#MoreWomeninTech and WomenPreneurs Blog

A Call for Women in Tech to Help Change the Stigma of What it is like to work as women in tech- From the Inside of our Companies Out.

Posted by Apr 8, 2014 9:00:00 AM Ali Powell


Women hold only one quarter of all IT jobs. I read this yesterday in a post about the importance of getting more women in tech. This article was posted in the NY Times and was titled "Technology's Man Problem." The title sparked my interest right away. Then when I checked out the other people on Twitter posting about it, I figured I should spend some time actually reading it to see if I could learn something. I  have a stream setup to get notifications anytime someone on Twitter tweets about anything to do with women in tech and my stream after this post came out looked like this.

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It was obvious from this stream about #womenintech that this post was worth reading. So I read it and started to think about all the women sitting around me in my little section of the technology company that I work at. I should have counted the women around me at my desk. But, I think in my own part of the office there are about 15 women, all in sales who don't feel the way this article talks about women feeling.  I got to thinking about why this might be and tried to relate to what these developers and founders of companies in the article were talking about. I actually can't relate though because I have never experienced this type of discrimination in the past 3 1/2 years working in tech.  I think that is because of the role I have at my company. I am in sales and not in a direct engineering role where I deal with not having other women around me. 

In sales as a woman in tech you have the same quota as the men do.

You have the same goals and standards that the men have.

I think that makes the playing field level. No one treats me differently because I am a woman. No one treats me better or worse because I am a woman. They don't have the right to because my success directly relates to me hitting or exceeding a number. Just like a man, I must hit quota and if I don't then someone can start questioning me. That is why I think we need to start talking about other jobs in tech where women can be seen the same as men and be given the same opportunities to succeed. 

From what it sounds like women in the engineering fields in tech companies feel discriminated against. They feel like they are being pushed out because these women are only a couple among lots of men. I can understand this and would feel that way too I think. I don't actually know many female developers but the ones that I do know (even some at my company) are not like the women in sales that I know. From what it seems if we want to get more women in tech we need to make sure that we are exposing as many different kinds of roles to women not in tech so they can make a decision for themselves what would be best for their personalities and strengths. 

The data below shocked me in the article in the NY Times...

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I consistently talk about getting more women in tech from outside of tech. I do this by exposing all kinds of jobs that women have in tech but when I looked at the data about women staying in tech I started to worry. It is obvious that getting more women who are in tech to stay in tech is just as important as getting women not in tech to join tech...

Articles like this one do a good job at exposing why women should not be in tech. Why women feel discriminated against working in tech. We need to expose the good things about being a woman in tech as well. If we really want to make a difference and help get more women studying things that will help them get jobs in tech then we need to change the stigma. There are great things that happen to women in tech everyday, there are also bad things. This could be said for all parts of life, all types of jobs. But, if we, as the media, as women working in tech, as educators, etc. want more women working in tech over the years to come then we need to think about the success stories. The more stories and articles we post about the bad parts of being a women working in tech then the less women will want to work in tech.more_women_in_tech_is_not_just_about_the_bad_stories

This article brings up really good points and we as women need to be aware of these things. As women working in tech or as women working in startups you should make yourself aware of things that this article brings up.  Then you can make sure they don't happen to you and you can work towards making a difference in your own organization so things like this don't happen. The more we talk about these the problems that women have in tech  and expose when they happen the more we can try to fix them. I like that people are trying to expose bad things that happen to women in tech so they know what to be aware of but I think as a whole we should focus on the positive.  If we are aware as women working in tech that things like this can occur we can try to make sure they don't happen at our companies. We can also make sure that we are focusing on the good things and talking about the good things that happen to women working in tech so women not in tech can see that working in tech is a good thing!  

Women working in tech need to be aware of the bad things that could happen as a woman working in tech. 

  • Be aware of when you feel like you are getting pushed out by men around you. 
  • If you are feeling dominated by men in your group at work speak up and fix that. 
  • Usually what pushes a woman to leave tech is when she finds something offensive. Don't let it get to that point. Speak up before that happens and be aware of what is happening around you to try and make a change before this happens. 
  • Know when to play along and when to push back. If you feel like something isn't right then you should speak up and voice your opinions.
  • Since there are statistically less women working in tech you might feel outnumbered. Be confident that you are trying to change those numbers by being there. Don't let yourself feel outnumbered even though you clearly are outnumbered. Find the women around you to work with so you don't feel that way. 
  • Take an active role in getting more women in tech into your company. Expose what you do to your community and to the tech world so other women not in tech might want to follow your foot steps. 
  • There is data that says that women mid career leave tech jobs- if you are aware of this you should start working on ways to make that not happen at your company. Look at the women around you, are you seeing a trend here? Speak up and do something about it. Figure out how to change that ahead of time. 
  • Take your career and your happiness into your own hands. Don't let men around you dictate it, ever. happy_women_in_tech

As women we need to speak up when we hear a man say something we don't like. Don't just be one of "the bros" and laugh and go along with it. You are doing yourself a disservice as well as other women working in tech. 

