Here’s why 300 women in tech just got a sudden boost in Twitter followers

Image: Brooke Cagle
Ingrid Fadelli

This rapid Twitter upsurge is due to the social media activity of a fellow sister within the scientific community

Over the weekend just past, around 300 women operating within the tech industry were hit by a huge and seemingly random wave of new Twitter followers.

The reason behind their sudden social media popularity was not a mysterious virus that entered the minds of the masses, but a supportive Tweet by Tracy Lee, a fellow colleague and the co-founder of This Dot Labs, a company that helps businesses to create their own online platforms.

Lee shared a list of almost 300 women in tech who she admires and recommends following, unknowingly starting a fully-fledged chain reaction that led to an increase in these women’s followers.

While a growing number of Twitter users were hitting the follow button on these women’s pages, the list members started adding new names to the post, triggering a further stream of followers for other women.

In other words, with a simple social media post, Lee has successfully shone the spotlight on many smart and talented women who are working hard to bring innovation into society, by expanding the community who reads their posts online.

This brilliant woman’s gesture of comradeship and admiration is proof that just a simple click, accompanied by the willingness to highlight the great job that many women are doing within the tech space, might end up being more fruitful than she initially imagined.

The journey behind this chain reaction

While the gush of Twitter followers happened almost overnight, Lee had already started compiling her women-in-tech list a few months back.

In an interview with Refinery29, she explained how it was originally a way for her to keep track of all the inspiring women she met at conferences or read about online.

“I started following all women I see in tech as a simple way of supporting them,” she told Refinery29. “It’s kind of amazing what serendipity can happen and what pops into your Twitter life with such a small act.”

She selected these women wisely, not for their huge amounts of followers, common friends, or outstanding web influence, but out of utter respect for their work.

This helped her to avoid the familiar (but ultimately, pointless) echo chambers that typically occur on social media when people only end up following their friends and influential figures with views that match their own.

Social media can often become a mirror of ourselves, regurgitating back to us everything we love and hate about life in slightly different formats.

But Lee has proved that it does not always need to be so and that there is still hope for an empowering and enlightening use of these platforms.

With a simple post, she prompted a constructive ripple effect, encouraging ever more users to engage with the accomplishments of a bunch of clever tech-savvy women.

A truly empowering post

While this story does not directly discuss some of the latest technological advances, it comes with a profound lesson about what human traits such as curiosity, comradeship, and encouragement are still capable of achieving.

As we rapidly approach the advent of intelligent machines and automation, a simple human behind a keyboard can still encourage others to find out more about the endeavors of gifted women scientists.

The web offers infinite possibilities to learn new ideas and discover the work of others, yet out of inertia or habit, we do not always remember to take full advantage of this.

This weekend, Lee’s open-minded approach to discovering the work of other ladies shaping the tech space has had a profound influence on the Twitter scene, prompting similar approaches in other social media networkers.

According to recently published research, last year women attained only 28% of all computer science degrees, held 25% of computing jobs, and owned 5% of existing startups.

By spreading the word about the great achievements of women in tech and the possibilities open to them, these discouraging numbers could eventually rise.

An increase in people who follow the outstanding achievements of these and many other women could ultimately empower them in their career, but also encourage younger girls to follow their example.

“It’s so cool to see such a small act actually contribute to increasing the voice of diversity in tech- if even just on Twitter,” Lee told Refinery29. “I’m sure the long-term effects will be more women empowered to want to speak at conferences and lead, and more awareness of women in tech who can be invited to conferences to speak, too.”

We hope that countless other people will follow Lee’s example, encouraging web users to expand their knowledge online, while also building a solid support network for skilled women in the tech space.

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