happy international womens day - honoring past protests for women's voting rights and against gender discrimination, improved working conditions and bringing attention to the present-day struggle for gender equality. its good stuff!
i, myself, was unaware of this holiday until recently when i was asked to assemble a panel o' ladies for a webinar to support IWD.
tbh i felt kind of gross thinking about the ask - did the world need yet another discussion about the various ways that working as a woman in a male-dominated field is challenging? NO! if anything I'd like to see a manel aka all male panel discussing those challenges and how they support the women in their workplaces.
so back to the panel - this wasn't the type of ask you say "mmmm no thx" to and I puzzled over how to align it with my values. had i been a SRE at the time its the type of request I would've immediately turned down (and did turn down various versions of this type of ask as I got more senior). Back then I wanted to be invited to talk shop, debate concepts and implementation details, etc not "how fun is it to be underpaid and disrespected?!"
with that in mind I set out to facilitate a panel I would've said yes to, a panel that showcased technical prowess of panelists and focused on the value of observability from their unique vantage points. it just so happened to be composed of fiercely talented women and happening on international women's day.
while this is but one solitary panel in a frothy sea of content, a drop in the bucket, i am very proud of the approach, the experience, and the result!
the panel goes live at 10am PST; you can register -> here
the only place I feel 10000% comfortable answering "what is it like working as a woman in tech" in a genuine way is here. thus far my time in the industry has been a mixed bag! not all good, not all bad.
to be clear I am speaking from my experiences here - def not speaking for all or even most women. there are a number of privileges inherent in being white, able-bodied and cis-gender that affect how I'm received, perceived and show up.
without further ado here's some snippets of what its been like for me as a woman in tech
- Continually reminding people to include women in Support and Marketing and Sales under the women in tech umbrella
- Getting recommended for women/diversity events versus sponsorship for high profile projects
- Support from my very first real boss, department, and company to pursue code school and after a nerve-wracking few weeks after graduation eventually a full time role as a SWE <3
- Getting really excited when a network engineer presented the rollout of new loadbalancer hardware and asking him for reccos so I could keep learning about networking only to be told "You don't want to get into networking. Its full of neckbeards"
- Wondering if the swag was designed for women's shapes/bodies
- Routinely uncovering pay gaps between genders across teams and companies. Props to the guys who have been open and transparent about their base, equity and gave advice on market ranges I should accept for mid vs senior roles.
- Asked a smattering high ranking women I respect what keeps them here and resoundingly heard "spite" (which hey totes fuels some folks! just not me)
- Not having to wait in a long line for the bathroom at professional events
- Getting to buy my mom an Instant Pot and KitchenAid Mixer (etc) without even blinking at the price
- Assembling a rad crew of Others (women, enbys, LGBTQIA+) to celebrate the wins, to analyze weird DMs from co-workers and support through the rocky times
- Once after transferring teams my new manager listed all the skills they were excited I would bring to the team and ended with "...and you're a girl!"
- Having a candidate only make eye contact with and respond to my male co-worker during a joint interview
- None of the guys on my team telling me when my eyeliner/mascara was messed up! So rude!!
- Dealing with skepticism about my abilities (bc I went to code school) that evaporated when people found out I have a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering & business
- Making history at a work meeting where the number of women engineers outnumbered the men #iconic
- Fodder to pen this in the comments section of my university's survey "I felt that you participated in diversity theatre. Really engaging women in engineering means critically looking at the style and topics taught. I fell out of the pipeline largely because of our focus on pure theory...not to mention senior design was a joke. The variance in difficulty for the projects was high and people were passed regardless of actual contributions. Take some notes from Harvey Mudd and their wild success retaining women in STEM. I'd also like to note that you can go look up my grades and dismiss me as a terrible student anyway. Go for it. I've since found my way into tech and my company accomodated attending a short term software education program and hired me on full time. Not even one year on the job I spoke at a conference introducing a room filled with professionals who have decades on me a new approach to provisioning and configuring servers. I'm thriving and have zero plans to leave STEM despite the experiences I had while attending school under your deanship." (no I did not hear back and yes they still ask me for donation$ every year)