Monday Jan 18, 2016

CrossFit and Coding: 3 Lessons for Women and Technology

Yes, it’s January again. Time to act on that New Year resolution and get into the gym to burn off those holiday excesses. But have you got what it takes to keep going back?

Here’s Sarahi Mireles (@sarahimireles), our User Experience Developer in Oracle’s México Development Center, to tell us about how her CrossFit experience not only challenges the myths about fierce workouts being something only for the guys but about what that lesson can teach us about coding and women in technology too…

Introducing CrossFit: Me Against Myself

Heard about CrossFit? In case you haven’t, it’s an intense fitness program with a mix of weights, cardio, other exercises, and a lot of social media action too about how much we love doing CrossFit.

CrossFit is also a great way to keep fit and to make new friends. Most workouts are so tough that you’re left all covered in sweat, your muscles are on fire, and you feel like it's going to be impossible to even move the next day.

But you keep doing it anyway. 

One of the things I love most about CrossFit is that it is super dynamic. The Workout of the Day (WOD) is a combination of activities, from running outside, gymnastics, weight training, to swimming. You’re never doing the same thing two days in a row. 

Sounds awesome, right? Well, it is!

But some people, particularly women, unfortunately think CrossFit will make them bulk up and they’ll end up with HUGE muscles! A lot of people on the Internet are saying this, and lots of my friends believe it too: CrossFit is really for men and not women. 

From CrossFit to CrossWIT: Women in Techology (WIT)

Just like with CrossFit, there are many young women who also believe that coding is something meant only for men. Seems crazy, but let's be honest, hiring a woman who knows how to code can be a major challenge (my manager can tell you about that!).

So, why aren't women interested in either coding or lifting weights? Or are they? Is popular opinion the truth, that there are some things that women shouldn't do rather than cannot do?

The reality is that CrossFit won't make you bulk up like a bodybuilder, any more than studying those science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) subjects in school won’t make you any less feminine. Women have been getting the wrong messages about gender and technology from the media and from advertising since we were little girls. We grew up believing that intense workout programs, just like learning computer languages, and about engineering, science and math, are “man’s stuff”. And then we wonder where are the women in technology?!

3 Lessons to Challenge Conventions and Change Yourself

So, wether you are interested in these things, or not, I would like to point out 3 key lessons, based on my experience, that I am sure would help you in some stage of your life: 

  1. Don't be afraid of defying those gender stereotypes. You can become whatever you want to be: a successful doctor, a great programmer, or even a CrossFit professional. Go for it!

  2. Choosing to be or to do something different from what others consider “normal” can be hard, but keep doing it! There are talented women in many fields of work who, despite the stereotypes, are awesome professionals, are respected for what they do, and have become key parts of their organizations and companies. Coding is a world largely dominated by men now, with 70% of the jobs taken by males, but that does not stop us from challenging and changing things so that diversity makes the tech industry a better place for everyone

  3. If you are interested in coding, computer science, or technology in general, keep up with your passion by learning more from others by reading the latest tech blogs, for example. If you don't know where to start, here are some great examples to inspire you: our own VoX, Usable Apps, and AppsLab blogs. Read up about the Oracle Women in Technology (WIT) program too.

I'm sure you'll find something of interest in the work Oracle does and you can use our resources to pursue your interests in a career in technology! And who knows? Maybe you can join us at an Oracle Applications User Experience event in the future. We would love to see you there and meet you in person.

I think you will like what you can become! Just like the gym, don’t wait until next January to start.

Related Links

Sunday Nov 15, 2015

Women in Tech: Where Are They?

Watching thousands of techies storm the floors and swarm the 20+ summits at Web Summit 2015 was an extraordinary experience. As I really looked at the people walking around, though, I couldn’t help thinking, “Where are the women?” Of course I saw women, but I saw far fewer women than men.

Web Summit Centre Stage

Web Summit Centre Stage

Not relying on my own unofficial observations, I noted a V3 article that not only validated my observations with reflections that mimicked mine but went on to share this data point from Capgemini: “only 18 percent of speakers at Web Summit 2015 were women.”

To be fair, though, throughout the Web Summit, significant awareness was placed on the ever troubling lack of women in professional roles in tech. Hearing different speakers and panelists comment on the state of Women In Technology (WIT) got me wondering: Who exactly are WIT? And why wouldn’t more women pitch up “at the best technology conference on the planet” (Forbes)?

Unofficially I asked somewhere around 50 +/- people from both inside and outside of the software industry to tell me who they think WIT are. I found it interesting that the majority of those who answered mentioned engineering, scientific, and developer job titles or gave me the name of a woman they know who holds a role with a similar job title.

