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Helping Men in Tech Help Women In Tech

jrohatiner profile image Judith ・2 min read

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:

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

Actions Toward Change

  • 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.

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Judith

@jrohatiner

frontend software engineer. mental adventurist

Discussion

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I am really tired of this aggressive neo-feminism and I can't support generalizations like this one.

I have never seen situations you have described here in my 20 years of work and whenever I was in situation to help women colleagues - I have. Moreover, we stayed great friends even after we all changed jobs.

So, instead of painting all of us (white) men in this manner - try to think of it like this: if someone is misbehaving, it is not because of his gender or even skin color. It is simply because that person is a jerk.

 

Just because you "haven't seen it", doesn't mean it doesn't happen.

 

I am sure that it does happen since not everyone is the same, but generalizations like you have mentioned will not help anyone. They will only divide us further.

How would you react if you found out that women behave similar to male colleagues? Scheming and gossiping behind their backs until they get fired, just because they don't like them?

Well, it also happens, but I am not lecturing entire female kind for the despicable acts of few bad apples.

If you had taken the time to look, you'd realize I didn't write this post.

Sorry, I have replied through e-mail link and was brought straight to reply section.

Justifying generalizations is never good. One must really try to see both sides of the problem before giving into lectures like the one above. It is a problem that the world is going in that direction - too many passionate opinions, but not enough wisdom behind them.

Vladimir,
Thank you for your honest comments. I think we all agree that bad behaviors at work hurt us all (men and women alike). Its so good to hear that your experience at work has been that women are being supported in their professional endeavors! My experience as a woman at work over the last 25 years (more than a decade as a software engineer) has been different. It is my hope and prayer that we all experience the same good fortune as you one day. Namaste!

 

Moriah,
Thank you for your supportive comment.
Namaste!

 

As a point of interest I think its fair to talk about NeoFeminism. Its definition:

Neofeminism describes an emerging view of women as becoming empowered through the celebration of attributes perceived to be conventionally feminine, that is, it glorifies a womanly essence over claims to equality with men.

Vladimir, I think we may be talking about two different things. Creating a fair and equitable terrain in the workplace should be gender neutral and based on performance in all areas. When I get home I'm a Neofeminist!

 

We are tired of those rants and words like "man-terrupting" are advocating against you. Movements like #MeToo give incentives to managers or devs in this community and others to not mentor women (if you are a man). The only relevant point you mentionned is that women are deemed aggressive yet they should feel empowered about it as, as far as I know, aggressiveness is one of the traits most correlated with career success. As I stated earlier you cannot have it both ways. You cannot one one side paint mens with a broad brush as sexual harassers and one the other expect exprienced seniors to mentor women when they are fully informed of the risks. Now if you are really advocating for equality (of treatment) in the workplace maybe the startung point should be to find the reasons why it happens. Blaming on men is all easy and stuff but it won't fix anything. I can't force anyone to be productive but what I am sure of is this: You want a change? Blame men for your problems and be sure you will not get any good results. Someone saying "all men work with each other" should expect an answer like "women don't belong in the workplace" and I am convinced the correlation between the decrease of mentoring of women and the results of the diverse destructive feminist moves is nonzero

Hi Isaac,
You make a good point! And that is exactly what this is about. If aggressiveness is correlated with career success - I haven't seen it. I have been censored for speaking out strongly about issues which later on were incorporated into projects I was working on; but that's a conversation for another time. It wasn't my intention to paint anyone as a sexual harasser. Are you referring to something specific you have experienced?

In regards to blaming: You hit the nail on the head! That is exactly the solution we are seeking! You are right in that projecting the issue as "men are the problem" is definitely not productive. The solution starts with women helping other women and then reaching out to men as mentors and colleagues. Opening a dialogue about mentoring across the isle (sort to speak) is one step amongst many steps we all need to take.

Thank you for your honest comments! Namaste!

Its a shame you have experienced such behaviors. My point is that as I understand it you were to a conference and want to share what you learnt. Well you might think that what they told is pure truth and statistically backed, fair enough, but as I quoted earlier we are only a couple months away from the #MeToo and a raise in hostility to men in the workplace. You see where I am going, I think the reason I am hostile to your article is that I don't see anything solid in it, like a deep analysis and a fact checking of what happens together with a perspective. If you present an issue I think everyone needs something stronger than anecdotal (which does not diminish your experience in anyway but does not give a transversal soluion either).

I quote you: "Movements like #MeToo give incentives to managers or devs in this community and others to not mentor women (if you are a man)."
WHAT - THE - FUCK. Are you serious? Movements like #metoo gives us consciousness to know what the hell are they suffering and motivate us to help, and even take the mentoring you mentioned more serious. Stop looking at your belly, it is not the center.

 
 

Great advice. It's hard pounding some of these seemingly simple ideals into some people's brains. The patriarchy is strong out there, especially in the corporate space.

Gotta keep spreading the truth to offset this imbalance ✌️

 

Thanks for your comment!

 

First up. I acknowledge this is a sensitive and difficult topic to some, but here is my view (hopefully deprived of strong opinion)

The listed reasons are definitely not fictional. Generally (I know, I'm generlizing) women write code with above average quality, yet receive a lower income. At least so I've been told in a lecture on culture.

Issue is, much of it has roots in culture and psychee of people, which is very difficult to change. A male might not realize that he is contributing to a more hostile environment for females, because it is ingrained in his natural inclination to seek help among other males instead of going to a female, and thus not find it appropriate to go ask.

