Women in the Tech Workplace

Women in tech - it's been a hot-button issue for quite some time. Are there enough women in tech? It seems pretty clear the answer is no. In a culture of harassment, booth babes, and tech bros, what can companies do to fix things within their own ranks?

Why do some companies seem to have no issue recruiting and retaining female employees when others struggle? What attracts women to tech companies? What repels them and makes them less likely to respond to a job posting? What affect does striving for meritocracy have on diversity?

We'll talk about the myth of the "pipeline problem," address policies and benefits that may be more inclusive such as childcare and leave, your company culture and how it is perceived, and more things specific to the tech world, including things that have worked very well for some companies.

This talk is for everyone - business leaders, those who recruit and hire, those who are recruited and hired, and those who want to know more about what is going on in the tech world today and how to fix it.


Alanna Burke: Hey, everyone. Welcome. This is Women in the Tech Workplace. I'm Alanna Burke. I work for Chromatic. You can find me online on Twitter, Drupal.org, and GitHub. These are three of my guinea pigs. I named them after three really important women in computer science. Their names are Ada, Hedy, and Jean. Those women were here long before any of us. Ada Lovelace, Hedy Lamarr, and Jean Bartik were some of the early pioneers of computer science. Women have been a part of this industry since its birth. Women aren't new to the tech world. We've always been here so why are we still struggling to fit in and succeed in the tech workplace?

Once upon a time, computing was seen as women's work. Programming was seen as similar to running a telephone switchboard. In the first half of the 20th century, programmer had a negative connotation. Computers involved a lot of manual labor. When you see those old paper time cards or cards that people had to punch, men didn't want to do that. They thought it was secretary work. What happened? The industry exploded. By the 1960s, there were more jobs than programmers to fill them.

Two male psychologists, William Cannon and Dallis Perry, were hired to find recruits who would enjoy programming. They profiled 1,378 programmers and only 186 of them were women. They came to two conclusions. The first was that people who liked programming enjoyed solving problems. The second and problematic conclusion was that satisfied programmers don't like people. That personality test became widespread and created the stereotype we still have today which excludes women. This test made the reign of the nerds a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The industry self-selected for anti-social, mathematically inclined males. That created the perception that programmers should be antisocial mathematically inclined males. What happened to women in computer science? This graph from NPR shows that there was a peak around 1984, and then a really steep decline. Around that time, there was a huge demand for computer science classes so universities like Berkeley and MIT started restricting admission to students. Only those with a 4.0 could major in electrical engineering or computer science. These barriers to entry pushed even more women away.

Computer science became not only nerdy but elitist. The only way to become a programmer was to already be a programmer. By 2001 to 2002, only 28% of all undergraduate degrees in computer science went to women. By 2004 to 2005, the number had declined to only 22%. Data collected by the Computing Research Association showed even fewer women at research universities like MIT. Women accounted for only 12% of undergraduate degrees in computer science and engineering in the United States and Canada granted in 2006 to 2007, down from 19% in 2001 to 2002.

Many computer science departments report that women now make up less than 10% of the newest undergraduates. I know that when I was in school from 2004 to 2008, I was often the only woman in my computer science classes. Why did this happen? We talk about the pipeline a lot. A lot of people blame the pipeline. They say there aren't enough women in tech, there aren't enough women graduating, there aren't enough women applying but is that the root cause? Women need to see other women in tech careers to want to sign up. It's not enough to just get girls into computer science and coding classes, there have to be successful visible role models in tech.

I know that I was interested in computers all throughout high school but I thought it was a thing that weird nerdy guys did. I never thought it was something that I could do or that I wanted to do, or that I would be as successful doing, or I thought I would just be too creeped out by the nerdy stereotypical guys in the computer science department. Then I had a really amazing role model. I had an amazing faculty member who I had in a basic class that I had to take who took every female student under her wing that she possibly could and said, "Look, I am a successful woman in computer science and you can be too." She was really successful at that and we loved her and I'm still in touch with her today.

I think it's women like that that make a huge difference. We need more visible role models because right now what women are seeing in the tech industry, scandal, wage gaps, hiring bias, bro culture. The few highly visible successful women are just not cutting through that noise. Here's a good example of what happens when you do try to ignore the whole pipeline crap. In 2015, thank you, Intel set a goal that 40% of all new hires would be women or underrepresented minorities. They got 43.1%. Intel Chief Executive Brian Krzanich said, "If the pipeline was such a big problem, I would have come back as a failure there."

