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Cover image for A Retrospective for Men in Tech

A Retrospective for Men in Tech

lolocoding profile image Lauren Lee ・4 min read

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.
image of folks doing a retro

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!

Retrospective for Men in Tech:

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.

Start

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.

Stop

  • 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”.

Continue

  • 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.

Posted on by:

lolocoding profile

Lauren Lee

@lolocoding

An English teacher turned empathetic software engineer. Host of the #WebBelongHere podcast which celebrates the stories of folks who've entered tech via unconventional paths!

Discussion

markdown guide
 

Like? If you're going to claim all the evidence points to the contrary, you need to provide at least a few examples of independently peer reviewed research. In the meantime, I'll also collect a list of economic studies detailing the disparities in the tech industries. Should we use Google Spreadsheets to collaborate on this effort to support/deny your claims? If not what would you propose?

 

🙌THIS IS WHAT ALLYSHIP LOOKS LIKE YA'LL

Sloan, the sloth mascot Comment marked as low quality/non-constructive by the community View code of conduct

You misspelled "Male servitude and manipulation"

 
Sloan, the sloth mascot Comment marked as low quality/non-constructive by the community View code of conduct

Sure, I thought you'd never ask... I'll go first. I got suspended by the authoritarians preaching for tolerance and diversity for saying a different opinion so I made another account.

  1. In a meta-analysis of 43 studies on workplace discrimination, sexism did not relate to any form of workplace discrimination (selection, performance evaluation, or policies). In fact, benevolent sexism predicted less workplace discrimination
    drive.google.com/open?id=1hobi4SMS...

  2. Women are given inflated performance feedback compared to men psyarxiv.com/yq24b/

  3. men more affected by gender bias than women.
    Men are disadvantaged in 91 countries compared to 43 nations for women journals.plos.org/plosone/article?...

  4. Single women, married women, and single men all make about the same amount of money. It's married men who out-earn everybody else. stlouisfed.org/on-the-economy/2018...

  5. People care less about male suffering than female suffering, and harm to women evokes more concern and outrage than equivalent harm to men. journals.aom.org/doi/abs/10.5465/A...

  6. Among over 13,000 working individuals, women felt less satisfied with their jobs following promotion to managerial roles, whereas men's job satisfaction increased following managerial promotion.eprints.mdx.ac.uk/21841/3/WES%2520...

  7. despite numerous diversity initiatives and programs like #womenintech and #girlswhocode, less and less women are getting into computer science today than 30 years ago. Women used to make up nearly 40% of computer science majors. Now, that number hovers under 20% goodcall.com/news/women-in-compute...

  8. People support more social action when women are underrepresented in careers than when men are, especially for high salary careers. And people attribute women's underrepresentation to prohibitive social norms and men's to lack of motivation and ability sciencedirect.com/science/article/...

  9. More evidence of no evidence for anti-female bias in academia:
    Can women's underrepresentation in the Swedish professoriate be attributed to women being held to higher scholarly standards than men? No. If anything, men are held to higher standards.
    researchgate.net/publication/33908...

  10. "Women are now 1.5 times more likely to earn undergraduate and graduate degrees than men. Women who work full time earn about 80 percent of what a man earns. However, when analyzing the incomes of single women in their 20s compared to single men in their 20s, women earn 105-120 percent of what their male counterparts earn. Single women already buying twice as many homes as single men, a ratio almost certain to increase given fundamental trends in income dynamics." urbanland.uli.org/economy-markets-...

  11. Women outnumber men in most college majors and earn more degrees than men do, And yet there are hundreds of "female only" scholarships and woman only programs, barely any for men.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_f...

  12. "Men and women faculty members from all four fields preferred female applicants 2:1 over identically qualified males with matching lifestyles (single, married, divorced), with the exception of male economists, who showed no gender preference." pnas.org/content/early/2015/04/08/...

  13. Despite the pay gap, Australian women, including Millennials, are more likely than men to own a home and pay off their mortgages earlier. parkerfinance.com.au/women-more-li...

  14. "As societies become wealthier and more gender equal, women are less likely to obtain degrees in STEM, according to new research. The researchers call this a “gender-equality paradox.” journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.11...

  15. Research has discovered that one of the major causes of the median difference in men's and women's earnings arise as a result of family formation. This certainly makes sense if many (if not most) women become part time paid workers as a result of having children.
    news.gallup.com/poll/186050/childr...
    independent.ie/irish-news/more-tha...

