I once heard someone say “Daughters are easy when they are small, while sons are difficult but the reverse is true when they are teens.” I have one of each but they are both still pre-teen years. My daughter is now 10, and she loves computers and programming. When she has a day off from school and I am not on the road, she sits in my office on the floor and uses web based programming schools to learn and code. We are fortunate that her school is part of the hour of code program and she is naturally curious on how to make things work.
The problem is I fear her ever getting into the IT and engineering field. I have seen so much in my 15 years, and have tried to apply my upbringing to my interactions with others. I was raised that women are to be respected, and that we should treat everyone the same. Sadly this is not something that I have seen others do, or have been told how friends who are women have been treated.
Am I immune to this? Short answer is no, I am sure I have been guilty of “mansplaining”, I am a brash talker so I am sure I have used insensitive language and hurt peoples feels. I have very few feels when it comes to work so I don’t always get it.
The one place where I am overly sensitive is with my kids. My daughter in particular has me being a big softy. When she tells me a kid is mean to her, I immediately imagine my elaborate revenge.
I see a lot of emphasis being placed in recent years on women in IT, conferences, sub-conferences, and talks. I appreciate this movement, but I don’t know that it does enough. Ultimately we as men need to change our idiotic behavior. We need to stop pretending like we are better or superior, and when we see someone else behaving this way we need to say, “Dude, you are a dick.”
It needs to be called out, but not in a protective way. Don’t look at every woman in IT as your daughter. That’s just patronizing. Look at them as your peer, with the same sensitivities you have. They earned their way just like you, maybe you have something to share with them and maybe they have something they can share with you so you can both learn. But they aren’t there to be explained to, value every one equally and the results can be amazing.
Do it for yourself so you aren’t an ass, but do it for my daughter too, who one day soon will run a business because she has become a better coder than any of us in the job today.