If one huge tech company can do this in one year with one goal, anyone can. I don't believe that the pipeline is a problem. Getting women into tech, one problem. Keeping them is another. The leaky bucket is the name given to women trickling out of the industry. The tech world needs to attack this issue on both fronts; attraction and retention. Getting women into tech is pointless if there's no effort to retain them but we can't make assumptions as to why women leave. Why are women leaving? One of the main reasons is pay. Women are actually more likely than men to leave because of pay. The other reason is bias.

Why don't women leave? They're actually not leaving because of motherhood. Companies assume that women of childbearing age are leaving because they're having children but that's really just not the case. Most women who leave their job stay in the workforce. When it comes to retention, don't focus your retention strategies on motherhood. The difference between men and women's reasons for leaving are really highly overstated. Don't assume, talk to women in your company if you're losing women, and develop data-driven retention strategies.

I read a really fascinating study. It was called Gender Bias Against Women of Color in Science. They talked about the five biases pushing women out of STEM. It was the Center for WorkLife Law, they studied decades of gender research as well as doing some of their own studies. They identified five key biases encountered by women in STEM fields. The first one they called prove-it-again. Women often have to provide more evidence of competence than men in order to be seen as equally competent. The Harvard Business Review did a follow-up study on this and two- thirds of women reported having to prove themselves over and over again. They had their successes discounted and their expertise questioned.

The next bias they called the tightrope. Women often find themselves walking the tightrope between being seen as too feminine to be competent or too masculine to be likable. Women are also more likely to take on administrative tasks or things like kitchen duty and to be looked down on if they don't. I know this one is one I can really identify with throughout my career. I know a lot of other women in the tech industry too. Especially when you're younger, you think, "Should I act like one of the boys to fit in? Do I prove I have to be a girl? Now am I being too girly. Am I trying too hard to fit in?"

I also identify with the other part of it and feeling like I want to do administrative tasks or clean up after things, although I don't think I've ever been treated poorly for not doing them. I know this is a really, really tough one, especially in our industry. The third one, the maternal wall. When women have children, professional opportunities dry up. There are strong assumptions that women lose their work commitment, and competence after they have children. Women who remain indisputably committed to their work are then penalized because people assume they're not good mothers.

It's a catch 22. People assume you lose your commitment to your work when you have children but they look down on if they assume you are prioritizing your work over your children. You literally can't win. A quote in this study from an Asian- American immunologist said, "I have to fight very hard to show that I am a good scientist as well as a good mother." A Black microbiologist said, "There is an assumption that your career is more of a hobby than a career." I think these quotes are just heartbreaking.

The next type of bias that they identified, they called tug of war. Sometimes gender bias against women fuels conflict among women. Women often exhibit the same bias against women, and traditionally masculine careers than men do. When women have experienced discrimination early in their careers, they may distance themselves from other women. I have to say that this one really bums me out, we just have enough to deal with and we should be in a position to support one another.

If you're a women developer, or anyone, of course, who's met another woman, and you've questioned her technical skills based on her gender, or been surprised that she was a developer or an engineer, I want you to sit with that and really think about what made you think that or assume that. Think about how you can change your thinking in the future because that's really important. You want others to think of you the same way that you think about them. I don't want to judge women for thinking about this because, like they said, a lot of this is based on how we've been treated. We just have so much to deal with that we should try to make sure that we're lifting each other up as much as we possibly can.

The last kind of bias is not a surprise, it's sexual harassment. In a study of 60 science tests, all women of color, 34.5% reported sexual harassment. A 2014 study of scientists found that 64% of 666 respondents had experienced some sort of sexual harassment while doing fieldwork. Sexual harassment is also a major problem in science fields at university. Kelly Ellis, Susan Fowler, Julie Ann Horvath, Katrina Lake, and Whitney Wolfe, what do all these women have in common? They are just a few of the women who have spoken up about sexual harassment at tech companies like Google, Uber, and GitHub.

