Life as a Female Techie
2018 MARCH 29

In a word: LONELY.

Being a female software engineer is about constantly creating sustainable, custom solutions that work for you, because there are no handbooks... and everyone seems to think your life is a cross between Alice in Wonderland and Smurfette in Smurf Village, living in a world where you are beloved and worshiped by all, with infinite advantages, yet somehow unconditionally treated as an equal at the same time.
Record Lows During Record Highs
Software engineering is arguably the hottest occupation at present time. This has been true for most, if not all, of the millennium. Over half a decade ago, Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn made a popular movie poking fun at the popularity of computer science. And there is no doubt about the mass influx of young, female new grads flooding the tech industry.
Yet less than one-fifth of computer science degrees are awarded to women today. Even worse, in the United States, less than one out of every eight software engineer positions is held by a woman. And worst of all, both of these numbers have been dropping, year after year, since the early 1980s.
Today, we are at an all-time historical low, as for females in the tech industry. That's right, an ALL-TIME LOW.
Which means that women don’t often go into tech studies, and when they do, they don’t make it very long in the tech industry... or don’t make it in at all.
But I thought female engineers have an advantage!
But I thought female engineers find jobs more easily!
Up and to the Right
In recent years, companies started to publicly release metrics about their internal demographics, often called "diversity stats". And I believe that this trend of releasing these so-called "diversity stats" is the catalyst causing it to become a misnomer.
I remember one year at Google, all of the "UX Designers" were "rebranded" as "UX Engineers". Shortly thereafter, Google began publicly releasing their "diversity statistics" annually, boasting 20% female engineers just this past year. After nearly a decade in the GBubble, I can recall hundreds of engineering teams, just off the top of my head, but none that had more than one female software engineer, including my own, and most had zero.
Since Google says that they have 1 female engineer for every 4 male engineers, this must mean that there are hoards of engineering teams that have multiple or majority female engineers somewhere.
So where are these women?
And it's not just Google.
Many companies followed suit and publicly announced their own "diversity statistics", and now we generally expect, perhaps even require, at least the larger corporations to publicly disclose their internal numbers. And 20-30% seems to be the money spot, because I have yet to see anything less make the headlines:
"Company Hon Est. announces 5% female engineers."
Statistics, by definition, aren’t very insightful, when all the data in your dataset is identical, or you only have data from the companies with 20% female engineers.
And what’s this down here in the fine print?
If you’ve recently had LASIK surgery and your microscope handy, while reading Google’s diversity report claiming 20% female engineers, you may have noticed in the fine print that these statistics only included some 80% of their employees. I’m going to take a really wild guess and bet that over 80% of the excluded employees are men. I mean, can you really even call it "statistics" when you include (or exclude) data to match your premeditated outcome? That's more like "reverstics" than statistics.
By these standards, I had a 4.0 GPA in both high school and college.
(Fine print: This GPA is based on 80% of the classes I took.)
And I’m supposed to believe that it takes less than a quarter of a second for Google to figure out how many websites there are in the entire world that contain the phrase "phony diversity stats"... but it takes months (even a press release to announce delays), in order for Google to count the number of employees that are female engineers?
And what is all this madness about? The number of females in engineering is low. Almost single digits low. In the United States, 12% of engineering jobs are held by women. So those of us who passed 4th grade math are well aware that, unless every company has a 12% female engineering population, there are companies above 12% and also below 12%. So it's really irritating, and rather offensive, that every company claims to have 20-30% women in engineering. We need to put an end to this smoke show circus.
But even 20-30% is low, especially since women outnumber men globally. We don't need to be spending anymore time collecting "diversity stats", just so we can confirm what we already know: the female engineering population is very very low. So, let’s move on from the data collection phase and into the action phase, so that maybe 2019 can be the first year of the millennium where we have more females in tech than the year before.
And before we start making a new plan to increase the number of women in tech, we need to wake up, turn on our brains and utilize our abilities to reason logically (think: cause & effect). There are people, meetings, clubs, organizations, seminars, even entire departments at companies, solely dedicated to increasing the number of females in the tech industry. And yet, the number of females has been dropping nonstop since the 1980s. Clearly, our current efforts are NOT working and, as a whole our efforts have been detrimental to females in tech. So please stop. Whatever you've been doing to get more women into tech, please stop it. PLEASE STOP NOW. We need to stop everything, stop the hemorrhaging, regroup, make a new plan and start over. Because it's not the numbers, or claiming to support women in tech that matters, it's actually making the numbers go up and to the right that counts.
Feigned Support is Far Worse Than No Support At All
Speaking of our current efforts being ineffective, what exactly have you been doing to increase the number of women in engineering? Do tell.
Because it's not enough to just talk the talk. It's not enough to just claim that you "support women" and are "making efforts" to increase the number of women in engineering. That's neither effective nor useful. It's just as bad as releasing phony, bull$#it "diversity stats".
In fact, being forced to live in this phony world of "support" and 20-30% female engineers, is the reason that the number of females in tech is tanking. Feigned support is far worse than no support at all. Feigned support is devastatingly detrimental to whatever cause it claims to support.
Imagine a town that claims to have one police officer for every resident in town. But in reality, these police officers are all either corrupt or don't actually exist. Let's say one of the residents constantly gets mugged, once a month. You see, if the town didn't claim to have one police officer for each resident, the general public consensus would be that the town is dangerous and is crime-ridden. However, because the town does claim to have so many police officers, people will be inclined to BLAME the victim, and assume that the victim is at fault for being mugged so often.
"Oh he must be living in the seedy area of town."
"Oh he must be walking around dark alleyways at night.

