GISgirls – where are the women? 4 theses

Typically GIS and geodata nerds are male. Anyhow, 99.9 % of our contacts, freelancer sign ups, comment writers here on the blog are boys. But where are the GIS girls and women?

There must be thousands of well educated, very interested hackathon-proven GIS ladies out there.
In order to getting in touch with that obviously shy species, I formulated 4 theses about GISgirls. Hopefully many active GIS and geodata girls (and women) will read that and comment in the bottom section. I would be very happy to get your feedback!




1. GISgirls are so busy because of their skills

I daresay that GISgirls are widely demanded for integrated projects in every field of digital geography, because they are more empathic and could react fast on changing requirements and teams. That’s why they haven’t got time to post things on the internet and do stuff unrelated to their jobs.


GISgirls are busy
GISgirls are busy

One GIS woman could do both 🙂 Anita Graser. Check out her outstanding blog.

Update: bwilkes posted an interesting story map from Morgan State University with the title: Women in GIS: Helping Map a Better World. Have a look on the fullscreen map, or add your name to the map if you’re a woman in GIS. The map contains 5 topics: 1. Women in education, 2. Women in business, 3. Women at non-profits, 4. Women in government, 5. Students and women who previously worked in GIS.

2. GISgirls aren’t intrested in GISboys

Sometimes GISboys could be quite irritating I must confess. Long hair, ugly jokes and nerd-like projects. Actual they aren’t so nasty as you think :). Try to get in touch with them, they won’t bite.

nerds in the wild

Another reason could be, that the strong represention of boys in the comments and authorship of this and some related blogs frighten girls from participating as emancipated member of the group of authors and contributors. Never fear! – GISgirls are happily invited to join our blog.

3. GISgirls love to do rather the thematic stuff than the basics

It could be, that girls and women are rather drivers than mechanics. They aren’t interested in the technical backgrounds of some GDAL-operations or python-scripts, but in achieving project goals and exploring new conclusions for recent questions based on the usage of GIS and geodata techniques. The combination of spatial comprehension with grasp of technical methods and sensitiveness for the issue is a wanted skillset for interdisciplinary projects.

4. GISgirls use other communities

My last idea is, that girls might rely on other sources of information. Often they use verbal interaction to solve problems. Boys usually read blogs and google results for hours in order to avoid social contact to anyone.


What can we, as blog and as boys, do to raise your attention and participation?

Join our free freelancer listing, if you’re interested: GIS and geodata freelancer list and be an author of this blog. Please write us: info@digital-geography.com

P.S. In the line with the research for this article, I found the interesting Association for Women Geoscientist. Maybe It could be interesting for you out there.

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Sasa Sullivan
Sasa Sullivan
5 years ago

I am a GISgirl 🙂

Alix H
Alix H
5 years ago

Let’s start by not relying on stereotypes. I’m a young woman in GIS. If you start with the assumption that I am all of these traditionally “feminine” traits (empathetic, sensitive, non-technical, afraid of complexity, focused on the big-picture rather than the science), you’re doing women in the field a huge disservice. Yes, we need a diverse array of perspectives, but attitudes similar to what you write in this piece are what keep women out of STEM. I hope that in my career I am valued not because I offer a “feminine” perspective, but because I’m good at what I do.… Read more »

Jakob
5 years ago
Reply to  Alix H

Hi Alix, thanks for your comment and the thematic input. With these 4 theses I only want to find out, why here are so many active boys ans just few girls. Of course this post shouldn’t be interpreted as a disservice.

Cindy Williams
5 years ago
Reply to  Alix H

Agree with Alix H. I have a Bachelor of Science in Applied Geoinformatics (Computer Science and GIS), and will be starting my Honours in Computer Science and Information Systems soon. I can make pretty maps if I want, but I choose to focus on the programming and database side of GIS, and to develop enterprise GIS solutions based on client needs. I’ve also found (and now I’m speaking in very broad, general terms) that my male colleagues are more likely to be vocal about their skills (in meetings, online, wherever) than the females are. I prefer to post on my… Read more »

Adele
Adele
5 years ago

Here I am! 😉
I’ve studied geography and next week my apprenticeship as a geomatician will start. I love geography, maps and working with different software, but I guess, point 3 is really true for me. I’m a very creative woman. But I’m looking forward to learn the basics of geo-specific programming, etc. Maybe some boys are a little bit to nerdy about programming, but really not all of them! 😉 I’m in preparations for a blog about geo-stuff and me and will let you know when launching.

Jakob
5 years ago
Reply to  Adele

We’re really interested in your new blog. Please share!

Rodrigo Principe
5 years ago

I should be a girl to reply, I know, but I just wanna say thank you jakob for the post! I enjoyed reading.. and my opinion is that N°1 applies for some GISgirls that I know. 😉

Hayley Hume-Merry
5 years ago

GISgirl here! With such a small GIS industry in New Zealand, I definitely find myself leaning towards more Women in Tech communities rather than specific GIS communities. I’m currently completing my Postgraduate Diploma but working on launching my personal website and blog when I get a chance.

