Why does the movement for Women in Tech feel so corporate?
I’m not famous. I’m not rich.
But every so often, I get asked to speak at a school or be interviewed for a student’s research project. These things happen.
Mostly I just marvel at the paucity of other women who are female founders in the general vicinity, that they would have to come knocking upon my “Open By Appointment” office door. They ask their questions about business plans and what inspired me to take the path I chose. In general, my answers have been vague and positive — the sorts of motivational pablum you find affixed to posters starring rainbows, kittens, and sunsets.
Too late, I realize, that’s entirely the wrong answer.
We need women to learn how to fuck shit up.
Intentionally, I mean.
I went to a networking night a few weeks ago organized by the Women Who Code chapter in my adopted city. It was a fabulous event, tons of fun, and you should all join and support this worthwhile organization. But I was a little dismayed that about 60% of presentation time went to singing the praises of the hosting company (all the way through a fourteen-step customer relationship mantra).
Since when does women’s empowerment align with corporatism?
Why do all the stories I read and hear about have to do with women making their way, against adversity, through the ranks at the Googles and the Ubers of the world? Where are the organizers, the rabble rousers, and the other female founders?
Women choose nonprofit careers and start their own businesses at rates higher than the general population. So why aren’t women with technological competencies choosing these sectors?
Somehow for women, being a “bad girl” is always about sex.
We as women might want to rethink that.
We need alternatives to being nice all the time, to being idealistic and underpaid, to always being the one to sacrifice. We need to recognize that we hold ourselves and each other to impossible standards (yes, I have used that line before) and that yes, everyone does sometimes need to be a bitch.
I know female hackers. I know women who have built open source projects from the ground up. But this isn’t the narrative that I see presented to the women of tomorrow. I see the narrative being, we’re supposed to work and study really hard so we can go to work at Microsoft.
Enough with that. Learn to fuck shit up.