Like A Girl

Pushing the conversation on gender equality.

Code Like A Girl

Take my word for it….she’s awesome

Take my word for it.. she’s awesome

It’s time to raise champions in our workplaces and praise people so often that they start to feel positive outweighing negative comments.

A little while ago Sean Yo wrote a post about how he was willing to act as an advocate for others. He wanted to tell the young technologists in his network and those across the interwebs how he was here to help them. He generously offered his network, expertise, and what I know personally to be a kind spirit to those who might need a leg up.

He was attempting to remind people that not all men were a part of the “boys club”, and that if anyone needed support he was there. You can read his OP here.

I LOVED THIS MESSAGE. I LOVED that he was attempting to segregate his gender from the role of supporter and champion for those who need a mentor or sounding board. Not all men in technology (or any other discipline for that matter) are bad. Not all of the women are good. Our worlds are grey. Great supporters come in all shapes and sizes and we need to remember that.

There is no us versus them in the battle for equality. We must all push forward to make a future we want to live in.

I saw a lot of great shares and highlights on his post. Kind comments were broadcast across social channels and I was reminded that people like Sean are helping to create a world that I want to live and work in.

Sadly, there were unkind comments too. People saying that because he pees standing up he had no right to be a supporter.

What the actual fuck? I was annoyed by these opinions, but until today I didn’t feel moved to speak out.

Today I received a text from a woman I worked with a number of years ago and who has become one of my closest friends. Our time working together is often referred to in one of those funny but painful ways as “the bad place”. She was recently promoted and it left her confused.

How is this a fair world?

After years of mistreatment by bad bosses and biased teams who didn’t believe women should work in tech, this talented woman was being rewarded for great work. Getting the credit she had earned made her uncomfortable.

I responded by telling her she deserved it and was awesome (I wish she knew that herself)… then about an hour later I texted her again because I was overwhelmed by anger. How was it fair that these years of mistreatment had led her to believe that what she was getting wasn’t exactly how the world should work? She was a victim of professional Stockholm syndrome. She had actually come to believe that the box in the basement they hid her in was all she deserved.

My response

I’ve seen her toil through 16 hour days after being thrown under the bus so often you would think the tire tracks on her back were tattooed in place. I’ve watched her return to her desk after being berated by some nobody who got promoted after taking credit for her hard won victories with her head held high. Yet, here she was confused by being told that she was a star.

It was this fact that motivated me to speak out. I‘ve shared some of my experiences as a woman in tech and advocate for those who want to join the industry. I often discuss how I have grown up as the only woman in the room and how it serves to motivate me to mentor those who come after me.

When my reality was contrasted with this text my soft sensibilities and advocacy add up to little more than fluffy bullshit because a person I love and respect as a professional doesn’t feel they deserve to be treated like a FUCKING HUMAN BEING.

Support systems like the Code Like a Girl community are amazing, but before we spend too much time worrying about changing the world around us, we need to adjust our personal perspectives. Cultural changes like this require hundreds if not thousands of tiny adjustments to our behaviour, how we treat others, and learn to define skills without a gender lens.

We need to redefine what equality means and how every single human deserves to be treated in our world and our workplaces. Sean made a comment that we should not let the bastards grind us down and I agree, but we also need to check to make sure that we aren’t the bastard in the world we live in.

Become a champion for those around you and do not stop making change until outrage about gender is an outdated story we tell a future generation. Tell people they are awesome so that kindness and kudos become a way of life and not some rare occurrence they can’t identify when it knocks on the door.

This lady that I talked about is talented and I will do everything I can to advocate for her astonishing skills, but it’s time for all of us to act.

Don’t take my word for it, it’s time to tell YOUR stories and share to YOUR networks.

Contribute stories of how you’ve confronted your own bias or supported someone as they work through theirs so we learn and change the world together. #endingbias

If you like this post, don’t forget to recommend and share it. Check out more great articles at Code Like A Girl.