I’m already seeing the groans and complaints. “Isn’t this news dead, yet?” “Shouldn’t this just stop?” “Why do we have to keep hearing about this?”
It’s really easy – because this disgusting behavior still exists. This misogynistic belittling of women in any technology-related topic keeps happening. Women don’t get involved in tech fields because the guys there are pigs, or worse.
What am I talking about? Am I just another Social Justice Warrior trying to right a wrong? Am I just another guy trying to cozy up to the right?
No, I’m a career technologist speaking out about an issue that KEEPS happening, and I really hope this movie comes out and uncovers this stupidity and makes people talk about it.
And I also want to propose a way to fix it. But this way is hard and long. But most really good and workable solutions are. And I don’t have the patience to wait for the movie to come out.
I’ve been lucky enough to work in multiple environments that were diverse, in terms of gender and race and orientation, so, ten years ago, if you asked me about discrimination against anyone, women or otherwise, I’d have called you a moron.
I blame a former boss, who shall remain nameless but who’s initials are Didrik, for creating these environments. He hired based on the brains inside the skulls, and it showed. He didn’t care what plumbing existed below the belt, if you were smart and savvy and could find problems and fix them, you stood a really good chance of getting a job in his department. If you were really smart, he might try to create a position in his department.
And once you were on his team, you were expected to use those cranial noodles towards fixing computer problems.
So, for the first twelve years of my career, across two companies, he created environments where men and women worked together, no matter what color or cultural background or place of origin. And I didn’t understand that I was, in fact, working in paradise.
I regularly turned to women when I was stumped and said, “This person can’t connect to the Interwebs, and I’ve checked the drivers and checked the line and checked all this other stuff — what am I missing?” And I received responses like, “Did you remember to nix the registry entries before reinstall? Also check the port settings.”
Looking back, there were times that some of the “guys” said things like, “don’t give it to her, she’s a girl.” But I blew that off, thinking it was just an isolated incident or an individual that really didn’t understand, and they’d wake up.
But then, after those two jobs, I worked at a place that contracted development to India, and found out it does exist. Women were hired to fill counts and look diverse, but guys were hired when they needed staff. Women got passed over because they were women. Women got talked over on conference calls to fix outages, and their contributions would get lost until a man repeated verbatim what they said.
Women who were trying to make changes were called “harpies” or “meddlesome” or “bitches” because they were trying to do their jobs.
Women could try and try, but if a guy repeated what they said he got the credit and she just got to go back to her desk.
When that contract ended, I was happy. I’d never been happy about leaving employment somewhere until then.
Now, I have a job where diversity exists and everyone on the staff has a brain, no matter what plumbing exists underneath the waist or what kind of plumbing that prospective hire prefers, and I’m happy again. And I can really see that disgusting behavior for what it is.
So, how do we fix it? I promised that way up there at the top of the post, didn’t I?
It’s not a one-time fix. It’s not easy. It’s not fast. It’s going to take time and guts and a willingness to put oneself out there once and a while to call “Bullshit”.
You need to call these assholes out. You need to call them to the table to account for the shit they’re spreading. You need to acknowledge women in a way that doesn’t say, “Hey, she’s a women, she’s good too!”
And you need to shut down that bullshit shaming and other things that lead to threats. You need to shut it down publicly at the time it happens, like you have to smack a dog when he misbehaves.
When I was at one of those jobs, working for that previously mentioned boss, I rose to a supervisor level. I started to notice a little bit of that dismissing of women, so I made a point of asking female employees for their advice on issues.
I would publicly involve women on troubleshooting things, identifying issues. But I didn’t just ask women, nor did I preface it with, “Let’s get a woman’s view.” I just flat out asked.
In another job, when I came across a woman being belittled for missing a point when a guy would’ve just been told to try harder, I stepped in and said, “Leave her be. She won’t miss it next time.”
Don’t stand up for a woman because she’s a woman. Stand up for her because it’s stupid that you have to stand up for anyone being belittled or minimalized.
It takes time to change culture. Be constant. Be persistent. Don’t make people feel bad about themselves for following this bullshit attitude, just make them know that behavior that undercuts a woman is bullshit and they need to stop being an asshole.
So, to Katie and Irina and Mayka and Deb and Rae-Ann and Kris and Stephanie and Jennifer and Mandy and Missy and… And… And all the other women I’ve worked with who have been rockstars, keep rocking. Don’t let this shit keep happening.
And to Didrik and Greg and Ron and Carl and Robert and Rob and Justin and Joe and Mike and Brian and Chad and all the other guys I’ve worked with that didn’t let it happen, keep not letting it happen.
And to those who I haven’t worked with, don’t let it happen. Don’t wait for a politician to step in. Don’t wait for a candidate to voice something about it. Don’t wait for others to start a movement. Just stop that bullshit. And call people out for it.
It needs to be more than one voice in an office calling shenanigans on this bullshit. But it has to start with one voice. If no one else is talking, be that voice. If someone else is that voice, add yours.
Thanks for reading.