Monday, January 28, 2013

Women in Tech and Empathy Work | Lauren Bacon

Women in Tech and Empathy Work | Lauren Bacon: This wouldn’t be a problem in and of itself – and I’ll be the first to admit that it is damned hard to hire women into technical roles, as I learned first-hand when hiring coders myself – except that there are a couple of complicating factors:

Coders are lionized in the tech sector, and are compensated for their technical skills with higher wages and positional power – so women without coding chops are automatically less likely to advance to senior positions or command the highest salaries.
There is a culture in tech companies that simultaneously reveres the “user” (at least as a source of revenue and data) and places low expectations on coders to empathize with users (or colleagues, for that matter) – creating a disconnect that can only be bridged by assigning user (and team) empathy responsibilities to another department. An extreme example of this is the frequent labeling of brilliant coders as having Asperger’s Syndrome – and the simultaneous absolution of unskillful communication as par for the course.
I’ve long engaged in a hobby where, whenever I visit a tech company’s website, I head straight to their “Team” page, and scan for the women. More often than not, I have to scroll past four or more men before I see a woman – and very frequently, her title places her in one of the “people” roles: human resources, communications, project or client management, user experience, customer service, or office administration.

Fantastic post. via Sarah Pavis.