Women in tech: Gender parity or forced quotas?
A few personal blog posts have recently been surfacing about the "issue" of women in tech, specifically experiences and female representation at conferences.
While in all articles the women state they are feminist (none of that "I only hang out with boys 'cause girls are lame" crap) they take interesting stances.
Lea's Pensieve article, aptly titled On Women in Tech, discusses the idea of forced quotas for women at tech conferences and how these quotas can actually harm the representation of women in tech rather than promote it and change the view.
It was glaringly obvious that one of the reasons they had been invited was to fill an unspoken quota. Did that make me feel better as a woman in tech? Absolutely not. It terrified me. It became one of my worst fears when giving talks. I always feel I have to try extra hard to prove I’m not there because I’m a woman, but because I’m a good developer and I have something valuable to teach. It was the driving force behind my presentation style, my focus on going deeper in the technologies I talk about, my penchant for surprising people with things they didn’t know. I can’t say it turned out bad for me. I do get enthusiasticreviewsaftermost technical talks I give. However, the quota failed miserably in its original intention: To inspire me by seeing other women on stage.
Julia Ann Horvath writes in On Women in Tech: A Different Perspective , a somewhat response blog to the above article (but not in a mean way) that though they Women Initiatives can be misguided at times they are ultimately useful in building community and support.
Sure, there are problems that have arisen as a result of more people paying attention to the lack of diversity in our industry. Some of these problems were addressed in a recent blog post and while I had a hard time agreeing with the author's conclusions about the impact of the Women in Tech movement, I found a few specific arguments to be valid:
- I, too, am deeply bothered by the idea that women should or would be hired into roles they aren't qualified for, to meet a quota. It's a problem that I've been vocal about in hiring conversations and my concern has been met with respect and consideration by most.
- As a woman, and someone from a mixed background, I, too, am offended by people who use racial or gender-equality issues as a platform to promote themselves or to define their personal brand.