  • A lot of women in tech and women working in startups talk about how they sometimes put theirselves down just to feel like one of the rest, or one of the guys. If we continuously laugh at their jokes when really they are not funny then you are not helping women have more of a presence in technology. 
  • We as women in tech and women working in startups need to focus on not giving in to the norms.
  • Just because you want to feel like part of the crowd doesn't mean that you have to put yourself down to feel that way.
  • It is only natural to sometimes feel like an outsider, you don't have to put yourself down though to make yourself feel more included. Find other ways to make yourself feel more included in your company.  
  • Sometimes it is easier just to go along with what someone is saying and pretend like it is okay. The harder thing to do would be to speak up and say that you didn't appreciate what someone said and that you actually don't think what they said is funny or appreciated.

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Women working in tech are usually seen by the outside world as product managers, the engineering people, developers... No one talks about the business women in tech that are not developers. 

  • That is why I started my initiative around getting more women not in tech to know what it is like to be a woman working in tech. If we don't expose more women to tech and what it is like to be a woman working in tech then why would women want to join? Especially after seeing so many articles about how little women we have working in tech. If women not in tech keep reading these same old stories, over and over again and keep seeing how little women there are working in tech, then they will not want to work in tech.
  • I have lots of women friends who do not work in tech. Sometimes they don't understand what I do. But, you know what I don't think I do a good job explaining what I do to them and explaining why I work so much. I think that is because most women not in tech have no clue what it is like to be a woman working in tech not in a developer role. Before I got into tech I had no clue I could even be there. I didn't know there were jobs that would fit someone like myself in tech companies. We should hold ourselves accountable to changing this dynamic and exposing what we do as women in tech to those not in tech. 
  • I feel like lots of women not in tech think of women in tech as engineers, and as product managers. Jobs that they wouldn't know how to do or want to do unless they had gone to school for it. There are jobs for all kinds of women in tech, we just need to start exposing women early and often to what those roles are. 

The article talks about how those who "own the code, have the power." This is why business jobs like sales, marketing and management as a woman in tech are AWESOME. 

  • I am not an engineer so I cannot talk to what it is like to be a woman working in a tech role at a tech company. But, I can tell you what it is like to be a woman working in tech in a sales role. 
  • As a sales person working in tech I have never feel discriminated. I have never ever felt that being a woman was something that could hold me back. I also never felt like it was something that could help me do better in my job. I am a person, am a person, am a person. It doesn't matter that I am a woman. It doesn't matter that the person sitting next to me is a man. 
  • I have just as much of a struggle ahead of me as a man does in my role in sales. BUT, as a woman there are things that are innately different about me than a man. Women should use those things to their advantage just like men should use their innate qualities of being a man to their advantage. 
  • The number one reason I care about getting more women in tech and more women not in tech understanding the roles they can have in tech is because of the data. Other than that I know that having women behind you doing the same thing or experiencing the same things at a company is helpful.
  • I don't want to talk to a male colleague about everything I want to talk to a female colleague about, I bet that goes the other way around too. 
  • I have never felt that I was at a disadvantage. I have never felt like that because I am not a manager or not someone who controls how our organization sells that I don't have power. I have power as an individual contributor at my company regardless of me being a man or a woman. 
  • Women in sales working in tech companies have a lot of power. You have the power of creating your own destiny. 
  • Be good at your job because you are good at your job regardless of being a woman or a man. 

problem_solving_skills_for_women_in_techWe have a problem. We need to be aware of it. We need to make necessary changes in our organizations from the inside out to help get more women in tech. 

We, as women working in technology RIGHT NOW need to work on changing this stigma from the inside of our companies outwards. The only way we will get more women working in technology jobs and startup jobs is if women not in the space see startup jobs and tech jobs as a good thing for their qualities and skills. We need to expose more women to what it is like to work in tech by sharing jobs that women have in tech.  Let's start sharing more success stories about how companies changed internal problems focused around women for the better. Let's start to share more stories about the success women are seeing in tech instead of the problems that some women might face with men working besides them in tech. 

Topics: Women in startups, WomenPreneurs, Women in Tech, women in sales, women in technology, #morewomenintech, womenintech, more women in tech, more women in sales, spotlight women in tech

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