count.

Strong gender stereotypes* exist in the Czech Republic. I hear my students say things that people of a similar age in the UK would definitely not: ‘I’m not going to hire any more women because they’re not technical’ for example. I argue that by making assumptions about abilities based on gender, we are removing 50% of the potential pool of talent in a country which has a small population to start with.

As well as business leaders such as Tania and Jane, I also want to highlight the achievements of the women involved in Girl Geek Dinners CZ: typically women who are going against the grain to follow their vocation in IT in the Czech Republic. If you would like to meet some of the Girl Geeks in the Czech Republic, we shall be gathering on Thursday for our monthly Girl Geek Dinner meeting.

* A false friend is a word that looks like an English word but has a very different function. When I start conversations about stereotypes, my Czech English students launch into a description of their daily itinery - talking about their schedules or their general habits - things that are repeated and unchanged. This is a dangerous false friend. Consider the statement “Stereotypes of Black people and women are negative and harmful” bearing this in mind.

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