John Davidson: Women Who Tech Are Dangerous

Oct 4, 2018
Photographer Spotlight

Austin, Texas-based photographer John Davidson recently launched a website documenting his project Women Who Tech Are Dangerous, which showcases women who work in the field of technology, fleshing out their experience in the workforce and the bias they have faced based on their gender. John asked each of the women participating in Women Who Tech Are Dangerous: Portraits and Stories in the Age of #MeToo a range of questions, including inquiries about the challenges they face working in a male-dominated field, examples of other women in their lives who have inspired them, and what kind of advice they would give to younger women entering the technology workforce. When taking their pictures, John often tried to capture a more serious look that represents their time in the technology field and the hard work they have dedicated to their careers to become successful.

Photographer John Davidson's project Women Who Tech Are Dangerous

Sarah Sharif: Founder & CEO of Experimental Civics; Event Director of ATX Hack for Change

What was the goal you had in mind for this project?

I live in Austin, where the engine driving the city is technology, so I’ve made a conscious effort to engage the tech sector in my work, and I felt that should be reflected in any project I undertook. I wanted to create a personal project that had some depth to it, and I have a writing background that I thought I could utilize. Speaking to some of the women I knew in tech, I felt there was scope here to do work that would hopefully provide value to me personally, but that also could be important and notable by itself, that would stand alone regardless of its author.

Photographer John Davidson's project Women Who Tech Are Dangerous

Chelsea Collier: Founder of Digi.City; Editor-at-Large at Smart Cities Connect; Co-Founder of Impact Hub Austin

How did you begin a project of this size?

Honestly, I didn’t think of the project size in advance. Recently I’ve thought that maybe I should have! But even before I launched the project's website (mostly through the posts on Medium.com), I’ve had inquiries from women in LA, Canada, London, and elsewhere interested in being part of the project. I’d love to expand it still further, but it’s a self-funded project, with obvious limitations. It’s possible I’ll broaden the scope, but I need to push the work out, see where it goes. I feel it will grow or end here organically.

Photographer John Davidson's project Women Who Tech Are Dangerous

Ingrid Vanderveldt: Founder and CEO of EBW2020, MintHER™, Vanderveldt Global Investments, and Ingrid Vanderveldt LLC

Do you have a personal connection to the #metoo movement?

No, I don’t. The subject appealed to me because I already work with tech companies (Austin being a tech hub), but also, because I’ve always felt that it’s important to engage in things that are important in the culture, in the times in which we live. When I started thinking about this, #MeToo was coming to a boil; I'd read Ellen Pao’s important book, ‘Reset.’ I felt the project might be an interesting way of providing a platform to women that I was already having conversations with through my work.

Photographer John Davidson's project Women Who Tech Are Dangerous

Lynette Barksdale: Head of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Access

How did you decide to style the featured women? Did they have input on how they were presented?

I had a clear sense of how I wanted the main portraits to look: stripped down, few distractions in terms of background and accessories, with a certain element of classicism. I wanted the portraits to express a consideration of each woman’s particular journey, and how their journey relates to the #MeToo moment.  

Photographer John Davidson's project Women Who Tech Are Dangerous

Jolie Durand: Software Designer at IBM

What has the reaction to the images been so far?

The reaction to the project as a whole has been very positive. I’ve received many ’thank you’ notes, not only from the project’s participants, but also from women in tech around the country. I do think it’s fair to say that maybe not ALL of the women love their portrait! A couple of women asked why I didn’t use a brighter, more ’smiley’ image to represent them. I understand that. I shot second portraits of most participants that were lighter in mood. It wasn’t always practical to do so, but the purpose of those secondary portraits was to provide a balance to the gravitas of the first image. Even though I wanted a certain weight to the main portraits, the last thing I wanted was a series of portraits of women who looked like they were being oppressed, or victims. These are strong, intelligent, accomplished women. The project should be about empowerment. I wanted the portraits to match the seriousness, and the dignity, with which these women approach their careers.

Photographer John Davidson's project Women Who Tech Are Dangerous

Laura Bosworth: CEO of TeVido BioDevices

What did you learn from talking to these women about their experiences in the field of technology and how do you think that’s reflected in this project?

I probably wouldn’t have started this project if I wasn’t coming from a place of empathy, but certainly I was made aware again of our common humanity. As a man, it remains bracing to repeatedly hear stories of inequality and mistreatment based on gender (and race, too). We all have biases, unconscious or otherwise, that need to be faced - and obviously I include myself in this. I was also grateful to be exposed to the amazing (and vital) work many of these women are doing. I was frequently blown away by the intelligence, grit, and perseverance behind their journeys.

Photographer John Davidson's project Women Who Tech Are Dangerous

Janie Gonzalez: CEO & President of Webhead
 

Check out more of John's project on his Women Who Tech Are Dangerous website here!

See more of John at johndavidson-photography.com.

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