I recently read I’m so tired and I’m not even a woman and it kicked me right in the feels reading from a male perspective who actually empathizes with women. I’m thankful that these things are noticed and grateful for all those who do something about it.
In the past 6 months, there’s been a lot of news about the “Culture of Harassment”, about the Uber CEO’s inappropriate emails, and a number of women coming out with their own stories. While my heart hurts hearing about these things, I fully believe that for every negative, there is a positive, and for every douchebag out there, there’s a real man offering support.
I know, because I wouldn’t be where I am in my career without them.
When I was interviewing for a job my last year of college, I was rejected for a position because the recruiter said I wasn’t technical enough. (Mind you, I was graduating with a degree in Computer Engineering.) I applied for the same job a semester later and received an offer. I later volunteered at a recruiting fair at my alma mater with said recruiter. He remembered me and afterwards, wrote a glowing praise email to my boss. My favorite comment from which I will never forget: “…where she is long and humility and short in ego. She has a long and successful career ahead of her.” That email set the tone of my career.
When I was a QA analyst, I had weekly one on one meetings with my boss. From the beginning, I think he sensed my insecurity, but saw potential in me. He pushed me to take classes and certifications, genuinely cared about my career growth, and let me move on when opportunity knocked. I credit him with teaching me to stop focusing on the minutiae and zoom out to see the bigger picture.
When I was given the opportunity to be a project manager — something I thought would’ve taken years longer — my direct manager walked me through processes, but still gave me room to grow. He encouraged me when I was nervous about presenting to the VP, answered all my stupid questions, and showed me that really understanding a business model can give you an upper hand in finding a technical solution. He still jokes that if I ever needed a job, he would make room for me, wherever he is.
Then there was the manager who had my back when I made a mistake. The director who unknowingly gave me a confidence boost when he allowed me to take responsibility because he “wanted to empower me.” The executive who told me to keep going in my career because “it’s hard to find people like you.” And I can’t forget my male colleagues who reminded me to be fearless and just go for it.
It’s no secret that the IT world is saturated with men and I hate knowing that so many bad apples have given many women in tech bad experiences.
But I’m a woman in tech and I’ve had so many good experiences.
There’s still room to grow in terms of equality, but we should celebrate the wins along the way. Women are not better than, but the world is better with women. To the ladies out there, keep your head up. And to the men who stand with us, thank you.