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Meet the 'wogrammers': the women breaking gender stereotypes in the tech industry

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This week Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg posted on her timeline about an empowering new word which she is hoping will catch on in Silicon Valley.

Wogrammer.

The term was coined last year by Facebook engineers, Erin Summers and Zainab Ghadiyali to dispel stereotypes surrounding people working in STEM careers.

The pair have said that the typical image society adopts of people in tech is of the ‘brogrammer’:

“The alpha male bro who stays up all night and is hacking, and kind of this group of guys building amazing technology. The reality is there are women doing amazing things out there.”

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Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg

In a piece written for the Huffington Post, Summers and Ghadiyali said that they were fed up of the media representation (and lack thereof) of female STEM workers – either being portrayed in unrealistic ways (just this week there was a social media backlash against exactly this), or described on the basis of their families and personal lives, saying:

“The few articles that showcase specific women in tech create an unattainable archetype of a woman that somehow manages to run marathons, raise a family, always looks impeccable, and marginalizes the amazing technology that she built.”

“Would anyone mention a male CEO's family or hobbies in an article about his company? Do professional men get asked about work-life balance on a regular basis?”

Wogrammer is intended to reject this idea, instead drawing our focus on women’s positive achievements in STEM industries, moving the conversation away from negative female experience.

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Together, they have interviewed over 50 female engineers and celebrated women including Mary Lou Jepsen, co-founder of the non-profit organisation, One Laptop Per Child; Brina Lee, a programmer at Instagram, and Regina Luki, who built an educational machine from recycled materials.

“The more voices of real, authentic woman engineers we can share, the greater hopes we have of breaking stereotypes and focusing on what really matters - the technical achievements of women engineers,” say the duo.

In support of the campaign, Sandberg posted on Facebook to say:

“Thank you Erin and Zainab for showing us what women engineers look like, and for inspiring the next generation of women in technology. All great women out there -- post what you’re proud of building with the hashtag‪#‎wogrammers ‪#‎LeanIn”

Following her book, Lean In, in which she investigated the reasons behind the lack of women within leadership positions, Sheryl Sandberg has become somewhat of a spokesperson for raising awareness of the discrepancies between men and women, specifically in the world of tech.

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Meet a few of the wogrammers below...

You can support the campaign by sharing your story or nominating someone by emailing wogrammer@gmail.com the campaign by liking the Wogrammer Facebook and Instagram accounts. 

Words: Harriet Hall / Images: Wogrammer, Rex Features

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