Any discussion of women’s experience in technology companies eventually turns to some discussion of men’s “bad behavior” — and I’m not talking about the awful prevalence of sexual harassment. Women in our Women in Tech research commonly complain about “being invisible” because of the way they are talked over. They don’t like being “barked” at by male engineers. They do value an on-task, straight-talk culture.

But the line between direct, curt language and “barking” can be very thin. I was reminded of this because of a recent complaint by colleagues of a tech worker to their boss that the employee…


I’ve now read James Damore’s document about diversity at Google multiple times. James Damore is the 28-year old Google developer who wrote a long treatise in which he claimed that Google was an echo chamber of liberal ideas and that hiring women who aren’t good enough at coding, hurts Google’s mission. He was subsequently fired. I’ve been pondering what I have to say.

Many have written to clarify issues and express deep and real feelings:

  • The Economist did a great job balancing the social science research and counterarguing Damore point-by-point with references to other good articles. As it noted, it…

Over the last 18 months I’ve been travelling to different venues to give talks on the Women in Technology Retention Project. The audience has been women and some men. The ideas resonate with women but men also want to know what they can do to help. As one male manager said, “All the men on my team hear is that they are the bad guys, have all the power, behave badly, and are the problem.” He loved it when I said, “Men need to redefine how to be a hero, how to twist their habitual behavior so they can be…

Karen Holtzblatt

Karen is CEO of InContext Design and a Research Scientist at the University of Maryland. @kholtzblatt

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