Women In Tech PGH Challenges Idea That ‘You Need To Know How To Code To Work In Technology’

Nov 26, 2019

Women make up about one-quarter of technology workers in the U.S., and women of color are underrepresented to an even greater degree. An online community, Women in Tech PGH, aims to support and uplift women working in tech by compiling information about job opportunities, resources and events all in one place.

Cybersecurity engineering graduate student Alison Falk founded the site last year as a place to spotlight women in Pittsburgh's tech sphere doing interesting things. They come from a wide variety of backgrounds, from chemical engineering to music to psychology.

The profiles are meant "to dissolve this myth that you need to know how to code in order to work in technology," Falk said. "By highlighting people who have these positions that don't fit into the stereotype, we can create awareness for other folks who want to break into the industry."

But creating change isn't just about hiring more women or people of color, according to Falk. Instead, companies need to actively create an inviting and inclusive atmosphere.

"I know a lot of people face microagressions and harassment in the workplace, and sometimes coming forward will put that person more at risk," Falk said. "These are just very uncomfortable conversations, and I think people are just afraid to have them."

Falk also runs the online publication Sex Tech Space, which looks at the relationship between technology and issues like sex work and reproductive health. She said she's been called a bad role model for women in tech because of this work, but said it's important to her that her work portray women as multifacted people.

"In order to be perceived as professional, we shouldn't have to dilute or sanitize ourselves into G-rated versions of humans in order to ... 'set a good example' for younger generations," Falk said. "It's important and vital for this to be part of the conversation around inclusion as well."