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Cover image for 3 Ways To Support Women In Tech

3 Ways To Support Women In Tech

venikunche profile image Veni Kunche Updated on ・4 min read

Have you seen any studies on the benefit of having men in tech? No? I haven't even either. But I often see articles on the advantages of diversity or what women can bring to tech. Studies are still trying to convince companies on why we matter in tech.

Yes, there are definitely advantages to having us. I want us to move past proving to companies that we matter. Of course, we do. We deserve an equal opportunity to be in tech like you.

Here are 3 actions that you can take today to help create a better environment for women in tech:

1. Do Your Homework

Women in tech are tired. They want to code and build cool applications like you. The extra burden of educating men on the issues women face and what they can do is exhausting. It has become a second job for many. If you are not sure about something please make sure to look it up. Here are a few items to start you off:

  • The Leaky Tech Pipeline Framework by the Kapor Center is a report on understanding and addressing the lack of diversity in tech. It talks about the barriers we face in enrolling and completing computing degrees and the barriers we face in getting hired. It's just 35 pages long. It's a must-read on understanding the issue.
  • Project Include has recommendations on incorporating a culture of inclusiveness in your company, on how to hire, onboard and compensate fairly.
  • A combination of race and gender bias can have a compounding effect and cause even more harm on women of color. Make sure you are supporting women of color and not just white women in tech. Watch this TED talk about intersectionality by KimberlΓ© Crenshaw who introduced this concept.
  • Selfdefined created by Tatiana Mac is a modern dictionary that you can use to figure out an inclusive way to communicate. The app points out the words to avoid and their alternatives. I also recommend watching all of Tatiana's talks.
  • Advocate for accessibility in your applications. Regine M. Gilbert recently released a great book on designing with accessibility in mind.
  • Learn how to make your products accessible for queer folks in tech. Roniece Ricardo talks about the steps you can take for a better queer user experience. Sabrina Fonseca explains how you can design forms for gender diversity and inclusion.

2. Remove barriers for hiring from within

I've been a Software Engineer for over 15 years. I've worked at 5 different companies over that time. I was either the only woman or the only woman of color in tech at each of them. I noticed that most of my colleagues did not have a Computer Science degree even though I did.

There is a saying that men get hired on potential and women based on proof. I've experienced it to be true. I'd like you to remove some of the barriers that women face.

  • Go to your careers page. Review your job listings. If you see a requirement of a CS degree, ask your recruiters to remove it. If you see any requirements that you know you don't need to do your job, request them to remove them.
  • In this poll that Cassidy Williams did, ~4400 folks out of 7800 are still at their job because they don’t want to deal with the tech interview process. Make your interview process humane. Read these suggestions on how to improve your technical interviews. Discuss them with your team and make changes.
  • There are a lot of women who are having a hard time getting their first job in tech. Share entry-level roles on Twitter with the hashtag #DiversifyTech. I will look for them and share them with my community. Also, post them on Diversify Tech's job board.

3. Amplify

I have a large following on Twitter. My followers are evenly distributed between men and women. However, I often see that most of my re-tweets come from women. I see that in the work environment too. Your network most likely consists of other men. If there is a new opportunity, you will pass it on to them.

  • Make a conscious effort to do the same for women. Your network probably has the people who make hiring decisions.

  • Follow more women in tech. Start with the Tech Bloggers, fempire and Tech Ladies lists. If you see folks showcasing their work or looking for jobs, make sure to re-tweet them.

  • Understand the difference between a mentor and a sponsor. Mentors advise others and sponsors advocate for others. Don't forget to sponsor women in tech!

There is more to learn..

If you'd like to continue to learn and take action to help minoritized folks, join Diversify Tech's newsletter. Select the Business and Ally edition checkboxes.

Posted on by:

venikunche profile

Veni Kunche

@venikunche

I'm a Sr. Software Engineer. I build web apps for researchers and scientists at the US Geological Survey. I'm also working on making the industry more welcoming to underreprestened people in tech.

Discussion

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Number 2 is "lowering the bar" (and will attract more non-females too). Besides, there may be a reason for CS degrees.

In the health professions, women are overrepresented (84.5% in 2018). To archive more diversity and get more men to practice medicine, should we decide that a medical degree is no longer needed?

 

I.T/Software programming and medicine are two totally different fields of expertise. You don't need a degree to become a web developer or software developer but you need a degree to ensure you can save someone else's life and perform surgery on them.

 

Yeah and that is why IT products and services are of such poor quality. Everybody can watch some youtube videos and become a web developer or software developer. YGWYPF.

So? Quality is learned by doing/investigating, self-taught developers and I.T/C.S graduates learn technologies from internet.

 

Everyone who legally practices medicine has a medical degree. That is a requirement.

Folks who program don't necessarily have a CS degree. Some do. Some don't. But not having one is used against women. Also, as someone who has both a B.S and M.S. in Computer Science, I know that I didn't have to go through all of that to do the work I do.

 

Yeah but we could "deregulate" to make the medical profession more inclusive, i.e. implement diversity to invite uneducated men in the field. For example, I have watched many episodes of "Doctor Pimple Popper" so I'd decide I am as good in dermatology as somebody in IT who learned web design from youtube videos.

Of course this is a silly argument - simply because there are good reasons that sciences are taught in universities.

However, as somebody who has a university degree analog to a B.S and M.S. in Computer Science, I have noticed that it really helped for all the work I've done in many years, and I'm very grateful to have received this education (for free!). I've also observed that those with a degree deliver higher work quality than those without, except when those without had many years of experience. Not having a degree is used both against men and against women.

 

Thanks Veni.
This mentors vs sponsor distinction is new to me. I have done both and I can confirm that talking about candidates to people who have the opportunities works wonder. Let's do more of it!

 

This week I just learned the difference between a mentor and sponsor ... however I guess I have been wary to stay connected with work mentors as they provide the best references on my character. I imagine sponsors would be internet friends or the ones I've worked with on projects who really enjoyed working together πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈ

 

Hey, isn't it like much fewer women are interested in careers in tech? Isn't it the only reason for this 'inequality'?

 

Yes. Todays western women are free to choose whatever they want, and here are the choices:
aei.org/carpe-diem/animated-chart-...

There have been decades with funding to get women in IT ("coding for girls" programmes, while boys get nothing), without success. They're less interested. (Don't get me wrong: I like and welcome women in IT)

Amusingly, there is a country where there is a large amount of women in IT: Saudi Arabia, known as a paradise for female empowerment.

 

Please read the article mentioned in the first bullet of the first point: Leaky Tech Pipeline Framework.

 

Even if there are many fewer women interested, I think we can all agree that tech related industry is fairly toxic, which makes it that much more difficult for women to enter since they're less likely to put up with it. When I say "toxic", I don't just mean possible biases, but people having to work 60-80+ hours per week, top-down management, etc.

By definition, there are few really good people. The value delivered by ability increases on a power curve. Fewer bugs result in less time wasted, less time wasted results in more improvements, more improvements result in better products, better products result in more work getting done. It all compounds. Someone who is slighlessly better can be dramatically more productive. Same pattern for any system with a feedback. We want women because half of the population is women. Without them, we're down 50% of great programmers/IT.

 

Glad that you are putting efforts to make the workplaces more diverse and inclusive.

 

Love this! I am also passionate abut diversifying the tech industry. Will definitely check out some of these resources. Thanks!