In 1997 I was not the only woman in the room but I was definitely outnumbered. However, 1997 was a grand improvement over 1992 and I was starting to feel better about it. Maybe more comfortable? I definitely thought it was getting better and I hung onto that even when it started getting dark again.
Currently, I'm contracted to an extremely vibrant and forward thinking client. They are literally changing the world and that sort of environment is about as intense as you might imagine. They are forward thinking risk takers and it would be reasonable to assume (I think) that forward thinking risk takers at the end of 2022 would also be diverse in forward thinking ways. You know, lots of women and people with brown faces in leadership and tech.
A couple of months ago I realized I was, once again, the only woman in the room. I thought, maybe this is just a fluke. Maybe all the women have congregated elsewhere and this room of white male faces is an anomaly. It has to be an anomaly, right? All these white male faces are under 40 for the most part. I am fairly certain I am older by ten years than any of them. That includes leadership and that's OK, because it affords me the opportunity to examine the present situation from within a much broader context.
As in, wait. We've already been through this shit, so what's happening now?
I googled 'women in tech in the 1990s' looking for exactly what I found, the iconic photograph of Diane Keaton in a suit with a briefcase in one hand and a baby on her hip. However, the first thing that popped up on the page was a headline that read: The number of women in IT peaked in 1990 and has fallen ever since. Whoa. Back the convoy up. This can't be right.
... a couple of months ago I realized I was, once again, the only woman in the room and I thought it was funny in an archaic sort of way so I asked the room of a dozen white male faces mostly under forty why this might be so.
I expected at least a handful of startled faces, what I got were blank stares and one response:
"I think it's a biological sort of thing."
There was one brown face in the room and I wanted to ask him if he noticed that he, also, was alone but I already know how he feels about his H-1B status and he's not happy about it but he soldiers on because he can't see any other way.
I was sitting in a virtual room with four men last summer and we were talking about a project that needed to launch and I wasn't sure what I was doing there because they weren't ready for a PM yet. So I was quiet and might as well have been invisible, despite the camera, because I heard...
'since it's just us girls here, I think we can speak plainly'
It got better. There was reference to 'lifting our skirts'.
We just don't say those things anymore, right?
I'm afraid we do and I'm afraid that the systemic reasons behind why we do, are exactly the reason that Roe v Wade got flushed like a messy home abortion. I'm not going to extrapolate any further. Not right now. I'm pretty sure I'd be pissing into the wind.
But. Whoa. Back the convoy up...
from my brother, who is an executive leadership coach with a female partner who specializes in women in leadership... "we've all got to figure out how to get along, don't we?"