Disclaimer: The following are all my personal views and opinions and do not in any way represent those of my employer.
Today is international women’s day, and I’m supposed to be attending a private event which I’ve been looking forward to for the past week. It was announced with an impressive speaker list consisting of 18 successful leaders in technology of which 14 were women. As a woman who works in the IT field and presents regularly at developer conferences, I was surprised at how many talented female speakers the event had managed to accrue into one roster given that this type of gender distribution is quite disproportionate relative to the IT talent-pool as a whole. Interesting.
As the date drew nearer something occurred to me which ruined my enthusiasm toward listening to these successful individuals. It was a targeted women-only event. The name of the event should have tipped me off, but I accepted the invitation thinking it referred to the many women who would be presenting. Is there a reason why they are preventing these successful women from inspiring men as well? One might argue that it is even more important to put successful women infront of male-only audiences, if for some reason men and women shouldn’t sit together. Having women in IT only talking to other women in IT is really preaching to the choir, especially if the purpose, for whatever reason, is to get more women into IT.
I gave up my seat to someone else.
I’ve attended these types of male-excluding events before, and even with very inspiring speakers, they always feel artificial and contrived to me. I simply don’t believe that women need a different kind of inspiration than men to be successful, or any special womanly treatment for that matter.
I’ve been guilty of organizing women-only events before I actually became “a woman in IT”, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not a productive activity. The beautiful thing about IT is that it’s a meritocracy. That’s to say, the only thing that matters is what you do. I don’t feel that women are being singled out in this industry. If you’re going to start a club for people who can’t make it on their own, then I don’t need nor wish to join.
I’m all in for tech companies trying to recruit intelligent and talented people, but only on equal terms regardless of gender, age, height, number of vowels in their names, music taste, sleep pattern, or gamerscore. And I wish all boys and girls could grow up in an environment where they are given the opportunity and courage to pursue their dreams.
Disclaimer: Please remember, these are all my personal views and opinions and do not in any way represent those of my employer.