Scott Hanselman

Hanselminutes Podcast 203 - Women in Technology in the Muslim World

March 06, 2010 Comment on this post [12] Posted in Africa | Podcast | Programming
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Abeer and Lamees My two-hundred-and-third podcast is up. I was in Egypt and had the opportunity to sit down with Lamees and Abeer, two successful women in IT. Lamees is a programmer transitioning to Systems Analysis, and Abeer is a veteran Senior Systems Analyst and Agile Project Manager at Dashsoft. Nearly 50% of the people at Cairo Code Camp are women. What is Egypt doing right to encourage so many women to choose technology as their career?

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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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March 06, 2010 3:50
Great show, thanks.
March 06, 2010 6:01
Great show. And interesting take on their culture.

I did feel like there was a lot of white washing and sticking the head in the sand though. I've been to Egypt before and don't remember much equality at all. I did not deal with the IT world though.
March 06, 2010 11:02
Awww, sounds like a lovely trip. I have done the Munich and Moscow run and I know PDX never looked so good coming back
March 06, 2010 11:02
And Dang your boys are getting big!!
March 07, 2010 17:18
@Sam Rizzo:
well we still have a large percentage of husbands who doesn't like their wife to work, mainly because they think that they should spend a lot of time with their children which is better than leaving them at some nursery and go to work.
But in the newer generations there are more women going to work.
March 08, 2010 11:58
While it's great to hear about this possible trend in Egypt, the interview seemed to be a little unrealistic and biased. I find it hard to believe that broadband penetration in Egypt is as high as was insinuated, and after doing a little googling, I can't find much evidence of this (although broadband growth is reported to have been very positive over the last several years there).

Also, the recent report Scott cited that 1/3 of the U.S. was without broadband could be a little misleading, and it pays to dig a little deeper into the results of that study (although I agree in general that the U.S. should have better broadband penetration).

As an American currently working in Kuwait, I don't really feel the vibe put forth by the women interviewed (although this is just from my experience in Kuwait and the gulf region).
March 08, 2010 13:20
This was a great podcast! One of your very best.
Thanks Scott.
March 08, 2010 18:15
I keep seeing it mentioned everywhere that we need to change something so that more women enter the IT/Software Engineering fields. I personally disagree with that approach. I am of the mindset that we should make sure our places of work are inclusive of all types and not worry about who walks through the door with the resume. We should be blind to their gender, race, religion, etc. The focus should be on the quality of their work and what kind of person they are. Are they good at what they do? Do they strive to improve themselves in their profession? Will they work well with the team? Are they dependable and trustworthy? If they happen to be a woman, fine. If they happen to be a man, fine. If they happen to be purple, green, yellow or blue, fine.

I find it a bit counter productive towards a goal of equality to single out a group of people based on a criteria that is irrelevant to them fulfilling their job expectations. If I were hired to be a token female, token Hispanic, token anything for the SOLE purpose to allow the employer or team lead to say "hey look we are an equal opportunity employer" then I would be offended. I want my work to speak for itself. Isn't the point to move away from this type of behavior?

If you (the collective, not you Hanselman) have to explicitly force yourself go out and hire someone based on gender, race or religion then I think you should look long and hard to ask "Is my team really willing to include these types of people?". If the answer is "yes, their is nothing here that would keep xyz from becoming a member of this team", then keep hiring the right person for the job and trust that you don't have to force it to happen. There are females aplenty who can make great software and one day one of them will walk through your door and her skills will be exactly what you are looking for at the time.
March 08, 2010 18:36
"Thank you..."
Gals Scott, gals :-)
March 11, 2010 20:07
@Sam Rizzo and others

Yes, it is true that woman in various parts of the Muslim world aren't treated with the respect that the deserve as far as education and other rights are concerned. However, as a Muslim man who happens to be a software engineer living in the West, there seems to be a proclivity in the Western media to generalize such treatment as commonplace all across the Muslim world, and that is totally unfair. As far as the religion is concerned, there is absolutely nothing in it that prohibits a woman from obtaining an education and working outside of the home. In fact, the former is actually encouraged. The latter isn't encouraged, but it isn't prohibited either. This lack of encouragement is usually only true when there are young children concerned because Muslims consider the family unit especially important, and their men would rather have their wives raise the children in such a time, than a third party who naturally wouldn't have as much interest in their well-being. Anyways, I'm glad to see when any such stereotypes are diminished, and much thanks to Scott for providing the video!
July 09, 2010 19:04
According to my view it is really deserved to be compared with Lamees and Abeer. According to me women are deserved double appreciation as compare to men.
September 05, 2010 12:49
So the only difference between men and women is that women wear the hijab. Come on - get real!

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.