If Steve Jobs had been a woman, let’s say called Stephanie, one has to ask whether she could have gone on to be the leader of Apple. Not because of a lack of brains, or innovation skills or imagination, but because she would have found the environment in which she worked so unpleasant she might have decided she’d rather work in some other field which didn’t make it so hard to progress.
Maybe Stephanie would have gone on to excel in some other sphere, or maybe her innate creativity was sufficiently specific to the world of computing that her amazing skills would have been permanently lost, but as the recent story of Adria Richards —known as "Donglegate"― reminds us, women and the techie world isn’t a match made in heaven ―at least as yet.
«Somehow tech culture is stuck back in the Stone Age and, given the vile abuse that was generated by Donglegate, it seems unlikely it’s going to clean up its act fast»
I’m a female physicist, and I’ve frequently found myself in a minority of one in a meeting room, or a somewhat larger minority at conferences, but the sort of hostility which seems to pervade the world of PyCon —where Donglegate took place― and the like is beyond my experience. I don’t believe academic science is full of misogyny, although it may be full of people (men and women) suffering from a bellyful of unconscious bias.
Pirelli calendars no longer grace my department walls and I haven’t seen a woman asked about her engagement ring and child-bearing intentions for a long time at interview. Somehow tech culture is stuck back in the Stone Age and, given the vile abuse that was generated by Donglegate, it seems unlikely it’s going to clean up its act fast.
So, if Stephanie Jobs had been born, I suspect she might have been inclined not to fight against the tide just because she had so much to offer, but to take her skills to an arena which was better able to appreciate them and treat her decently at the same time.