Sexual harassment is a huge and ongoing issue in the tech industry and we are just starting to pull back the curtain. This quote from Katy Levinson in Lean Out really nails the culture of hushing up and keeping quiet. We don't call anybody who talks about sexism in tech a whistleblower but there is a revolution happening and women aren't keeping quiet anymore. What needs to change? Break the silence. Keep talking about it, call it out. We also need clear codes of conduct. We need clear reporting and follow up with no retaliation. Most women don't report harassment. Some don't want to take the risk alone. Some fear retaliation, some don't know who to report it to or they don't think anything will be done.

Some don't want to end someone's career, they just want to stop the behavior. We also need a very serious personal commitment at all levels to stopping this. Everyone at every level in every organization needs to be committed to this Also on the university level when it comes to illegal discrimination against parents and pregnant women, which has also been reported in the science field, universities need to take this really seriously. If federal funding is involved, Title IX also covers women against this discrimination and harassment.

Some tools for change. A really interesting site called Know Your Title IX. It empowers students to stop sexual violence. It has a lot of really good information. Another really interesting thing is called Bystander Training. Sexual harassment training as we know it is mostly useless. At worst, it enforces gender stereotypes. Bystander Training, on the other hand, empowers people to do things like call out offensive jokes, ask a co-worker if they're okay after being the butt of a crude joke, or offering to accompany them to HR. It helps to create a dialogue and tell people that it's okay to speak up.

We also need to promote more women. Research has continually shown that companies with more women in management have less sexual harassment. It's partly because harassment flourishes when men are in power, and women aren't and men feel pressure to accept other men's sexualized behavior. Speaking of promoting women, let's talk a little bit about hiring and also imposter syndrome. Women are often less confident than men in their technical skills. Men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications but women will generally only apply when they meet 100% of them. Oops, I'm just trying to make that gift happen.

We do not all have the confidence of Olivia Pope, unfortunately, but is it just a perception and competence issue? Imposter syndrome is very real, but women often do need to meet more of the qualifications to be hired than to their male counterparts. A 2011 McKinsey report found that men are often hired or promoted based on their potential and women are hired or promoted based on their experience and track record. What do we do here? Do we just have to get better? Do we just have to be so much more amazing at everything that we do? Do we make sure we have a gender blind application in a hiring process? Do we hire for skill? Do we hire for merit and ability?

Let's talk about that one, and talk about meritocracy. Here are some words that come up when we think about meritocracy. These are all quotes a lot of them from companies like Uber and Google. Superpumped, meritocracy and toe-stepping. I did not make that up. We always see where it's like rockstar, guru, ninja, unicorn. People refer to themselves as a self-made great man. They say, "Let's get people like us. We don't make mistakes. Always be hustling. He's a top performer. He's the chosen one." What's the problem with getting people like us?

This is a quote from the book Lean Out by someone who's an avatar called The Grimlock and they say, "If you let someone build tomorrow, tomorrow will belong to someone else. They will build a better tomorrow for everyone like them." Meritocracy at its basis is selecting people on the basis of their ability and it's crap. It doesn't work. The term became popular after it was used in a 1958 satirical essay by Michael Young, which pictured the UK ruled by a class that put aptitude and intelligence above all else. It results in hiring people like you because you view their ability through your lens and ability is a function of education and privilege.

Say you're an MIT-educated, upper-middle-class white man who majored in computer science, you're probably going to think very highly of the ability of another MIT-educated, upper-middle-class white man who majored in computer science, especially compared to say, a working-class woman of color who went to night school and got her associate's and then self-taught with online classes.

If they can code the same, what's the difference? They have the same ability but you, MIT-educated, upper-middle-class, white man are thinking, "The quality of his education is higher." Now you're judging his privilege and his background, and not his ability. You think, "What's the worst thing if we only hire brilliant programmers as long as they come from all walks of life?" You get asshole genius coders, and there's no room for them anymore.



People should never be hired or judged on one characteristic, it doesn't matter what it is. A lot of startups say, "Okay, but I need to hire people now so I'm just going to hire people I trust. I'll hire all the people for my school, and then I'll hire a whole bunch of black people and ladies." Okay, but if you start hiring people who look and think like you, it only gets harder and harder and harder to become diverse down the road, because who's going to want to come work for your stupid company full of white dudes? Nobody, white dudes, because guess what, being a woman of color in tech is even harder.

