omg technology whyyy

I waxed quite sentimental last post. I don’t want to say I’ve turned on some dime and no longer feel those warm fuzzies. I do, but alongside is also a bit of exasperation. Indeed, as I was clacking out that post during my Meetup, a small voice was suggesting I dial it back a bit.

At the time, I was one of only a handful of women at a gathering of over fifty technologists. A fact I notice but don’t put much stock in…until it no longer seems innocuous. At some point, one of my fellow attendees in the back interrupted the speaker to point out that there was a compilation error, despite the fact that the code was obviously running on screen. Oh, I was thinking you were doing something else,” was the only redress this disruptive gentleman ever offered.

This kind of behavior is laughable, but in that absurd sense where you laugh to avoid going completely insane. What? WHY would you ever behave like this? It boggles, addles, riles the mind.

I don’t mean to disparage this one gathering, or lump everyone in with that one guy. The thing is, it’s never just one guy, one gathering, once in a blue moon. There is something amiss in tech, likely related to those super skewed numbers of a 10:1 male-to-female ratio.

To be fair, there are painfully annoying people all over the place, and I can definitely cop to some irksome behavior of my own. I mean, I confess I never properly outgrew the why” phase, the one that wears parents of newly-questioning toddlers ragged. I’m annoying sometimes. But, technology needs to get it together, and fix a problem that isn’t just annoying. If a white woman sitting in a crowd is a rarity, the issue of lacking diversity in our community is egregious. Negotiating difference can be hard, but people can take and benefit from feedback. They can grow. They can learn to differentiate the time to step forward with an idea from the time to hush.

I’m feeling this acutely because last week I gave a talk with my friend and colleague at a mobile conference. We were two young women, which set us apart from the majority of the rest of the speaker lineup. We assumed nothing about this, failing to really even register this irrelevant (we thought!) difference. However, the announcer really just drove home how not the same we were when he broke ice by recounting how he’d bungled our title. These girls have a great talk coming up, even after my switching of their names on the programme!” He went on to explain how my colleague’s name looked to him like a man’s name, and despite our submission including our names in alphabetical order (putting mine last), he though it best to have Rebecca first, because aren’t the blokes always taking the lead?”.

Cute. But really…why, sir?

Couldn’t we have just gotten the same treatment as everyone else? A friendly blurb about the technical points of talk, you know…

…like from the summary we sent ahead of time?

Do better, Technology.


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