5 Ways For Men in Tech to Support Workforce Equality While Barely Trying

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Dear Men in Tech,

If you want to truly go above and beyond to become an advocate for women in tech, there are so many things you could do, such incredible differences you could make, but that is a different essay. Here I’m talking about easy things. Here are 5 ways you can help drive towards equality in tech, with barely any effort. Basically, as the advantaged majority, it’s really the least you can do. But I promise to still give you huge props for doing it.

“I’ll get it”. It’s all too common for the woman in the room to be asked to get coffee or water or pick up lunch. It’s usually done casually, even unintentionally, but all too often. Here’s a thank you to the guys who interrupt the ask to the only woman in the woman and say “I’ll get it.” It’s the easiest thing imaginable, yet it is little by little that change happens.

“Actually, you’re the pretty face.” True story. I was once leaving the office to give a talk, accompanied by a male co-worker. As we were getting ready to go, he made a joke about how I was the “pretty face.” A coworker told him, “Actually, you’re the one we’re sending to be the pretty face. She’s giving the talk.” It managed to be lighthearted, funny and get a point across. For all the times we encourage women to “not take things too seriously,” I think we need as many, if not more, that encourage men to do the same. Whenever you can turn a sexist joke back on the joketeller, women everywhere will thank you.

“Come grab a drink with us!” It’s easy for the only woman in a group to feel unsure if she’s welcome at the happy hour, the casual beers in the office or similar situations. These casual environments are important for anyone’s career. You gain mentorship, bond with your coworkers and get the insider knowledge to advance in the company. Don’t assume she feels welcome, welcome her.

“What do you think we should do?” Women are more hesitant to speak up in meetings than men. This is a generalization and not a rule (just ask my coworkers, I’m sure they’ll assure you I have no issue speaking up), but if you find yourself in a meeting with only one woman in the room, it can’t hurt to make sure she feels comfortable speaking up. It’s so easy to do and, hey, maybe she’ll have the best idea in the room.

“It’s so easy a dad could use it” The examples we use in everyday language and business are surprisingly powerful. If you talk about it being so easy a “mom could use it” I encourage you to push your creativity a step forward to think beyond the simplest of stereotypes.

In all seriousness, I know many men in tech who go above and beyond to make the tech world a better place for women. They believe it’s better for themselves, better for the industry, and better for all of our futures. I hope you will join them.