Saturday’s Montreal Gazette has an interesting story about women in Montreal’s tech community.
But while I’m thrilled to see a focus on the hard work of Montreal Girl Geeks organizers Liesl Barrell and Sandy Sidhu and an acknowledgement of the important role women are taking in Montreal’s tech scene, I feel taken aback by one of the article’s assertions:
A decade ago, it was unfathomable for such an organization to exist; now, women are flocking to Montreal Girl Geeks for events and resources, thanks in large part to its high level of engagement on social media. One needn’t look any further for an answer to the oft-asked question, “Where are all the women in tech?”
- Studio XX, a bilingual feminist artist-run centre for technological exploration, was founded in 1996. I remember having trouble getting a spot in their HTML classes and attending a crowded celebration for Art’s Birthday. They’re still very much alive and active.
- I was a part of Webgrrls Montreal when Joya Balfour officially founded it in 1997. I remember going to Webgrrls meetings in 1995 and 1996. The room booked for Webgrrls meetings was always packed.
- Adele McAlear co-founded DigitalEve, a non-profit group for women in new media and digital technology, in 1999. I don’t know much about DigitalEve but I understand it’s been popular and successful.
Those are just a few of the organizations that I know about firsthand or have heard about. I moved away from Montreal for nearly six years and came back in 1995, so my reference points come from what I know. But I’m willing to bet there have been other many organizations supporting women in tech, even before 1996. It’s frustrating to see the efforts women have made to improve the situation for other women go unnoticed.