Connect with us

Opinion Editorials

Solve the gender gap in the tech world: quit bitching

(Editorial) The gender gap in the technology world exists, but it is not this ugly chasm that some portray it as, and there is actually a solution that doesn’t involve unfair demands and complaining.

Published

on

dalia ziada

dalia ziada

The gender gap in the technology industry

Over the weekend, the world paused to celebrate International Women’s Day and brands of all sizes dreamed of creative ways to observe the day. Some made stickers to honor achievements of women (like the fact that a woman invented the dishwasher in 1887 and another invented chocolate chip cookies in 1930) and others created shocking video that celebrated how far women have come yet how much struggle remains.

The honest looks taken at the current outlook for women was done by brands to put their stamp on history, and sure they’re spreading their logo alongside these messages, but the original “eww, they’re taking advantage of the situation” feelings I had subsided, because I think it’s important to talk about the challenges many women have.

bar
And then I read Sarah Parmenter’s piece, “Why the gender gap in the design industry needs to end” and she points out that women aren’t looking for special treatment in the tech industry, in fact the opposite. She asserts that men can’t win in most cases, which I agree with – male bosses, hire more women and you’re accused of trying to assuage your male guilt, don’t hire more women and you’re a chauvinist who is holding women back.

Then, one commenter caught my attention:

“Oh no not another feminist article. Look, if you want to change gender gap in the design industry all you have to do is tell males not apply or pass laws prohibiting design organization hiring more men than women. All these gender issues never look at the elephant in the room. Which is, once women fall in love, get married, and have kids, their priorities change. This has always happened and always will be. But the minute I say that, I become a racist, sexist, homophobe for stating the obvious. So, the solution is, of course, is to not to fall in love.”

Is he right? In some cases, yes, but not all cases. In my case, I fell in love while in college, married, became a parent, and was encouraged by my husband (who is now my boss) to work my ass off to pursue my ambitions (sidenote: I’ve always been extremely ambitious, so I would never have married someone who didn’t understand that). But in other cases, women do get married and shift their attention – some of the smartest women I know are stay at home mothers with college degrees, and I don’t see them as lower on any totem pole than I. So what if we took different paths? That doesn’t make her less hireable than me, should she use her computer science degree against my English degree, and it honestly has nothing to do with the damn gap, given that so few women actually stay at home – a growing minority, in fact.

So should we beat this dead horse?

So why beat this dead horse that is the “gender gap in the tech industry” if every situation is unique? Because it’s important. No woman is entitled to special treatment, and only idiots expect it. Let me illustrate.

I was once at a conference and I was the only woman on stage. That’s not uncommon, really, and I am fully aware that I have often been the token woman. Instead of moping about it, I’ve taken full advantage of the situation and built some of my notoriety on the fact that I have those opportunities. Should I object and proclaim that there are more qualified men that should be on the stage? Hell no, I’m taking that opportunity and running with it like any smart business person should.

At this particular conference, a group of women (who I am actually friends with) approached the organizers and complained, so last minute, there was a lineup change, and some men that were supposed to speak were cancelled and some lesser qualified women (and crappy speakers, I might add) were featured.

BIG WIN FOR FEMINISM, RIGHT!? Kick men in the dirt while you offer a subpar performance in the name of vaginas everywhere? No. That’s the problem with the gender gap – the whiny people that expect special treatment, in fact, they demand it and hold the tech industry hostage.

For anyone who is guilty of demanding this of any event, I want you to go Google “Dalia Ziada” right now. She obliterates the gender gap in endless ways in the face of her own safety, which makes the “not enough boobs on stage” argument seem petty.

The solution is so easy

The best way to solve the problem is ending the bitch and stitch about the fact that there is a gender gap. It’s narrowing, and most men are truly supportive of quality talent, regardless of gender. Sure, there are places like The Chive whose culture is openly chauvinistic, just don’t go work there. Duh.

The long term solution to ending the gender gap is telling your children, male and female, that STEM careers can be exciting. Train them to be curious and creative, and in the end, the gap will narrow naturally as they build robots together and see each other at age six as equals. Don’t have kids? Find a local charity that works with girls that may someday be interested in STEM studies. Donate some time instead of crying.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”

Go help the next generation to advance and narrow the gap, or just make your daughter’s life easier by encouraging her to be a creative problem solver (which let’s face it, is the job of a technologist). Focus on narrowing the gender gap and making future lives easier by being hands on with the next generation instead of bitching about it and demanding that qualified men be thrown off stage so that a random woman can fill that seat to satisfy the need of having a woman on stage.

Help the next generation to breathe easier and quit making unreasonable demands that don’t actually narrow the gap.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Tinu

    March 11, 2014 at 9:11 pm

    In a world without privilege, of all kinds, yes, that would be a solution, stop whining and put your shoulder to the grindstone. I used to think this, until someone took the time to show me the relationship between my struggle as a person of relative privilege, influence and power.

