Martha ‘Atha’ Simanjuntak: Women Should Be Tech-Savvy!
Judy Wajcman, a sociologist and techno-feminist, in her book titled Feminism Confronts Technology said that technology was inherently neutral so both men and women should have the same status in terms of feelings and rationality. However, in real life, women are less well-represented in the world of technology.
It may be caused by the stereotype that women are somehow second class citizens, unable to actualize themselves. History actually dictates the opposite; Ada Lovelace successfully invented an analysis model of Babbage machine, which was considered as the initial computer, in 1842. Grace Hopper, an American navy captain was responsible for the creation of the predecessor of COBOL, a widely-used programming language, in 1954. Women’s contributions to the development of science and technology have been invaluable for our societal progress.
In order to become a developed country, we need tough people who are able to survive in today’s information age. Indonesian Women IT Awareness (IWITA) is trying to push for more tech-savvy women so that they can use information technology as a medium of self-actualization and self-development.
Martha ‘Atha’ Simanjuntak, Chairlady IWITA and Creative Marketing BBS student, has been active in the organization since 2009. Having experienced the technology industry for more than 10 years, Atha noticed that women’s views on technology were at somewhat of a remove compared with men’s perceptions. She focused on gender equality, and found a lack of information technology skills in Indonesian women.
“Women need to have skills comparable to men, such as in leadership. Women use more feelings and intuition, though. So, for self-actualization through technology – which is comprised largely of cold, logical, male-centric disciplines – it’s still hard,” Atha explained.
It all started with a talk about gadgets in a smart-phone group. Atha then had an idea to develop women’s skills in technology. Together with her two partners, Atha finally decided to establish an organization which could increase the awareness of technology through four main activities: awareness, learning, implementation and socialization.
Atha believes that IT could help women to develop their skills, take chances and do their daily activities. “Lately we can see many cases related to IT, in which women are disadvantaged. With a high awareness of IT usage, women can provide more for their family,” said Atha.
With the Internet, and the proliferation of smart gadgets, a woman who wants to run a business could be more easily supported. “To reach a higher position in a company, women must have skill-sets similar to men. Having a strong understanding of IT could answer that need,” said Atha.
Other than managing IWITA, Atha is a mother with two children and a director of a company dealing with education, technology and tourism. “For me, to become a successful woman, we should have a purpose in life, then passion and adequate skills to support it. Those are very important in the journey of my life,” said Atha.