Wednesday, September 01, 2010

A margarita for you and a scotch for me

He skimmed through it first, then seemed to be memorizing it. 'Are you sure, this is your resume?', he asked me. Apricot* is my co-worker who works for a 'sophisticated' consulting company and just wanted to *see* my resume even though I really did not want to share it! When I asked him why he had turned into doubting Thomas, he droned on about not expecting it be as technical as it was, saying most women work in QA or Support or in Functional roles, not to belittle those roles as I've performed in the first two in various stages of my career, but why would anyone think something like that? 

Coming on the heels of the debate on 'Too few Women in Tech' in the blogosphere, I thought I'd chime in, what with my fair share of experience working in male dominated teams. For context, in my current project, I'm the only girl in a team of 32. However, the program as a whole has better ratios, not just in Business Functions but also in other technical teams. I'd like to think that the skewed ratio in my team might have something to do with the niche skill-set, EAI and all, but I can't be sure. In any case in 3 out of the 4 organizations I've been a part of in the US, women held very powerful leadership roles with significant influence on the programs they lead so the balance is really hard to figure.


Where did it get all so skewed? We were about 75-25 in favor of the boys in my engineering class (Computer Science), streams like Mechanical had zero girls whereas Bio-Medical, Architecture, Electrical had more girls. When I started my professional career, I think we were almost 50-50. >

From the teams I started out with at my current and only employer, there really was nothing to talk about the male-female ratios in the team, it was fairly balanced. Over the years some of my female co-workers have opted to move out of the company for personal and family reasons, got a transfer to development centers in other locations again for the same reasons, prefer not to travel out of the country again for the same reasons. I don't believe these are constraints and given a choice, a need, I'd do the same without much thought. 

Constrained or not, I am certainly not the epitome of women in tech, not one of those juggling a perfect family and a perfect career, I can't speak for them. Not to sound shallow and despite my characteristic sun sign traits, it can never be perfect, I probably strive for it more than the girl next door, but I can be happy not achieving it and this is a perfect example of digressing from the topic at hand!

For those women who have made it to anywhere in tech, it is a choice (sometimes with kids in tow), that could make stress at the workplace part and parcel of your life, that could give you sleepless nights, that could bring uncertainty in your life, especially for employees like us. There can be no bets on your next project location or it's duration or you can choose not to do it all. You'll say men face the exact same thing too, but while performing the traditional roles for women it is just not possible, it's not a sacrifice. *I just couldn't coherently state my thoughts in this para and it still doesn't sound right in my head, but'll have to do*

In essence, no one blames the men. Advocating equal rights is one thing, but no one expects free-passes just because of gender, not in the corporate world. If I encounter a glass ceiling, I will conquer it on my own, the key being if I want to and that's the only reason for so few women in Tech.

*Names changed to protect the innocent until proven guilty.

5 comments:

Mogamboo said...

Women not in Techi.. u shld come to our account.. here ratio of women is more.. and esp in EAI....

RZD said...

Of course, there's always those that deviate from the norm. In any case, sounds like a good project for you to be in ;') certainly not for me.

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Mogamboo said...

Rzd: Yeah good project .. but at the wrong time ;)hope it was 3 yrs b4 :))

Lobo said...

It has been a balanced scene for me till now. Talking about tech. knowledge(necessary to complete the work), I have seen the good, the bad and then insanely stupid among both genders, balanced. Gender doesn't have anything to do with it.
When I look at the mix at work, I think, it is because women drop out after a initial few years due to a lot of personal reasons. I wish they stay. At least the good ones. :-)