Most see this as a good thing, but I find the whole “we need more women speakers” speech very irritating. Too many PHP conferences are doing it. I don’t like that. I have your attention, but you may have already come up with some questions for me. Are you against diversity? Are you sexist? Do you think that women should stay at home and cook? The simple fact of my disagreeing on the topic almost inevitably lead to such assumptions. I will explain my position through personal stories.
I read an interesting point of view from Melinda Seckington. One thing that caught my eye was her mention of how she wears geeky t-shirts so that people believe that she’s actually a geek. Like her, I prefer to wear womanly clothes in public. But the assumption doesn’t bother me. Here’s why.
I had the pleasure of discussing with fellow members of the PHP community a very sensitive topic: sexism in tech. I have been invited to a special episode of Voices of the ElePHPant with Elizabeth (Beth) Tucker Long, Elizabeth (Liz) Naramore and Laura Thomson. Cal Evans was the host. The podcast’s page features links for some of the topics discussed.
The purpose of this post is not to transcribe the podcast, but to share with you what I learned from this conversation and what I personally took away from it.
Why do we have so few female speakers at IT conferences? I’m not talking about SEO / Social Media / UX conferences. I’m talking about hard-core programming conferences. I have been organizing conferences since 2006 and no matter how hard I tried, I ended up with nearly no proposals from women.
It starts with the lack of females in this field. Prejudice or discrimination don’t prevent women from choosing IT, but they can certainly make life hard. These problems exist in every field though.
I try to keep my blog tech-only, but I couldn’t resist.
I read a post by Elizabeth Naramore yesterday about gender in IT
There are so many thoughts that I just couldn’t explain in a single comment on her blog, so I decided to write an article about it. Before you read it, know that my intention is simply to share my own point of view. I don’t have many facts to back up my claims. I’m just an observer. Know that I might be very harsh in my opinions, but I mean no disrespect to anyone. Feel free to disagree with me.
Being the only female developer in every single job, I have not personally experienced any discrimination related to my gender, nor do I know another woman who can give me a concrete example of her experiencing discrimination. I’m starting to believe that it’s an urban legend. Nobody ever saw it, except in the movies, and people keep saying it exists because everybody else is saying it. If you ever experienced such discrimination, by all means, tell me!
Are women really paid less than men? I remember being better paid than most men for an equivalent position in certain companies. Will someone promote a man rather than a woman simply because of gender? I never encountered such a problem. In fact, I don’t remember a single man get a promotion before me. A manager has no interest in promoting a man who has less skills than a woman. If he does that, then he doesn’t understand the concept of return on investment. If you think otherwise, let me know!
What about sexists remarks? I can’t remember a single remark that I deemed offensive towards my gender. I actually find myself making comments such as “these women can’t drive” and “these men drink so much”. Some stereotypes are true, others are not. In any case, stereotypes should not be considered offensive. When he yells to me “go home and wash your dishes” after almost running me over while he has a red light and I’m carrying a baby, I’ll get offended. But this is extreme and doesn’t happen in a work environment.