Sunday, March 15, 2015

Day 73 SxSw Session: Can Fandoms Fix Tech Gender Gaps

Day 73  SxSw Session:  Can Fandoms Fix Tech Gender Gaps

There were so many conflicting times for sessions today it was difficult to select the one I wanted to go to this morning at SxSw Interactive. I ended up selecting Jessica McDonalds session “Can Fandoms Fix Tech's Gender Gap? “ because it referenced an area I knew nothing about “Fandoms”

Having been tuned into Girls and Technology for over 15 years,  its easy to end up in an echo chamber where lots of us who are interested in this topic explore the same issues and offer the same strategies over and over. The title of Jessica’s session offered a potential strategy I had not heard yet.

Jessica McDonald’s session was a mixture of statistics you have seen on the TechSavvy Girls blog before, personal stories, passion, and data from a recent survey she conducted by reaching out to girls interested in Fandom. The first thing I had do do was look up Fandoms.

From Wikipedia 

“Fandom (a portmanteau consisting of fan [fanatic] plus the suffix -dom, as in kingdom) is a term used to refer to a subculture composed of fans characterized by a feeling of empathy and camaraderie with others who share a common interest. Fans typically are interested in even minor details of the object(s) of their fandom and spend a significant portion of their time and energy involved with their interest, often as a part of a social network with particular practices (a fandom); this is what differentiates "fannish" (fandom-affiliated) fans from those with only a casual interest.
A fandom can grow up centered on any area of human interest or activity. The subject of fan interest can be narrowly defined, focused on something like an individual celebrity, or more widely defined, encompassing entire hobbies, genresor fashions.”

Jessica noted that many female fans are avid users of Tumbler and through their use of Tumblr have have actually become quite tech savvy.  Yet,  their answers on the Jessica’s survey reflected that 37% of them lacked confidence in their technology skills and 28% of them didn’t know how to go for help with technology question.

From the data collected, Jessica has isolated two barriers that we have the power to fix

#1 The Confidence issue

        37% I don’t know and don’t think I can learn

#2 Not knowing where to go for help

        28% I don’t know where to go for help

This summer, her company, Spark Fun will be piloting a Pop Culture Hack Camp  where 20 girls will spend one week experiencing a hacking culture followed up by mentoring program.

I think this is BRILLIANT There are plenty of “send your daughter to camp” opportunities. There are tech savvy women who are very interested in mentoring younger girls. How brilliant it is to connect these two concepts.

I was unable to find information about where you can apply, yet, but promise that I will post the info on this blog as soon as find the information.

Great job, Jessica McDonald on not only compiling and sharing research, but also on taking action and be willing to pilot a solution.

Although TechSavvy Girls Summer Camps have offered a one day mentoring opportunity to girls during our Power Lunch with Women in Technology, this might be something worth looking into.

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