    Long story short, our struggle to be noticed on stage in tech is related to the struggle of women on the other side of the world who just want to keep their female babies from being sold into bridal slavery.

    As those with higher privilege get our demands met, in all areas of social justice, it’s like a sound barrier being broken, or the first four minute mile. This used to be more apparent historically when our struggles were all closer together. We were able to own property, vote, not be considered property, etc.

    It’s much more complex than this, of course. We also need a new measure of success. I never let up professionally because of men or kids — in fact I work this hard so I can be in a better professional place when I have them. But I was never taught either/or because of my cultural background.

    What those who have struggled before me taught me is that when those who have begun to receive their equal rights let up, the more important rights we have struggled for disappear as well. The backsliding continues until some of us are barefoot and pregnant, and others of us are on plantations.

    I’m not saying you don’t have a point, you do. But it isn’t just unfair for anyone to pursue a position they would later have to abandon because of family. It’s also unfair that those who have them, male and female, have to make those kind of sacrifices to be in those positions. Which is another can of worms, because capitalism, which I’m in favor of as a company owner.

    I’m saying that it’s a lot more complicated and we need to look for more answers to all of this, including the idea that there’s only one feminist agenda we should all be in lockstep with.

    • Lani Rosales

      March 11, 2014 at 10:23 pm

      Tinu, thank you for the thought-provoking response. I don’t think that your additional thoughts negate anything I’ve said, in fact, you’ve strengthened them.

      The issue is extremely complex, nuanced, and different for every American worker, which is why I alluded to a stay at home mom versus a COO.

      To me, the women before us that REALLY had it hard are to thank for the narrowed gap, but women that focus on headcounts on stage of genders are slapping the faces of those that were treated like shit for so long to pave a positive road for US. All I’m saying is that we must keep our nose to the grind and make the road even MORE positive for the next generation, and being a baby won’t cure any ill here.

      Again, thank you for taking the time to weigh in – your thoughts are tremendously helpful on the topic!

      • Tinu

        March 11, 2014 at 10:48 pm

        You made a really strong point about the ling term solutions. A really strong one. I hate to admit how much, especially in my culture, the pressure to marry and have kids and be the best as GD everything had me So confused as a kid.

        Even today, I have chosen to have a very non-traditional relationship with a man that makes me super-happy. But the societal pressure from friends and family about how I “should” be married… I wonder what century I’m in. I may get married but it’s not a goal of mine.

        This same world told me I *could* aspire to professional greatness, but when I began to, shunned me for not having a neglected kid and troubled marriage in tow.
        So please don’t get me wrong -I felt I was adding to, rather than negating your point. Expecting special treatment is the opposite of justic. But some don’t know the difference.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Opinion Editorials

How strong leaders use times of crises to improve their company’s future

(EDITORIAL) We’re months into the COVID-19 crisis, and some leaders are still fumbling through it, while others are quietly safeguarding their company’s future.

Published

on

strong leaders

Anthony J. Algmin is the Founder and CEO of Algmin Data Leadership, a company helping business and technology leaders transform their future with data, and author of a new book on data leadership. We asked for his insights on how a strong leader can see their teams, their companies, their people through this global pandemic (and other crises in the future). The following are his own words:

Managers sometimes forget that the people we lead have lives outside of the office. This is true always, but is amplified when a crisis like COVID-19 occurs. We need to remember that our job is to serve our teams, to help them be as aligned and productive as possible in the short and long terms.

Crises are exactly when we need to think about what they might be going through, and realize that the partnership we have with our employees is more than a transaction. If we’ve ever asked our people to make sacrifices, like working over a weekend without extra pay, we should be thinking first about how we can support them through the tough times. When we do right by people when they really need it, they will run through walls again for our organizations when things return to normal.

Let them know it’s okay to breathe and talk about it. In a situation like COVID-19 where everything is disrupted and people are now adjusting to things like working from home, it is naturally going to be difficult and frustrating.

The best advice is to encourage people to turn off the TV and stop frequently checking the news websites. As fast as news is happening, it will not make a difference in what we can control ourselves. Right now most of us know what our day will look like, and nothing that comes out in the news is going to materially change it. If we avoid the noisy inputs, we’ll be much better able to focus and get our brains to stop spinning on things we can’t control.

And this may be the only time I would advocate for more meetings. If you don’t have at least a daily standup with your team, you should. And encourage everyone to have a video-enabled setup if at all possible. We may not be able to be in the same room, but the sense of engagement with video is much greater than audio-only calls.

We also risk spiraling if we think too much about how our companies are struggling, or if our teams cannot achieve what our organizations need to be successful. It’s like the difference in sports between practice and the big game. Normal times are when we game plan, we strategize, and work on our fundamentals. Crises are the time to focus and leave it all on the field.

