Hiring Women In Tech: It’s not that hard.
There have been a lot of posts about how hiring in tech is fundamentally flawed.
There have been a lot of posts about sexism in tech. Including my own. Those posts, and this one, probably aren’t going to do my career a lot of good, but damn it, this shit is OLD and maybe if we shine enough light on it; if we scream loud enough, maybe it will effect some change not just for those of us brave enough to speak about it, but for those that come after us. Enough is enough.
As a woman who has worked in tech most of my adult life, I have a few thoughts and more than a few experiences to back these claims up.
Example 1: I interviewed with a CEO and CTO for a lead dev role. Both meetings went great. I genuinely liked them as people and thought we’d work well together. I did the “code challenge” (which I loathe, but I’ll save that for another example) and then met the dev team I would be leading. All 3 of them were men. One had the gall to roll his eyes at me before we even began a real discussion. Another was late. I was peppered with questions that lacked context. When I asked for clarity, it was clear that I was annoying the guy that had rolled his eyes at me. He obviously couldn’t wait for the meeting to be over. Of course, that ended that process, but what was interesting is that I received an email from the CTO stating that he *really* wanted to work with me.
Example 2: I interviewed with the only 2 developers in the company. The first was a senior engineer who asked me some technical questions. I admit, I don’t do well with “technical interviews.” I’m a problem solver, not a rehearser. I tend to gravitate towards real life solutions for real problems- and will often answer “what is…” with a real life example of where I used it and why. That came into play again with the second interview. A junior dev asked me to write a solution for finding out how many records a single factory creates in ruby. The problem solver in me screams; “That defeats the purpose!” Factories, if done correctly, don’t create extraneous records and if they are, it is because the tools to prevent it weren’t used. That’s the core of the problem. But I digress… Apparently wanting to get to the core of the issue rather just writing a solution that isn’t really a solution, wasn’t “enough.”
Example 3: A company on Angel List reached out to me that they liked my background and would like to talk to me- however before we talked it was necessary that I spend THREE DAYS on a “coding exercise.” What?!
Example 4: One company, as part of their hiring process, wanted me to work in their codebase and build out a new functionality. The problem with this is that 1. It screamed “work for free and MAYBE we’ll pay you for what you do.” (It also requires a great deal of set up time and getting acquainted with the code so I don’t fix one thing and break another, but I digress again.)
Over and over again, I’ve seen that companies don’t want real problem solvers and they certainly don’t want to BE problem solvers themselves. Rather, they create a hiring process that seeks to pigeonhole candidates into a mold of their liking. They SAY they want problem solvers, but when faced with one, they back step. Especially if that problem solver is a woman.
More times than I can count, I’ve been turned down for roles that I’m more than qualified for, and most of the time there is no real reason. Just that they’re “going in a different direction.” I’ve been coding since before I could drive. I’ve been leading teams for close to a decade. I’ve taken concepts and turned them into marketable MVP’s in remarkably short times. Why do I keep having to prove myself via “code tests” and interview panels that drip with bias, conscious or not?
Women in tech are here. We’re smart and talented and driven. We’ve worked harder than our male counterparts because we’ve HAD to, to prove our worth. We’re tired of being cast aside because of some hidden (likely male) mold that we don’t fill. We’re tired of being paid less than our male counterparts. We’re tired of the mixed messages, i.e, “We want experience, but we don’t want to pay you what you’re worth.” “We’re looking for junior level developers to grow with us, but we won’t help you grow.” “We support diversity and inclusion- but only so far. If you’re a woman, we will probably interview you just to say we “tried” but then we’ll ghost you.”
Hiring women in tech isn’t that hard. We’re here, you just aren’t listening to us, worse, you’re ignoring us because we don’t fit your predefined mold. You’re ignoring us because we dare to challenge you. What have we got to lose? Trying to “fit” hasn’t helped and silence is soul crushing. We’re all screaming: “WE’RE RIGHT HERE!!!”