Tech is the best industry for women
You may think that the tech industry is plagued with bro culture and discrimination against women.
I don’t blame you for feeling this way.
There’s been a lot of talk around lately from women who have faced harassment and discrimination in the tech industry. Uber, for instance, is the poster child of such harassment.
There’s so much talk of negativity that it feels like there’s nothing but negativity surrounding the tech culture.
And that makes me sad.
I’m sad because it is an industry that I, as a minority woman, love.
Whatever you might have heard about Uber, it is far from reflective of the entire tech community.
Personally, as a woman who neither looks like a geek nor dresses like one, I have honestly felt nothing but empowerment in the two years I have been a part of Silicon Valley.
It is an industry where I have found a second chance at life.
As a disclaimer, I’m not here to invalidate other people’s experience. I’m merely here to present my own. I don’t want the negatives to further skew people’s perception and to dissuade fellow women from entering this industry.
Everyone I have interacted with, from my classmates at App Academy (a coding bootcamp) to my colleagues at work, have always been willing to lend a helping hand. I’ve never felt put down or discriminated against because of my gender or my looks.
Some of you might say that “oh you’re just lucky.”
While that may be true, having been a premed and having had experience in many different fields, I genuinely think that the tech industry is one of the most open-minded industries out there. Here are three reasons why.
In how many other industries can a woman post pole dancing pictures of herself and still have a job?
Around medical residency interview season, my Facebook feed would be flooded with fake names. Every single person I know change their name on social media so interviewers wouldn’t find them.
Yes, the world doesn’t need to know everything, and you definitely shouldn’t publicly post anything racist, discriminating, and all in all “offensive.”
But pictures like this:
I can’t confirm it myself, but I really don’t think I’d get into a residency program with those pictures on Instagram. Maybe a medical residency interviewer can jump in and tell me if I’m wrong.
Oh and did I mention I did exotic dancing at some point?
In what other industry can that information be public and the woman still have a job?
Not only that, but the two software engineers I had met at the strip club held nothing but awe for me. They were clearly shocked when they discovered I was a fellow engineer, but they thought I was amazing.
They didn’t harass me. They didn’t make crude remarks.
They were only impressed and said to me “we need more people like you.”
Before tech, I worked in a biology lab.
Honestly, the academia culture treated me as if I’m nothing but a pair of hands. Many postdocs I have worked with (as an undergraduate student or as a research assistant) have failed to give me a sense that they cared about my intellectual growth.
The hierarchy in academia is so obvious that it hits you right in the face. I have always been made to feel like the lowliest person in the lab because I was merely a “research assistant.”
Tech industry is different.
Though I’m junior, no one has ever made me feel insufficient. No one has treated me like I’m lower than them because I had less experience or because I came from a non-traditional background.
In the tech industry, as long as you work hard, as long as you have something to show, it doesn’t matter where you come from.
Almost three years ago, I felt as if I had hit the end of the road with nowhere to go. I gave tech industry a chance because I really enjoyed the programming class I took in college and a close friend of mine had recently gone through a bootcamp.
I’m not saying the past few years were easy. They weren’t. Finding a job is hard, and feeling not good enough is common in this industry.
But tech is hard on everyone, not just on me, not just on women.
Finding a job is hard regardless of whether you’re male or female. Once you have a job, you’re judged on your performance the same way as everyone else.
Though it sounds corny, to me, tech industry is like a unique and esoteric version of the “American Dream.” I was lost, but I found a second chance in the tech industry through nothing else but hard work. Unlike many other industries, anyone can break into the tech industry if they’re willing to learn, to work hard, and to build up the mental toughness.
With that said, I’m not here to invalidate anyone’s personal experience. I’m sure horrible things have happened to good people. I’m only here to offer a new perspective.
Harassment happens everywhere, tech or non tech. People get harassed on the street. I too have been cat-called and have received unwelcome remarks about my appearance walking down the street. Unfortunately, sexism and harassment is still just a party of society and you’ll find it in many places.
So here it is. A woman who have found a second chance because she gave the tech industry a chance, and the tech welcomed her with open arms.
I’m a software engineer in San Francisco. I graduated from MIT in 2013 with a BS in biology. I started my career in tech at the start of 2015 and have been loving it since. If you like my work, follow me on Medium to receive more stories from me.
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