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11. 04. 2005

Blackberry Women and Technology awards

The winners of the first annual Women and Technology Awards have been announced and the overall winner, the "champion of champions" is Jackie Edwards, an IT lecturer from De Montfort University in the U.K. Edwards, 48, was chosen not only for her own accomplishments in academia, but because she is a champion for women in technology, having herself benefited from taking courses at De Montfort which were part of the WAIT (Women's Access to IT) program, started in 1989.

"As a WAIT graduate myself, I became aware that women are under-represented in IT jobs so I decided to seize the opportunity to become key in promoting IT as a career! I realised that women represent half the potential workforce in the UK but they form only 22 percent of the IT workforce.

"I am passionate about the WAIT Course because I know that I have made a difference to women's lives because of it, and want to continue to do so."

Edwards sounds like a worthy winner. I hope this award helps her spread the word. Awards like this are obviously necessary to get the message out that women are working in technology, in every sector and succeeding in positions of great responsibility. It sounds a little 1950s to put it that way, but it's definitely part of the gap, lack of awareness that technology jobs are suitable and attainable jobs for women. While these awards were for women in the U.K., I'm upset that I recognized only a couple of the names. I plan to get familiar with all of their work. What about this- what if these awards were the "people and technology awards", would the winners be any different than the "men and technology awards"? Would any of the winners be as little known as Gillian Kent (MSN), Sue McDougall (IBM), or Jackie Edwards?

It's wonderful to see this kind of recognition, but there's a long way to go. I was just reading about how many women are CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. Comparatively few, most would assume, but maybe fifty? Twenty? Try five. 1%! Look at the line-up of keynote speakers and industry insider speakers at next January's CES. All very accomplished people, and I am looking forward to hearing their addresses, but where are the women? Some people of color? But CEA cares, there will be a lovely display of pink or "super easy-to-use" gadgets in the Technology is a Girl's Best Friend exhibit which last year consisted of a single small glass case.

There's a provocative article by Maureen Dowd in Sunday's NYT Magazine, What's a Modern Girl to Do, which addresses the other side of women succeeding in business. Dowd writes that in one study of corporate executives with salaries exceeding $100,000 a year, 49% of the men had children, but only 19% of the women did. A report released earlier this year by four British universities found that for every 16 point increase in IQ, men's chances of marrying increased by 35% while women's chances decreased by 40%. This phenomenon is certainly not going unnoticed by young women of today who sometimes seem to find "empowerment" in the sexual objectification that feminists fought so hard against decades ago. (Ariel Levy's book Female Chauvinist Pigs is a great read on this subject). Dowd's new book, coming out on November 8th is called Are Men Necessary?. Yes, until we can self-replicate...

Congratulations to the winners of the Blackberry Women and Technology Awards and the women and men who have supported them.

Full list of award recipients from the BBC.

Posted by Mia    Category: current affairs
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