Most days I love my job. I love my work life and I feel like I have a lot to offer, including a unique perspective as a woman in IT. Unfortunately, today was not most days, it was one of the days that reminds me how lonely it is to be a woman working in technology. Most of the time, I feel that I’m on an even playing field with my male coworkers, but every so often it’s made abundantly clear that I’m a woman and because of that I’m inherently different. Today, during our weekly staff meeting, which (read: open forum to discuss which client has become the newest thorn in our side,) I offered a solution to said thorny client and was unceremoniously dismissed, shrugged off. IT was just stressful today and there was something in the air. And in the thick of it the men on my team decided that my offering and my solutions were not valid, they were not worth same time and consideration as those of the other men in the room.
So am I angry? Hell yes I am angry.
I’m angry at them for being so arrogant and, frankly, pig-headed. And more than that I’m mad at myself for not being more forceful in my suggestion. I clammed up. I shut up and I ultimately agreed to a strategy and solution that I’m not one hundred percent on board with. I am mad because today, I could really use to go out with my female coworkers and bust on those that outnumber, outrank, and undercut us in the workplace in part because of our gender.
Why can’t I go out with these girls?
Because the gross lack of women coworkers makes it impossible to do so. I don’t have a group of “girls from the office” I can share my work woes and worries with after a hard day. Oddly enough, it’s days like today, when just standing up for your opinion is mentally exhausting, that I can understand a little more clearly, I think, why there aren’t more woman in the ranks of IT. Many aren’t comfortable with the constant battle for validation and the idea of being so obviously outnumbered by men is sometimes unnerving. Even after a handful of years in the IT industry, it still grates on me.
One of the challenges that I think really deters women from pursuing careers in IT is that there’s very little support, it’s very lonely sometimes and we are, after all, social creatures that need to connect with those we work with. It’s hard to do this when you don’t have much to share beyond the boardrooms with your coworkers. The “boys club” is impenetrable at times and I really yearn to connect in the way the rest of my team seems to with one another.
This lack of female support isn’t going to fix itself, it’s going to take the courage of women that don’t mind being outnumbered and who can stand confidently behind their ideas and work. And as I write this I realize that today I was not that brave woman in IT. Today I let it get to me. I know we can pick and choose our battles, and maybe today wasn’t the day to fight, but that won’t stop me from trying again tomorrow. I know that tomorrow will be better, and the day after that will be even better than that, and eventually, hopefully, women in IT can enjoy a more equal workplace experience. I’ll take on tomorrow with a renewed resolve and do my best to be a role model for other women in the industry, and for young female professionals who are interested in IT as a career.
Ok, folks. We’ll try again tomorrow!