I went to the Anita Borg Institute's NY Male Ally Summit last week and learned so much about why men historically haven't mentored women; not just in tech, in every work culture. I want to share some highlights of that experience with you.
There are real reasons why this happens and ways to make a change. Here are some of the reasons:
- people naturally want to be with each other because they are alike and share similar interests
- common interests fuel networks
- men bro-propriate - tasks and questions relegated to other men when a woman with more experience should have had the question/task come to them
- Women are less likely to receive constructive feedback
- Performance reviews for women are more tepid and attribute her individual work as a team effort
- Men are more likely to get feedback tied to professional growth and business outcomes
- strong women are tagged as aggressive
- women are given "office housework" tasks: take notes, order food, train interns, clean-up source code comments
- women are excluded from unofficial networking events because of gender: "let's go for a beer", sports games
- Go outside your comfort zone and network, socialize, talk to the other gender
- Don't exclude a female colleague from an informal networking function
- Be aware of who you should address when you have a question or task - Don't Bro-propriate!
- Do your own "office housework" or relegate those tasks to a new team member, create a rotating schedule, share the workload evenly
- Give equal feedback to your female colleague, giving a clear picture of how she can rise to the next level
- Advocate for your female colleagues during meetings
- Don't interrupt or minimize her suggestions and comments - Stamp out "Manterruptions!"
- Focus your thinking on how much we are alike rather than why we are different
Ok. There you have it. And one more issue I want to address: I'm not a social sciences expert -- at all. The Anita Borg Institute event opened my eyes and I want to pass it on in the hope that we can take positive action together. Namaste.