The False Sisterhoods of Tech Industry #Girlsquads
Sexism in the tech industry will not be resolved by the forced intimacy of idealized female friendship.
June 3rd has become a sort of anniversary for me – a funeral march set to the pitter patter of a million ergonomic keyboards – as it was the day that I left my tech job in 2014, and then again in 2015.
I know tech is a vague word. I have to keep it vague for the sake of the NDAs that I’ve signed. I entered it vaguely, too, curious to see what all of the fuss was about. Back in 2012, I joined a male-lead startup incubator, which wanted to force a business model onto the content website I started while in college. It was a good time all around because, even though the incubator went bust, I wasn’t ready for a company and was fed a lot of confidence being the youngest woman in a group of men – men, I might add, who buried insight with jargon and scribbled “return on investment” on Bowery Hotel napkins. On my last day at the incubator I waited for my weekly update while the director loudly criticized an app presented to him by an impressive female founder. It was performative power-play, and all executed while he ate a prosciutto panini.
Even so, the buzz surrounding New York’s new tech boom (and being the eligible youth that every venture capitalist eyed) drew me to another tech position. This time at a small tech agency – the world of male programmers, where superiority complexes have bad postures and watercooler conversations are closer to locker room scuttlebutt. Even lunch time at this place was an opportunity for all of the men to simultaneously shoot up from their desks and flee the room, leaving behind the only two women of the company, me (a Strategist) and the Head of Design. No-girls-allowed meetings took place weekly, even though the other woman was a department head and, though she couldn’t have known it, a valuable worker. We also had a freelancer come in once in awhile; this was always an embarrassing occasion for me, as I knew too much about her. The boys often discussed her suggestive instagrams over beer.