In that (constructed) scenario, the male can have all above listed actions well memorized, yet still not take action becayse of psychology.

Humans are weird. We polerize, label, justify, argue, and generalize things to try to logically work stuff out. Yet in the end, we're still sacks of emotions, hormones, and experiences stumbeling through decisions convinced it was the best outcome, guided more by our internal chemistry than any logic.

Yet that's just my point of view in the narrow slice of the world I call my life.

 

To make things clear, I definitely support that genders should be treated equally.

What I don't endorse is the use of derogative words. It just polerizes the conversation and riles up participants. Derogatives makes people on the recieving end defensive because of what feels like a personal atack.

-Hence why I felt the need to add this comment. A word like "manteruption" might not seem harsh, but I definitely instantly distanced myself from your article and felt strong disagreement.

 

Bravo! Well said!

 

Yeah I believe as well, but I don't believe your statement is neutral and I barely agree on anything else

 

And another thing. We are devs, young or old, but if our community does not take serious time to go through the statistics to give some shades to its words then don't expect anyone in the world to make informed decisions. I say this because I feel this post is overgeneralizing and not strongly backed up. If it is purely anecdotal please mention it but if your aim is bigger then please quote because we as a quite educated community should have higher expectations towards the informations we spread. We are the ones that manipulate the data the most, no one will do it better than us. If this community defends truth and nothing else and wants to shed light on social issue like this then I think it is fair to do it right.

 

There is a yearly survey by Pew that you can see here:

pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/10/...

It is one of many surveys that are interesting. I would welcome a list of sources that look at the data and if you have any links you want to share that would be a great contribution to this discussion.

I did point out that I'm not an expert in the social sciences - I only know that I want to be part of the solution. These are not generalizations. Its widely agreed that this is happening all around us.

 

We don't need to be social science experts, we need to be able to read stats. Plain and simple. It happening all around us and you using the word "manterruption" are two very distinct things and the second is toxic. Even worse, I would argue that it advocates against what you want. You want women in the workplace to be seen as individuals by their peers and not like a group of persons that can perform low levels taks? Right, then consider men as individuals

The reason you don't see these 'facts' you seek is that more often than not don't release these numbers unless prompted by external pressure, internal issues that leak, or outright lawsuits against them for these types of practices.

It seems the considerations about the magnitude of the problem is quite the same among men and women.

How did you come to this conclusion? The % of people who thought it was a major vs minor problem has a huge disparity.

Even though I'm sure I won't get a decent response here and will probably let it go after this given your incomprehensible repetitive bashing of what was outlined in the post, I still wanted to point out that it is definitely people with mindsets like your own who persist and advance these problems by thinking they are overly objective of everything. This desire for 'facts' or data that would still never convince you not only will never truly exist. More unfortunately, it also makes you rally against anyone trying to pursue any sort of positive change whether they are victims of it or advocates of which I am both. Good luck on your quest of data you will more than likely find ways to refute due to personal bias of how it was gathered, modeled, or presented.

It is like you have no concerns about the actual reality at all. In this debate I have never seen anyone actually try to find coherent and reasonable reasons why this happens. Why? My point was that the article purposely sums the major and minor case to create a bigger sensation which is dishonest plain and simple. If you feel attacked at the first question on your dogma then maybe we have another problem

And I got to say I don't agree with you yet I won't go into personal judgement. As far as I am concerned, I know at least 5 arguments of people supporting the existence of a wage gap of magnitude around 20% between men and women. Can you say the same for the opposing camp?

 

I read your link and I am very saddened. But first I will point out that the two redactors of your article are highly biased towards female issues and I won't argue why unless you ask as it is quite obvious. I read in the article the following thing: 44% of women consider discrimination in the tech is a major problem, 36% a minor problem and the rest...we have no idea. The article presents the numbers as follows : 80% of women in tech think discrimination in tech is a problem. Well the problem is biased conclusions. It seems the considerations about the magnitude of the problem is quite the same among men and women. I would also argue that the current socio-political climate does not help getting an objective opinion on the subject and that a survey on "How people feel" should be expected to give these results, it be actual wide discrimination or not. It would be more interesting to obtain facts. How many times proportionately to the gender repartition in tech does a woman is the lead of a project? Are there rational explanations in case of disparity? But I see none of this.

 

Thanks for a great post!

 

Thanks for this post. And some of the comments just serve to reinforce the points made.

As human beings, so many of our biases and predispositions go unnoticed and don't make it past our subconscious, therefore when someone points them out to us our first instinct is to say "I never saw it, my experience was different".

It's up to us to recognize the biases inherent in our way of thinking and to do our best to be conscious of them so we can try and work around them.

Posts like this serve as occasional reminders to all of us who want to work on ourselves.

 

Great post :) The more diversity in tech, the better.

 

yes. Totally agree! So gr8 to have supportive responses in the male community! Thx for your support :)

 

Nice post, it's a common topic lately but we really need to be reminded from time to time.

 

Since you start the debate and our community owns the subject, what do you think of the google memo story?

 

The google memo is not the subject of my post. I don't want to have a discussion based on "what I think" about it with you. I thought about your passionate comments regarding my post over the weekend. I can see that there is something about it that makes you angry. I sincerely hope that discussions like this will bring more issues like this into the light so we can all continue to work through them together! 🙏 Namaste!

 

Well you can bring them to light but if we don't discuss them and its just a statement then it is definitely not productive