In a study of women in STEM fields, Black women were 76.9% more likely to report having to provide more evidence of competence than others do prove themselves to colleagues. Again, Olivia Pope. 48% of Black women and 46.9% of Latinas report having been mistaken for administrative or custodial staff. This is from that same study of women in STEM. These are scientists being mistaken for janitors because of the color of their skin. This is messed up. Black women also reported being openly confronted by negative racial stereotypes. The postdoctoral advisor of a biologist, quote, turns to me and says, "Hey, do you have any family on drugs or in jail?" This is a woman who is working on her PhD.

Let's move on to something else, work-life balance. Slack has it right. They have signs in their office that says work hard and go home. That should be the norm. Why is that not the norm? That's what we should do at work, we should work hard and go home. Women are specially penalized for having to leave at normal hours because women are more likely to be primary caretakers of children or relatives, and they're penalized for being seen as less committed to their jobs. A healthy work environment recognizes and encourages a life outside of work, did a whole talk on work-life balance last year.

Along with work-life balance, we also need good benefits. Big tech companies now offer many benefits that are aimed particularly at women and mothers. Childcare, parental leave, egg freezing, IVF, surrogacy, paid parental leave for partners, concierge, and convenient services for new parents, fancy. Shipping breast milk home when traveling for work. This is a huge step up but equal pay at 40 hour weeks would be even better, especially because many of these benefits seem aimed at delaying motherhood for the sake of career or getting moms back in the office a little faster.

Let's talk about that pay. By the way, I found out today that it's Equal Pay Day and I didn't know that until I had already left the house so this is very on point. Hired.com did a study called The State of Wage Inequality in the Workplace. Here's one. On average, women are offered 4% less money than men for the same role in the same company. Here's a graph showing that there's a high variation in the salaries offered to candidates for the same job at the same company. The number of times women are offered less than men is almost two times greater than the number of times that men are offered less than women. Not cool.

They also found that 63% of the time, men are offered higher salaries than women for the same role at the same company. On average, these companies offer women 4% less than men for the same role, with some offering women up to 45% less for the same role. Age also plays a role. Women ages 41 to 45 get paid 90 cents on the dollar compared to men. Women ages 20 to 25 are doing the best at 97 cents on the dollar. Naturally, experience plays a role in salary. You'd think at 13 to 14 years experience, the wage gap really wouldn't be a thing anymore, right? Women with 13 to 14 years experience are 92 cents on the dollar compared to men.

I have so much to look forward to. When broken down by race and gender, Black and Hispanic women made the least at 90 cents on the dollar compared to white men. We also did a state of salaries report. These were the average preferred salaries and then offered salaries by race. This shows a significant difference in the salaries asked for and received by candidates according to race with Black candidates receiving the lowest. Lower still were candidates who identified as multiracial, with an average preferred salary of just 123k, and an average offer of 128k.

What can we do about all this? How about that? Equal pay for equal work. We can also hire women, find them, recruit them, do the work. Stop sitting around blaming other things. Don't blame the pipeline, the leaky bucket, don't passively wonder why there aren't women in your company. Talk to women. Ask women to look at your job descriptions. Avoid loaded and masculine terms. Don't ask for ninjas and gurus and rockstars. Don't have beer in your office, stop with the ping pong and the happy hour. [laughs] Women don't want to play ping pong and drink beer in the office, okay? It's not that we don't like ping pong and beer.


It just makes us think that it's a bro culture and that's not what we want. I actually recently wrote a blog post where I asked all the women in our company like, "What made you want to work at Chromatic? What drew you in? What are things that have made you not want to work at other companies?" One of the things that a lot of the women said was one that we didn't say we wanted ninjas and gurus and rockstars, and that we didn't apply to other companies because they did want ninjas, and rockstars. That language matters and it gives you an impression of the company, and its culture, and what's going on there.

You also really need to assess and evaluate your culture and find out if it's friendly to women. If you don't know, you have to ask women. If there aren't women in your company, you have to seek some out and find them and talk to them. Talk to women in other companies, find some consultants, talk to them. We're not scary, we're here [chuckles] and we will answer your questions. You have to do your research, you have to approach this as any other business need. Making your company diverse isn't just some pipe dream, it's vital.

It's how your company is going to grow and have different voices and have different perspectives and be intelligent. It's just so important. I just can't stress that enough. I feel like there are so many companies out there that just sit around going like, "Where are the women?" They don't do anything about it. I want companies to just reach out and talk to people and talk to women and put it up there with all of the other important business needs that they have. That's my last slide I finished a little bit early on. If there's any questions or Q&A, I'd be happy to answer. Thank you.


