Sorry for the non-witty title. I struggled with “The SEO Chicks Want More Girls” but that didn’t sound quite right…
The SEO Chicks are proud to introduce a new guest blogger section because a) we’re tired of writing all the damn time and b) there are some insanely fantastic women that we know in this industry and we’d love to showcase them. We’ve all been as busy as a cat covering it up here on the blog, so it’s something we’re very excited about.
We’re also really fond of some of the blogs that aren’t constantly on the radar, so look for a few guest bloggers that may have kept things quiet until now. We’re not quiet types, although I do pretend to be at times what with being Southern and carrying a parasol all the time, but we do recognize that much of the best perspective in this field comes from people who are marching to the beat of their own inner Clem Burke.
So we’ll keep you posted (ha!) on this new series and please feel free to make suggestions on which writers you’d like to see here. To qualify, these writers should be either 1) female or 2) happy to make public appearances wearing women’s clothes.
You can either just leave a comment on this post or email us at seochicks[at]yahoo.co.uk
Warning: if you’re a miserable misogynist, stop reading now, as this post contains information suggesting that women might not actually be as stupid as you seem to think we are.
Judith’s recent post about women in tech drew a comment about Grace Hopper, a woman who was involved in the development of COBOL (I can barely type “COBOL” without shuddering). This, in turn, led me to comment about Ada Lovelace, who is credited with being the first computer programmer. It all made me think about the role that women have played in the development of computing as we know it today. With that in mind, here are a few more notable women who’ve paved the way for all of us to enjoy technology.
The ENIAC Programmers
Their story is incredibly fascinating. Kathleen McNulty Mauchly Antonelli, Jean Jennings Bartik, Frances Snyder Holberton, Marlyn Wescoff Meltzer, Frances Bilas Spence and Ruth Lichterman Teitelbaum were chosen out of 80 programmers to physically program switches, digits, and cable trays in order to determine ballistics trajectories for the US Army in the 1940s. The ENIAC Computer soon became the world’s first stored program computer, giving these six women the distinction of being the only programmers to have ever programmed it on the machine level.
Alexandra Illmer Forsythe
Credited with writing the first computer science textbook in 1969, she was also a noted computer science instructor at several universities, including Stanford University.
Evelyn Boyd Granville
One of the first African-American women to earn a doctorate in mathematics in the US, Granville worked on the computing behind the first US manned missions into space and to the moon.
Erna Schneider Hoover
While working at Bell Laboratories, Hoover developed a computerized switching system for telephone traffic, replacing the hard-wired system. She was awarded one of the first software patents for this achievement, and became Bell Lab’s first female supervisor of a technical department.
So, you see, not all women are destined to make tea and just look pretty. I would like to say that Lisa HAS, in fact, made tea for me and it was lovely. I guess some of us can do it all.
Ylayn Ousley also known as SEO Fangirl messaged me last week through facebook and said she was coming over from Paris to London at the weekend. I’ve met Ylayn once before at SES London and love her humoristic blog about men of SEO, but I knew little about her as a person.
We met in central London and literally didn’t stop talking from the minute we met….We went for dinner at a really nice Indian restaurant and literally talked SEO and online marketing for 3 hours straight. This girl has got a serious business head and more passion for online marketing than you can throw a stick at. And she is also delightfuly crazy =) It’s fantastic to meet up with other people that shares your passion for the industry, to bounce ideas from and share your frustration with. So if you see Ylayn at a conference be sure to go up and talk to her, she is one intresting fun girl!
This weeks Girl Geek Dinner (which is more snacks than actual dinner) is about Women in Technology and breaking down the barriers. Another topic on the blog and elsewhere has been about the perception of women in technology. Lisa had a great interview published and it got me to thinking about some stuff I’ve had happen to me lately.
We are different, apparently, us female SEOs. I did miss the memo and so when I?ve been reminded, it?s always been a shock. I?m not sure what it is, but somehow my DNA must have an anti-tech bent to it so that as a woman, I cannot possibly be good at anything technical. Or reading map directions. So I suppose the female SEO is a genetic abnormality, making me odd (but I knew that already).
There have been some great female SEOs and usability experts and web developers that have done the conference circuit, blogged and made a name for themselves while paving the way for the rest of us who followed silently. These women have really been excellent role models for everyone – not just seo-chicks *winks* They have really helped change attitudes.
