Women in Technology, Rise of the Anti-Movement
Everyone, just stop. It's no longer acceptable to put a laser focus on getting more women into development. Don't use it as part of your companies recruiting handbook to make you seem more "progressive". Don't try to pretend that creating another girl centric programming group will help more females feel like development is a warm and fuzzy place when it’s not.
We've been approaching the gender imbalance in the world of technology all wrong, that's why we lost.
We desperately need more women in tech and that's how we have been pursuing them, desperately. Women don't want to be treated differently and they don't want more focus put on them. By singling them out we are only emphasizing the fact that they are the odd “man” out among their peers (a fact that they are already painfully aware of).
Female engineers do great work and I have been fortunate enough to work with more than a few in my career. The level of rhetoric and focus we are currently putting toward the gender gap serves to distract just as much as ignoring it out right, neither extreme is the right choice.
My girlfriend at the time, who started developing for the web back when AOL was still the most popular way to get online, was the one who turned my thinking around.
She steered clear of tech news, didn’t hang out on Hacker News and generally liked to leave her work at work. It would take a tech tsunami to ever get a reaction out of her, enter powder keg Adria Richards and the magic of Pycon. Although her specific words are fuzzy to me now the first sentence uttered at me as I walked in the door was along the lines of: "Great, now Adria Richards is fucking it up for the rest of us!”
The language was justified and the reaction was a bit out of character but I came to appreciate just how poignant it actually was. The struggle bubbled up to the surface and broke through in words that every person can relate to.
Try to put yourself in the shoes of a woman who has been looked down on her whole career because she was trying to muscle her way into the boys club.
She’s been blamed for throwing off the office “dude ratio”. This is a woman who has been the only developer on teams full of men. She's had to listen to all the guy stories, talk about sports, eat a ton of junk food and generally try hard to make guys feel comfortable around her! This is what the current movement is!
Now, imagine having all this focus put on you from both the status quo and this newly founded movement. How could anyone get quality work done when getting pulled toward either end of two extremes day in and day out?
We need to be more inclusive instead of polarizing. We need to shift work place cultures. We need to volunteer more time to change perceptions. The gender gap widens as we all spend too much time sharpening our philosophical swords.
Until we get beyond the point of rhetoric there will never be more women in tech no matter how badly we need/want them.