Alanna: Hi, Dave.

Dave: I have a question.

Alanna: Okay.

Dave: You were the first female to join the Chromatic team at the time all white men. What advice would you give to a woman looking to enter into a team that might be in the same position?

Alanna: I did give it a lot of thought. I researched the company pretty heavily. I googled you guys. [laughs] I did. I wanted to look and see if there was anything that gave me a pause about you guys as individuals. Your website looked great, everything you said on your job listings, there was nothing there that were red flags as a company. I wanted to see, as individuals, what you guys seemed like. What kind of things did you say on Twitter? Did you seem like total dudebros? Were you into social justice? What kind of things? Everything that I saw about you as people I liked. When I talked to you and we addressed it. We brought it up in some of our first conversations. That made me comfortable.

When I came on full-time, we spent the entire dinner talking about me being the first woman and me being an ambassador for the company. That made me really comfortable in that you guys were passionate about diversity and that you were excited to bring a woman on. That made me really happy. Those were all really good signs. It showed me that you were trying and that you were happy to be increasing the diversity, and this wasn't just like, "Oh, yes, we're just a bunch of white dudes. Now you're just a woman, blah, blah, blah." That you were happy and this was purposeful, that just all made things feel really good to me.

I would encourage other women to do that, have the conversation, see that these are individual people that you want to work with because somebody has to be the first woman unless it's a woman-led company, in which case, you have to be the first guy so do the same thing, I guess. [laughs] Does that answer your--? Okay. Now we have five women, which is pretty cool.


Alanna: Anything else? Anybody?

Speaker: Yes. It struck me and I got excited about that we don't want to play ping pong. Your message that could have been both, I want to say, is that women we don't have any fun, we don't know how to have fun in the workplace. Some of that is true [unintelligible 00:33:02]. We've been socialized over and over again that we have to take work seriously, that we have to be [unintelligible 00:33:07], we have to be more confident, we have to be more competent, more demand. All of those things are things that have been ingrained in us the same way that some international students who were in college, we were trained to go after and look for jobs and present ourselves in a very serious way.

When the workplace has been changing to lighten things up to make that, we've done that [unintelligible 00:33:31]. Saying that we don't want to drink beer and play ping pong, I think it's that we look at that and we don't know how to do that. We don't know how to let down. We're afraid that we'll be perceived, and we let down our guard as not as competent and not taking the work seriously even though men are able to do those things and still be considered. It's a vicious circle that we're caught in.

I think your point about talking to women, and when I heard you say you're talking to the folks who hired you that they're willing to have that conversation right upfront. Then you're able to say things like, "Yes, the whole ping pong beer thing doesn't work for me. Here's what I need to have fun," and have somebody to listen to that, that's really powerful, and that's something that's not happening. It's usually seen as you have that conversation, immediately the wall goes up and it feels like you're not going to fit. I think that people get away with some of those and think that's going to fit. This person [unintelligible 00:34:35] fit. Let's talk about women and [unintelligible 00:34:39] shift that a little bit.

Alanna: I totally agree. I think there's also another layer to that of companies that tend to have the beer and ping pong, their level of serious might be a different-- The way that they see themselves and the way that their culture is is something that is often just not as friendly to women. It's not even just about fun, but they tend to also be the cultures that they don't take sexual harassment.

When people are drinking in the office, especially during the workday, that's not going to be a safe of a place to be for anybody and things like that. I think a lot of women see that as a turn-off, not just because of the fun aspect but are you taking the things you need to be taking seriously seriously, or are you all just like, "Yes, let's just have fun and bust out some coat," especially that startup vibe, where it's like, "No, we're not a business. We're just some dudes having fun." I think that can be a real sketchy area for women.

Speaker: I'm sorry, can you guys have a microphone and speak? I think this is being recording.

Alanna: Oh, yes, sorry.

Speaker: The answer might be obvious, Google, Indeed, all these things, LinkedIn, but where would you say is the best place to find women to hire?

