Lawrence was guest speaker at the Geek Girl Dinner in Cape Town (GGDCPT) last night (Tuesday) at the Ambassador Hotel in Bantry Bay, and spoke about the faulty approach of accentuating gender labels.
In her speech she pointed to the low representative number of five per cent of women in the industry, describing it as “embarrassing”.
“What’s more embarrassing is the very blatant divide between the females and males in the industry,” she said.
Lawrence sees herself an agent of breaking trends of treating people differently because of gender, class or racial distinction.
“We should stop drawing a massive chalk line around ourselves and separating ourselves from the world,” Lawrence insisted.
“We need to break the stereotype instead of re-enforcing it.”
The successful developer, who wrote her first programme at the age of 12, also spoke out on initiatives encouraging female involvement in the field.
“I personally feel these initiatives are going round about it in the completely wrong way.
“I think we already know that we are the minor in the field and instead of being seen as female developers, we should be seen as developers despite race, or gender or financial background. There should not be distinction between us. These labels that we allow to be applied to us is simply reinforcing the way they see us.”
Lawrence feels the masculine association with computers and programming is problematic, and said females should be told they “can do it”.
“We should know that we can. It is nothing to do with the fact that we are female,” she said.
The IT educator added: “Just because I like computers and I program does not make me less feminine.”
Lawrence is also the co-founder of Umonya, a non-profit organisation that teaches 12 to 19-year-old to program, supplies resources and mentors young programmers to motivate studies in computer science.
BrandsEye was one of the main sponsors of the March GGDCPT, an event which gathers all tech-interested females to discuss relevant issues and motivate the involvement in the field.