The training all women in tech really need

I’ve been invited to yet another “women in tech” event where the keynote is not a woman in tech but a generic self-help/motivational speaker. These types of speakers tell their largely female audiences how to “Boost your confidence!” “Take risks!” “Speak up!” One I saw at a similar event even encouraged us to “Learn about sports, so you can talk to your male colleagues!” Maybe these presentations are helpful or inspirational for some of the audience, but for most women in tech this is not the training we need.

Women in tech do not need training to teach them to have confidence in their skills. Women in tech, particularly those who have been working in tech for a while, already know they have the skills to do their jobs. The training that women in tech really need is training that teaches men that women have the skills to do their jobs and are worthy of respect. 

Women in tech do not need training in how to overcome adversity. They need their colleagues to truly understand that when a female coworker asks them to lunch it is probably because she is hungry (the same as when a male coworker asks them to lunch) and not because she wants to fuck him, even if she looks really good that day. Probably especially if she looks really good that day.

(And, yes, I have been lucky enough to have worked with plenty of men who treated me with respect, but what women in tech really need is for the general culture of the industry to change such that they no longer have to feel “lucky” if they have coworkers who give them the basic respect due another professional.)

Women in tech don’t need training on how to negotiate. They need managers and human resources staff who have been trained on how to compensate people fairly based on skills, experience, and performance without consideration for a person’s gender, sexual orientation, religion, or color. Furthermore, people in charge of hiring decisions need training on how to assess a person based on their skills not on their anatomy.

Yes, women in tech need to attend training. Technology is constantly changing, so we need training to stay current. We need training related to our fields. What we don’t need is a lot of victim-blaming wrapped in cheerleading telling us to release our potential or keep a positive attitude or fail up in order to succeed. Most of us are busy doing excellent work and don’t have time for that gender-stereotype-reinforcing mumbo jumbo.

What women in tech really need is for everyone else to be trained in how to handle working alongside this much awesome. Because most women in tech are pretty damn awesome.


RELATED POST: My welcome to “women in tech” moment

or, for a lighter take: Hacker stock photos swapped with working mom stock photos defy stereotypes

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