Alanna: I think that's a really good question. There are a lot more job sites that are for women specifically these days. I haven't been looking for a job recently, [laughs] so I'm not sure. I know a good one that I recommend to people who are looking for remote jobs is called PowerToFly because they specifically try and place women in flexible Remote Jobs. I think that that is a growing industry of job sites for women. If not, there need to be certainly more of them. Sure, just above.

Speaker: Hi, I will say first that I'm upset that so many of your anecdotes deeply relate to my experiences in the tech workplace so I can actually feel you there. I work in a non-tech environment, and I'm the only technical person there. I'm also up against a strong age difference in my supervisor lineup, about 20 years difference. I'm the youngest person there. I want to ask about your questions for advocating for your technical needs, resources, professional development when you have non- technical people above you.

Alanna: I think that can be a really tough one and depends a lot on your relationship with your managers and your higher-ups. I had dealt with that one once and what had worked for me was I had a really non-technical direct manager, but I had a better relationship with his manager. I would sometimes just wind up having to go a little bit over his head even though that was uncomfortable. He understood my needs a lot better because he just came from a more similar background. Sometimes just finding someone else in your organization who can relate to you a little bit better can be the best thing. Even if it's not the person that you're supposed to.

That can really depend on your organization but just finding the right person. I think also just finding data to back up your needs and also not asking, saying like, "I need this because data and I need to do this because data." Instead of just saying could I, may I, and just putting out there. Especially because you're younger and asking permission might make you feel like you're a kid just saying like, "Can I please do this?" Instead just stating your needs and saying, "I need to do this," I think can help you feel a little more just putting it out there and saying that it's what you need.

Speaker: [unintelligible 00:38:59]. [chuckling]

Speaker: I forgot, I'm just such a loudmouth. I have a suggestion. In your review process, can you ask specifically to have a line of somebody who's doing the same job as you in another area give feedback? Even at Penn State, they don't do anything, but they do it in the review process. They do allow feedback from a colleague on the same level. Maybe that for the review process of it all.

Alanna: Some areas [unintelligible 00:39:35]?

Speaker: Yes, exactly. My top title is a multimedia specialist too. I could say somebody from another department like my friend Nikki back here. Since we're doing the same type of work, she could review me on the work that I'm doing, the technical work, so then my boss can see that. Thanks.

Speaker: Thanks. This microphone is for tall people. [chuckles] I've been in tech since about 2000. The majority of my career has been with companies run by men, working mostly with men [chuckles] which is not unusual. I currently work for a company called Communicate Health. It's actually a women-owned, women-run company. We’re not just a web development company though. We do communications for the public health sectors. We have researchers, writers, developers, designers. We have a small development team within our larger team.

Even on our development team in a company run by women, we have seven developers and only two of us are women which is interesting. [laughs] I know we're working or we're actually dedicated to trying to get a more diverse group of people in our employees now. That’s something that the company is actually striving for. What advice would you give a company trying to find more technical women, where do you find them? How do you go about finding them, actual real-world ways of recruiting them and seeking them out?

Alanna: I think one way would be to get involved and, if you're not distributed, look at local groups like who’s teaching. Say if you're looking for a JavaScript developer, who’s teaching the local girl development JavaScript class? Who’s teaching the local ladies learning code class or things like that? Reach out and see who's doing that. Who are the local subject matter experts in the thing that you want to do? Look on Meetup, look on Twitter. Actually, seek them out and recruit those women directly and find them. That's what I would do.

I'm the track chair for the back-end development team. I actually went out and searched for women in the space that I wanted to and sent them messages and was like, "Hey, I would love for you to submit a talk. That was a much broader thing. I think especially if you're in a location, it’s even easier, find organizations and find the women in them or just go to meetups and talk to women and put your name out there and things like that.

Speaker: Hello. For me, I often think about impact intent of our privileged positions. I'm a company, will have a beard, I'm a dude. I always tend to think about just what position can I be in to really help people. You’ve talked about language before. Metaphors too that we use are very powerful. It could be a sports metaphor to contribute to bro culture, the pronouns we use. There are a lot of latent things that we do that are implicit that cast value meeting, we really need to look at that. Some tight end to think about plus a question. I'm curious what you think.

