In our first blog in this series, Women In Technology – Why are the Numbers so Low and What are People Doing About It?, we kicked this discussion off with comments from Stephanie Sydorko (Python Developer). Then we heard from Risa Ohara (Manager and Senior Developer). This is the third in our series of Women in Technology blogs. Today, we get perspective from one of Artemis’ Project Managers.
“My experience in the technology sector as a woman is as varied as the positions that I have held, and, if I think back, there have been many positives and, yes, negatives. I think it is human that the negatives sometimes stand out most vividly. There was an instance when I was working on a team (before I joined Artemis) for a new site roll-out and one of the end users blatantly would not let me work through an issue because I “was not qualified”. How does one work through this? You want to make sure the end user is satisfied but, to be dismissed from the conversation just so that a “male” member of the team can continue the dialogue was disconcerting.
I also remember being a Project Manager (PM) for a technical company where the contracting company supervisors all made an initial assumption that I was the “administrative assistant”. I proceeded to go get them some bottles of water while my team mates, cheekily, explained that they should be discussing the revised plan with me, and now they needed to wait until I got back from getting water. Was it just because a female PM was unknown to them…In the future did they change their behavior?
When I think back to my education I felt none of this stigma. I am not sure if the lack of stigma was because our Management of Information Systems concentration was part of the Business department and not the Computer Science department. Or, perhaps, it was just the culture of the school. There are so many factors in every facet of our lives. There have been other times when I was encouraged to pursue more technical endeavors by my male colleagues. They believed in me…why can’t we encourage everyone to reach their maximum potential?“
Holly’s experience with mistaken identity will resonate with many women across industries. While I haven’t experienced that, I remember a situation where male members of my team voiced serious doubts about my ability to manage functional requirements gathering efforts. I ended up leading the team by the end of year. And, other male members cheered me on! Please continue to follow our series…and share your experiences with us through comments.