Like A Girl

Pushing the conversation on gender equality.

Code Like A Girl

My Proposition to Women in Tech

I am a huge supporter of WIT initiatives, and LOVE seeing successful women. I look up to most of them, try to mimic them, and learn from them. I’ve been reading so many WIT articles in the past few months, and I see a lot of discussion about Uber’s executives being horrible, a startup CEO being sexist, Google’s employee being sexist, etc.. However, there is one thing that I rarely see mentioned in these discussions: mentorship/support. There is a real gap, and I think it is important to discuss what we’re doing about it.

If you’re a woman in tech and you’re worried about how to grow diversity numbers, keep women in tech long-term, or in general bothered by sexism, consider the following:

  1. Are you a woman in tech?
  2. Do you face sexism in the work-place, encounter it online, etc. and you’re tired of it?
  3. Are you tired of seeing crappy diversity numbers and excuses from companies that they can’t find enough talented women or they can’t keep their women engineers?
  4. Are you angry?

If you answered yes to more than 1 point above,

Do you mentor other women in tech? Have you ever been approached by someone younger, but you were too busy with work, battling sexism at your work place, proving yourself, etc.? Do other women even know that you’re available to answer questions, guide, or mentor them? Do you ever wish it was easier, that someone could guide you in the right direction or have your back? Have you realized that you could be that someone for a younger woman?

I have a proposition: If every woman in tech that is bothered by the inherent sexism in the tech industry spends time to coach a woman out of kindness, we could change the way women feel in this industry.

I’ve reached out to many women over the years and unfortunately, it is rare that successful women reach down to pull others up. I’ve heard this from countless other women engineers early in their career, and some of these same engineers have left their jobs already.

I don’t think women have to necessarily be VPs or CEOs in order to provide mentorship. I’ve mentored many young women that are undergraduate level or interns. It seems like women feel that they are alone at almost every stage in their career, starting from college, or even earlier. If you know a woman in tech that is younger (or at an earlier stage in their career) than you, reach out! Let them know you are available to answer questions.

So the next time you see an article come up about sexism at the work place, or unfair diversity numbers, think about what you’ve done to help the cause. Change happens over time, and hiring 50–50 isn’t a sustainable solution (Have you noticed how many of these women actually stay or understand how to grow in their roles?). Women need to know that there are people that can help them when things get tough, that there are people in the community that aren’t too far out of reach, and that others have walked in their shoes before. It helps them to build confidence, and prepares them to tackle bigger hurdles down the line.

Another tip — If you are not necessarily a great mentor for someone that reached out (e.g. you don’t have the time or the particular skill set), direct them (I mean, actually introduce them) to someone that can help!

Think about this: If every woman spent 1 hr/week on helping another woman out in some way, we could start changing the way the tech industry operates in a matter of months!

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please comment below.