What Men (and Everyone, Really) Can Do To Support Gender Equity in Tech
By laurenb on April 22, 2013
- Again, I’d look at Etsy’s evolution here; they’ve changed their approach to technical interviews, acknowledging that the technical interview is largely done in deference to tradition (CTO Kellan Elliot-McCrae describes the standard coding-at-a-whiteboard test as “Prove to me you’re smart”), rather than because it’s actually effective.
If you manage or lead a team:
- Consider providing coaching or mentoring to female employees to build confidence and leadership skills – either yourself or by bringing in outside expertise. Many successful women, especially the pioneers who blazed trails in formerly unwelcoming industries, credit male mentors for giving them opportunities to advance and grow.
- Actively encourage women to apply for raises, promotions, and recognition – research shows that women are more reluctant to ask for them (and that even when they ask, they receive less) and it has an adverse effect on their lifetime earnings and status.
- Ask for feedback on what you could be doing differently to make the workplace better for your female employees. If possible, make it easy for them to submit feedback anonymously.
- Ask the women on your team to help you recruit more women.
If you’re an investor:
- Read up in the stats about women’s lack of VC funding, versus their average profitability and success rates.
- (Other ideas? I confess I’m a bit out of my depth on this one.)
Things everyone can do:
- Keep reading and listening to women’s voices in the industry. We all have different perspectives (which is kind of the point), and we ain’t going nowhere if we don’t have men working alongside us to change the ratio.
- Watch for sexist or exclusionary behaviour in yourself and your team members, and call it out when you see it. That includes everything from ditching bikini-babe desktop wallpaper to subtler things like paying attention to who talks more (and is listened to) in meetings. Pay attention and practice saying, “Hey, I know you probably didn’t mean to do this, but I noticed [offensive behaviour] and here is the impact it is having on me.”
- Talk to girls about what technical work looks like. Share your enthusiasm for what you do with kids, and explain how it feels to make cool stuff with code. Offer to teach them if they’re intrested. Consider visiting a school to share your skills or talk about your work. Focus your attention on the girls and invite them to ask questions.
- Got skills, cash, or connections? Offer to teach a class for Girls Who Code, Girls Learning Code, Ladies Learning Code, Hackbright Academy, or one of these other groups – and while you're at it, promote their courses to the girls and women in your life, and/or contribute to a scholarship fund.
- Write a blog post about why gender balance in tech matters to you.
- Check out this awesome Dad’s hack of Donkey Kong. How can you hack something for your daughter (or someone else’s) to make it work better for her?
- Celebrate Ada Lovelace Day, and write or speak about the women in tech who inspire you.
- Follow some techie women on Twitter. Listen and engage. Keep learning.
- If you’re invited to speak on a panel, ask who the other panelists are. If they’re all men, recommend a woman who could take your place. (Or consider taking the pledge proposed by Rebecca Rosen in The Atlantic a couple of months ago.)
- Advocate for decent parental leave and work-life balance policies in your workplace.
I realize this is a long post already, but I know it’s woefully incomplete. Ideas on how to improve it? Please leave your thoughts in the comments.
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