Substance Over Style, Chic Geeks

4 years ago

Tech Women of Silicon Valley


     I was motivated to write this article based on a New York Times article I read a few weeks ago titled “Techies Break a Fashion Taboo – In Silicon Valley, Showing off their Louboutins.”  The article beautifully put into context what I feel is a problem in the technology world for women – fashion bias.  Frivolous you think?  I don’t think so.  First, the technology industry is mostly male dominated.  Women make up just 25% of technology professionals.  The tech industry is mostly a boys club.

There is a perception paradox.

Some women, when beginning their tech career adopt the look of the environment they work in which is mostly males in jeans with graphic tees and converse sneakers.  Women in high level executive tech companies have said similar. 

Of course these jeans, graphic tees, hoodies, and sneakers developed over time and some men (and women) migrated to this look to be comfortable in their work environment, or to be treated like part of the group – to fit in.  But this look that developed over time has become the ‘rules of the game’ to be taken seriously. 

The Tribal Writer wrote on her blog “a dude in his late twenties – was quoted as saying how, in Silicon Valley, people don’t care if you have a “good body” or a hot car. What matters is your intellect and whether or not you’re building something cool: the kind of contribution you are making to society. He said that “feminine values” such as spending money on clothes or home décor are dismissed as “silly and frivolous.”  Really?  Buying clothing you like is a feminine value?  Having a comfortable home for your family is silly?  These are the kinds of thinking we need to change because what … the tech industry is dominated by male characteristics – but women use and buy more than 75% of the technology.  Do you see the discrepancy?

But since there are no rules and standards how to dress as a technology professional and the style definitely does not enhance womens strengths then we shouldn’t have to play this game – we should change them to fit our needs and style.  Perhaps these chic geeks are getting so much press and seem so different from their male counterparts because they are so exceptional?  Remember, 25% of the technology field is female.

The press has written a plethora of articles about high level tech women and their fashionista style.  There was the shock of Marissa Mayer’s $60,000 auction dinner with Oscar De La Renta.  She was quoted as saying “For women, you never have enough excuses to wear great shoes.”  I agree.  Another tech executive said she only wears 4-inch heels.  Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook has appeared in Calvin Klein and Prada.  Did we discuss the expensive black turtlenecks Steve Jobs wore or the expensive suits the CEO of Oracle is known to fashion?  No we don’t.

Is it really an oxymoron to see tech women that also loves to wear 4-inch heels and a tailored sheath dress?  Should we tone it down?  Why do we even care what these women wear when their talent is much more interesting?  I like their style, but admire their accomplishments.  We should be able to hold both these thoughts in our brain.  Ultimately, in our career it’s about being respected not what we wear.

These women are tech driven and fashionably styled.

I want to know what you think.  How do you feel about the New York Times article?  Are you tech women that dress down to fit in/to get ahead?  Or, are you a tech woman that loves fashionable too?



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