Being a woman in the Tech Industry

Hi there,

This post is a reaction to Stacey Mulcahy‘s letter to her niece: http://futurewomanintech.com/

I have crossed path several times with Stacey in tech events, especially at the infamous Flash on the Beach / Reason to be Creative where she gave a couple of talks and with great respect to her, I can barely recognize myself in her depicted feelings regarding our industry.

After reading her post. Surprised. I decided to share my own perception, because, for me, being a woman in the tech / programming / gaming industry has been rather an advantage than a prejudice.

I integrated this field for about 8-9 years now – After working 2-3 years as graphical designer and having a hard time getting a steady employment and income. As I was a young mother, this job insecurity was very uncomfortable and stressful. Since I changed direction and moved to this more techy area, I could enjoy full employment, steady income and career opportunities where people believe in my role within the team. Honestly, It has been a nice ride so far!

I don’t remember having to face macho behaviors or having to prove my competencies more than another because I am woman. On the contrary, people, in general, always welcomed me for bringing something different and lacking in a field mostly leaded by males. For a job application, and equal qualifications, I can recall being chosen because the recruiters enjoyed having a mixed-gender team. And regarding to salaries, if I happened to be paid a bit less than my colleagues, its mostly because I didn’t really care about it and did not put much effort into the negotiation. I cant blame my gender for that.

To make things really obvious, since I moved from France to the Netherlands (in 2005), I worked for several Dutch companies. And let me tell you something, I can barely speak Dutch. So regardless of being non-speaking Dutch and being a woman, I was given job opportunities… and why? because I have technical / programming skills and it was all they needed.

Do you think we can say the same thing in many other working fields? I really doubt it.

Because of this fairness, I could change employers several times to try new experiences and collaborations. Every times it was easy and encouraged by both teams, the one I left and the one I joined. Always keeping good contact with the people I worked with. In only few years, I broadened my network and my expertise much more that I could have hoped, really thanks to the good energy I had around me!

3 years ago, I decided to start my own company and for some reasons, I resigned from my last job. Because of that, I had no unemployment benefit and no financial back-up and it was a little risky-situation. Some friends of mine, already freelance, knew that I was joining their side and helped me getting my first contracts and recommendations. Once again, I was encouraged and helped by my connections in the field. Recognized for my competencies and skills regardless of being a woman.

Today my daughter is 16, and my advice to her is to go for a technical job where her expertise can be easily measured and appreciated. Then the result of her work is what will be seen first and it will be liberating. People will notice what she is capable of doing, her added-value to the team and not her appearance, especially not her gender.

This is the experience I have had for myself. I am really happy I have chosen for this industry.
I really cannot explain why there are so few women joining us. I am passionate about this job, loving its community… and there was no day I regretted this path. I am sure that plenty other women could feel the same as I do.

So yes, I am not denying that women are a minority in this field, but is this really an issue? When I studied Industrial Design in the late 90ies, we were four women graduating compared to a hundred men. I guess women and men just do not appeal for the same things in general… Does it really matter? As long as we have the freedom of choosing what we like the most and being able to work together with respect and equity.

As for the open-data, open-knowledge, supportive and pro-active communities, open-source resources… Our industry has been ahead of its time, modern and democratic.

I am sorry Stacey, for disagreeing with most of your points. You are still are a rocking b**** who codes! ;)


    Awesomeness. Glad to have you on board Val!

  • Pretty good board if you ask me!

  • Interesting – it’s terrific to hear that the tech industry in the Netherlands is so equitable! But I think it’s a rather unique situation – the Dutch are world leaders in terms of gender equality, yes? Living near Silicon Valley, I can recognize in my own history some of the experiences that might have informed Stacey Mulcahy’s worries and wishes for her niece. I sincerely hope that someday soon your happy experience in tech will be a common story worldwide. :)

  • Hi. Thank you for your comment.
    I must confess that it came to my mind when I wrote this post, that the cultural difference between North America and Europe could play a role in these divergent perceptions.
    I am sorry to hear that you feel disadvantaged and I hope you will find a better balance at your work place soon!

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