Death by a thousand microaggressions
Imagine attending a party at a tech conference. Someone hands you their empty plate to be cleared. Or asks you to get them another drink. If you’re a person of color working in tech, you know what we’re talking about.
Now imagine meeting someone at a tech event, and the first words out of their mouth are, “Do you work in HR?” While there’s nothing wrong with HR, it is wrong to assume someone isn’t technical at an event for techies. And if you’re a woman, you’ve most likely lost count of the times this has happened to you.
Similarly, people around the office might make assumptions that you’re not in a technical role. One of our female followers reported, “The CTO said to me, ‘What do you do here? Business analyst?’ I was a developer with an award on the wall behind him.”
Here’s another scenario. At a conference, someone asks how you ended up there. He looks astounded when you say, “I’m one of the speakers.”
Or, even worse, is what happened to another one of our female followers: “I was keynoting at a conference. At the lunch table, the other keynoter’s husband asked me how it was to be at the conference just to watch my kids. He assumed my man was the speaker.”
We hear these stories all too often. Stories where people with technical expertise are presumed not to have it. Where others make the wrong assumption about them. Where underrepresented people get the subtle message they don’t belong.
It’s a thing, and it adds up. It’s like death by a thousand cuts. Only it’s a thousand microaggressions doing the damage.
Now, what will you do?
The next time I meet someone at a tech event, I’m going to assume they’re technical.
How about you?
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