On one hand, the tech industry likes to think of itself as open-minded and inclusive. On the other hand, tales of rampant sexism in the industry keep bursting forth like dandelion seeds.
There are signs that more women are starting to brave this male-dominated sector — changing it as they do — and one of those signs was highly visible at Google’s giant developer’s conference in San Francisco on Wednesday.
Google said that nearly 1,000 women registered for the conference, comprising 20% of the total number of attendees, up 8% from last year. That line got a big round of applause.
Google also trotted out two women presenters on stage and featured female developers in its promo videos during the keynote.
This follows news that women are signing up to earn computer science degrees in record numbers at some universities.
Women engineers can’t join the ranks soon enough to help ensure future tech products work well for both halves of the population.
One subtle example was the smartwatch mania happening on stage at I/O. Nearly every Google exec was adorned with a smartwatch, mostly the large square-shaped LG G watch.
LG advertises the G watch as being stylish for women. But CNET journalist Sharon Profis pointed out that the watch on Google’s Avni Shah looked like it was falling off.
Android Wear, Google’s new platform for wearable devices like watches, was a major theme at this year’s conference.
Google also showed photos of the round-faced Moto 360 smartwatch, which might work better for smaller wrists. But for smartwatches to really succeed, they are going to need more people designing for women. More female developers having hands on the products as they’re being designed will certainly help.