The Internet is a buzz with the GoDaddy.com advertisement that featured very stereotypical gender and image roles for women and men. In summary: The woman was “stupid” and model-gorgeous; the male was a computer geek and patently unattractive. They kissed, noisily and grotesquely, in an attempt to demonstrate the metaphor of the design and technological hosting services of the site.
GoDaddy is known for their very sexist commercials and ad campaigns. They are going after a specific market, obviously, and I suppose they’ll say it’s working for them.
My point is this: It’s working for them now, but what about the long term? Women are offended and associate GoDaddy with exclusion of their participation, and women are capable of long memory. What will happen to GoDaddy when the feminization of the tech industry comes to pass?
What? You don’t think that most tech, especially support which is what GoDaddy offers, will be run by women? Think again. It’s primed to be taken over by women and it will be. More women than men graduate from college. More women than men have flexible schedule ability in their lives. History also tells us the tech professions will slowly but surely be taken over by women.
According to this report by Ohio University, in the United States, women made up only 2.4% of all bookkeeper/bank cashiers and 4.5% of all stenographers in 1870. By 1930, women held 51.9 % and 95.4% of those jobs, respectively.
There are many industries that have been “feminized”. Manufacturing that involved machinery, like clothing factories, were originally attended to by men. Labor like cleaning and high-level professions like medicine used to be dominated by males. Teachers, salespeople, nurses, doctors, etc., used to all be 100% males. Think in your own life. How many male secretaries do you know? How many male OB/GYNs?
Some Sociology scholars spend their careers looking at this phenomenon and the reasons for it. I won’t dive too far into their work right now. Suffice it is to say that if a career has to do with dealing customers or negotiating with people, women will find their way into that industry and dominate it.
Enter tech. A barely-presentable, mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging male neanderthal of a computer genius being relegated to the server room never to emerge is a stereotype built on a myth. Server guys have always had to deal with managers and site owners, and the ones who were gruff and had zero people skills were phased out. But still, the stereotype remains and GoDaddy is banking on the fact that “good tech” needs that neanderthal at the keyboard. What is really happening? Managers are learning that most of tech support isn’t in the tech; it’s in the technique. And with women out-graduating and out-producing men in this country (especially in “minority” populations), managers will realize that anyone can learn the tech, but not everyone is life-trained for the technique.
Tech now is about being able to code AND relate to customers. To work in tech now you have to be what I like to call a PACK animal: Personable, Adaptable, Creative and Knowledgable. You don’t need too much bursting physical strength. Sometimes you do need long-range physical stamina. But when it comes to being a (*snort, snort all you want, sexist mules*) PACK animal, women are perfectly prepared to do the “heavy-lifting” those customer-service-oriented positions entail.
In a few years, the numbers will shift permanently. They have in the past and they will again. It’s all quite predictable.
You know what won’t shift? Women’s memory. We are watching you, Go “Daddy”. We won’t forget.
And like male-and-female-run Anonymous says: Expect us.
My minor studies in Sociology at the University of Pittsburgh
A relevant Google search, including the ohiou.edu link to the .ppt presentation: https://www.google.com/search?q=feminization+of+secretary+labor&btnG=Search&hl=en&tbo=d&rlz=1C5CHFA_enUS503US504&revid=365831375
Photo credit: Mike Licht on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/notionscapital/5286943856/sizes/n/
Some kind of write up about British tech, a little skewed: http://mariehicks.net/writing/meritocracy.html