Tarah Wheeler Van Vlack. (via linkedin.com)
“No one's ever written a book called ‘Women In Tech.’ That's a huge oversight that I'm going to fix.”
Tarah Wheeler Van Vlack writes these words on her new Kickstarter page called “Women In Tech: The Book!” The campaign seeks to raise $12,680 in order to craft and publish a collection of advice and stories from successful women in the tech industry, aimed at other women looking to make it in the field. The book would apparently be the first of its kind.
“We’re all working against an unconscious social bias that tells us that women aren’t a good fit for tech,” Wheeler Van Vlack continues. “We will help in a practical way by teaching you what you need to know to get into tech, and interspersing instructional chapters with amazing and inspirational autobiographies by hugely successful women telling you how they overcame their obstacles and what they love about technology as a career field.”
As CEO and co-founder of the HR company Fizzmint, previous web developer at 343 Industries for the popular video game Halo, and co-founder of LadyCoders--a group that offers advice to women in the tech industry--Wheeler Van Vlack is certainly a model success story for women in tech. The visibility of women like her could be seen as a sign that the tech industry is diversifying--however, she points out that this is not the case. “The number of women in tech is dropping every year, not increasing,” she explains. “The high point for women in computer science degrees was 1983. It's terrifying.”
Wheeler Van Vlack has assembled a team of successful tech women, including Brianna Wu, CEO of the video game development studio Giant Spacekat, to write the various chapters instructing and informing women in the field. Wu will be writing the chapter on women in the gaming industry; Erin “SecBarbie” Jacobs, Managing Partner at UrbaneSec and famous hacker, will be penning a chapter called The Founding ; and Katie Cunningham, tech author at O’Reilly Media, will write The Parent, a chapter on balancing motherhood and career. Other authors include Angie Chang, cofounder of Women2.0 and vice president of Strategic Partnerships at Hackbright Academy (writing The Crusader); Kamilah Taylor, Software Engineer at LinkedIn (writing The Developer) ; and Kristin Toth Smith, CEO of Code Fellows (The Educator).
The authors, including Wheeler Van Vlack herself, are already receiving backlash from those who’d rather not hear what they have to say. In fact, a couple of women previously lined up to write chapters dropped out altogether, possibly because of what they knew had happened to Wu in the midst of GamerGate--namely, that death threats compelled her to leave her home. “Just saying anything at all puts you in the cross-hairs,” says Wheeler Van Vlack. And yet, she says, it’s not all bad--“I've gotten so many amazing words of encouragement and hope from so many people.”
As of February 1st, the campaign for “Women in Tech: The Book” has raised $15,304 of its $28,680 goal with 24 days to go. Donating $24 to the campaign gets you a copy of the book (print or digital). Click here if you’d like to pledge, head to the kickstarter page now!
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