At OSCON, I attended a lot of great sessions. One that had an impressive impact on me was Grow Developers. It was not what I expected. I only read half the description and it seemed like it was right up my alley of “developing developers”. That is, helping developers get better.
However, as soon as the talk started, I was shocked to discover it was actually a women in technology talk. At first I was disappointed, then I looked for the door and realized I sat in the front and would have to walk through a room full of women… That would be awkward. So I got comfortable and braced myself for a talk I didn’t think I wanted to hear. I mean, yes, there’s not enough women in technology, that sucks. It’s probably unfair because of cultural perceptions, but I was at OSCON to learn about technology and awesomenesses and such, not gender equality.
But it wasn’t so bad. In fact, the things covered in the talk were not altogether gender equality specific, and could be abstracted into exactly what I wanted to hear about in the first place.
Better Job Descriptions
One super important point that was made was that job descriptions need to be better. Too often jobs are posted, and people are clearly qualified. Their resumes perfectly match the job description, but they never get a call back. This often happens because what people are looking for specifically isn’t included in the job description. But the fact that someone is weeded out when they appear to be a perfect fit on paper tends to lead them to believe there is something else keeping them from the job. Personally, culturally. Solution to this is better job descriptions and better communication from HR. This is something I’ve felt 100 times over.
Ever been on an interview where you had to justify yourself or answer absurd CS questions to a room full of people? This is bad enough as a guy justifying himself to 3-10 other guys, it’s a lot worse when it’s a woman who has to justify herself to a room full of guys. Something that we’ve all had to endure in this profession. It’s like right off the bat, being disrespected. By respecting people, wanting them to come in and impress, a step towards that is to make them feel comfortable. Make them feel like you want them to succeed.
I wasn’t familiar with this word until the show Silicon Valley. Since then, I thought it was a joke of a word. Representing a culture that didn’t really exist. Like the frat-guy programmer. But apparently I misunderstood? It’s more about the way men communicate. We are sometimes hostile to each other. An example can be made of code reviews, it might be common for a lot of people to say “your code sucks, wtf”. In fact that reminds me of a code quality comic courtesy of Jeff Atwood. This is not really a welcoming culture for anyone. Without an “in” attitude, people (not just women) aren’t going to feel welcome, and it’s going to distance people who aren’t already in this culture.
These are solvable problems with our culture. Work with HR, don’t gang up on people, be a little more sensitive to other people. Be better.