In the past week we’ve heard a number of pieces on women’s role in the tech industry, initially in the form of a manifesto from a Google employee, and more recently a follow up from Claudia Hill, manager of a New Zealand web agency. In both of these pieces, the claim is made that fewer women are in tech because they are biologically unfit for the work.
It’s a view that is both wrong and damaging.
It’s a point of view which flies in the face of common sense, given that the phenomenon is only a few decades old. It’s also a view that has been researched and discredited and not simply rejected out-of-hand as taboo. It’s also a view that is damaging, as the sharing of this view helps to cause the issues we see today.
The proponents of such views claim that they’re being silenced by an “ideological echo chamber” that is the enemy of free speech and reasoned debate. But the protection of free speech doesn’t mean that points of view that are both damaging and discredited get to have continued air time. We need to end this. Protecting bigotry under demands for free speech rights is cowardly at best.
I don’t claim that we’re perfect at SilverStripe. In the past year we’ve worked on improving the gender ratio of new hires and, with a bit of focused effort, were able to improve this. But nudging up a single metric isn’t really the end-goal. Building an inclusive and supportive workplace culture is much more important and much harder. It isn’t a job that’s ever done. Institutional sexism can be insidious and its eradication is hard work. I’m very thankful that resources like Project Include exist to help us build a roadmap.
I work hard to make people feel welcome in our company and our community, as do many others that I have the honour of working with. Sometimes this means hearing people out on ideas I disagree with, but not if you’re going to tell 3.7 billion people that they shouldn’t get into tech because their brains aren’t built for it.
On the other hand, for anyone who wants to share ideas for how we can make the SilverStripe community and our workplaces more diverse and inclusive, I’d love to hear from you.