In the past year I've become more aware of the gender inequality in the tech industry, and the discrimination and abuse some women have encountered working in tech. I want to help improve this situation and I'm heartened by the brave people throughout the industry who are willing to take a stand against discrimination in our field—against anyone.
The more I read about the deplorable behaviour some women have put up with or spoken out against, the more I've tried to work out why I haven't come in contact with anything similar. My best guess is that I've simply been lucky so far. Then again, it could be that I have been treated in a sexist way but it's been vague enough that I've just been oblivious to it.
Either way, I've certainly never been in the kind of extreme situation we're hearing more women speak out about lately. For this, I'm really grateful. And I want to thank every person I've come in contact with during my time working in tech for their upstanding behaviour. I hope that by celebrating good behaviour and thanking those who are working to make tech an inclusive industry, as well as calling out those who encourage inequality and perpetuate negative stereotypes, we can come at the problem from both sides.
I live in Melbourne, where we have a small, but burgeoning tech scene. I've been to tech meetups here, worked in co-working spaces, and had meetings with other startup founders and investors over the past three years. During that time I've been encouraged every time I mentioned that I was learning to code, and learned some of the most useful things I know about coding from male developers.
I've never once been asked if I'm the business co-founder, or if I do marketing for Exist. If that assumption has been made, it's never been made out loud to me. I've been asked what I do at Exist, just as my co-founder Josh is asked the same question. I've even been asked many times if I'm a developer. And I've never been spoken down to or treated differently after telling someone that I am the business side of Exist and I'm not a developer.
I've never felt excluded from any group or event based on my gender, and I've never knowingly been included solely because of my gender. I've never been asked to speak about what it's like being a woman in tech, or about gender equality in the tech industry, and my gender hasn't been mentioned once in any interview I've done about Exist.
I've never been harrassed, abused, or assaulted based on my gender (or otherwise). I've never received physical threats, or in fact any threats or criticisms of my person. I've never felt unsafe, unwanted, or unqualified to attend an event or meeting related to tech.
Reading stories from other women about their experiences in the tech industry make me incredibly grateful for these things. I've taken my experiences for granted for a long time because I didn't know they were unusual. Now that I do, I'd like to thank everyone in the Melbourne tech industry who works hard to make women feel comfortable, welcome, and valuable in our little corner of the world. Not knowing that the feeling you belong in this industry is a rare thing for women is something I wish for all the women who will enter the industry in the future.