I was a little uneasy about tackling this article, so first I ran an all-women poll on Technical.ly’s internal Slack.
The subject of the poll: The name of a women-in-tech meetup group called ChickTech Philly. Fire emoji for “it’s fine,” poop emoji for “it’s dumb.”
(Full disclosure, poop emoji won 7-0.)
And boom, my initial concerned was echoed. Is there a sexist tinge to using the term “chick” in reference to women? Does it feel, as one community member expressed privately, reductive? So many questions.
I went to Sarah Herrmann — Communications and Career Events Director for the Philly chapter of the national organization — with these thoughts. Herrmann, who penned this guest post for Technical.ly introducing the group last fall, She said it was the first time she had heard that type of feedback, and that the focus was actually about promoting and retaining women’s presence in the IT field.
Spread across 13 cities, the national organization is run by a network of 60 volunteers. Here in Philly, the meetup group is currently at 412 members, a decent number despite being established in the fall of 2016.
“I can see how ‘chick’ might rub some folks the wrong way,” Herrmann said in an email. “However, mostly we have been greeted with enthusiasm. I think the idea of the name is to be more playful and reach all ages as we are looking to create fun and hands on events for both women and girls.”
Speaking of events, the group is hosting its next gathering on Thursday titled “Being Your Own Best Advocate: Growing & Maintaining Your Network.”
Here is lineup of speakers:
- Mikal Harden, cofounder of staffing firm Juno Search Partners
- Kristina Evans, recruiter and content writer
- Sam Glasberg, Director of People Operations at Stitch
- Kelly Poulson, VP of Coaching and Development at Allen & Gerritsen
As the group continues to grow its presence in Philly, the main question remains: Can the organizers actually turn the table on its name and make “ChickTechies” (their term, not ours) synonymous with women empowerment in tech?
We’ll be watching.
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