Alanna: Yes, I totally agree. Also, coming from a place of privilege, you have the best vantage point to call that stuff out because the other people in the room are going to be less comfortable. If someone's saying, "Hey, bros," or, "Hey, dudes," or whatever, you are the strongest person in the room to call that out and say, "Hey, maybe you don't say that," or if someone says an inappropriate joke or anything like that, you have the privilege, the most comfortable privilege to call that out because you're not going to get flack, or if you do it's not going to affect you in the same way that it's going to affect someone else. The people with the privilege are the people who have to do the calling out. Yes, come up.

Speaker: This might have been answered earlier so I apologize for repeating. I don't think there's much difference between the needs of a man and a woman. I'm just curious if there are any specific needs for females? Is it more because of historical values, historical reasons that causes these values, or is it more intrinsic? For example, safety in a workplace historically has been a little bit more difficult for female than for men.

Alanna: I don't think that the needs are different. I think that we've made the reality different. We need to change that reality so that we're facing the same thing. We both have the same needs for safety, but our reality is different because we're treated differently. In general, women are preyed on by men in a way that men aren't preyed on by women so men don't have the safety needs that women have.

It's not that our needs are different, or in terms of pay, we don't have different needs for pay, but we aren't valued in the same way that men are. We need to change our reality to match the reality of men. Does that make sense? Does that answer your question? Okay. I think there was someone else over here who was about to stand up and then didn't. Oh, come on. [chuckles]

Speaker: Maybe this is a bigger and harder question. I couldn't help but notice that there's more women in this room than men. This talk seemed like it would be a really important one for all the men in our community. How do we get more men in a room like this? Do you have any ideas for that?


Alanna: I think that's a tough one and I'm happy to see that there are men here. I don't know honestly. I was happy that this was in the business track. I had some discussions with the track chairs and we decided to put it there. One of the reasons was to get more men in it. Originally, we thought about putting it and maybe being human. We felt, "No, this is a business-related discussion, this is about the workplace and maybe we'll get some more guys in here." I'm happy to see that there are guys in here. You're right. I'm not sure how to get more men in here other than to just keep trying. Go for it. Come up to the mic. [laughs]

Speaker: I was just going to speak to that because we have a few diversity initiative groups at Four Kitchens right now. There's four different groups who are tackling different issues like marketing, how do we fix our marketing to be more inclusive? How do we fix our interviewing to be more inclusive, et cetera? When we opened up the groups to volunteers, it was immediately all of the women who volunteered.

I just called people out and I was like, "We need more men." There’s also diversity issues on that end if we don't have you guys supporting us and being a part of the conversation. Call people out and if you have your team, say, "There's a session I'm going to, you should come with me because I know that you know it's important to me for me to have that support." That’s my advice. Like he said.

Speaker: Thank you. [laughter]

Alanna: Hey, I'm being represented by the guys on my team here. Ladies, bring your male team members to the diversity sessions just saying. [chuckles] Is there anyone else? We’ve still got a few more minutes. Come up.

Speaker: I missed part of the talk. I just wanted to say that I think part of the thing that separates us, puts us in a different place from men is that things that are expected of men aren't necessarily expected of women. We're raised in a different way, we're not challenged. Things aren't expected so we’re forced to do these things. Also part of that is us supporting this male stereotype where we're expecting men to know things. We’re going to them for help. We’re asking them to do certain manly things and we're treating them as if we expect them to have their manly role.

I think part of it is not just thinking about how men can treat us, but how we can treat men and not supporting the stereotype that they have to be doing their men things because it reinforces the need for them to feel like they have to act in that way where they have to act they know everything. They have to act like they have to do things for women and not expect things of women. I just want to mention that part of it is thinking about the way we treat men because it's also difficult for them to have these expectations that they've grown up with that we haven't necessarily grown up with. Just keeping that in mind also.

Alanna: Yes. I've definitely thought about that one before. There's been times where I've asked a male coworker to grab my suitcase and I'm like, "Am I asking him because he's a guy, or is it because he lifts weights competitively?"


Alanna: Sometimes you can overthink that one [laughs], but that is definitely a good thing to keep in mind. Is there anything else?

Speaker: [unintelligible 00:49:34] that just made me think of the whole issue of toxic masculinity and is something that I feel needs to be combated in order to make things more equal for women. That includes equal parental leave for dads too so that’s seen as not a women's issue but a human issue.

Speaker: [unintelligible 00:49:52].

Alanna: Yes. [chuckles]

Speaker: Which is a big topic for me right now. [laughter]

Alanna: Yes, I like your future geek shirt. [laughs] Yes?

