Who gets to be a Woman “in Tech”?

This is in response to the first 2 paragraphs of a blogpost by AppDynamics. The key points in the blog I am responding to:

Contrary to popular belief, being a “Woman in Tech” does not always entail working in a coding-centric, engineering role.


Only once we completely put aside these perceptions about tech and what it means to be a woman of tech can we start to close the gender imbalance in the industry.

Note: I recently worked at AppDynamics as an engineer.

I want to thank you for featuring these women. They are all amazing. Women in the workplace no matter the industry or role have a shared experience. That experience has shared frustrations, disappointments, excitement and pride in work we do.

But this post misses a crucial point about the fight to get more women into tech. It seems to suggest that a solution to getting more women into tech is to broaden the definition of what “in tech” means.

A company who defines “women in tech” so broadly plays a slippery numbers game. If your workplace is 50% engineering/product and 50% non-engineering/product, but 100% of your engineers are men and 100% of non-tech is women, your company still has a “women in tech” imbalance problem. Technically you could say your workplace is 50/50 but that is not addressing a MAJOR issue many tech companies face: that the product is envisioned, designed, created, implemented and maintained by men.

…we’re happy to report that a majority of our hires in several departments have been primarily female, being well over 55% in each of the marketing, business services, and People @AppD (human resources and recruiting) sectors.

I love that you have increased your numbers overall. We need more women in the workplace everywhere. All women no matter what they do deserve opportunities. No profession is superior to another. However I noted you are missing engineering, product and management roles on this list. To address the women in tech numbers in this way obscures the truth. It gives companies and individual engineering teams an easy out when it comes to diversity numbers. Don’t let them do that. It will harm efforts to increase women in technical roles. It ignores what it means to be a woman on a technical team and what it took to get there.