Be Visible: The High Visibility Project

As a web designer and developer, not to mention someone who spends a ridiculous amount of time online, I’m pretty keen on technology. I’m also pretty keen on teaching it and reaching out to marginalized groups to learn it, because I think it’s so awesome that everyone should have a part in it.

One of the aspects I often focus on is women in technology. I write about it, speak about it and even run a group that offers programming and web development classes aimed at women. In fact, it was because of that group that I first thought of recording the stories of our teachers and students on video to share with others. Then I expanded the idea to include all women working in technology to share their stories. So I made the High Visbility Project.

What do I want the project to accomplish? Sometimes I feel the discussion about women in STEM fields forgets about the individual women and I wanted all the amazing women I know to tell their individual stories, which rarely follow a normal path. I also think that for young girls or women seeking a field change, hearing the range of stories and learning what challenges other women have faced inspires and builds more confidence than any bottom-down diversity initiative could ever do.

And it would be great to hear as many stories as possible. If you’re a woman working in technology with one to share, please submit!


Jen is a writer and web designer/developer in Columbus, Ohio. She spends too much time on Twitter at @antiheroine.

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  1. Great idea. I just went to a 1-day Python conference. There were 2 women out of about 40 attendees. I hate the idea that huge sections of STEM might not even be considered when my daughter grows up, unless she’s as socially oblivious as I was as a young’un (and social obliviousness has its own set of problems).

  2. I WANT to be working in technology and science. I have a B.S. in environmental science and tons of ArcGIS experience. Unfortunately right now I’m washing dishes and chopping vegetables. Grrr.

  3. Jen, this is so fucking relevant to my situation right now, I could KISS you.

    I have a background in GIS (geographic information systems) that I qualified in back in New Zealand. I’ve since moved to San Francisco, and am using this as an opportunity to try and transition into the tech/development sector. I have done some python and html in the past, and have picked up java & ruby (self-taught), but have no real practical experience professionally. I would *love* love to reach out to other women who are trying to do the same thing. It’s so hard to make that first step, and get that first job. How do you get someone to take a chance on someone relatively unproven and inexperienced?

    I’m also trying to learn rails. Any guidance gratefully accepted!

    1. You are in the perfect location to learn. :) SF has a ton of great groups and programs that focus on reaching out. Railsbridge (http://railsbridge.org/en) offers workshops about Rails. Women Who Code have regular meetups and hack nights and welcome beginners: http://www.meetup.com/Women-Who-Code-SF/. You should also join the Devchix mailing list: http://www.devchix.com/ It’s a really great community of women.

      It is really hard to break in. My recommendation is to start networking. Find other meetups, connect with people on Twitter, don’t be shy about sending out introductory emails asking for internships. Getting to know people, and letting people know you, is the best way to find someone who is willing to take on a beginner. Ask for mentors and advice. Go to conferences, even if you feel the subject matter is outside of your scope. You never know what opportunities will pop up. :)

      And feel free to email me if you need/want anything else! I’m always available for Skype chats and the like.

      1. Thank you! My google-fu was failing me. All the women/dev things I kept coming up with appeared to be inactive (sarah mei doesn’t appear to have run anything anytime recent for instance). I’ve just signed up for a bunch of meetups. This is so exciting! :)

  4. Yes, well done! I am in a similar boat. Arts background, now 30 and getting a second undergrad degree in CS. So far it has been the Calculus and physics that greatly challenge, while the CS classes have been fun. Here’s hoping it continues that way.

    Visibility is so important; like you, I never considered computers or other STEM fields when I was in high school, and no one put them out there as an option. Thank you!

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