Answering the sexism question

1 minute read

“Just how bad is the sexism,” a woman asks me. She’s just starting to learn programming and looking to get into the field. She wants to know just what she is getting her self into. She’s heard stories about sexism in the technology sector and it’s really no secret that it’s there. However, even while my answer should be clear cut based on all the data I have, I waffle.

R2D2: sad beep

Heart pounding my brain runs through a couple options. Do I tell her the truth? Honesty is the best policy, but I don’t want to scare her away from something she enjoys. I don’t want to put fear into a beginner who may luck out and never experience any problems, and who knows, maybe by the time she is in the field it won’t be a problem anymore.

However, I can’t be dishonest and I need to tell her what it’s actually like. Yes, there’s sexism. Yes, sometimes it feels like its everywhere. Yes, it can be subtle. Yes, it can be direct. Yes, I’ve wanted to leave in the past. Yes, many others will leave (the quit rate is double for women than it is for men). No, the salaries are not yet the same for women as men.

Stumbling through the truth, but trying to remain optimistic. It’s not everyone. It’s not every company. It’s not every school. But sometimes it feels absolutely pervasive. How long has it been between programmersbeingdicks updates?

But programming. I love programming. I love solving problems. I love getting things working. I love creating something, something others use, that didn’t exist before. I tell her the best thing about the job is loving what you do, but yes there is a sexism problem and I wish there wasn’t.

I wish I didn’t have to tell fellow women with an interest in the field that; “oh programming is amazing, BUT”. It’s a huge but. I’m tired of it.

Note: I did not edit this, if you see a typo please submit a pull request on the github repository.

If you are looking for solutions: so you want to put on a diverse, inclusive conference