  16. for every 100 women there's this many men
    aei.org/carpe-diem/chart-of-the-da...

  17. The gender wage gap is a myth youtube.com/watch?v=QcDrE5YvqTs

Your turn

First I would request you read your sources. The first source you provide has a summary that directly contradicts your claim. It's in the first two sentences.

Second, many of your sources are not peer reviewed, and some are not studies but opinionated summaries of research, not actual meta-analysis.

Some of your points do not address the issue which we are debating. Some actually support Lauren's point, not yours. For example your ,7th point. During my free time I will break down each individual source you provided and offer a counter. However, I will not address the points which are either opinion pieces or not peer reviewed, which currently account for at least two of your sources. Tonight when I get home I'll address any research you provided that again, is peer reviewed. I would like to also request you refrain from the highly inappropriate comments you seem to tweet out, as Tanja has pointed out. As I have beeen respectful of your opinion so far, I expect the same from you. Including the dev.to community and Lauren Lee as well.

Sloan, the sloth mascot Comment marked as low quality/non-constructive by the community View code of conduct

Sure, I'd be more than happy to see "peer reviewed" studies that actually prove your opinion aswell, so far I've been the only one citing studies.

Though I don't get what I retweet on my personal twitter account has to do with anything, its my freedom of speech and I'm not even a public figure.

Dev.to is also a personal medium. You can say whatever you want. But I won't argue with someone if they're going to insult people. I've learned not to enable bullies. I will start providing some research given time. You had this list before hand. I don't. And like to read my sources before I post. Many of these are retweets from your personal Twitter. also invalidating your argument that your Twitter is personal and shouldn't be brought up.

Sloan, the sloth mascot Comment marked as low quality/non-constructive by the community View code of conduct

sounds good, take your time..

I would like to point out that I did not insult anyone though, feel free to show me where I did.

And my initial comment did not even violate the code of conduct, I got suspended simply for pointing a different opinion.

To clarify, I didn't mean you directly insulted anyone in here. But your Twitter (which is the source of many of your articles) is full of highly inappropriate comments. More accurately "do not insult anyone while debating or I will immediately cease debating with you". Again, I'm not going to entertain you if you insist on calling people c****s and h****s. As long as you refrain from insults, I'm more than willing to have a healthy debate with you.

Sloan, the sloth mascot Comment marked as low quality/non-constructive by the community View code of conduct

I don't plan on insulting anyone, you're actually the only person that proposed to make a counter argument so far rather than trying to shame/silence me, so like I said, I'm more than happy to listen.

Ignore my twitter account. I didnt even want it to be linked here, this is dev.to.

I can't ignore your Twitter account as many of the articles and studies come from your Twitter.

docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/14R...

WIP. This is as far as I got over my lunch. I'll comment when my responses are complete and I've added my own data.

 

Can we all take a moment to appreciate that Khaled has burnt not one but TWO accounts just to repeatedly display the exact type of behaviour this post was calling out?

Well done Khaled, you honestly couldn't have been a better example of the BS women have to contend with every day if you'd tried.

 
Sloan, the sloth mascot Comment marked as low quality/non-constructive by the community View code of conduct

what behavior? having a different opinion and citing facts/data? Sorry I don't fit into your worldview of how you expect me to think/believe/act?

I'm always surprised how quick yall are to demonize someone based on an unpopular opinion on the internet while preaching for diversity and tolerance. My female friends and mentees that I mentored, taught and helped find a job would disagree, but ok ;)... Im sure you know all about me.

We don't ! We only know what you put on the internet.

 

"If a woman is in a tech space, assume that they’re technical, don’t assume they’re someone’s +1"

Scream it from the rooftops!

Karl Popper has this covered

Less well known is the paradox of tolerance: Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.

Sloan, the sloth mascot Comment marked as low quality/non-constructive by the community View code of conduct

totally agree, is that why feminists are tolerant to Islam, celebrate the hijab and ignore women living under sharia laws? You fail to see the paradox here by assuming you're the tolerant one when you're not and assuming I'm intolerant, typical confirmation bias.

just watch the movie, its a documentary with statistics/facts around these issues, if you're so close-minded you dont want to hear/see anything that doesn't confirm your opinion then there's no point arguing with you.

So now we have an ignoratio elenchi, a petitio principii, and an ad hominem. That's a lot of fallacies to squeeze into one comment, bravo! Let's take them in order shall we?

