Jan Dennison

Women in the Tech Workforce

Jan 18, 2015

One of the guys

As the sole female developer on my team of more than 20 Front End devs, the presence of women in tech is a topic that I follow closely. In the workplace I've encountered a few instances of subconcious sexism, such as this week, when the man leading a daily standup welcomed me by saying that he was glad I was joining them so that he had someone to give the pink cards to. Obviously, women want to be welcomed to the team because of the skills they bring, not so that they can take the pink cards that none of the men want to use. That's why it's important to bring more women into the tech world, and also to continue the conversation about gender equality, because it is still very prevalent, and exposure and education will make that change.

Now, I have been lucky in that most of my teammates are young, active in the dev communities and accepting of new ideas. One coworker makes a special effort to address team emails to "Hey guys and gal," which is thoughtful and amusing. I don't mind being lumped in with "Hey guys," as that's just how our language works, but it is very kind that he is aware of it and makes the effort. Other times, though, I've had coworkers refer to Girl Develop it as "a great place to meet women," completely missing the point. It's this default perspective towards women as "female, dateable objects" rather than as "equally intelligent people" that we're working to change.

Coworkers, Not Dating Fodder

As Chapter Leader and member of the Columbus Girl Develop It branch, I want to work towards the goal of women being viewed as coworkers, not a dating pool. Men are helpful and even necessary in the efforts to get more women into tech, and they should be welcomed as teachers and peers. In turn, women must be welcomed as peers as well, as equals, with the focus on their strengths as developers and not their act of being female. Once the novelty of having a woman among the guys has worn off, and enough cultural education has happened towards equality, women will be welcomed to the meetings because of their fantastic skill with CSS design, rather than merely as recipients of the pink cards.