From my early days, I felt there’s something wrong. It was in the little things. Things like how teachers sometimes approached female students. With prejudice. With the unbearable lightness. With indulgence.
They are just girls. Just treat them with decency. Make them feel they are good with all this “tech stuff”. Don’t let them feel bad. Even if they f*cked up, give them good grades. After all, we need more women in tech, at least they say we do.
It all just started there, innocently. At this very point.
Girls don’t need that. We can be equally good at tech. We have all the skills we need. Just treat us fairly. Or this will eventually evolve into something far, far worse in the future — said the 19-year-old me.
I’m 11 years in the product design field now. And I suddenly started to think about this really hard. Having so many different experiences, it all started falling into place. And then it hit me. I am not afraid to write this:
The sad, ugly truth about being a woman in tech is, that most of the people, deep inside think:
You will never be as good as men are.
This may be the reason of the very harmful statistics that people tend to believe. “Men are prone to think more logical and analytical”. “Men are tend to be better with tech and computers”. I’m not saying that some statistics aren’t true. But how do the statistics apply to a single person? They simply don’t.
Statistically, if you walk out your dog, you both have three legs each.
Statistics, when compared to a certain, single person or situation, mean nothing.
There are female designers — interface designers, product designers, UX designers (call yourself what you want) that are JUST AMAZING at what they do. They make beautiful, functional and appealing products. They can run incredibly insightful user testing. They are great at understanding user’s emotions and needs, because they are highly empathetic.
Their knowledge and experience are often indisputable. So why question their skills so hard?
Because of them being women?
Yes. This is as ridiculous as is sounds. And it’s here.
“Ouch”. Here and there. “Ouches” happen every day. Sometimes I am really sick of those “ouches”. Sometimes they just get under your skin.
- “We won the client because of the wireframes that Adam did were good. Not because of your UI design.”
- “The female designer will do this? Don’t you have someone with more experience?”
- “You can wait another day for the payment, can’t you?”
- “We will sign this contract with you soon, in our free time. Next week maybe?”
- “You really need a contract for this?”
- “Insert random joke about female designer/coder here.”
- “This is done well. But don’t let it get to your head.”
- “Definitely a female designed this. There’s a female touch to this.”
- “You did well. Or at least somehow you managed to.”
- “This is really good. She really did this?”
- “And you REALLY did this all by yourself?”
- “I have one question. Can she really do this well?”
- “Paul, I would like to hear what you think about the design that she have made?”
- “Wow, this product is really amazing. You did this? You kidding?”
Now, I really would like to say that I made all of these up. But I didn’t. They are real. They all happened to me. Or my fellow girlfriends, working in different industries. Managers, coders, designers.
I’m really trying not to complain. I just believe I should never have to hear or see them. We don’t deserve them.
“But those lines could be addressed to anyone”.
Of course they could. Yet they were addressed to me, through my entire career, despite of my skills and experience, despite of me being right or reasonable.
No matter how experienced you are, how many finished, successful products you have under your belt, no matter how much knowledge and industry know-how you needed to deliver them — your success stories will be magically undermined.
If you don’t believe it, run a test. It made me open my eyes. I did it several times. It’s simple.
If someone will know a female designer did some design work (even if it’s not true), there will be more negative feedback. If a female designer has a conversation with a client or a manager, there will be more unnecessary arguing, coming from disapproval and disbelief. These are my experiences analyzed.