  1. ignoratio elenchi - whether or not feminists are tolerant to Islam is not something the articles discusses. You're diverting the argument
  2. petitio principii - I'm intolerant because you say I'm intolerant. Right…
  3. ad hominem - refusing to watch propaganda with links to right-wing fascist media does not make me close-minded
 

Fantastic read. Men--myself included--fail to frequently see the innate, systemic advantages we have in the workplace, and frequently fail to realize the blind spots we have in professional interactions. Tech industry or not, we all need to be better advocates.

I just wish we would react with self-reflection as a go-to response after reading pieces such as this rather than outrage, admonishment, or a whole-sale rejection of your experiences and advice.

 

Really great post. Mods are watching the thread for more toxic posts and will be taking action as needed, with more follow-up on Monday.

Thank you for making this post.

A video funded by MRAs, backed by Breitbart, and endorsed by Milo Yiannopoulos.

You know I don't need to actually look inside a septic tank to know what it's full of right?

You're right, but I'm not talking about my experience am I? I'm talking about women's experience, about the things they've told me. Because unlike you, I'm willing to accept and believe that when someone tells me something about their life and their experiences, they're going to know more about it than me.

 

It wouldn't offend you because you don't have to deal with hundreds of other microaggressions and ingrained patriarchy every. single. day. It's easy to shrug off a single small demeaning comment, but when you are bombarded with them constantly… ever heard of death by a thousand cuts?

Also, I'd like to draw your attention to the very first point, start believing women. If a woman tells you that this is a problem for women, believe them. You do not have the same lived experience. Saying "I would never be offended" isn't helpful, it's not even insightful, your experience is so totally and utterly different that it has zero bearing.

 
Sloan, the sloth mascot Comment marked as low quality/non-constructive by the community View code of conduct

In other words believe women just because they're born women and they can't lie or do evil, who needs evidence anyway when there's a separate standard of justice for women? But on the other hand don't believe men, men are bad and their experiences dont matter.. we call this equality.

This is what's called a strawman.

I never said men are bad, or their experiences don't matter. So why don't you ditch that strawman and try again?

 
Sloan, the sloth mascot Comment marked as low quality/non-constructive by the community View code of conduct

"Saying "I would never be offended" isn't helpful, it's not even insightful, your experience is so totally and utterly different that it has zero bearing."

Aaron Bassett, please be respectful to differing viewpoints and experiences as described in the code of conduct.

 

Data shows you might have a problem with women. What else can "they are all hoes" mean? twitter.com/1337_zero?lang=en

 

I was just about to post this. He's literally a professional anti-feminist looking at his Twitter feed.

He's here to troll. Like spouting any of this rubbish is valuable for anyone who comes here to read this.

If he had any idea about self-improvement he might make a couple of notes.

Makes a note: Don't hire Khaled Osman

Sloan, the sloth mascot Comment marked as low quality/non-constructive by the community View code of conduct

Makes a note: discriminates and doesn't hire people with different political opinions.. much acceptance, much open-mindedness, much diversity, much tolerance. Its ok dude, I wouldnt want to work with you anyway.

You just can't make these things up, you guys love to expose your own hypocrisy don't you?

Nothing to do with us "guys" or any other of my colleagues

It's not hypocrisy to expect a basic level of inclusion in the minds of people I want to work with. You dismiss everything put in front of you when it doesn't fit your own world view. I've been challenged on my beliefs many times - but when it's just this misogynistic, I don't even need to give it time.

Sloan, the sloth mascot Comment marked as low quality/non-constructive by the community View code of conduct

ofcourse, if everyone that disagrees with you or have a different opinion is a "misogynistic" "sexist" "racist" "bigot" then you can claim the moral high ground, demonize and dehumanize them and divert away from your own authoritarianism and intolerance.

labeling, judging and categorizing people you disagree with with buzzwords is not an argument, but further proof of your intolerance, thanks for coming to my ted talk.

 
Sloan, the sloth mascot Comment marked as low quality/non-constructive by the community View code of conduct

data shows you dont have an argument to make so you are trying to start an irrelevant side argument with ad hominem attacks and expecting me to take permission from you for what I write on my personal twitter account.

 
 

“ it is not a woman’s responsibility to educate men”

Totally agree. For many things in life, it can be hard to be aware of a bad situation when you’re not the one being screwed. It took a female coworker pointing out examples like the ones you outlined to see and understand the imbalance in how women are treated in tech. It’s not your job to educate our gender, but if it weren’t for this post and others like it, we would remain willfully ignorant. Thanks for educating anyway!