That said, do not fail to observe and note what works well and where you struggle. If you had problems with data quality or inefficient processes before the crisis, you are not fixing them now. Pull out the duct tape and find a way through it. But later, when the crisis subsides, learn from the experience and get better for next time.

Find a hobby. Anything you can do to clear your head and separate work from the other considerations in your life. We may feel like the weight of the world is on our shoulders, and without a pressure release we will not be able to sustain this level of stress and remain as productive as our teams, businesses, and families need us.

Continue Reading

Opinion Editorials

Declutter your quarantine workspace (and brain)

(EDITORIAL) Can’t focus? Decluttering your workspace can help you increase productivity, save money, and reduce stress.

Published

on

decluttering

It’s safe to say that we’ve all been spending a lot more time in our homes these last few months. This leads us to fixate on the things we didn’t have time for before – like a loose doorknob or an un-alphabetized bookshelf.

The same goes for our workspaces. Many of us have had to designate a spot at home to use for work purposes. For those of you who still need to remain on-site, you’ve likely been too busy to focus on your surroundings.

Cleaning and organizing your workspace every so often is important, regardless of the state of the world, and with so much out of our control right now, this is one of the few things we can control.

Whether you’re working from a home office or an on-site office, take some time for quarantine decluttering. According to The Washington Post, decluttering can increase your productivity, lower stress, and save money (I don’t know about you, but just reading those three things makes me feel better already).

Clutter can cause us to feel overwhelmed and make us feel a bit frazzled. Having an office space filled with piles of paper containing irrelevant memos from five years ago or 50 different types of pens, has got to go – recycle that mess and reduce your stress. The same goes with clearing files from your computer; everything will run faster.

Speaking of running faster, decluttering and creating a cleaner workspace will also help you be more efficient and productive. Build this habit by starting small: try tidying up a bit at the end of every workday, setting yourself up for a ready-to-roll morning.

Cleaning also helps you take stock of stuff that you have so that you don’t end up buying more of it. Create a designated spot for your tools and supplies so that they’re more visible – this way, you’ll always know what you have and what needs to be replenished. This will help you stop buying more of the same product that you already have and save you money.

So, if you’ve been looking to improve your focus and clearing a little bit of that ‘quarantine brain’, start by getting your workspace in order. You’ll be amazed at how good it feels to declutter and be “out with the old”; you may even be inspired to do the same for your whole house. Regardless, doing this consistently will create a positive shift in your life, increasing productivity, reducing stress, and saving you money.

Continue Reading

Opinion Editorials

How to ask your manager for better work equipment

(EDITORIAL) Old computer slowing you down? Does it make a simple job harder? Here’s how to make a case to your manager for new equipment to improve your productivity.

Published

on

better equipment, better work

What is an employee to do when the work equipment bites.

Let’s be frank, working on old, crappy computers with inefficient applications can make the easiest tasks a chore. Yet, what do you do? You know you need better equipment to do your job efficiently, but how to ask the boss without looking like a whiner who wants to blow the department budget.

In her “Ask A Manager” column, Alison Green says an employee should ask for better equipment if it is needed. For example, the employee in her column has to attend meetings, but has no laptop and has to take a ton of notes and then transcribe them. Green says, it’s important to make the case for the benefits of having newer or updated equipment.

The key is showing a ROI. If you know a specific computer would be a decent upgrade, give your supervisor the specific model and cost, along with the expected outcomes.

In addition, it may be worth talking to someone from the IT department to see what options might be available – if you’re in a larger company.

IT professionals who commented on Green’s column made a few suggestions. Often because organizations have contracts with specific computer companies or suppliers, talking with IT about what is needed to get the job done and what options are available might make it easier to ask a manager, by saying, “I need a new computer and IT says there are a few options. Here are my three preferences.” A boss is more likely to be receptive and discuss options.

If the budget doesn’t allow for brand new equipment, there might be the option to upgrade the RAM, for example. In a “Workplace” discussion on StackExchange.com an employee explained the boss thinks if you keep a computer clean – no added applications – and maintained it will perform for years. Respondents said, it’s important to make clear the cost-benefit of purchasing updated equipment. Completing a ROI analysis to show how much more efficiently with the work be done may also be useful. Also, explaining to a boss how much might be saved in repair costs could also help an employee get the point across.

Managers may want to take note because, according to results of a Gallup survey, when employees are asked to meet a goal but not given the necessary equipment, credibility is lost.

Gallup says that workgroups that have the most effectively managed materials and equipment tend to have better customer engagement, higher productivity, better safety records and employees that are less likely to jump ship than their peers.

And, no surprise, if a boss presents equipment and says: “Here’s what you get. Deal with it,” employees are less likely to be engaged and pleased than those employees who have a supervisor who provides some improvements and goes to bat to get better equipment when needed.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Our Great Partners

The
American Genius
news neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list for news sent straight to your email inbox.

Emerging Stories

Get The American Genius
neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to get business and tech updates, breaking stories, and more!