On Tech, Women and You’re Not Helping
This is one of those posts that I’m afraid I’m not rational enough to write. Whenever I try, it degenerates into incoherent screaming and CAPSLOCKED RAGE and no one wants to read that. But because the alternative is ranting on Twitter to no effect again, I’ll give it a shot. Another quick warning, it’s not about SEO or even Internet marketing. It’s about respect.
When you look over at our blog’s sidebar, what do you see? A link to Facebook (Like us!) and to Twitter (Follow us!), the logo for SEM Synergy (Listen to us!) and three smiling faces (Hello!). The name on the company might be Bruce Clay but it’s those three faces that bring you SEO news, case studies, the best darn SEO Newsletter out there and awesome blog posts every single day, barring weekends and holiday. What do you notice about those faces? The smiles? The fact that Jessica totally ruined our dark background theme? Or maybe, just maybe, you noticed that we’re all young, attractive women.
Why are all of our writers female? Is it a conspiracy? Are we the only ones who will fit into airplane seats so we can go to conferences? Nah, we get resumes. Lots of resumes and so far, the best people for the job have been women. No conspiracy, just straight up talent. Maybe the Daily Show is having trouble finding women who can write but we sure aren’t.
Here’s the thing though. Because we’re all women, I’m going to bet you right now that out there someone is thinking “hey, women get segregated to the writing ghetto at Bruce Clay, Inc. and they’re clearly not as important to the company as the SEO Analysts who are mostly men!” Furthermore, with my keen sense of female intuition, I’m betting that someone is a woman. With all of the best intentions, she’s thinking “poor things” and about to write a screed about how we need More Women In Technical Positions and how we’re being kept out of the Cool Positions by our cursed ovaries.
(By the way, there are six men and five women among the analysts in the Simi Valley office. Just saying.)
As our hypothetical woman is writing this brand new never-before-thought-of angle, she’s trying to come up with ways to break women out of the writing ghetto. She’ll take the facts: all Bruce Clay, Inc.’s writers are young and female and turn them into the “reasons” we don’t have “more important” jobs. And in doing so, she’ll make “young and female” into flaws instead of facts.
She might come up a list very like the one in Bianca Male’s article How We Can Encourage More Female Entrepreneurship. This article got my back up for a bunch of reasons but I’ll pick two or we’ll be here all day.
Problem 1: Where are all the women?
The first is that it falls into a typical fake feminist trap: it sets up and then dismisses women who work their butts off every single day in its eagerness to prove its point.
The New York Times reports that, although around 40% of private companies in the US are owned by women, there is still a significant lack of female entrepreneurship in the tech sector — only 8% of American venture-backed tech startups are founded by female CEOs.
No, those 40% of women owned and operated businesses don’t count because they’re not doing real work. Not tech work. Similarly, the 40% of The Daily Show staff who are women should be mocked and discounted because they’re not doing real work. Not writing and correspondent work. They’re just doing hair and makeup. And accounting.
The question of why there aren’t more women in tech is a good one, as is the question of why The Daily Show can’t seem to hire funny women for their writing staff. But quit pretending few women in [X position] means NO women in any position.
Problem 2: We can’t fix anything now, but in the FUTURE…
If you didn’t go read Male’s article, here’s the list of solutions her single female entrepreneur source suggested to get more women to pitch tech startups. (Seriously, Bianca, if you need more women running their own tech companies, I’ve got a Twitter feed full of them ready and willing to help you out.)
- Start in the workplace.
- Women should consider launching tech companies with male partners more often.
- We all need to highlight more successful professional women in the tech world.
- Encourage entrepreneurship in our children.
Let me translate for you. These suggestions are:
- Make non-entrepreneurs into entrepreneurs.
- Give the wimmins a hand/rely on men to forge success.
- Wimmins are people too (see problem 1)
- This generation is a loss, let’s fix the next one!
I could make every single one of those their own problem but I’m going to pick up on the general gist of them: Women aren’t good enough right now to do it on their own. They need help: education, men, spotlights, something other than determination and interest.
Enough with the women on women violence! It’s NOT untrue that women still face a harder world than men do. It’s not untrue that women still only make $.74 for every $1.00 a man makes. It’s not untrue that we need to encourage young women, old women, women of color, disabled women, ANY woman to push boundaries, get excited about new challenges and bust down locked doors. But we have to stop dismissing, ignoring and downplaying the contribution of women who are already DOING what they want to do and who are justifiably proud of it. There are enough real problems in the world that we don’t have to invent them.
The fact is that when you hire Bruce Clay, Inc. for content creation or SEO services, you’re not hiring our faces or our chromosomes. You’re hiring our talent. Implying that we were hired for anything else, implying that women succeed for any other reason, implying that doing some jobs is not as good as doing any other job, is disrespectful, misogynistic and wrong.