Being a woman in Tech Industry
I have been in technology industry for about 3 years now and have usually found myself in a team with 80%-90% men. In this article I would like to open up about how I have felt in the past few years professionaly as well as personally at workplace dominated by men. My overall experience has been very pleasant, rewarding and fun, but there have been multiple instances when I have refrained to speak up to my teammates , or express my opinions on a subject even though I would have very much liked it.
Women are, if not a rare sight, at least the minority gender in the IT industry. Even though there are as many females enrolled for IT related courses including university degrees, I’m not sure why the situation with workplace is in stark contrast to that of academia. If anyone has any idea about it, leave it in the comments below.
It is difficult for us to speak, sometimes.
This scenario usually happens when two or more male developers get into a debate of whose approach is better. The room gets quite tensed during such moments. The voices become louder and they tend to become completely unaware of anyone who exists in the room with them. It is really difficult for a woman to intervene such chaotic conversations. I have seen most women walk out at these point even though they have some great ideas. Many a times it could seem like woman have lesser ideas, only because they chose to not enter highly vocal debates. At this point, my dear men, please stop and ask around what others think. Give that space and that moment for others, especially women to speak up.
It is difficult to ask questions, sometimes.
IT Industry is swarming with men. It is fair to say women are a minority here. We have extra pressure to prove ourselves and show everyone that we can handle our tasks ourselves. It is like having high doses of Imposter’s syndrome. That is why it could feel that asking questions will diminish us even more. And what if that question is utterly stupid? But of course, this tendency goes away once they have established themselves in the team.
It is hard to mingle, but not for us
Tech teams are very international. People from different countries could be in the team. We never find it difficult to talk to anyone, and we can usually build up excellent chemistry with everyone. But there could be people from other countries who have never worked closely/interacted professionally/taken orders from a woman. And it is difficult to break ice with such colleagues who just do not accept women counterparts as equals. They will not even make jokes with us, and that is the saddest part.
We are treated extra politely
Men colleagues tend to be extra polite to women. There is no need. We will not get pissed off if you criticize our work. Like everyone else, criticism helps everyone grow and if you sugarcoat all the criticism you have on a woman’s work, there will be no criticism. Of course, if you raise your voice then you are screwed. But polite criticism will only make the professional bond even more strong.
We balance the energy
This is difficult to explain unless you have had a woman in the team. It happens in a very natural and subtle way. Women tend to naturally bring harmony, laughter and lightness into the work. Having a women around gives a new perspective to all the ideas on the table. There is cheerfulness and neutrality in the team. There are no awkward silences within team members — a female team member will always prevent that and get the conversation going. It happens so naturally that one does not even notice it.
It gets really cold in the office
This one is the most annoying out of all the points I have mentioned. Women feel a lot more cold then men. Men are always opening windows as if their body heat is the reason their code is not compiling. We usually nod when we are asked “Can I open the window?” We never want that window to be opened. In-fact we would even like the temperature to be raised. My dear male colleagues open the windows and forget about them even though it is negative 20 degrees outside. Please close them once you have taken your fresh supply of cold oxygen.
Don’t worry! Your secrets will die with me
Somehow women know everything. All the secrets, information, upcoming big news, everything. We would even know who is in their notice period even before they announce it. But do not worry, we will never use it to crush you down. It is just that women have a very natural welcoming and understanding personality that people like to open up to. It is something to be proud of. Because once you know your colleagues more personally, it is also easier to work with them (or piss them off).
It is difficult to work overtime and over the weekends
This one could get controversial. But over all the years I have spent in IT I have not seen many women over-work. Only men tend to do that. In-fact, my other female friends in IT complain that men work extra hard by over working in the evenings and over the weekends. A woman on the other hand would really like to enjoy their breaks, have a good time and do other fun activities. I usually ask my colleagues how was their weekend. Most men (not all) say “eh, I slept extra and did some office work”. A woman would always have something exciting to say they did over the weekends. It is never wrong to focus your mind on other activities and people who do that should be appreciated than criticized of not being ambitious enough.
In conclusion, being in IT is hard. Being a woman in IT is even harder but fun, challenging, exciting and a whole lot different than being a man in IT.
I would suggest to every man out there, having a female team member/colleague in IT is a pretty lucky scenario and I would highly recommend to keep her around. And to every woman out there I would suggest to keep improving, keep learning, ask questions without hesitation and be open to criticism as much as you can.
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