Anonymous Stories of Women in Tech

Cynthia Yin
Jan 26, 2016 · 4 min read

A few years ago, I was running to be president of my high school’s Physics Club. After the other candidates for office and I had given our election speeches, everyone was milling around as the results were tallied. It seems like forever ago, but I’ll always remember the words a male classmate spoke to me:

“You should have worn a dress to win the election.”

He’s probably since forgotten the incident, but his words have stuck with me to this day. It was no surprise that I was one of few girls in a group of boys, but the last thing on my mind that day was what I was wearing.

I ended up winning and serving as President for both my junior and senior years.

Being a woman in tech has its ups and downs. The stark gender imbalance can be frustrating, but I am forever grateful for the supportive communities I have found through diversity organizations, events, and networks.

Interestingly, I never realized the severity of the issue prior to coming to Stanford. I simply ignored a lot of the remarks and didn’t let the fact that I was often the only girl in the room phase me.

But suddenly being thrown into the heart of Silicon Valley and immersed in the vibrant tech industry makes everything that much more real.

For the past year, I’ve done some of my own research. Most recently, I conducted a survey on the influence of diversity organization participation on impostor syndrome. Though ultimately inconclusive with regards to a legitimate cause-effect relationship between the factors, it revealed the eye-opening stories of 120 female students studying computer science and other technical fields.

Here are the questions I asked and some of the most powerful and impactful responses I got in return.

Have you ever been in a tech-related environment where you felt that you were judged negatively due to your gender?

Have you ever felt like you have suddenly started underperforming compared to your peers? If yes, when did that occur? Was there a particular incident that contributed to that feeling?

In your own opinion, what stereotypes do you think society has about WOMEN in tech?

In your own opinion, what stereotypes do you think society has about MEN in tech?

Have you heard of IMPOSTOR SYNDROME? Define it in your own words.

Have you heard of IMPLICIT BIAS? Define it in your own words.

This study has made me even more determined to do all that I can to reverse the detrimental stereotypes and biases ingrained in society. To the people who say “it’s just a movement,” it’s more than that. It’s the future of an industry, the self-confidence of millions of incredibly deserving women and aspiring girls worldwide. But the conversations can’t last forever. Until we achieve gender parity in these critical fields, this is a reminder to my fellow women in tech to never forget your value and worth, never let fear or others’ opinions dictate who you are, and never stop doing what you love.

Ladies Storm Hackathons

A community of technical women growing and storming…

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store