Like A Girl

Pushing the conversation on gender equality.

Code Like A Girl

Want a more inclusive workplace? A live poll could be your first step.

I felt unsettled as I prepped for a recent inclusion workshop. Was it stage fright? Nope. I’d conquered my public speaking nerves years ago. Was it a concern that my material wouldn’t be engaging? Nope. I’d given this workshop before to solid reviews.

Instead, it was because of a live online poll I had planned to run at the workshop. A poll to assess if men and women experience the workplace differently. A poll that might reveal gendered behavior at their company. A poll that could energize the participants to want to make their culture more inclusive. Or, a poll that might very well backfire, fueling disagreements over experiences instead of catalyzing conversations about solutions.

I did my best to ignore this concern, and I pressed forward, hoping for the best.

Here are the questions I included in the poll:

  • Did you have breakfast today? (This was a warm-up question to get everyone familiar with the polling software.)
  • Have you felt excluded from key social/networking events because of your gender or race?
  • Have you been told you’re too aggressive?
  • After stating an idea in a meeting, has someone else repeated it as their idea?
  • Have you experienced someone who makes eye contact with the same gender, but not you?
  • Has someone explained a topic to you in a condescending way?
  • Have you experienced unwanted sexual advances in the workplace?

At the workshop, I asked each question twice. First for those who identify as being male. Then for those who identify as being female. (I didn’t offer an option for gender non-conforming. Because of the small size of the group, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to maintain their anonymity during the poll.)

As we finished each question, I calculated the % of men and the % of women who answered yes. And the results were eye-opening.

Even though they’d heard reports of sexism in tech, many of the men didn’t think it was happening at their company. Or realize how different their experience might be from their female co-workers. The poll showed them otherwise.

While I could sense some surprise, I also sensed a curiosity to learn more. To learn how they could create a more inclusive culture.

Turns out it was an energizing activity to kick-off the workshop. From there, we went on to explore common tech workplace scenarios. We discussed behaviors that keep people from doing their best work. And we spoke about everyday actions to take to be better allies for women and underrepresented groups.

Interested in running a live poll to engage your team in creating a more inclusive workplace? I used Kahoot.com, but there are other solutions available as well. Reach out if you have any questions. I’m more than happy to share my experience.