Women in tech, LatinX women in particular, have always been a bit of a taboo. And to be honest, it scared me away from pursuing a career in it at all. I spent fifteen years as a hairstylist, and the idea of being part of a boy's club was terrifying. One day I woke up and said "Fuck it!", and...
Fast forward a year of self learning, hairpulling, a couple of tears here and there and some schooling, I moved from Austin to Chicago and landed my first job as a Frontend Developer. Hell. Freaking. Yeah! We devs were a team of 3 where the women were the majority. It was a female CTO who is a super talented powerhouse, a fellow Frontend Dev (male) who is a huge advocate for equal rights and pay for women and POC in the workplace, and myself. I landed a fucking unicorn! All of my fears about being "just a girl" were quickly squashed and it became something I never thought about on a personal level.
I'll give you the Cliff's notes regarding the next year and a half. The CTO leaves and is replaced by a man...who is also awesome. He and his girlfriend are both engineers which gives him an understanding of how things can be for women in tech. Never once did he make me feel less than. In fact, he was always super encouraging and excited to help me learn. Score 1 for the dudes in tech. Then he leaves and is replaced by another female CTO. Another amazing powerhouse, similar to the first - also wonderful.
(3 CTOs in a year, you might ask? Imagine Rumpestiltsken and Satan had a baby. That baby opened a digital marketing firm in Chicago. That's a story for another post.)
When SHE left, I decided to follow suit and find myself a new job. 75,000 interviews later, I find one. Hell. Freaking. Yeah! I was super excited to learn new shit and absorb all of the knowledge I could from these senior devs but...I've become a glorified CSS robot.
Without evaluating whether or not I have the capabilities to take on tougher tasks, the tickets that are assigned to me consist of "reduce padding from 20px to 15px on this image block" or "letterspacing should be this, not that in the hero". I'm never tagged in Slack messages where someone is asking a question about the project I'm on, but my 4 male counterparts ALWAYS are. I'm not pinged for dev meetings and I have to scramble to play catch up on what was discussed so I don't look incompetent, I'm spoken over. When regarding adding content to the CMS's wysiwyg I've been told "Oh, Marcy, that's a good task for you".
My breaking point was a Slack interaction that happened yesterday afternoon(fake names of course):
Bobby: Hey @Frankie is THIS supposed to happen when @Jimmy and I do THAT?
...Time goes by so I answer...
Me: Yes @Bobby @Jimmy that's supposed to happen.
...Silence. Minutes that feel like decades...
Frankie: Hey guys, sorry, I was grabbing a coffee. Yes @Bobby @Jimmy that's supposed to happen.
Bobby: Great! So blah blah blah....
That's the moment I checked out. I sat back and read this conversation as it unfolded. They were trying to debug an error and were baffled for about an hour. Funny thing though...I knew the solution. Was keeping silent petty? Yes. Was it satisfying and hilarious? Also yes. I gave them a chance to engage and they chose not to.
Moral of the story? Maybe you should have listened to the girl.
This is only my second job in the industry so I don't want to generalize but it's really hard not to feel discouraged when I am placed exactly in the situation I feared. And I can't help but wonder, "Was I a diversity hire?". Not only am I a woman but I'm also LatinX. More bang for your buck I guess.
I suppose the point I am trying to make is...It's complete bullshit that we're not passed this. I left my last job so ignorant and so naive in thinking that maybe I was blowing this issue out of proportion, when clearly I'm not.
One positive thing that's come out of this is my new goal: Code better than the boys.
And I will.