Saturday, March 7, 2015

Happy Women's Day

I’m a female tech lead.

That’s enough to set me apart and I truly wish for the day it won’t.

Some will ask, “Are you blind? Don’t you see that all tech companies have so many female employees?”   From them I ask “How many women leads and architects do you see in them?” And they will shut up!

Why is it that we have very few females in the senior end of dev track? We do see so many female sw engineers. Does that mean the glass ceiling is at the lead level?

Ok. Stop. Why do we even bother?  Women in SL get a nice education, attend universities and hold so many positions. They get a nice paycheck, make decisions, drive their own cars, and travel on their own. Does it really matter if we don’t have many females in these very specific roles? 

Let me tell you a story.

There was this 17 year old girl who did not get a nice English education as her brothers did, and was married off to a 42 year old man against her will by her father. If a woman can read a medical prescription, isn’t it enough? he asked.

Well, that girl is well over 80 and is my grandmother.

Look at the difference two generations have made.  In the first generation it’s enough for a girl to know how to read or write. In the second generation it’s enough for a girl to have university education and in the third generation it’s enough for a girl to have a well-paying job.

Here’s another story.

In the 1940s the record time for running a mile had reached 4:01 min. It was believed by doctors and scientists that it was physically impossible to run a mile in less than four minutes. And no one did until 1954. In 1954 Roger Bannister broke the 4 min barrier and set a new record in Olympics. Interesting part is not him breaking the record, but another one breaking it after a month and half a dozen breaking it within the next few years.

Both stories are about stereotypes, norms, paradigms, whatever the term we like to use. Once the barrier is broken, once the paradigm is changed, the norm will change.

Most evil of the stereotypes are the ones that exist in our own heads.

Happy women’s day to all the lovely ladies who silently do a battle in their own fronts without even knowing that they do so.