Women in Tech: Are We Our Own Worst Enemy?

by Ostatic Staff - Apr. 16, 2009

As you can imagine, I've read plenty of articles over the years about the good, the bad, and the ugly of women in tech. Everyone has a theory on why it's easier or harder for us these days, and virtually every woman I know who is even tangentially associated with the tech industry has at least one hair-raising story to tell. Just when I thought there was nothing new under the sun about this topic, Linux Magazine's Rikki Kite came along with an insightful look at why women might be their own worst enemy when it come to getting ahead in their tech careers. 

Kite says many women in the technology field suffer from what she calls "Impostor Syndrome" -- a feeling that, no matter how qualified we are for a job, we still think we aren’t good enough and we've simply lucked into it. She says women the tech sector who are assertive -- but not aggressive -- are most likely to gain the respect of their peers and feel good about their jobs. Additionally, Lake asserts that only when we step outside of our comfort zones can we learn what we are truly capable of accomplishing.

Aside from the astute observations about how women interrelate in the workplace, what struck me most about Kite’s article is how fairly it presents the issues. She doesn't fall back on old arguments that factors beyond our control -- gender bias, job discrimination, etc -- are holding us back. 

Indeed, I'm not so sure those old arguments hold much water anymore anyway. Though no one will disagree there are a few boorish men in the tech community (and women, too!), I believe that, in general, the male segment of the tech population either supports our success or doesn’t give it nearly as much thought as we assume they do. Unless I am seriously misreading the situation, in this day and age the old societal ideology that women belong in the home is nothing more than an antiquated idea for most men.

Kite says women need to hold themselves -- and each other -- accountable in the workplace. She encourages women to promote themselves and other female colleagues because it's our responsibility, no one else’s. Many women in the tech sector haven't come by their successes easily and Kite is correct in suggesting that if we've had the grit and stamina to get this far, we've certainly got what it takes to get farther ahead. 

The topic of how women can succeed in the tech industry will likely be debated as long as the sun continues to rise. If we can approach the issues with as much wisdom and humor as Kite does, we’ll all get along just fine.