Holly Brockwell, the celeb tech journalist and founder of Gadgette, shares her views about women in tech, an industry dominated by men
Holly Brockwell, the celeb technology journalist and copywriter is the example that women in tech are equal, and sometimes better, that their male colleagues. She is the founder of the tech site Gadgette and has also written columns for Gizmodo, the BBC, The Guardian and other media outlets. Defence and Security had a chat with her, trying to discover more about her secrets and women potentiality in this sector. Why did you start Gadgette, a female tech blog in an industry dominated by men? “Exactly for that reason: because all the famous tech bloggers were men, all the big tech sites were (and most still are) majority male, and most of those men are white and straight too. I wanted to make something more inclusive and diverse. Somewhere you could see a review of a new smartwatch with a woman in the photo rather than the same hairy man’s arm. And no, the models in the press photos don’t count!”
The last three years for Holly Brockwell have been intense and were strategic to help many women get their voices heard
What’s the assessment after 3 years of activity? “In some ways I can’t believe it’s been three whole years, and in some ways I can’t believe it’s ONLY been three years – Holly reminded -. We’ve done some amazing stuff in that time: Gadgette launched the career of the brilliant Emma Boyle who now works at Techradar, we wrote an interview that got an app withdrawn, I won Woman of the Year, and we’ve helped so many amazing women get their voices heard. It’s been hard at times, especially when I was trying to get it off the ground – the Gadgette founder explained -; but I really believe in Gadgette and I wouldn’t be without it”.
What, for Holly Brockwell, women bring to the IT and tech industries
“Speaking broadly, women experience life pretty differently to men. And LGBT women, women of colour and other marginalised groups even moreso, especially when compared with the white hetero guys that make up a lot of the industry – Holly underlined -. The fact is, people from different backgrounds have different ideas and approaches, and that’s absolutely invaluable to innovation and creativity. Think of it this way: if you’re trying to come up with an idea that’ll change the world, do you want your company to be full of the same types of people as all the other companies in Silicon Valley? Or do you think a different mix of ingredients might make a better recipe? Besides, even from a cold capitalist viewpoint, diversity is good for business“.
The limits women encounter online and on social media
“One of the most telling things about my career as a woman talking about tech is that I’ve been asked multiple times if I’d consider using a male pseudonym, whereas the men I know have never been asked that – Holly Brockwell denounced -. Women absolutely do have a harder time online – the Guardian did a great study on it. Using a female name and avatar on social media sites means you’ll get nasty comments, trolls, and generally a harsher reception than if you used a male name or a gender-neutral one. There’s a good reason I use a genderless username on Reddit! But the advice women get is often to stay offline, or hide themselves, and I don’t think that’s the solution”.
Women have to be openly and honestly theirselves, until the situation changes. “Because if we hide – Holly Brockwell stated – the trolls win”
“I think all we can do is be openly and honestly ourselves, until the situation changes – because if we hide, the trolls win – the celeb tech journalist proposed -. I quit Twitter once after some vicious trolling and my mother wouldn’t allow it, she insisted I rejoin immediately so the nasty people didn’t think they were victorious. It was good advice, and I haven’t left since. One thing I’ve found really helps me as well: think of someone unequivocally amazing, someone you really admire – Beyoncé or whoever – and look at the comments on their stuff. They’re getting trolled too. And once you realise how pathetic the trolls must be to think they could bring down a powerhouse like Beyoncé, you realise how little power you should give them over you”.
The advices of Holly Brockwell for people – especially women – wanting to start a blog
“Do it! Absolutely do it. Don’t wait for someone to tell you to do it (even though I just did), don’t wait til you’ve thought of the perfect name and brand. Just put the page up (it takes minutes these days – no excuses!) and start doing it – Holly Brockwell suggested -. The brilliant thing about the age we live in is that if you want to write about tech for a living, you don’t need anyone to give you an outlet anymore. You can create your own. Make a video with your smartphone, put it on YouTube. Write an article and post it on Medium, or WordPress, or the dot com you just bought yourself (you should always own the dot com of your name if you can). And then when you want people to pay you to write about tech, you can show them what you’ve already done, rather than talking about what you could do given the chance. In a world full of talkers – the celeb tech journalist and copywriter concluded-, be a doer”.