Use sexism to raise awareness rather than using feminism as lobbying group to get people fired, says Lady Geek Founder

“Rather than use feminism as a lobbying group to get people fired, we need to use these examples of sexism to our advantage, to raise awareness of the problem,” Belinda Parmar, Founder of Lady Geek and Little Miss Geek told Reuters recently.

Women in STEMLady Geek and Little Miss Geek was launched to encourage more girls to take up careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM).

Parmar advised industry professionals to “think of some of the amazing women working in technology, and get them to explain why they - and we - belong in the sector.

“Education systems need to demystify STEM and make it about real-world issues. There's also a psychological aspect to it: women and teenage girls hate to "fail", even more so publicly. Coding, for instance, is very much about trying over and over again before you find a solution.”

She said that she had previously heard the statement "girls aren't cut out for a career in science and technology" many times and that she decided to launch Lady Geek after her own experience of trying to buy a smartphone in a phone shop.

She explained: “The male sales assistant was 15 years younger than me, thought I knew nothing about technology and made me feel alienated because I didn't know the difference between a terabyte and a megabyte.

“So I thought "I can't be the only woman in Britain who loves technology and doesn't want to operate in this kind of environment". I did some research and found that a third of all British women feel patronised by the tech industry.”

She later advised major companies and she asked to speak to some of the women who were making their products to which she received the following response: “Well there's this woman in human resources, or this one who's a personal assistant.”

“That pretty much summed up the problem for me,” Parmar said.

She told Reuters that STEM industries have an image issue, which turns young girls from considering a career there: “The perception of people working in tech is one of geeks who can't get girlfriends/boyfriends, which has a huge impact on whether girls decide to pursue a career in STEM. One 10 year-old girl I spoke to told me she'd rather be a garbage collector than work in technology.

“You have to give women an environment where they can comfortably ‘fail’, so that they persevere in the subject. Regardless of your gender or the topic you're studying, I think schools should focus more on teaching entrepreneurial skills, and less on rote learning.”