I live in a world that says being a female software engineer is an advantage.
I live in a world that says that it is easier for women to get hired as software engineers.
But in my world, only 12% of software engineers are women.
I live in a world that says sexual harassment is rare.
I live in a world that says that there are people that are highly knowledgeable about how to appropriately address and effectively eradicate sexual harassment, in the rare case that it does occur.
But in my world, the number of female software engineers has dropped drastically, year after year, since the 1980s.
I live in a world that says that I am not discriminated against.
I live in a world that says that there are infinite resources and support systems for female engineers.
I want to live in a world where "human resources" is a place where humans can find resources and support.
BREAKING NEWS: The Reason There Aren't Very Many Women Engineers
And just like all the feigned support, the fact that there are people who don't know why there aren't very many women engineers, is the reason there aren't very many woman engineers. It is so frustrating and devastating that something so blatantly obvious (and easy to solve) is being treated like the greatest mystery in human history, causing infinite resources, millions of dollars, hours and energies to be wasted. The reason there are so few female engineers should be clear to anyone with the slightest ability to reason. So here it is, humans - the answer to the trillion dollar question:
The reason there are so few women in tech is because it sucks to be a woman in tech.
Yes, it's true. It sucks pretty bad.
Just like it would suck for anyone to be anywhere and be outrageously outnumbered, it sucks. Sure, it seems exciting and fun at first, but after the novelty wears off, after spending half your waking hours there for 5, 10, 20 years, it sucks.
For men, I read somewhere being a woman in tech compared to being the only man at a baby shower. Now imagine being at baby showers, where you are outrageously outnumbered by women, often the only man, during half of your conscious hours, for the rest of your life. You stick out like a sore thumb, you can feel the stares, it's uncomfortable and you are treated differently, forever. And even if I'm at an event specifically and exclusively for engineers, I am constantly asked what I do for a living. If one of the women asked everyone for their opinion on the best stroller, do you think that your opinion would be weighted equally with the other women? What if you had written a national best selling book on baby strollers and had a weekly popcast about baby strollers? Then, would your opinion be weighted equally? Would your opinion be weighted higher than someone without these dazzling credentials?
You can ignore all the small things, scratch your head and proclaim to the world that you tried your best to get more women into tech, pat yourself on the back for trying, sit back and watch the population of female engineers tank...
you can wake up, take your brain off cruise control, go back to having a mind of your own and realize that this problem is an easy problem to solve. I don't even see how it's possible to try and fail, unless you're a moron.
It's all the small things - every small injustice, every biased "diversity stats" report, every feigned effort, every feigned support group, every person claiming that they are "trying" to get more women in tech, every company and recruiter claiming that they are actively trying to increase the number of female engineers, every company that has a "culture fit" portion of their interview process - combined together, turning a bunch of mole hills into Mount Everest.
Unconscious Bias
The worst kind of harassment and discrimination are subtle, unnoticed, and often unknown, by the perpetrator, sometimes even by the victim, and usually the world. Harassment and discrimination are difficult topics to discuss, decipher, assess and eliminate, especially because it is often a result, or byproduct, of our unconscious biases.
Judgement and bias exist. Being judgemental isn't fundamentally a bad thing. If I'm walking down a dark alleyway at night, and I see a large person walking towards me with a Jason mask on, I'm going to run like crazy in the other direction. Hashtag sorry not sorry. Hashtag no regrets.
We are overly sensitive about the situation and, like I've said too many times, it's our denial that is the worst killer of all. Let's say I'm talking to a friend about a man that's across the street from us, where there are dozens of other people, and my friend asks me "Which guy are you talking about?" Am I not allowed to say "the Asian guy"? Am I not allowed to say "the black guy"? Am I not allowed to say "the man with the yellow hat"? I'm not racist, by anyone's standards, but I understand that differences exist, and I notice them. For almost half a decade at Google, I sat in a room with 20 engineers, as the only female. To say that I do not face discrimination as a woman engineer, is pretty much the same as seeing an image of that room that I sat in, and saying that it didn't cross your mind that there was only one woman.
The feigned support and the mass denial, is not only frustrating, but it's literally causing the number of female engineers to drop. I've always been aware that discrimination exists and that judgement, bias, and stereotypes are a huge factor in my life. There are several things that I usually do to mitigate some of the negative effects it has on my life, but that's another story for another day. The mass denial factor is so ubiquitous that no one even realizes that it exists. Everyone thinks that they are the most judgement-free, undiscriminating, color-blind person the world has ever seen. Now, if we would just recognize that the bias exists, it would make things so much better for everyone.
Globally, we have had issues related to diversity, equal opportunity, minorities, sexual orientation, gender, race, age --- and every other dividing factor known to humans --- since long before any of us were born. And not only have we not been able to find solutions, but it is getting worse and worse, in severity and magnitude. Diversity and discrimination are issues that are related to ethics and, to oversimplify it - we just need to come together globally, as human beings, and help one another so that every human might have a fighting chance to start from ground zero. It will never be perfect, or exactly even for everyone... but the people who got a head start, could help those who are miles behind the starting line.
Thank you very much to everyone who has reached out to me recently. It has been an incredibly shocking, life-changing, unforgettable, educational and of course, cathartic, past few weeks for me, to say the very least. I really appreciate all the kind messages. I am mostly just so disappointed in a company that I have loved since I was 26 years old.
Keepin it nerdy 25/8~
Loretta :o)

Support me!