For museum professionals, Museums and the Web – an annual conference focusing on (you guessed it) the intersection between museums, audiences and technology – is an exciting opportunity to learn about the latest trends, have hallway conversations with people you’ve only heard about through their projects or blogs, and be blown away by ideas that turn around (in a good way) your professional growth and projects. MW never fails to be the week where one can come away feeling refreshed and inspired to think about audiences and technology in new ways.
Among the many themes that bubbled to the surface, one of the most compelling was a professional forum on women, technology and leadership in museums. My friend and colleague, Emily Lytle-Painter, education technologist at the J. Paul Getty Museum, led this tough, but much overdue discussion to lead the museum community toward cultivating an environment that supports and encourages female leaders in museum technology.
According to an American Alliance of Museums 2012 report (pdf), women make up 70% of museums, 17% of museum technology; 20% of computing, 10% of tech Fortune 500 executives/board
Both women and men came together in this forum to discuss the imbalance between the number of men and women in the technology community, specifically in museums. Stories emerged about gender bias in the workplace — women not being taken seriously by contractors, not taking credit for their projects or feeling unsupported to take on leadership roles.
We asked ourselves, why women are highly represented in some areas of the museum field, but not others? How can the women in current leadership roles make changes that create a space for young female professionals to own their careers with intentionality? What resources and training, can a professional community support future leaders in this field? More questions were raised than solutions, but I walked away feeling part of a united front, driven to create a future that actively challenges the myths and champions women doing amazing things in museums and technology.
To compare our industry with others, Business Insider recently reported some interesting stats. Pitch Interactive’s Ri Liu and Pinterest engineer Tracy Chou have compiled data that shows just how large the gender gap is at some of today’s biggest tech companies.
“Dropbox, for example, has 134 men on its engineer team and only nine women. Mozilla is another extreme scenario, as Chou’s data shows that there are 457 male engineers and only 43 female engineers.”
Other resources about women in technology:
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