Warning: I wanted to write about being a mom in tech but I didn’t really know exactly how I wanted to approach it so I thought I’d just start writing and see what happened. This is what happened. It’s a thought dump. I feel like I’ll have to go back and revise it one day to be less of a literary disaster. But I am a mom so I have no time so I'm just going to go ahead and post as-is. Have fun. 😈
🙋♀️ Hello! I am a professional developer - I have been writing software for a living since 2011 and for many years before that I was a hobbiest web developer 🙂 I am very passionate about my work and loooove what I do ❤️
🤰I am also a mom! I haven’t been a mom for my whole career of course, but I became a mom in early 2018 and I am expecting baby number 2 in a couple of weeks.
I have never worked with another mom. I have worked with a handful of other female devs, but I guess due to the mixture of “not many women in tech” + “lots of people in tech are relatively young” … no other moms.
SO IF YOU ARE A MOM AND YOU ARE A DEV AND YOU ARE READING THIS: HI 😊😊😊😊
For any working mother, no matter the industry, I think there are a lot of challenges that come with the territory. Things that I was sort-of aware of before having kids, but have become more and more cognizant of now that I am living it.
I know that there’s a big push for gender equality in parenting but we have a very, VERY long way to go. A simple example: My husband is a great partner and dad, but when I ask him to take time off work because our kid is sick or has a doctor appointment he gets super stressed out and claims he can’t possibly request time off from work for something related to parenting. So it often falls to me. Because I am the mom, and someone has to do it, and it’s the mom’s job, right?
Luckily my work is amazing and no one has ever given me a hard time for needing to step away for this kind of stuff, but it’s still still stressful and frustrating knowing that there’s this expectation that I have to be the one to make sacrifices. And it’s not just my husband’s “fault” …it’s society’s fault. He’s probably right that his work would raise a lot more eyebrows at him than they would at me. (And to his credit he’s been a lot better about this recently after switching to a new employer that is more family friendly)
Another example: A co-worker dad I know talks about staying up late to get extra work done. OK obviously in this industry we have a general problem with people working themselves to death, so let’s just ignore THAT part of his comment for now and think about this: I cannot. CANNOT. Work long hours. ever. I barely get enough sleep to survive, I’m up with my toddler at all kinds of crazy hours. There is no way in hell I can stay up late to do extra work, I’d probably die from exhaustion. I GO TO BED AT 8:30PM EVERY NIGHT JUST SO THAT I CAN SURVIVE THE NEXT DAY.
I am fortunate again that my employer is great and this hasn’t posed a problem for me, but it still haunts me knowing that if I were to ever need to apply for a new job, I’d have to say very firmly “I can’t do overtime. I have to pick up my daughter from daycare at 4pm on the dot. I am not flexible. Please hire me even though that eager 20-something I’m competing with has no family and is willing to work whenever and wherever.”
As baby number 2 approaches, I also have a lot of fears for the future. I feel like having 1 kid is… tough, but 2 or 3 is when your career can really start to feel the impact of all that maternity leave. And in an industry where things change quickly technology wise, it is scary being away and “missing out”/“falling behind”. And while I know some people might scoff and tell me that if I’m so worried, I should take less maternity leave, that is not something I am willing to do. Giving birth sucks. Babies suck. That first year can be absolutely hellish and I don’t even know how some women manage to go back to work after only a few weeks. I was a mess for MONTHS. Plus as much as I love my work, I don’t want to feel obligated to sacrifice my personal life and family. I WANT to enjoy those early months and spend that time with my new baby.
So that’s all my “working in tech as a mom is scary and here's why." thoughts.
Here’s a couple of perks with my current employer that have saved me and I would look for in any other job, so if you are an employer and want to be inclusive of mothers, consider this stuff!
- We are a remote-first company. So I work from home! A lot! And that means on my lunch break I can throw in a load of laundry or quickly shower or whatever. Get stuff done that I never seem to have time for otherwise. My husband is out of town this week so my lunch break is my ONLY time to get anything done where I am not also watching our toddler. Having that flexibility is so so so wonderful.
- We also don’t micromanage people’s time. We trust that people work hard and do their best. If I tell my boss I need to leave at 3:30pm to get my daughter for 4pm because that’s when daycare closes, he’s like “that’s great, family comes first.” And that’s it. No questions asked. No secret doubt about my work ethic. Family comes first.
I also think it’s important to be aware and supportive of what a difficult role motherhood can be, and how hard it can be to juggle both work and kids. I’m sure some people reading this will argue with me, but in my experience with every mom I know: We take on more parenting responsibility than dads. We bust our butts. And when you’re also working full time, it’s a LOT. So be kind to us 😛