Denial is a bitch
Every once in a while, I write a post because I read something that makes my blood boil. This particular piece was written by Eileen Burbidge (@eileentso), an early-stage tech angel-investor, and as you'll see, there's nothing angelic about her.
In this case, she writes as a woman who contradicts herself by arguing that offering opportunities specifically for women is "patronizing", even while admitting that It’s not pleasant (or wise) if someone shuts a door on me strictly because I’m a woman.
And yet, she writes an entire post as if this never happens. And she writes as if, when it does, it means the women are not qualified.
Lady, you can't have it both ways. And I think you're in a denier.
By her own admission, she works in a male-dominated atmosphere, and yet she seems to completely miss the point. She writes,
I currently work in the @whitebearyard office space with a lot of men over 2 floors. I’m quite certain that each one of them (or at least most of them) are acutely aware whenever there is a woman in the office. Full stop. They know if a woman enters the office, steps into the floor or is here for a meeting. In this setting, women get a lot more attention than “just another guy”. And if a woman in this setting cannot make a positive impression or assert her value as a prospective vendor, partner, employee/consultant, then maybe she’s actually not qualified or capable enough – or not wanting it.
What really makes me angry is exactly this atmosphere. Full stop.
The sheer inability to understand what it's like for women who have been harassed and abused to the point where even just walking into a situation where all the men suddenly perk up and look you over, head to toe, is enough to make you want to turn around and go home.
The feeling that, no matter what you wear, or how articulate you are, everyone is too obsessed with your female dog-suit to really hear what you're saying.
And by everyone, this can include women. This woman in particular, sounds like the type who thinks no women are ever as good as she is.
My last job had this all-men, all-the-time atmosphere. I hated just walking to my office.
And the feeling never wore off, because there weren't enough other women around. The men never got tired of staring at me like I was a chunk of meat.
Now, they may not have had any intentions of making me uncomfortable, but nobody told them not to do it, or introduced me as an equal, either.
When you go on a job interview, when you're going to be nervous already, and this is the atmosphere, how would you feel?
How about if you're already highly sensitized to it after an entire career of being treated like an unworthy object? Do you think you're likely to do your best?
Of course not.
Does that mean you're not qualified? Not capable?
Of course not.
Does that mean you're not wanting it badly enough?
Fuck you, lady, for even insinuating that "badly enough" means we should be happy to put up with being treated like meat.
You have no fucking idea what you're talking about. I resent the idea that you get to speak for women in any field remotely related to technology.
You're the last kind of person I would want as an advisor to my career, or anyone else's.
Having said all that, reading the comments on this post, I get a completely different impression.
For example, there was this exchange:
“I have never heard a woman in tech say she did not receive something because she is a woman. Can you provide some examples of this, as it seems to be your primary reason for the dearth of women in tech?”
While I have heard of women saying this, I agree with you that I’ve never heard it firsthand (and it doesn’t represent my experience nor that of female friends and colleagues) — which is *precisely* the point of my post! I wrote this in response to quite a few other articles I’ve read over the past month or so “blaming” the issue on a systemic issue or bias against women, men who weren’t paying enough attention to hiring women or other such reasons — blaming and in my view complaining about things.
She also writes in response to a comment that tech is better than most industries (more on this in Part II)
So now I'm curious to see what she writes about in Part II. Which fields is she referring to? Business? And whether she might be right that guys in the Tech sector are better than in other fields.
My impression of guys in Tech is twofold:
(1) They tend to be relentlessly logical, which I like, because it means I can often convince them of my point of view more easily than the men in my field
(2) They have never worked with women, so they tend to have many misconceptions about what women are like, based on what they see in videogames and movies. In other words, we might kick ass, but we're still sex objects.
However, (2) can be overcome with (1).
Which is more than I can say for my field, or for the women who also contribute to the culture of denial.