Recently in a local Slack group, I shared a tweet from someone dissing Ruby on Rails. While this is unforgivable, that’s not what this note is about. Part of the context was a woman being hired in an all-women company.
To be fair, I mistakingly said the company only hiring women was intentional when that wasn’t the case at all. But even if I hadn’t, the question was already being raised about whether this was legal, discriminatory, sexist, or any number of other things.
I’m not going to get into if it was any of those (although it wasn’t). But like in that conversation, I’d like to acknowledge if the company was only men, those arguments would never have come up. There are lots of tech companies made up entirely, or almost entirely, of men where this is virtually never brought up or taken seriously.
Why? The underlying assumption that tech being full of men is normal, while tech being full of women must be either some deliberate move like affirmative action or “scoring diversity points.” In other words, the assumption that men in tech are natural while women in tech aren’t. This is, unsurprisingly, a view held mostly by white men.
If I may quote Sara Eckel from her book, “It’s Not You,” she sums it up pretty well:
Freedom is arguably our country’s most sacrosanct value—unless we’re talking about women’s liberation. Then suddenly we become cold rationalists, debating the pros and cons like a Soviet-era dictator.