Last week I posted a series of topics about women in tech. They ranged from issues women face at work to pieces of advice encouraging participation in tech fields, business, the manufacturing industry, and some of my own personal experiences.
I had a great week being included in the Women in Tech community on Facebook and Twitter. I read interesting articles, posts, and had the general sense of being included in part of something bigger than myself. I highly encourage fellow women to join the community here and here.
My week of Women in Tech also happened to overlap with the election, which had a profound impact on a lot of people. What I did not expect was the reaction I saw from the women in tech community. There was outrage, perhaps understandable. Immediately there were posts about how the results personally affected women directly at their tech job, some so much that they had to take personal days from work because they couldn’t handle the emotion. There were posts that women need to continue to “fight” and support each other through this rough time. On top of that, there were forums about how certain job descriptions, like “ninja,” keep women away from the tech industry because of their “masculine bias”.
If being a “woman in tech” means constantly nit-picking and complaining about how hard it is, then I want no part of that title. These reactions and discussions are not helping our cause. As a woman and C-level executive, I would not hire any of those women. Tech and business is about keeping a level head and calm composure. I would not risk a sale or customer on someone who so easily cries hysterics. I do not want to be associated with gender bashing or suspicion that every action is a personal threat against women.
Business isn’t personal. Business is about action and results. Ask yourself, “what can I produce?” and “what value can I add to the company?” There is a right and wrong way to go about what that value-add is or how to address concerns. For the most part, people just want to get their work done and go home to their families. They don’t think about phrases so deeply as some who take insult at a phase because of its “masculine bias”.
How does all this fear-mongering and complaining look to the young women in high school and college? Do they not want to be in tech because of boys or because they hear other women complaining about how lonely and sexist it is to choose that career path?
Women deserve to be in tech and they deserve to be leaders in business when they excel in those roles. We need to prove we belong not by shouting hate and discrimination, but by working in the team with all our colleagues to produce exceptional results. That means being able to trust your male co-workers. It means not judging or attacking other women in your company.
If you find that you are not valued, compensated or respected for your work or who you are, then address that problem instead of first assuming it is because of gender. We cannot work in a world where every person is automatically sexist, racist, or ageist.
If you want to be a Woman in Tech, then be in tech. If you want to be a woman business leader, then be a leader. No one is stopping you from achieving your goals but yourself.
I love the deep community and support that women have in these groups. I think it is a great thing to spread the positive message that tech is inclusive, for everyone, of all backgrounds. That it is never too late to explore that curiosity and jump in. We, as women in the industry, need to make sure we keep our focus on that positive message and work toward that goal openly, with optimism.
What does that positive Woman in Tech look like? What does she do?
She partners with women around her. For some reason, it seems that women are cattier to each other than the men on their team. If another woman comes into the group at the same level there seems to be a rivalry that takes place. I’ve seen this have horrendous consequences on projects where if the women had worked together the project could have been a success. My worst job experience was in an office of all women. The gossip, cattiness, and backstabbing was like I had never seen before. Some believe this is because of the idea that there is less room for women at the table than men.
There is room at the top for all of us and women deserve that space just as much as anyone else. In order to truly break the glass ceiling, we need to partner with other women who join our team. Positive women teach, inform, and hand out work fairly. They take joy in seeing their counterparts rise in the organization, knowing that they were part of their success.
She lifts herself up by lifting her team. She holds no bias accept against slackers and nay-sayers. She knows that part of her success is if her team is a success. In knowing this, she actively participates in the team. She participates even if it brings about conflict or is uncomfortable. She gets to know each team member individually and how they fit into the team as a whole.
She volunteers, promotes herself and takes on side projects. She jumps in feet first to new challenges with an open mind and positive spirit. The only person responsible for her success, career, and happiness is herself. She promotes herself and her skills within her company. She explores topics that interest her on her own time even if they don’t fit into her job description. She takes on side projects and studies for certifications. She is constantly pushing herself to the next level without mercy. She won’t let society, or rules, keep her down.