Despite all these fantastic women have done for us, I have experienced discrimination as recently as May 2007. In my darker moments it seems like it doesn’t matter what I know – the perception is that as a female I can’t possibly know what I’m doing.
I don’t want special treatment for being female. It would be nice to be recognised for what I know, how long I?ve been doing it and for the contributions I?ve made by writing my own articles (as well as blogging here) along with speaking at conferences. I did start young but so did all the guys in the class with me plus the sysop who ran our line in to the internet. We all started early together.
The people I have worked for in the past have been spectacular at supporting me and believing in me – especially when they saw my results. And to my female programming teacher who tried to stop me taking the PASCAL programming class because ‘programming was no place for a girl’ I still say 😛
Join me at Girl Geek Dinners Thursday August 16th for which FREE tickets are still left. For geeky women, by geeky women ? men can come but only in the company of a woman. You sign up for FREE at http://londongirlgeekdinnerparty.eventbrite.com/ password: girlygeekdom
In case you happen to be thinking “how can Julie work a song by Gary Numan into a post?” here you go…the title is my favorite Gary Numan song (Gary rules! go watch his stuff on YouTube) and since I’ve been working over in London this week with some of the best people on the planet, I thought I’d address the topic of how easy it is to become insulated when you’re doing SEO.
If you wanted to, you could make good money doing SEO without ever seeing another human being. You can learn enough to get started by reading blogs, posting to forums, and communicating with other SEOs via email, instant messenger systems, or phone calls. You can write your content, throw up sites, run PPC campaigns, and provide clients with their reports all without ever meeting them.
Most of the interaction that I have with other SEOs and clients on a daily basis is conducted over IM and email. I have all my favorite blogs in a feeds folder in my mail account and I check a few new sites and blogs every day as well. I chat with colleagues about anything interesting that’s happening in the industry and I email in completed assignments and FTP new code. This is quite fun until I actually see all these people in person and realize how much you can miss by not interacting with like-minded SEOs on a frequent basis.
I’m going to drop names here because it’s my feckin’ blog and I’m proud to know these people who are brilliant at SEO AND amazingly fun and fantastic friends. I went out with Jay Young (the Big Kahuna of Str0ud SEO Consulting and my husband), my wonderful co-blogger and winner of the “feistiest Viking I know” award, Lisa Ditlefsen (just ask anyone who’s ever met her), king of high school pranks and Ruby on Rails programmer Tony Spencer, and the perfectly British angel Rob Kerry the other night here in London and in between a tiny amount of drinking (because we are very sensible people when drinking) in Southwark, we actually had some incredible SEO discussions.
I don’t get to see all these people very often since we live all over the world, but even though we’re all close friends and we can talk about everything under the sun, it’s still nice to discuss our passion for SEO. I’ve also been able to see my favorite Bulgarian, Anita Chaperon of PPCQueen fame (now Reviewlicious goddess), and her lovely husband the Super Affiliate Andre Chaperon (who is VERY tolerant of the giggling that ensues when Anita and I get together) this week, as well as the absolutely brilliant bringer-together of good SEOs Mike Nott and Mr. Hipster himself, Ekrum Ashgar (sometimes known as Mahoud.) Seeing them all in person has renewed my desire to pick up on a few projects I had recently considered, and I’ve spent the week getting back some of the excitement that I’d lost over the last few months.
There’s always something new in SEO, with new people to meet and new algorithms to conquer. This CAN be done online, but I doubt it will spark the same flame in you. I’ve said before how critical it is to go to conferences and network, but not everyone can do that. So what do you do? Find a local SEO whom you’ve never met (I actually met Esrun for the first time this week–god knows I love a blackhat SEO) and arrange to meet. Start a local SEO group or, my personal favorite, come out to the next London SEO (which happens to be THE most fun group of SEOs you’ll ever meet) and see why the Brits are renowned for drinking. Just find someone else to talk to face to face. If you’re lucky enough to work with other SEOs and they’re GOOD, go find some more and teach them something, mentor them, point out their mistakes and learn from them as well. Conducting your life online is convenient many times but in the end, sitting down and sharing some Thai food with like-minded people has some major benefits. Word of warning: Rob Kerry hates vegetarians so expect lots of heckling if you order tofu.
