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Lee Englestone 💡🧠👨‍💻
Lee Englestone 💡🧠👨‍💻

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In pursuit of an even playing field

This post is overdue, and for that I apologise. The fact that I have been putting this off and not prioritising it, is perhaps in some small way indicative of the problem.

Because there is a problem. Whether we want to admit it or discuss it is another matter.

The problem is that women are not yet treated the same as men in tech. In fact, in many cases they are treated down right despicably and it is up to everyone, (especially men) to acknowledge this and address it.

This post is in part dedicated to the work by Salma and unbreak.tech whose aim is to highlight and bring about change.

There are a number of things that we can do.. so I thought I would just list a few that I think are important (in no particular order).

  • Equal pay for women
  • Gender bias awareness and training (especially in recruitment)
  • Improve female speaker ratios at conferences
  • Increase female attendance at tech conferences
  • Don't assume women are less technical than male colleagues around them
  • Don't assume women at tech conferences are non technical
  • Don't explain things to women that they may already know
  • Reduce female drop out of STEM subjects at early ages
  • Support groups encouraging women in tech
  • Support women in tech
  • Speak up when we see something wrong
  • Consider what we say and how we act can be interpreted i.e. "hi guys"
  • Help women feel safe

(I may update this list)

But I'd really like to take the opportunity to highlight that the many female colleagues that I have had the honour of working with, have been/are absolutely amazing (you know who you are), and I dare say better (on average) than their male colleagues.

I'd also like to challenge anyone of my male peers who's initial thoughts are "yeah but..". You need to get yourself to a place where you acknowledge that there is a problem.

In my opinion, it is similar to white people having a problem with the "black lives matter" message and insisting on using a "black lives matter too" or "all lives matter" instead.. of course they do! but the original phrase is to help raise awareness of the particular problem and I can completely understand why variations on it detract from the original message/problem. Source

For me the most important thing that men can do is admit there is a problem and after that, as I've listed, there are various ways to help to get towards a place where women are treated equally in tech. (I don't have all the answers before someone asks me how we get there).

Slightly selfishly as I write this I realise that I am thinking about the world I want my 8yo daughter to live in and my 5yo son to be aware of and help towards creating.

What kind of future do you want future generations to live in?

-- Lee

(Photo by Elena Mozhvilo, from Unsplash)

Discussion (1)

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Brian Richardson

It starts with education. A recent poll by JetBrains showed that 80% of people know how to code (for example) by the time they get out of high school. Even in school, though, very few women gravitated to the computer lab or the library. Believe me, I wish they had. This has of course biased my normal environment, to the point where I may even be biased in favour of hiring women purely on the basis of their being women.

I rarely see female applicants, let alone qualified female applicants. I think your list is a good start. I'd note a couple of anecdotal things though:

  • Pay at our company is equal for equal work
  • Many of the webinars I attend have female speakers, and some of the best ones I have seen are female. I don't see a huge discrepancy in male to female ratio, certainly far less so than the industry at large.
  • I don't see the sort of condescension that you point to. Most of the female consultants and colleagues I've had are equally competent, and I treat them as such. So do my colleagues.

This is a conversation I have with my wife on occasion, and I'm happy to see people talking about it.