Do you ask everyone for receipts any time they tell you something? If I was to tell you my favourite food was tacos would you be all "Show me your Ubereats history or GTFO"? No of course not, because that's not how normal human interaction works. We don't walk around assuming everyone is lying all the time, so why make this assumption here?

about a whole gender of people

Did you read the article? This is a safe space, you can be honest. Did you really? It's right there in the 2nd paragraph

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.

I explained that in my last comment, did you miss it? I know there was a lot of sarcasm too. Let me break it down for you.

Crowdfunding per-se does not affect the content of the documentary. However, when the campaign is being advertised and promoted heavily within MRA communities then it is likely that the people supporting the campaign are MRAs.

I guess you can't think for yourself

And now you've joined our friend with the fallacies, congratulations! That is an argumentum ad populum. Do me a favour and try to include a non sequitur next time and I can complete my intentional fallacy bingo card.

Sloan, the sloth mascot Comment marked as low quality/non-constructive by the community View code of conduct

Never seen someone so afraid of hearing a different opinion.

Imagine these are the well-educated highly paid smart people in society, rational problem solvers, let alone the others.. all this thread and all the outrage, zero data, zero proof, zero statistics, all emotional and opinion based arguments.

Hey! I thought you said you were done? Oh, that's right you deleted that comment.

Maybe you should have just stuck with it though, yeah? You know, rather than coming back and embarrassing yourself more, maybe by doing something silly like arguing that an opinion piece, an article about a person's own lived experience is flawed because it is "all emotional and opinion"

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.

(emphasis mine)

Sloan, the sloth mascot Comment marked as low quality/non-constructive by the community View code of conduct

Speaking of embarrassing yourself.. This is bias / privilege / discrimination.
dev-to-uploads.s3.amazonaws.com/i/...

Its also sexist, it implies that women are not competent enough that you have to lower the bar of qualifications for them and give them special fast lane programs that are not afforded to others.

Offering encouragement and support to particular people is not the same as discrimination. Lifting one group up != prejudicing another group.

Discrimination: "the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex."

That tweet also doesn't say anything about lowering the bar. Yet you assumed it did — which shows your bias more than anything else.

And where was the Kickstarter campaign promoted? On A Voice for Men and Reddit’s most misogynistic MRA subs.

Hrm, I wonder if the people who donated to the Kickstarter—the people who found out about the campaign from an MRA publication, or on MRA subreddits—is it possible that those people, the people frequenting MRA communities online, do you think that possibly, just maybe, that those very people, could they themselves by MRAs!? Wouldn't that be crazy!!

Finally he says "don't worry if you don't check all the boxes" which kinda sounds like lowering the bar to me.


A Hewlett Packard internal report found that men apply for a job or promotion when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100% of them. What doomed them was not their actual ability, but rather the decision not to try.

The Confidence Gap In Men And Women: Why It Matters And How To Overcome It - Jack Zenger

 

This is an incredible post! Reading and re-reading... there's a lot to learn from this one.

In fact — bookmarked to have on hand.

Thank you for sharing this!

 

Thanks for saying that Michael! Glad to hear you found it helpful :)

 
 
Sloan, the sloth mascot Comment marked as low quality/non-constructive by the community View code of conduct

imagine what would happen if a man wrote an article like this about women. All hell would break loose.

 

If men wrote an article like what? Asking to be treated as equals? Asking not to be assumed to be less capable, less technical or less deserving, just because of their gender? Asking for people to use their voice and their privilege to help those who are not heard?

I'll tell you what, when men have been oppressed for hundreds of years. When they have been stripped of their rights, their autonomy, their privilege. Viewed as objects, as property. When every day they go online or step outside and are inundated with BS like your comments. At that point, you go ahead and write as many articles as you want.

Sloan, the sloth mascot Comment marked as low quality/non-constructive by the community View code of conduct

Nope, telling women how to behave that is and what to/not to do, have you every considered that you may be wrong?

Don't react to what Im saying, but I dare you to watch this movie made by an ex-feminist here: youtube.com/watch?v=DXP705ezCM4&fe... and her ted-ex talk here youtube.com/watch?v=3WMuzhQXJoY you might need a vpn to the US/Australia to view the movie, if you really "believe women" listen to her opinion

Yeah… for sure I'm going to watch something called the "The Red Pill", sounds super unbiased, I bet they don't have any agenda at all. Totally, just give me a few minutes while I make some popcorn. K?