Chick Tech

ChickTech: Supporting Women in Tech

Technology

Chick Tech

As a dad of three daughters, I often wonder whether my kids will choose to enter the tech field, and what sort of barriers they may encounter there. So I try to battle the “math is dumb” attitude, and I’m always interested in programs that encourage girls to get into STEM, like the Girls Make Games Camp I’ve mentioned before. Here’s another program I just found out about recently because it was started by some women here in Portland–though it is expanding to several other locations.

ChickTech is a non-profit that aims to put more women in tech–starting by giving high school girls the opportunity to work on technology projects. Their programs are totally free for the students, so they’re raising funds on Indiegogo to expand their reach. Currently they have chapters in Portland, Seattle, and the Bay Area, but they’re hoping to add several more cities in the coming years.

Take a look at their fundraising page for more information. My own kids still have a few years yet before they’re in high school, but I would love to see them get involved in this once they’re old enough.

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9 thoughts on “ChickTech: Supporting Women in Tech

    1. I’m entertained that your wife doesn’t mind being called a girl…besides that and in addition to my other response, what does “Chick” mean to you? I’ve never heard it used in a derogatory or negative manner in my lifetime. Thank you for educating me! I’ve asked some girls in our program and people in our organization and we are not sure what meaning it holds for those who feel so strongly about it.

    2. Hi, Miles—the name “ChickTech” is the name of the organization, which was founded and run by women. While I generally don’t refer to women or girls as “chicks,” I think this is meant as a way to reclaim the term in the tech world, where women are often not welcome.

  1. We appreciate that some folks seem to feel strongly about our name, ChickTech…but what about what we are doing? During my short time volunteering with ChickTech, I have seen every girl in our program experience things outside of their comfort zone, I’ve seen girls stand up for themselves when there are forces that may bring them down or challenges they have faced and I’ve seen them start their own networks of smart, confident young women. These girls are better for having been in the ChickTech program and I’ve seen so many of them blossom this year. I hope that you won’t look at the name of an organization and judge what impact and success it is having without doing your homework…I hope we can move past what name, race, color, or other diversity profiling may arise from past programs that are no longer use to us and the future generations.

  2. To reply to all points in one –

    The validity of what “ChickTech” is doing isn’t in doubt, don’t take criticism of the name as criticism of the task.

    Regarding the name itself – the terms “Chick Lit” or “Chick Flick” are overtly patronising, they imply easy reading / watching romance with lots of clothes and make up – they are not terms of empowerment. Taking things the other way, you would no doubt consider “NegroTech” to be overtly exclusive, old fashioned and patronising.

    “what does “Chick” mean to you? I’ve never heard it used in a derogatory or negative manner in my lifetime” – Carla Clay.

    Then I humbly suggest you have not had enough experience of the world – it is used that way, frequently, all use of the term is consciously or unconsciously demeaning.

    The term “Chick” is deliberately disempowering, “She’s just some chick”, “Ah it’s just some bird I know at work”. It is in no way positive and there is no way you can “Reclaim” or take the term back – best just to not use it.

    To sum up – Be aware that the name “ChickTech” is turning a lot of people off and is considered patronising and offensive by a lot of people regardless of how valid your mission is.

    (Cultural identity – 37 British Male, married father of two, one of each, 2 & 4.)

    1. Miles, I agree with you that “chick” has certainly been used in a derogatory manner (and I’m not sure how Carla Clay could claim that it hasn’t) but I can also assure that—at least here in the US—a lot of women use it affectionately and in a way that empowers them.

      Just the way that “girl” has ALSO been commonly used as an insult (by boys and men), in phrases like “you run/throw/hit like a girl,” there’s nothing inherently insulting about the word “girl.” It’s how you use it that defines whether it’s an insult or praise. (See Always’ #LikeAGirl campaign: http://www.always.com/en-us/likeagirl.aspx)

      So your comment that there is no way to reclaim it or take it back—I disagree. People have reclaimed all sorts of formerly hurtful terms and turned them around in the past. I think the name “ChickTech” is intended to push some buttons, to make you think about your own assumptions about women in technology. It’s meant for those who have been belittled by the tech industry—maybe having been called a “chick” by somebody in a derogatory way—to see that they can still have a place in that world.

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