Women in Technology

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Article:
  A Fifty Year Wave of Change
Subject:   Arrggh! Not again....
Date:   2007-09-05 09:54:57
From:   LenaWest
Maria states the obvious. The superficial things that have continued to present challenges for women working in technology.


The disconnect as I've always seen it stems from two distinct areas:


1) Women need to stop complaining. Period. Not only do you annoy everyone around you when you complain, but you send the message of a powerless victim. I can't tell you how much complaining I've heard since I started my career in tech over a decade ago. It's the main reason I avoid 'women in tech' conferences and events. It turns into a literal whine and cheese party.


I don't want to hold hands and sing "We shall overcome" with guys who work in tech. JUST. LET. ME. DO. MY. JOB.


I am not willing to go along to get along. If someone says something to me that I don't like, I correct them and move on. Have the intestinal fortitude to stand up for yourself and not make it into a federal case against women. As is said, no one can make you feel badly without your permission.


*THIS* is ther real reason that CS degrees are on the decline for women. They hear the constant complaints, they feel the victim vibe and head for the hills. We owe it to our future women leaders to be MUCH stronger than this.


2) Be careful of the 'sticky floor' phenomenon as popularized by Becky Shambaugh. This "they won't let me" mentality just doesn't hold water. Never did, never will. I was always taught that when there is a misunderstanding between myself and someone, I was to first look to see how I had contributed to the problem. Women working in tech need to ask themselves the same question. If they have the guts to hear the truth.


How have we/you contributed?


Do you let people take credit for your ideas without saying anything?


Do you complain that you're never invited out to play golf?


Do you take offense when someone has an open, honest and direct communication style?


Do you refuse to self-promote because it feels slimy or you just don't 'know how'?


Do you let people talk over you in meetings?


Do you negelect to get to a meeting early to make sure you get a 'power seat'?


Do you become overly friendly with people at work (bringing brownies, etc.) so instead of seeing you as a nice co-worker they put you in the 'mother' role?


Do you apologize if you have a different, yet toally valid, viewpoint?


Do you keep talking after you've made your point to avoid awkward silence in hopes that it'll smooth over any bumps in the road?


Take a good, HARD look. And, if you're really serious about success, you need to be willing to do the work to make a shift so YOU are in control of your professional experience and success -- not subject to the whims of the omnipresent "they".


If you don't want to play organizational ball, go home and start your own company. I did. I got tired of being 'political' and having to 'tone down' who I am to be successful. I didn't complain. I took action. That's the difference between a victim and a victor.


No everyone has to have my personality, but a backbone and self-respect is critical to success in any industry. It's time we get with the program people.


P.S. And, as an aside, crying at work? A definite no-no. I'm with Carolyn Kepcher on that point.

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  • Arrggh! Not again....
    2007-09-05 11:22:43  Shelley Powers | O'Reilly Author [View]

    I can agree with what you're saying, Lena, but you're putting the issue squarely on the shoulders of women, without holding men in any way accountable. That might make you popular in the geek circles, but it doesn't necessarily translate into a future where don't have to necessarily do more, be more, strive more, more more more just to get ahead.

    You didn't like what was happening to you so you started your own company. Commendable. However, if this was last century instead of this, would you fight for women's suffrage by recommending we go off and start our own country, rather than be critical of the status quo in this one?

    Your solution might work for you, but it doesn't ultimately work for the field, or the women AND men in the field.

    I agree that backbone and self-respect is critical, but if we're not heard, not seen, not acknowledged, all the backbone and self-respect in the world won't make a difference.