Speaker: Hello. This is not a question but just in terms of hiring and job posts, there are tools out there that you can use. You just put your job posting, and they'll read through. You'd be surprised what other words get picked up and flagged as more masculine-coded versus feminine-coded. I always make sure to run my job posts through this just to make sure that they're more feminine-coded because it's shown that men are still going to apply to more feminine-coded job posts than women are, so women are going to mostly apply to feminine-coded job posts.

Just things that come up are things that sound super competitive will generally deter women. I can never remember the URL for it, but I would just Google gender decoder job posts, and I usually find it. Just put your job posting. That's a good place to start. If you don't have any women in your organization to review your job post, that's an easy place to start.

Speaker: Textio.com

Alanna: What is it?

Speaker: T-E-X-T-I-O.com.

Alanna: T-E-X-T-I-O.com. Okay. I think it even flags things like outgoing because some women don't want to be like, "Hey, team, how's it going?" Every morning. Really who does? [chuckles] Anybody else? Got a couple of minutes. Run up.

Speaker: I missed some of your presentation too, so if you covered this already, I apologize. You talked earlier about a boozy culture being something that might want to be avoided from a discomfort level too. If you're looking at making it a more inclusive culture from the top or at least from all of the different group's levels, I don't think it's arguable that there tends to be different cultures depending on the disciplines in the technology company like sales, marketing, development, that kind of thing too.

Besides not having a boozy culture, what else do you think might be a consistent thing that we could either proactively do or proactively avoid that would still be applicable whether a female was in sales or marketing or development or anything like that? Maybe that would be a great fit for a development manager to be concerned with, but not necessarily something that would-- You want a salesperson to be outgoing, right? You wouldn't necessarily want to avoid that in a job description for a salesperson. What are the other things that maybe we can do from a consistency standpoint that would apply to all of these different groups and cultures within a larger organization?

Alanna: Do you mean in terms of job listings or in terms of other extracurricular type things?

Speaker: Yes, probably more extracurricular type or just how communications are done throughout the day, stuff like that. I didn't necessarily mean job description. When we talk about even job descriptions, there are some very specific roles within companies. Again, you don't want a salesperson to not be outgoing for instance. Something might make any developer frustrated, whereas it would be nothing to any salesperson. There's got to be consistencies across those groups in general, I would think.

Alanna: Obviously, I think it's fine to use a term like outgoing for a salesperson. I was thinking more like tech, that can be a really off-putting term to a lot of people. One thing that I see in more and more tech cultures is there's a lot of, "Hey, we go hiking, and we do yoga. We have all this in-house working out." That can start to border on the ablest kind of thing and not everyone can or wants to work out. Again, that can also be veering into bro culture of like, "Hey, we all want to get pumped in the morning." Not everyone's into that.

Obviously, offering workout classes is one thing, but when you start to make them feel compulsory or feel like something that everybody in the company has to do, that needs to stop. I'm seeing a lot more of that not just in the tech culture, but all over the place. I don't know if anyone reads Ask a Manager. It's a really fantastic site. There was just a question the other day, or maybe I was reading an old one about mandatory yoga. I was like, "Why would you do that?" That's the worst thing I've ever heard of because the person was saying that they couldn't do it. Things like that.

Actually, any mandatory fun should never be a thing. No one should have [laughs] mandatory fun. Thinking about anything that can make people uncomfortable. The only thing that should be mandatory is doing your work and communicating with your co-workers and your clients. There really shouldn't be anything else that's ever mandatory. You should never have a drinking culture.

We got out to DrupalCon. We have a few drinks, but some people don't drink or are like, "I only have a couple of drinks because I get migraines." No one ever pressures anybody, and it's fine. You have to make sure that that's a totally okay level. It's okay to not do things, and it's okay to just be yourself. That needs to be the level that it is and things like that. I hope that answers your question. I don't run a company, so I can't answer how all departments should be run. [chuckles]

Speaker: I would say it's important to men and women, but I know what's really important to me is work-life balance. Anything that verbally promotes that, "Oh, it's okay, she has this great thing to go to," just saying that, we should be able to turn off.

Alanna: It's almost 1:00, so I think we can wrap it up. Thank you. You had amazing questions.


[00:55:54] [END OF AUDIO]