With a name like SEO Chicks, I think it’s obvious that we’re trying to capitalize on being female in this industry. As some people have said, we’re not baby chickens. Sure some of them are blonde, like Lisa, but still…
Here are three reasons why I think that’s completely okay (to capitalize on the girl thing, not to be blonde like baby chickens)…
1. We happen to be biologically female and therefore entitled to use that however we want or need to, even if it means that people envision us having tickle fights in cheerleading outfits once the conferences are over. For the record, that has only happened twice.
2. We’re currently a minority in this industry, even if that’s slowly changing.
3. I got paid $20k less than my husband did for an agency we used to work for and we did the same damn thing AND I HAD MORE EXPERIENCE.
That being said, I’d like to address the topic of being a woman in SEO.
There is currently a ton of great dialog out there on the issue of being female in our industry. I’d like to point you to two particularly interesting pieces on this that my fellow SEO Chick Lisa showed me:
Both of these are really well-written and quite on point about all this, and I have to say that I agree with both points of view. I do wish that women never had to think of themselves as needing to prove something, but I also think that only a very small percentage of women have never had to do this, have never had to work harder for less money than a man would make or to prove their intelligence.
I like Rae’s point about not being impressed by someone just because she’s female. I’m not either. I like Kim’s point about how many companies will grab women employees because they can pay them less money though. I LOVE the fact that we have women who write really well putting their opinions out there, most of all. Like Rae, I don’t respect these women only because they’re women, but there’s a part of me that is a bit more proud of that fact. So throw a tomato at me when you see me. I can’t help it. I’m also proud when Sparklehorse sells a song to Volvo for a commercial. They’re such underdogs.
This is a really difficult topic for me to choose sides on, so I’m not going to, because I seriously do not currently feel that anyone I work with at the moment has any less regard for what I can offer just because I’m female. However, I think that is in large part due to the fact that I work with some incredibly fantastic people (except for Rob Kerry and his “little lady makes a good cup of tea” antics.) In my current state of employment (I co-own an SEO consulting firm with my husband and work closely with some amazing people over in London) I can safely say that I’ve never once felt that anything work-related with them had ANYTHING to do with my gender.
In a previous job, however, it was a very different story. As I mentioned above, I was more experienced in SEO AND the leader of the team yet I made quite a bit less than my husband made, working alongside me. I never made a huge deal out of it because the money was all coming into our household and I didn’t want to create problems by seeming like I was whining.
I hope that things like this aren’t going to continue happening. With all the people I know in this industry, I don’t think it will. I don’t want anyone to give me anything because I’m a woman, but I don’t want everyone to ignore the fact that even though they may not personally be the victim of gender bias, it still exists. I’m sensitive to the idea that if women do complain that they’re treated unfairly, it sheds a poor light on them, and it should be a last resort. Things aren’t always about gender, but you can’t assume that gender plays no role either. I’m also sensitive about being mistaken for a midget, though, and if I could get more money by being classified as one, I sure as hell would do it.
[Note: being a good girl and not wanting to deeply offend anyone, I’ve edited this piece after initially publishing a nastier draft of it. Pointing fingers really isn’t nice even if it IS deserved. ]
I’m going for a long needed holiday tomorrow, back home to Norway, . I feel like I’ve been running around like a headless chicken for the last few weeks =) Time for some relaxing, my mothers cooking, my steph fathers hilarious rants after a glass of whiskey and of course as it is Norway – the land of the midnight sun, alot of daylight! Sweet!
So I probably won’t be blogging much for the next week, but will be back all refreshed and ready to blog like a father mocker =)
Ps: the photo was taken in a gadget shop in Seattle, we stayed in there for so long mocking around with the lightsabers I’m suprised we didn’t get thrown out. They were the coolest lightsabers, but I was thinking if I can’t bring fecking lipstick on the plane I doubt they will allow me a lightsaber lol
A big welcome to Judith Lewis
Judith is a SEO & SEM specialist who has been working in the online world since 1996 (bloody hell). She currently works for Centaur Communications Limited, as a Specialist Search Engine Marketer. Judith has been a speaker at several SEO/M conferences including mad.co.uk?s Search Engine Marketing conference where she was the top rated speaker. This girl has attitude and knowledge, expect some great posts =)
Oh, and yeah a lot of you will know Judith as deCabbit from the blogosphere