A week ago, the world was enraptured by the first ever photo of a black hole. It was a historic milestone of astronomical proportions, and a woman was behind it: Katie Bouman, who, at the age of 29 was key to developing the technology which allowed humanity to produce this incredible image. Many have been raising their voices in protest of a woman being put in the foreground and given her due credit for this feat, claiming that it is...sexist. What?
It's not news that the internet is full of hate, and we certainly won't be debating that here. It's easy to hide behind a screen to say whatever you want, that's more than clear. What I am interested in analyzing is why every time a woman is behind a technological and scientific feat, some people insist on seeing it as something discriminatory against men. Friends, I remind you that this is the other way around anyway.
It's clear that Katie Bouman is just one of the people in a large team, and she made it perfectly clear herself. But what's the problem with putting your name in the foreground? Someone always takes the spotlight, right? So, why not a woman? This should be seen as a positive thing in these times, since before women were completely ignored from the great technological, scientific, artistic achievements. Instead, it's seen as a woman taking away a man's opportunity to shine.
The truth is that discrimination against women is still the order of the day. In all areas, but also in this one that concerns us in particular: that of technology. A study a few months ago, which you will find part of in the article in the link above, collected testimonies of women workers in tech who complained about not being taken seriously. Yes, now, in the 21st century. Yours truly has suffered it herself in the form of comments in my articles scorning the simple fact of talking about women in my articles or with more flagrant things such as reminding me to go back to the kitchen, where I seem to belong by the mere fact of being a female. Not only that, every time we talk about discrimination on our website there is someone saying that "men are better at technology" or that "women don't like this field and that's why there are fewer in it". And this is not to mention the other less pleasant ones.
Well, no, folks, nothing could be further from the truth. The female presence in technology has existed since the beginning of time. Remember the great Margaret Hamilton, the first software engineer in history who was also responsible for the arrival of man (yes, man) to the Moon and who was not known in her day, just to name one. And, there are more and more women entering STEM now, making it less exclusive.
Even children are increasingly aware of the role of women in science. In fact, a study published last year by Northwestern University (Illinois, United States), and also echoed by The Washington Post, which analyzed 5 decades of drawings that are part of the "Draw a Scientist" program. The data are enlightening: only 3 out of 10 children drew a woman. And even if you think it's a ridiculously low figure, it's a triumph. Yes, that's right. And that's because it has gone up from 0 in the 1980s, to 3 in 2018.
"Given this change in stereotypes, girls in recent years may now develop interests in science more freely than before," said the study's lead author, David Miller, a doctor of psychology. "Previous studies have suggested that these gendered science stereotypes may shape girls' interests in science-related activities and careers.
You can say it louder, but not any more clearly than that. The greater the presence of women's achievements in the media, the more their work is published in sector magazines - something that many say is much more difficult than for their male colleagues - the more visibility they have, the better. For them, for us and for future generations.
The presence of women in the most important technological contests
You don't just have to be an outstanding personality in technology to have a presence. As you know, from here we cover the most important tech events, where professionals from the sector from all over the world meet. Well, two things can also be observed here: that there are more and more women and that it is still insufficient. Here are just two examples:
Here's an example to illustrate that more women are being included: the MWC conference has a Women4Tech program, which has been running for 3 years and dedicates its efforts to giving a voice to women at the event and to promoting diversity.
And yet, here we have another example which shows that there's still not enough inclusion: CES has not, for the second consecutive year, had any women as speakers on any of its panels. CES still feeds the sexist narratives that many have been working to change according to Mashable.
Hope for the future
As with everything, let's stay positive. Nowadays, it's not completely taboo to put a female name in history books. One searches under the stones to find all those that were relegated to a second, third or non-existent plane, and one gives voice to the new generations of women that march forward. Feminism is no longer a taboo for many women, and increasingly, many men.
a person who supports the belief that women should have the same rights and opportunities as men
So no, feminism is not a "trend", nor should we fight to achieve it because it's popular at the moment. Equality of rights and opportunities for all people is something that must be fought for always, and at all levels. Including here.