Friday, August 5, 2016

Honey Coating

Somewhat inexplicably, I sometimes  get  emotional when I hear or read about gender (in)equality, especially on the topic of software development.  In my time, I've been fortunate to work with some amazing companies, teams, individuals, and technologies and I am entirely grateful. When I think back on my experiences, of course I was predominantly working with males, but for me that was never an issue.  In fact if I'm completely honest I probably have more in common with guys! hehe

So why do i get emotional when i hear of gender equality/inequality?

1) I personally feel that endeavouring to solve the problem by putting certain gender diversity hiring requirements in place is not the best way to solve the problem. Aside from the fact that it can make women feel they are hired for the wrong reason (i have been told 3 times in my career i got the job bc i was female  after getting hired for example - gee Thanks!), it doesn't necessarily attract the right employees. Imho we need to minimally focus on alternative ways to address the challenge.

2) Investment should be made to address a number of barriers to entry for females, especially for youth. A bit more on this on point 4) where I feel the need to help - but we need to run awareness sessions about enabling both genders equally and tackling the existing assumptions, explain why tech is cool, how females are equally capable, etc. etc. Imho over time this will be much more effective than forcing numbers which can be very belittling as well.

3) Society in general needs an attitude adjustment on women across all technical fields (science, maths, engineering, medicine, etc. etc.) and we should work on that with priority through youth and even into corporate programs imho - this should be higher priority than requiring certain #s into roles

I feel strongly that everyone excels in an environment in which they are trusted and empowered. Trust someone and tell them they can do great things (regardless of gender) and they will.

One simple way to hopefully improve is for us all to watch our own behaviours and thought patterns (girls and guys - and myself included) and try to avoid saying or doing things like (samples from coding but easy to adjust to all fields):
  • "Are you the new Analyst?" when you see a girl in the midst of developers. You may not agree but I feel that is a bit condescending. There's nothing wrong with an analyst that's an incredibly respected role too (it's just an example anyway) but it does suggest that girls can't code and it also can impact confidence.
  • "I'm sure you're going to struggle with the tech; I'm happy to teach you if needed". Really? Ef off i'm pretty certain i'm fully capable of sorting myself out thank you very little! ;)
  • Try to eliminate bias/assumptions when reading CVs. This is not supported by hard facts, but I have read that females tend to not talk themselves up as much - keep that in mind when you scan CVs and interview . Don't make condescending/be-littling statements during interviews to anyone - if you're trying to access employees value let them demonstrate their skills with confidence. (This is jut a thought from hearing other's experiences actually, I've actually only had one unsupportive interview imho which was many, many years back).

4) I feel a little guilty in hindsight. I've been enjoying the tech lifestyle for many years - and done nothing to help encourage females to the field. I am happy to speak to anyone (schools, unis, or anyone really) about why coding and technology is SO COOL. Maybe you can call it nerdy - I call it phenomenally challenging yet rewarding. I'll leave the details for those interested but I definitely come with a bit of passion and could probably encourage kids of all genders to contemplate tech if given the opportunity.

Now - I have to make one last statement which I alluded to earlier.  There have been so many AMAZING men and women in my career who have fully supported me and empowered me in so many ways. Great respect to these amazing souls; you've helped me tremendously in my career. You have always fully supported and empowered me and I feel that it is attitudes and behaviours such as yours that should be analyzed and emulated; as it has had an amazing impact on my tech journey. I contemplated listing the great souls here but I don't want to impact their privacy.

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