Women in Technology

Hear us Roar

  A Fifty Year Wave of Change
Subject:   Disappointed
Date:   2007-09-05 11:54:16
From:   lauras
Response to: Disappointed

I by no means consider myself as particularly insightful or having all the answers for this kind of challenge, and I agree with your comment to some extent, but when you write:

"We should be shouting from the mountaintops! At a minimum, we should be pointing out such hypocrisy every chance we get, as a unified whole; repeating such until we are heard."

...I'm left wondering "to whom"? Shouting at whom? Pointing out hypocrisy to whom?

The missing element in this discussion, to me, seems to be management. Management sets the tone. Management establishes the company values. When women are ignored or have men parachuted in to take over their projects, that's not on men as a gender -- it's on management. And maybe I'm just too cynical on this point, but if management already isn't listening, then is shouting going to do any good?

Being aggressive, developing a thick skin, standing up when you're disrespected -- these are the kinds of things that are needed in life to some degree, but all the more so in tech, it seems -- especially in the corporate world. And yet who's fault is that? I say it's management's. And not just male managers, because women managers can be just as culpable.

And yet there's that cliche that holds so much truth: Be careful whom you choose to be your enemy, for you will become (him). Is a frontal assault against management values in the corporate tech world really the best approach? Maybe.

What I like about this article is that it is more about the kinds of gradual change that happens when the entire culture changes, when the management culture changes. That's where the problematic attitudes breed, isn't it?

Being a Buddhist in spirit and one who tries to follow the Dharma, my job is on what I can do, not what others must do. (At least that's the ideal.) Leading by example. Doing it my way as a way to show others. And yes, even starting a company, a company that embodies these values and succeeds because of them -- these are things that I feel do make a difference.

It's not revolutionary. It's not going to change things overnight. But I feel that in some way it's just inevitable. Things will change because the tide is against the status quo.

(FWIW, I'm not pollyanna when it comes to enrollment figures in schools. I've been reading your blog for some years now, Shelley, and your thoughts on the problems with CS education are spot-on, imho. I look forward to your posting this month!)

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  • Disappointed
    2007-09-05 13:10:01  Shelley Powers | O'Reilly Author [View]

    First of all, excuse the typos in my comments. I've never been especially good at writing in small boxes. For instance, it should be feminine, and not feminist in my last sentence.

    Laura, I hope my essay won't disappoint. It's much smaller than these two previous, and most would probably think it a rant.

    Shouting to who...I'm not sure anymore. Management? Somewhat, especially if women are not getting the same recognition for their work as the men. I'd say it goes beyond management, though, and focuses more on society as a whole than any individual group of people.

    I want to shout at the women who don't see a problem because they're successful and they can't see beyond themselves. I want to shout at the women who don't stand up for themselves, and each other. I want to shout with the women who do.

    I also want to shout with the men who say, "Hey, wait a sec...something is wrong here..."

    I also want to shout at the techs who assume their audience is all male; who put on conferences and care little if there are few women.

    All these fields where women have made strides, yet in the IT field, our numbers are shrinking, not growing. That makes me want to shout--at everyone. Shout, grab by the collar, shake people about. When I hear that all we need is to show the IT field in a positive light on TV or in movies, makes me want to shout most of all, because we really don't get it.

    It's not that women or the perceptions of IT are 'broke'. It's the field that's broke.

    Let's see how many Tiny Edit Box typos enter this time ;-)