"Women in tech, where are you?"
Vít Habada Jul 8
Disclaimer #0: I'm a mid-20s (male) kid that knows everything about life and parenting. /s
Disclaimer #1: Prefix my statements with 'I think..' or 'in my opinion..' as needed. I didn't want to sound too humble with my opinions since making statements without backing them up is a modern thing to do and it seems to be working very well.
"We need more women in tech!" she/he said and organized a coding camp for women.
Strong words like 'sexism' are thrown around arbitrarily these days. Fear of being labeled as sexist is limiting a discussion on this topic and worse - it breeds resentment towards any (often dumb) attempts to attract more women. It's a paradox. A stupid one.
Any form of preferential treatment (justified or not) is alienating by its very nature.
Does your business have a hiring policy weighted towards women (or race or any group for that matter)? Stop. Want more women engineers? Create a feasible environment and wait.
Software engineering: a field of interest
It's only natural for feminist movements to seek higher representation of women in tech (or executive positions). IT is not just another field. It's a field that transforms every business, every process and it's very lucrative. Money directly impacts quality of life and is how we measure success. Maybe not on an individual level, but definitely in a capitalist society.
Since everyone seeks higher quality of life (money) why aren't we all scamming and stealing? Because you can't go against your values and interests without risking your sanity.
Where did all the women go?
So let's have a look how women are doing: fields like teaching and health care are dominated by women. Women are generally inclined towards more caring and people-oriented activities. And that's okay. What's not okay is that we do not implicitly recognize the value and status of such work that should've come with it, because of it's intrinsic nature.
Take teachers for example. Everyone knows how huge impact (negative or positive) teachers can have on a young individual. Now imagine you are the best teacher around. Does anyone care? Can you buy a house?
The fact that we don't put enough value (monetary or otherwise) on these activities is the core problem. And it's very different and more complicated one as opposed to simply men vs. women.
A case study of an 'average' women
Stereotypes and established gender-roles are a strong driver in society and also when it comes to parenting. I do believe there is a place for gender roles. It's not like I can give birth any time soon, I hope, but what seems to be missing is a dose of open-mindedness. A few examples of generic guidelines worth a thousand words:
- Bottle your negative emotions. It's not lady-like to express yourself in the moment. It's much better to let it all explode at random occasions.
- Always be political, saying what you think is bad. Assertiveness is not 'girly'.
- Always smile like a sociopath unless you want to be perceived as 'angry' or labeled a 'resting bitchface'
- "Give me that screwdriver, you will hurt yourself"
For men (basically) in contrast:
- "Do whatever you want. Except being 'weak' and doing ballet and such - that's gay."
If you see your little girl disassembling her doll house and rebuilding it into a battleship be excited, roll with it and go buy some LEGOs!
These social norms and gender-based expectations are standing in a way of one's ability to thrive in her/his field of interest. Don't get me wrong - I'm not against stereotypes or archetypes. Stereotypes can be useful and are definitely funny, but instead of eliminating them and pitting groups against each other we have to recognize an individual first and group identity second.
Go for it!
If you have the talent, interest and dedication, don't let your own stereotype-fueled stigma towards engineering stand in your way. It's today's society's duty to enable each individual's talents and interest regardless of their identity and to reject any other norm whether it's simple-minded sexism or a borderline-fascist feminism.
Year is 20XX, we made everything possible to make women feel welcomed and accepted in tech. Is the ratio for men and women close to 50:50? No. And that's fine. Stop talking about it and let's be comfortable with what we do.
Like what was the fantasy? That men and women are this clean slate shaped and oppressed by the society?
I mentioned a discussion in my post.
Everyone probably encountered situation like this:
Client: *shakes fists* this is not what I wanted!
Programmer: *points finger* that's what specification says!
How did we solve this problem? With more rigorous specification process? No. We sat down with a client, ask about his business, his needs, bounced ideas off each other and figure stuff out. Discussion is key. That's nothing new, yet somehow it is overshadowed by stance-warfare when it comes to more difficult topics than a product.
Let's have it then.
- What would the feasible work environment look like?
- How do you feel about current attempts to make the workplace more gender-equal?
- Women, how would you like for inappropriate workplace situations to be handled? I'm guessing it's not special treatment or someone fighting your battles for you..
Note: If you see a generalization as an opening for an argument instead of clarification, then your argument is inherently stupid and not worth a response. Most people don't have the vocabulary to leave zero room for ambiguity. Think.
Legend says humans are able to think in abstract terms.