I am so sick of this “woman thing”.
While I’m sure it’s always been discussed, all of a sudden these past couple of weeks it seems not a day goes by without another blog post or article (New York Times, Fast Company, HuffPo, TechCrunch) lamenting the fact that there are “not enough women in tech”.
I ignored most and then got very agitated by some of them, but resisted writing or publicly saying anything in response because it wouldn’t really be very politically correct to dispute any of it, now would it? However, I don’t have an issue with having more women in tech, and I generally agree that it would improve some products, companies, businesses and achievements. So I don’t think there shouldn’t be more women in tech, I’m just not sure there’s an actual problem with our current progress — given where the industry has come from and the fact that tech as an industry is better than most when it comes to gender neutrality and having a merit-based ecosystem. Additionally, I don’t understand why we’re all moaning about it so much and blaming men or the “institutions” instead of just getting down to business and doing more or performing better.
The first reason I get prickled about this “issue” is because I think that if I can do it – be a woman in tech – then there should be no reason why any other person [woman] can’t. So I’m not sure there is a systemic problem, or if there is any it is more class and socioeconomic- than it is gender-related. Along with quite a few female colleagues and friends of mine in this industry, I think we exemplify the fact that if you want it, work for it, and are credible and capable, you can do whatever you want to do. Sure there will be setbacks and it may not be a walk in the park, but it isn’t for all men either. Bottom line: It can be done, so let’s stop whining about it and just get on with it.
Another reason this “issue” or discussion bothers me is because I don’t think of myself as a woman in tech. I prefer to think of or characterize myself instead as an “angel investor in tech”, “advisor”, “product person”, “business development lead” or something more functionally descriptive and to my mind, relevant.
The fact that I am a woman is about as pertinent [to me and what I do for work] as the other purely descriptive (non-merit based) facets of my physical make-up, for example, I’m also 5’6” (167.6 cms), with black hair, of Chinese descent, born in the States — and female.
Those physical or demographic points about me relate to another reason why I think I am immune (if not annoyed) by the women in tech thing. As a double minority (as far as the US and UK are considered) and someone who grew up as a Chinese girl/woman in the US, I’ve always been more aware of my ethnic minority status than my gender minority within school, classrooms, or work places. I’ve become more conditioned to being sensitive to whether or not I’m standing out (or not being seen) because I look foreign, potentially non-English speaking and simply not typical. I’ve been asked why “we don’t all just know karate” (as if it was an innate skill from birth), greeted in Japanese, called an egg roll, and countless other ignorant slights which makes “worrying about being a woman” completely pointless.
With all of that said, I can’t help but be preoccupied by this whole “woman thing” over the last few weeks, so to try and get it all out of my head I’m attempting to synthesize my reactions and points of irritation into some (hopefully) logical counterpoints and constructive comments which I’ll post in separate parts (including Part I: supply vs demand, hopefully Part II: tech as compared to other industries (including traditional IT) , suggestions for younger women wanting to get into tech/business, etc.,) over the next week or so. I can only imagine what reactions I’ll get, but before any of that starts, please let me establish that I don’t mean to offend anyone or discount any hurdles or hardships they may have had. I speak from my own experiences and perspective and offer, as ever, my humble opinion. I’m not against women in tech (of course not; don’t be daft)… I’m just against whining about it and prefer we just get on with it and prove our merits with our achievements and success.