Jakob
5 years ago

Great! Kind regards to New Zealand

VeronicaLatLng
5 years ago

Hi there, GIS girl here! 🙂 First of all: I wished GIS and CS boys in general would stop using the word “empathetic” all the time when refering to women in technical fields! Everytime I hear it it makes me want to vomit! 😛 Secondy, the reason I choose my GIS friends carefully is the obnoxious behaviour I sadly encounter from men most of the time – Especially once they reach a critical mass in a classroom, they typically try to test me to find knowledge gaps to feel vindicated about their “superiority”. When they don’t find any, either after… Read more »

bwilkes
bwilkes
5 years ago
Reply to  VeronicaLatLng

From a GIS Mom–I know what you mean about the competitive aspect, but I think they DO do this to other men. But then they often just brush it off. Don’t take it personally. 🙂 It’s just an insecurity thing!

bwilkes
bwilkes
5 years ago

GIS girl/Mom here–Number 3 sounds a bit cliche, but it is striking a chord with me! (sorry another cliche)–at least in our “IT”-focused household, my husband, a web programmer/manager is “Mr. Fixit” and is always fascinated with how things work. If things (software OR real-world hardware stuff) break, he sees it as a challenge or interesting puzzle. Whereas I just see it as a hassle. And I often don’t really care HOW it works, I just want it to work so I can do things with it. I am happiest when software does what it is supposed to and I… Read more »

Anushka Bose
Anushka Bose
5 years ago

Hey there!! Not a complete GIS girl here!! Did my graduate studies in nature conservation and chose to work out geospatial solutions for environment management and species conservation. The line was unusual and out of the league, plus with a very small developed community towards GIS (for nature conversation in India) back then, it was more-less an individual effort. I faced a lot of criticism too, because illiterate-old school idiots in the world of nature conservation back then believed “environment management” is something that can only be done on-site AND not in an air conditioned lab-clicking the mouse over a… Read more »

Della Robertson
Della Robertson
5 years ago

I am a middle school teacher who taught to students after school on Thursday. I had 6 – 8 grade boys and girls. My 6th grade girls took to it like a duck to water.

I am a female with 42 years in the classroom. I completed my Environmental GIS certificate in 2012 and am a T3Ger…2015. I look forward to the upcoming school year.

bwilkes
bwilkes
5 years ago

Awesome!

Della Robertson
Della Robertson
5 years ago
Reply to  bwilkes

Thank you. Would be nice to map GIS women for putting something together at the school for GIS day.

bwilkes
bwilkes
5 years ago

http://storymaps.esri.com/stories/2014/WomenInGIS/

This map may be just what you need. 🙂

Jakob
5 years ago
Reply to  bwilkes

Great source. I’ll include that map into this post.

Della Robertson
Della Robertson
5 years ago
Reply to  bwilkes

I’m on this map. I’ll do some analysis.

Thank you.

Ilaria
Ilaria
5 years ago

I am a GIS girl. Not empathic at all. 🙂 (Please, enough with stereotypes about women) I have a great experience in thematic stuff, but that’s because during my Master in GIS and Remote Sensing there were no courses about GIS programming and similar. But I was really interested in technical backgound, so I decided to learn these stuffs on my own. I read books about how computers work, about algorithms, I had an online course on Python (I am very satisfied of that course, I recommend it to everyone, it is the “MITx: 6.00.1x Introduction to Computer Science and… Read more »

Jakob
5 years ago
Reply to  Ilaria

I think our readership would be very interested in your material about satellite image characteristics. Please contact us for author login: info@digital-geography.com

Ilaria
Ilaria
5 years ago
Reply to  Jakob

That’s great Jacob! :))
In the next days I will try to find some hours (between my CS books and my German course) in order to think about how to develop the article(s) and to translate my text to english.

Joseane Carina Borges de Carva
Joseane Carina Borges de Carva
5 years ago

I am a GISgirl 🙂

In Brazil!

Heather Hillers
Heather Hillers
5 years ago

Sweety Dahling, Dahling Sweety, Sweety Dahling. 1. Yes. I am busy. I am up to my neck busy. I work in a sector where the pay is low and you get to have responsibility for everything in the entire universe. And I love my job. I am passionate about my job. I have to trick myself into shutting down my computer every night. When I go home, I have no idea what to do with myself, and I really wish I could go back and finish that last thing. But I have a kid. And people expect me to spend… Read more »

bwilkes
bwilkes
5 years ago

You are awesome. You will find balance. 🙂 Keep on working, and mom-ing, (and wife-ing too). Just don’t spend too much time in cyberspace.

Riccardo
5 years ago

Heather, thank you for your contribution to this discussion.!

Helen Widdicombe
Helen Widdicombe
5 years ago

Lets look at the company I work for. Our office: one man one woman, the larger office, 1 man 1 woman, the GIS Administrator who resigned was a woman and the one who died of a heart attack recently was a man. That’s 50% women! Oh and they’ve just taken my predecessor back on part time while he studies. (man).

Lexi Araoz
Lexi Araoz
5 years ago

First off, I thought this article was hilarious. I laughed and smiled and contemplated the accuracy the whole way through. As a 3rd-year student working in a GIS Center for the past 1 1/2 years, I do agree with you…Where are the other women?? Most of my classmates are male, and I work with all men (and boys – haha), as well. While I’m not against this and I get along with them well, I do often wish there was another woman in the office or the classroom. I attended a state-wide award ceremony this fall where 5 students were… Read more »