Women in Tech: a Crisis of ConfidenceFeatured

quinneyeQ's profile thumbnail
I love this! Thank you for sharing. I agree 1000x with the discomfort bit. I myself feel uncomfortable on most days. If I start feeling too complacent, then I go do something that makes me feel just a little scared (e.g. bike up a hill, cold email a seemingly untouchable hero). I think so much of having a meaningful career in STEM (and any other field, for that matter) is having the courage to envision a slightly (or hugely) different world than the one you live in and then doing what you can to make that world happen.Discomfort is a big part of that journey, so you might as well start practicing how to get comfortable with that by starting small and doing daily life things that make you feel weird or scared (e.g. say hi to that person you're dying to be friends with). Or doing that thing that seems so out of reach but actually just takes a tiny leap of faith (e.g. taking a trapeze class like @kuan did).
JessieA's profile thumbnail
This is great! Practicing is such an important part of getting good at something. In our tech narrative that showcases 'overnight' successes, the hours/months/years spent practicing and trying are often glossed over.
shevelopher's profile thumbnail
Hmm, I’m not sure I agree with their solution to plug the leaky pipeline - it’s going to require more than simply amplifying other women in tech who were able to overcome adversity and be successful. She addresses some real and legitimate problems in tech that contribute to justifying a strong argument for women to leave. When we celebrate these successes of underrepresented groups, we aren’t only providing a role model to inspire more women to enter the field, we should also be celebrating and more important acknowledging the strength it took them to get them. These success stories no doubt deserve our praise and admiration, but I’m not convinced this is the solution for the pipeline problem. I feel like we need to put our effort into addressing the hostile work environment before we inspire more women to enter a field where they will no doubt face blatant and unfair sexism. There are two solutions to fixing a leaky pipeline: put more water into the hose and you’ll get more put or fix the hole and all the water entering will exit. For me, this feels like the first. I think we need to focus on the second approach.
mnicasio's profile thumbnail
> “I feel like we need to put our effort into addressing the hostile work environment before we inspire more women to enter a field where they will no doubt face blatant and unfair sexism.”Word. It’s irritating that that the Damore note has amplified the misconceptions that there is some inherent genetic attribute that makes women inferior at programming (the human body hasn’t even fully adapted to the millennia-old technology of agriculture & no genetics expert has ever mentioned coming close to identifying intelligence genes).You can’t swear “MERITOCRACY!” up and down then profess that a complex skill is fully determined “genetically”, because that’s actually moving AWAY from evaluating an individual by her actions.People need to expand their notion of a hostile work environment beyond blatant criminal harassment and look at actions that reflect willfully ignoring the actions/contributions of people only to punish them under the rationale that they ✌️“Didn’t perform”✌️. For example, realistically, what are you supposed to do if one of your code reviewers demands you change your code to something not only suboptimal, but capable of causing problems when refactoring or adding a new feature down the line? Do you make the change to avoid being seen as the aggressor, or do you go to someone above that person explaining that the reviewer refuses to acknowledge that their suggestion will cause problems down the line that you refuse to get blamed for? A couple months ago there was a long Twitter thread full of this stuff and there didn’t seem to be any consensus on how to handle this type of crap.
jordyn's profile thumbnail
Word to your word.
shevelopher's profile thumbnail
Oof, recently on Reddit reading a woman's account of her experience on an IT team consisting of her and three men with whom she described having a good working relationship. Her fellow male colleagues went out to lunch regularly together without ever extending an invitation and she was seeking advice on how to assess the situation. The number of comments alluding to "they just want to talk about dude stuff so let them be" was heartbreaking while I'm over here waving my arms in the air screaming "this is systematic sexism in tech". That sort of thing absolutely makes for a hostile workplace even if unintentional and should be addressed.
JessieA's profile thumbnail
Absolutely. In this case I'd encourage this person/team to talk about creating a more inclusive culture rather than referring to it as 'hostile workplace.' You'll see my consistency around how words and narrative matter, but in my experience it's easier to bring people together around a positive narrative than one where people may feel defensive, and not have a productive approach.
shevelopher's profile thumbnail
I agree on your wording - that's a good call out.
mnicasio's profile thumbnail
> The number of comments alluding to "they just want to talk about dude stuff so let them be" was heartbreaking while I'm over here waving my arms in the air screaming "this is systematic sexism in tech".I wonder how many of those repliers agree with the statements made about Ellen Pao in court when she was described as being "not friendly" because she didn't want to go with her colleagues to a strip club. Apparently being considerate of other people / putting yourself in other people's shoes is either very hard or very optional...
shevelopher's profile thumbnail
Weird, I have also been invited to a strip club by my colleagues and I also declined. At least I got invited? What a world to live in.
mnicasio's profile thumbnail
Did declining to accompany them to a strip club affect team dynamics when it came to actually getting things done at work?
shevelopher's profile thumbnail
Hmm, that was legitimately a hostile work environment that cannot be masked by a different choice of words so declining the offer is low on my list of things that affected the team dynamics for me personally unfortunately.
cadran's profile thumbnail
Yes I think this is an excellent point. Retaining women who are already in the tech industry is critical. Understanding why we leave and how to combat the issues we run into is key.Not so dissimilar to when startups drive new users to the top of a funnel for a broken product with bad retention.
JessieA's profile thumbnail
Yup. This is a massive issue and of course tech is not the only industry with "blatant and unfair sexism." It's going to take all of us coming together to shift the system and plug the various points in the leaky pipeline.
JessieA's profile thumbnail
Appreciate you sharing your perspective on this. I agree that stories alone will not solve this complex problem, however, it's important to think about how much power and influence there is in the stories/narratives that traditional media perpetuates. Narratives around what success looks like and the types of "successful" people who are integral to the innovation economy. We wanted to see more diverse women held up as role models for everyone else, so that's the approach we started with. We have a lot of work to do and are just getting started!
whitneycaneel's profile thumbnail
"When asked for a piece of advice for women in STEM, Jessie said to remember that it’s okay to feel uncomfortable. There are certain expectations set for us concerning the kind of education and career path we should be following - Jessie’s recommendation is to use education and skills as a tool on the path to success, not a mandate, even if the mandate provides a sense of familiarity and comfort."Yes! I've noticed there is more conversation around the normalization of feeling uncomfortable. We've been conditioned to believe that feeling uncomfortable is associated with uncertainty, and negativity. If we could start looking at uncomfortable as something exciting and empowering I think we could see more innovation. Thanks for sharing!
JessieA's profile thumbnail
Glad this resonates. I associate the discomfort with growing and stretching, which doesn't always feel great at the time, but produces positive outcomes and feels good after.