Women Coders and the Workplace

Because of summer and my holiday schedule, I sort of missed several big news items in the tech world. So I have been spending the past few weeks catching up. The one story that most caught my attention is the infamous Google “manifesto”. That coupled with the events in Charlottesville, Virginia around the same period of time left me stunned.

Across this blog and my newsletter, I have a global audience covering over 50 countries. That means that there are a lot of different cultural, religious, and ethnic perspectives represented. And that is fine because the topics I cover live in the world of programming, enterprise software, developer communities, and inventors of the Internet that love self-driving potatoes.

However, this post will be none of those. I am going to do what everyone tells you not to do in business, which is make a political statement. I don’t think I am going too far out on a limb though when I say respect all people.

There are no asterisks or caveats. It is truly that simple. When your mindset is to respect all people, there is no animosity. Everything ugly and violent and destructive in this world stems from people turning away from this core belief. Conversely everything that is beautiful is rooted in coming together under the banner of love, trust, and respect.

This is especially true when it comes to the workplace. Not everyone is going to get along, but you have to treat each other as professionals that are every bit as deserving of respect as yourself. Everyone that progresses through the recruitment process and is hired into a company should be assumed by default to have the skills, experience, and attitude to do the job well.

The experiences of women programmers however tell a very different story. Women are constantly barraged by negative comments and questions about their ability. Despite ample evidence that women are equally capable to men in technical roles, women still have to defend themselves as every bit as competent as their male colleagues even when they more experience.

One of the things that I have enjoyed in the companies I have worked for is the active support for diversity and inclusion. When you have a more diverse workplace, you encourage more innovative solutions, you foster greater empathy, and teams are more open to outsiders and external ideas. It’s an organizational win-win.

If we take the default position that we are all worthy and capable, we can focus more on our jobs, ship more code, and be more awesome. While the diversity challenge may not be completely solved in the tech industry anytime soon, we can all do our part by living by a personal “Be Nice” policy.

How is your organization evolving to address the question of diversity? What do you think moves the needle for inviting more women into technical roles?

How to handle constant jokes from senior coworkers and manager dissing your competence and gender?


Good thoughts here if you work in an unwelcoming environment…

We help IT leaders in enterprises solve the cultural challenges involved in digital transformation and move towards a community based culture that delivers innovation and customer value faster. Learn more about our work here.

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