Happy International Women’s Day, everyone! Heck YES, a day to celebrate being a woman in tech!
In honor of the holiday's spirit, there’s bound to be countless articles, videos, and Instagram captions about the #shecoded movement, on the topic of female empowerment, and what it in general means to be a #girlboss in tech in 2020.
And while I’m obviously all for that content, I thought I’d author something for those who may be feeling a little left out today: the men! (I kid, I kid, every other day is your day when you’re a man in tech!)
Having existed in both a female-dominated industry as a high school English teacher for nearly a decade and now having spent the past few years in the exact opposite space as a software engineer and a woman in tech, I figured it’s about time to hold my very own retrospective on gender in tech.
Allow me to briefly woman-splain a retrospective for you, dear reader: retros are meetings held by software development teams at the end of either a sprint or project. They’re an opportunity for the team to evaluate its past working cycle and make actionable plans for improvements to be made in the future.
Thus I thought it’d be fun to reflect on the lessons and opportunities for improvement addressed to the majority of my fellow coders, colleagues, and peers in tech. Yes, that means you, gentlemen!
Caveat: In this piece, I’m speaking for myself and not for women in general. These are my personal observations & it’s important to recognize my privilege as a cis white woman living in the US.
Note: I know some of you are already doing some of these things. Thank you, and please, keep it up! Just shift these points to your own Continue column.
- Believing women.
- Calling out other men’s bullshit, even when it makes you uncomfortable. Actually, especially if it does.
- If a woman is in a tech space, assume that they’re technical, don’t assume they’re someone’s +1
- Believing that I belong here even if my interests don’t include video games.
- Looking for women at your company. In your org. On your team. If you don’t see them represented in one of those spaces, speak up, and ask why.
- Developing an awareness of intersectionality. And understanding that intersectional feminism is a thing. If you don’t yet, learn about it. We are more than just our identity as a woman.
- Perceiving this sort of work as self-development and critical work.
- Identifying and finding other men that are doing this crucial work well and learn from them.
- When hunting for a new role, ask for stats on the team/company’s diversity and inclusion during your interviews.
- Thinking it's a compliment when you say, “You don't look like a software developer!”
- Asking the one woman on your team to be the voice of all women. I do not speak on behalf of us all.
- Assuming tech is a system of meritocracy and that if there aren’t women on your team that it’s because they didn’t earn a spot on the team.
- Putting the responsibility on us to fix your sexism.
- Assuming I’ll do the front end when collaborating on a project (and associating front end with femininity).
- Expecting me to educate you on how to make the other woman on our team feel welcome.
- Making a joke in the lunchroom that I am the diversity hire on the engineering team.
- Assuming women in the office will organize birthday cards and presents.
- Taking up the talk space in meetings. And repeating what I said and framing it as your own idea.
- Using the word “female” or infantilizing terms for your coworkers like “girls”.
- Being an ally.
- Calling your coworker out when they use gendered language.
- Speaking up for me when I don’t have a seat at the table.
Alright, I'll acknowledge that this list may feel like a LOT of information to process! But, I hate to break this to you, but this is quite literally JUST the beginning. There's so much more that could be said and complex nuances to be acknowledged. But I think for the sake of setting tangible goals and chunking learning opportunities into consumable action items, that’s all I’ll say today. I hope that there are at least a few pieces of actionable changes that you can put into place after reading this retro.
Again, it is not a woman’s responsibility to educate men. So I don’t feel the need to hold your hand through this journey with you. It’s on you. But genuinely, thank you for taking the time to read this and embark on an important path to equality.
And if you're up for it and not too ridiculously triggered after reading this piece, please feel free to reach out at @lolocoding. Be sure to share actions you take to be a #shecodedally and let's engage in some healthy dialogue and highlight the folks who are doing this sort of work every. single. damn. day.