Bad Press in the Tech World is Good News for Women
After the publication of the now-infamous Google memo, outrage ensued by both men and women from liberal and conservative audiences. We should not dismiss James Damore’s memo, nor should we dismiss his op-ed entitled “Why I Got Fired From Google.” Instead, we should focus on the broader picture: that many young women may now be even more discouraged from entering the tech sphere.
Each year, as tech conglomerates such as Google burgeon their hiring to meet their demands, we might see discrepancies based on the number of female applicants. This diversity anomaly may continue to happen after more problems continue to leak from companies such as Google and Uber. However, we should be more concerned about the fact that tech conglomerates produce an echo chamber of conversation which doesn’t allow for freedom of expression. This creates a sequacious herd mentality — creating a peregrination without an end.
Freedom of speech comes in many forms. Freedom of speech is a constitutional right set out by our Founding Fathers and should not be ignored internally by tech companies.
Truly, the only reason why Damore’s memo went viral is that Google ignored his request to handle such discussions internally. He felt compelled to write a memo to address the problems that were happening at Google from his perspective. This should serve to be a lesson to tech companies like Google and Uber (a blog post from an Uber female engineer went viral this year as well,) that when issues are not handled internally, problems on a possibly devastating scale will happen externally.
However, as a woman who intends to enter the tech sphere after graduation, these problems do not discourage me whatsoever. The opinions of James Damore or Susan Fowler do not dissuade me in the slightest — if anything, they encourage me to work even harder.
To young women: The only way to change the statistical evidence of disparities in tech for women is to go out there and change it. Being an indolent individual is not the answer. We should not sit idly by and let these discrepancies happen. Sitting behind our keyboards at home complaining on Twitter is not the way to fix things. To fix the problems of lack of women in tech, we as women need to apply for jobs in tech. We need to:
- Talk to women in tech and find out how they got to their position.
- Learn from others from within the industry about company cultures.
- Learn what you can do to make yourself a better candidate for employers.
The only progress we are going to see in tech is if we show that we belong in tech just as much as anyone else.
In fact, we are at a time wherever diversity does matter (to some extent) in a job application at most tech companies. If, after reading Damore’s memo and Fowler’s blog post you say, “Well, there’s no reason even to apply because of the mistreatment I may receive,” realize that sentiment is most likely in error. We, as women, should be thankful for those who have muckraked the tech world, because those individuals have made senior management more courteous to hiring women to combat the “bad press.”
Being a woman applying for jobs in tech is currently a competitive advantage: use it as such.
Now, on a case-to-case basis do I still believe there will be problems based on different hiring managers? Of course.
However, I think problems at huge companies like Google and Uber create a trickle-down-effect. Other companies will heed the warning of what happened to these businesses and pursue ways to make sure they do not happen.
In theory, companies, associated with the tech or startup culture, will take into account the power of the press after these reports have been leaked. These reports will turn into an overall HR-strategy/recruiting change in most companies; and if companies ignore the warnings of what bad press can do to business, you might not want to be working for them in the first place.
What Should We Be Worried About?
I believe that our responses on Demore’s article should switch to fears of echo chambers happening with the tech industry with individuals being fired over their heterodox opinions. If Damore can be fired for “not matching the code of conduct,” what’s to say that if a woman speaks up about a problem she will be ignored?
Perhaps even she too could be fired for her opinions like Damore.
Frankly, it frightens me whenever I see freedom of speech stifled in either direction, because I know me being outspoken could cause problems, just like Damore.
As much as our diversity deployments should focus on encouraging women to tech, we shouldn’t harangue who we disagree with into submission. We should not ignore their claims or fire them for their opinions.
As a female entering tech, I am less worried about the overall hiring process and more concerned about the stifling of freedom of speech inside the company.
Since we are ultimately pushing for an equitable workspace, we as women should realize that an impartial workspace also means that men should also be allowed to voice their opinions without fear of reprisal. By allowing each party to express their views without fear of unemployment, we allow for real progress to occur in tech. It does not matter what end of the aisle we come from; it matters how we can bring ourselves back together.