Tomorrow is National WebMistress Day, and my opinion as a female in the tech industry is this: it is ridiculous and contradictory. Women want to be measured with the same value as their male colleagues and earn the same salary. But this is true in any industry. I’m pretty sure female off-shore oil rig welders also want to see gender biases squashed into the ground. But we don’t hear about them. In fact, if there ever was an industry that one would expect to hear cries for gender equality coming from it would be law enforcement. Yet very little exists about these women in social media. The tech industry is an ideal place for running gender equality issues not because there are few women in our industry BUT because we as an industry are in the higher echelon of click-bait. After all, we all check social media throughout the day, read industry-related news, and re-tweet and share articles. Female oil rig welders and police officers…not so much.
Women in Tech as a Media Exploited Resurrected Movement
Once upon a time bringing awareness to the equal treatment of women in tech on the grounds that there were few of them and the industry was a boy’s club was arguably appropriate. But not anymore. When the tech boom exploded in that period roughly from 1997-2001, we saw extreme growth in businesses embracing Internet usage and other digital technologies. Tech startups were the talk of the times, and women in this space were far and few between. However things have changed. Though there are clearly more men in this space, women are not unicorns. We exist in greater numbers than most think.
As a woman myself, I cringe every time I see sexual politics flood my industry. I also find hoards of articles on this topic so completely biased with a clear feminist agenda AND / OR click-bait articles based on partial data that I shake my head and wonder when women will start seeing themselves as “tech industry professionals” instead of “women in tech”. Perhaps this time will come when the men who favor equal rights will stop feeling the need to acknowledge pro-women’s movements from a place of fear that men may be poorly regarded by colleagues unless they go on record.
There are Plenty of Women in Tech and Digital Marketing
If you perform a basic Google search looking for gender statistics in our industry, they are all over the place. Then there are articles that report partial facts to create big misconceptions. For example, one article reported that 87% of digital marketers are men, but if you look at their source this figure pertained only to PPC managers (and only 500 were surveyed in one state). Many other reports show that the numbers of women in graphic design and creative development technologies slightly overtake men. Every article has its angle.
If you want a sneak-peak at a realistic number, start by looking around your office. Think about all the tech conferences you’ve attended. Look back to other startups and agencies you worked for. Was there really an ambiance that women were missing? I work for a digital marketing agency that uses multiple technologies for rolling out Inbound marketing strategies, and about 40% of our employees are women. At my previous position women by far had the majority, and prior to that role women and men shared a 50/50 ratio in the workplace. As for conventions and conferences, I would estimate the ones I attended to have about a 40/60 split of women to men, and i’m roughly estimating the panel speakers in the same equation. Indeed there are more men in this industry, but the numbers are not overwhelming like they are for oil rig welders or law enforcement professionals.
Sexual Harassment in the Tech Industry
There have been popular articles passed around social media reporting sexual harassment running rampant in the tech industry. It is also not uncommon to see articles on sexual harassment in government offices and in churches. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission various reports suggest the restaurant industry leads the way in sexual harassment claims at 37 percent. So why do we rarely hear about these reports backed by trustworthy sources? Because the same volume of Facebook users scrolling through a media feed are not going to click an article titled “Taco Bell Cashier Ass-Pinched and Forced to Hear Taco Innuendos by Manager” as compared to other titles focusing in popular industries. For example, articles on sexual harassment in churches, government offices…and yes…tech startups appeal to a broader audience.
The Contradiction Nobody Cares to Mention
There are a number of articles suggesting the tech industry is insensitive to employee pregnancies and they don’t do enough to give women adequate time off. Please. This isn’t Sweden. There are standards set in place that define a line between time off for pregnancies and one’s commitment to their employer. In most cases maternity leaves are standard across industries so the focal point should be on “Maternity Leave Politics” and not “Maternity Politics in the Tech Industry”.
Then we have the gorilla in the room nobody is addressing: if all of these articles are ranting on about how women’s numbers in tech are minuscule, then why are there significant numbers of articles that claim the industry is flooded with these poor disenfranchised women who are forced to come into work until their water breaks as they hammer away at A/B testing?
According to a 2017 Quora report, 4% of women in America are pregnant at the same given time. So if the standard is 4%, and the tech industry is satiated with testicles, why are a significant number of articles condemning the tech industry for not giving women fair treatment when they are knocked up? There is a major contradiction here, and it goes to prove one point: these articles are based on flawed or even false data but, but hey, we all love to read it!
The Bra-Burner Bandwagon
While I may find the idea of celebrating women in tech an asinine and even somewhat destructive one, there are enough women in tech who jump on the bra-burning bandwagon. For an industry with supposedly few skirts in their numbers, there sure are a lot of women’s groups for tech professionals. Inbound 2017 offers a session on women in tech, and there are hundreds of groups and organizations dedicated to gender equality and women-focused movements in tech. For example, there is AN ENTIRE CONFERENCE in existence that is so random and surreal it comes across as a joke: the Midwest Women in Tech (MWIT) conference takes place once a year focusing on how to destroy their internal perceived view of the tech industry being a “boy’s club”. Perhaps if groups like this quit emphasizing such opinions that only ostracize men and women from one another, less people would share the sentiment.
We are Tech Professionals
Women in tech. Men in tech. Gay albinos with adult onset diabetes in tech. We are all people in tech and there is no need to shine the spotlight and play victim on any set group. That said, National WebMistress Day is getting pretty old and just needs to begin menopause and fade away.
Final Thought: Why does this national day use the word “webmisrtess”? Seriously, this name reeks of harlotry. It sounds like something Don Draper would call his secretary had Mad Men been a top digital marketing agency, and it is reminiscent of madame at a Tokyo-based robot fetish brothel.
Did You Agree with Jen Saunders on this One?
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