I am not surprised at the Google memo that has been leaked. If you have worked at any tech company in Silicon Valley, you will know it is rife with sexism. People often ask, “Why aren’t there more women in tech?” I have a theory – Tech companies are extremely sexist and anti-female. Women are talked over, their input is disregarded, and they are thought of as “too emotional” to do IT. When women are our superiors their directives are ignored or questioned more than men. When a woman is direct, she is looked at as mean and aggressive. There have been times in meetings that I have had to stop men from interrupting women and say, “Let her talk.” The environment is extremely toxic to women. As a Black man in America, I know what it is like to be the only or one of the few non-white people in the room, so I can empathize to a point. But to be the only woman in groups that harbor openly sexist views is troubling.
This document is why we have dumb jokes about women in IT. This document is why we have Gamer Gate. This document is why women don’t feel welcome in technology. It is sad. I do my part everyday to treat women in tech as my equal but I know I fail all the time. This is a prime example of why men have to do better and we have to push each other. Men must hold other men accountable when we say sexist and misogynistic things. There has to be a call out culture when it comes to sexism. Yes, many men are comfortable with responding to racism because we all know (well hopefully we do) racism is bad and not accepted, but for some reason, men are not checking each other when we say bitch, slut, or other derogatory language describing women. We are okay with that in and out of the office.
My heart aches for women who are software engineers, product developers, technical support representatives, technical sales people, and network engineers. For every woman who has worked her way into these positions, ignoring all the sexist comments and remarks, there are 100 of them who suffer, some in silence. In the past I said nothing when memo’s like these circulated through departments, when men would make crude remarks and jokes about the new female engineer, but no more. I LeRon L. Barton am taking a pledge to call out sexism and negative behavior from men. It is not enough that I am a anti-racist advocate, but do nothing when I see women get mistreated. I need to play “all positions” in the game of equality. Call me a social justice warrior all you want, I don’t care. I want to make technology a field that all women can feel comfortable in. This affects our girlfriends, wives, mothers, daughters, nieces, and friends. I want a work culture that women employees feel empowered and their voices be heard. I want a work place that women are respected as much as their male counterparts, that they are paid as much as their male counterparts. That starts with standing up to cowardly memo’s like these.