To be quite frank, I’ve never noticed any difference in my daily dealings with my work colleagues; they treat me just like anyone else and I’ve never been made to feel inferior as a woman.
Other women’s experiences are obviously very different from mine. The truth is I also sometimes fall to wondering why I’m the only girl in the working group and even the department as a whole. I suppose it’s a situation that, albeit irksome and even incomprehensible, we just grow used to in time.
The picture at university was very similar. I studied telecommunications engineering at Valladolid University. This has always been a male-dominated career but, despite this, I’ve never been treated unfairly in terms of attitudes, results or job opportunities.
This unfairness nowadays is reflected in the lopsided number of men and women employed by technology firms. In my opinion it is the duty of all of us to work towards a change of mindset in society to close this gap.
This is why when GMV asked me to take part in Castilla y León’s “STEM Talent Girl” initiative, I jumped at the chance.
This program gives us the chance to serve as role models and mentors for girls with a budding interest in a technology career. Participants range from schoolgirls to female undergraduates, all of whom are brought into contact with the mentors most suited to their particular interests. As another part of the initiative, prominent women in Castilla y León’s STEM scene give monthly chats on their career, progress and driving forces so far.
It strikes me as a huge stride forward that so many university and government associations are now striving to kindle girls’ interest in a technology career. Not only are these girls invited to take part in workshops but they are also told about what sort of work a telecommunications engineer might do, information that was very thin on the ground when my studies began.
Serving as a benchmark and support for girls is not in fact a new role for me. For years I was the trainer of an ostensibly mixed-sex basketball team. The trouble is, as is only too well known, the sports world is even more gender skewed than science and technology, so very few girls in fact came forward at first.
One of my biggest accomplishments during this stage was to make these girls feel just as valued, skilled and able as their male counterparts, after a tough year fighting against such stereotyped comments as “girls can’t play basketball” or “I ain’t playing with girls”.
As I write now it seems obvious that ten-year-old girls are just as capable as boys of the same age bracket, but I promise you that their self-confidence at that time was rock bottom. By the end of the year, however, the number of girls of that age signing up from the team had more than doubled.
Another factor that argues clearly against the supposed weakness of women in STEM careers is the growing number of towering professionals I’ve found along my own career, ranging from the chemistry teacher who helped to open my eyes in my school years to my current women work colleagues. All of them, from my point of view, are just as capable of successfully tackling an important technological task as mothering their children, and it is precisely this twofold talent that makes their careers special.
To wind up with a final reflection: I’m sure that, on the strength of today’s spadework, we’ll be able to look back in a few years with satisfaction on the debunking of stereotypes, helping also to raise the profile of technology and telecommunications and bring home their importance to the whole of society regardless of their gender.
Keep the good fight going!
Author: Mónica Ruiz
Las opiniones vertidas por el autor son enteramente suyas y no siempre representan la opinión de GMV
The author’s views are entirely his own and may not reflect the views of GMV