These responses got me thinking about the shape of WIT—who’s in, who’s out. Without a doubt, those women who hold roles with technical job titles are in. But what about those women who have dedicated their entire careers to the tech industry but don’t hold job titles that include the word engineer or developer—women, for example, who design (but don’t build) software or those who write about how to extend or customize software?

Shouldn’t women who’ve built careers in technology and who’ve spent years deep-dive learning about specific industries, domains, software, platforms in order to write content that enables users, as well as those who who’ve spent years designing user experiences as well as developing conceptual object and data models, or those who occasionally code—but never held a job title that includes engineer or developer—count, too?

Microsoft’s Peggy Johnson, EVP, Business Development: Partner, thrive or die session

Microsoft’s Peggy Johnson, EVP, Business Development: Partner, thrive or die session

During my three days at the Web Summit, I attended as many sessions as I could in which women were speakers or panelists. I was hoping to learn from them—learn more about the “who counts” aspect of WIT, as well as hear creative proposals or solutions that address the gender imbalance in the tech world. While today’s grassroots efforts, such as Black Girls Code and CoderDojo, are fantastic, we need to proactively create a next generation of tech women, or we will simply continue having this same conversation.

Sinead Murphy’s “commitment to change” gave me hope that the momentum towards such change is increasing: “As part of an initiative we’re [Web Summit] running to even the gender ratio at our events, we’re giving 10,000 complimentary tickets to our events to women in the tech industry across the world – we hope that it will, in some small way, contribute to solving the problem." The Web Summit will invite “10,000 female entrepreneurs as [Web Summit] guests in 2016.” The Women In Tech Summit will be held in Lisbon next year.

An equally remarkable commitment was announced at Oracle OpenWorld 2015. Oracle CEO Safra Catz announced Oracle’s plan to build a new public school, d.tech, saying, “I’ve realised it’s absolutely critical that big companies like ours […] to do something because when you look at the statistics, you realise there are simply not enough women in the pipeline in the math and science education areas.” For more about this new high school, read the diginomica article, Oracle OpenWorld 2015 - Safra Catz on the tech industry's female talent pipeline problem.”

Clearly these are excellent examples of forward movement. But we—ALL women who work in tech, as well as our male colleagues—have the opportunity to step up and do more. The challenge of drawing more women into all types of tech roles—no matter the job title—belongs to each and every one of us. What will you do?

Learn more about Oracle’s WIT in these inspiring stories. And be sure to check out the Oracle Women in Technology Program.

Saturday Apr 26, 2014

Conferencia OWL: Día Internacional de la Mujer

Our How to Get Started in a Career in Tech piece was well received worldwide. As a follow-up piece, I asked Sarahi Mireles (@sarahimireles) to share more about an Oracle Women’s Leadership (OWL) event held in Mexico to inspire more women to explore and excel in different roles in the information technology field.

Sarahi writes:

El pasado 10 de Marzo, Día Internacional de la Mujer se llevó a cabo un evento para todas las mujeres de Oracle por parte de Oracle Women Leadership (OWL).

La visión de la fundación OWL es crecer y llegar a las futuras generaciones, así como desarrollar mujeres líderes y tener un mayor alcance a la comunidad de mujeres en el ramo de TI.

Leticia Moguel Paz, directora de vantas de Mary Kay

Figura 1. Leticia Moguel Paz, directora de ventas Mary Kay

Leticia Moguel Paz, directora de ventas de Mary Kay, nos dio una conferencia muy amena a todas las mujeres Oracle en la que nos retó a: creer en nosotras mismas, tener iniciativa, prepararnos, practicar para ser mejores, perseverar, nunca dejar de aprender, ser mujeres de carácter, rodearnos de personas positivas, y tomar nuevas responsabilidades que nos impulsen a crecer.

“Lo importante no es lo que te sucede sino como reaccionas a lo que te sucede.” Estas fueron las palabras de Lety al hablar acerca de la toma de decisiones. En cuanto a ser mujeres exitosas, Lety dijo “Tenemos éxito cuando nos vencemos a nosotros mismos.”

Todas las mujeres del MDC Oracle en el evento

Figura 2. Todas las mujeres del MDC Oracle en el evento 

Fue un excelente desayuno y sin duda una excelente conferencia que a mí me dejó con muchos retos. Si quieres saber más acerca de OWL, puedes leer aquí una pequeña reseña de sus comienzos.

[English Translation]

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