I knew that working in the tech industry was going to be a challenge. The fact that I am a woman would furthermore count against me if the male to female ratios in my college classes were anything to go by. I was heavily outweighed by my male counterparts. I was facing a series of stereotypes that would be difficult to break.
In a male-dominated world like the tech industry, women are often viewed as risky employment prospects. After all, our biological clocks are going to start ticking, and we’ll want to have babies.
We’ll have to go on maternity leave and might not even bother to return to work afterward. Why should the company bother investing in our training and development when we’re just going to throw it all away?
I could see my employer’s faith was already shaken when I got married. They were preparing themselves for the worst. Two years later, I delivered it to them. I was pregnant. I was expecting a less-than-thrilled reaction, and they didn’t disappoint me.
Bias in the business
One of the biggest challenges women face in the tech industry is the mere fact that they are women. The tech industry is still widely regarded as a man’s world. Even in today’s more modern and progressive times, this is still the case in a lot of instances. Somehow, as a woman, you’re looked down upon, almost as if you don’t deserve a seat at the table.
My first experience with it came soon after I started working. I was sitting in at a boardroom table for a meeting. All the other attendees were male. I had the same, if not better, qualifications than they did, yet I was the one who had to take the minutes of the meeting. “Honey,” said the manager, “you don’t mind, do you?” I remember wondering how one of my male colleagues would react to being called honey. It was only the beginning.
Talk in the office was often derogatory toward women. I listened to the sexist jokes that perpetuated the stereotype of women as inferior to men. I heard the sexual innuendos, some which were subtle, and some of which were not. What was I to do? I could either become one of the boys and condone this behavior. My other choice was to speak out. But what would the consequences of that be? At a minimum, ostracization, at worst being fired.
I decided to use my gender to my advantage, branching out into the world of parenting apps. As a mother, I can appreciate how valuable they are for busy parents who are working on their careers while raising their families.
My biggest cheerleader
My husband was the person I turned to as I tried to unburden myself and share my insecurities. He was steadfast in his belief that I could have it all: marriage, children, and career. So persuaded by my abilities was he that he convinced me to believe in myself.
Today, I have the life I’d dreamed of what seems like a hundred years ago when I was a fresh-faced college student. I am a wife, a mother, and I hold down a demanding job in the tech industry. I have dozens of people, mostly men, working under me. And no, I don’t call any of them honey!
Am I perfect at it? No. I am an imperfect being in an imperfect world, doing the best I can. And while my email inbox might be full and my kids’ laundry isn’t always up to date, I wouldn’t change anything about my life.