Diversity, Women in Tech

Me(n) and Women In Tech

Today I joined Capital One’s Women in Tech work group.

Well, I joined before Christmas, but today was the first session of the new year that I was part of.

I’ve mentioned it to a couple of people, and I’ve pretty much gotten the same look, which pretty much says

Ummm, you’re not a woman…

Since it wasn’t only one or two people that did this, I wanted to explain why I joined the group and why I see it as an important group to be part of.

I also wonder, if I posted this on Twitter I might get the following response

So, you’re one of those straight, white, males who thinks he knows how to solve a problem he has no experience of

I can understand why this point of view might persist but, while I clearly am not a woman, ‘having all the answers’ is certainly not a reason I wanted to participate.

A Bit of Background

I’ve been recruiting within the technical industry for the last 10+ years. Most of that being in the games industry, a bit in the gambling industry.

Not a particularly diverse set of industries to start with.

Within that time, I can count the number of female developers I’ve worked with on one had (and still could if I lost a finger). I’ve certainly interviewed more than that, but again, I can probably count those on one and a half hands.

I’ve worked as a Lead Evaluator for Creative Skillset as part of their games accreditation program for over 8 years, and could probably count the number of female students I’ve interacted with in that time on two hands.

This is a bad place to start, and while we can argue whether it’s the fault of industry, education, up-bringing or any other inter-related factors, we can all agree that there’s a problem.

And there is a problem.

Because diverse teams not only perform better (whether that is diversity based around race or gender), they also create content that doesn’t just pander to the likes of the people who create it.

Which creates a positive feedback loop within any industry.

I also have a 4 year old daughter, who’s peer groups are already starting to be (at times self-) divided into ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ stuff (games, colours, stories, movies etc.).

Though more often by the parents rather than by their own volition.

From a parents perspective, I want my daughter to grow up in an environment where girls are not pushed in one direction, and boys another, and to be confident in what she enjoys whether that’s playing with cars, having an interest in computers or painting her nails (they’re not mutually exclusive of course!).

So Why Women In Tech

None of this really explains why I wanted to join the group, but gives a background of why I think this is an important movement to be part of.

Increases in representation rests with everyone within an organisation or group

To be clear, I strongly believe that any group pushing for greater representation should be fronted by people within that representative group, but it’s important that it’s not seen as just a problem for that group to solve alone.

Increases in representation rests with everyone within an organisation or group. Increasing the number of women in technology is not just a problem to be solved by women alone, instead it needs to be supported by everyone within an organisation, whether that is changing the culture and behaviour within a group (I shudder at some of the situations I have seen in the past…), increasing the opportunities available or simply changing how we publicise our vacancies.

So my reasons for joining this group are simple.

It’s everyones responsibility to increase diversity within the work place, and anything I can do that supports those fronting the initiative can, hopefully, only help it.

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