The bro-culture in technology seems to be in the news recently. The New York Times recently published articles about women in tech speaking out about the harassment and exclusion they have experienced while working for technology companies. The news isn’t good.
Stats aren’t changing – women in tech are still under represented and until the number of women increase in technology positions, the bro-culture has the opportunity to continue. So how do we combat the situation? How do we turn the bro-culture on its ear?
Women in Tech Speak Out
The first step is speaking out. In the article Women in Tech Speak Frankly on Culture of Harassment:
“Female entrepreneurs are a critical part of the fabric of Silicon Valley,” said Katrina Lake, founder and chief executive of the online clothing start-up Stitch Fix, who was one of the women targeted by Mr. Caldbeck. “It’s important to expose the type of behavior that’s been reported in the last few weeks, so the community can recognize and address these problems.”
In the article, one woman came forward and gave details of the harassment she suffered. Her courage in speaking out resulted in the offending man writing an open apology to her and the others he’d behaved badly with. In part he writes:
I’m ashamed I didn’t change my behavior until I was forced to do so by circumstance and by others. The reality is, I was stopped from further bad actions by those who spoke up about my offenses, at substantial risk to their personal and professional reputations… and subsequently, by Christine and others on the 500 team.
Women in Tech Keep Positive Thoughts
Don’t let the experiences or the negative words invade your own thoughts. Make sure you remember the value you bring to the workplace. In the article by 10 Tips For Dealing With Workplace Harassment, she has this to say:
Change Negative Thoughts
Learn to identify and change your “mind maps” (thoughts swirling in your mind) in such a situation and remind yourself this stressful situation is temporary. You CAN transform negative thoughts and energy into positive thoughts and positive energy.
Keep A Joy Journal
Write a joy journal to focus on what is going right, rather than what is going wrong.
Along with a Joy Journal, you might also keep a “look book,” a file or folder on your computer where you keep letters and emails of people that have praised your work. Keep a list of the accomplishments you have been involved with. This is a place where you can quickly review all that you have contributed to the company.
Women in Tech Help Others
It comes down to being a mentor. As women in tech we need to be there for each other; supporting, encouraging and lifting up women to greater heights. Women are more inclined to seek positions in technology companies where there are already other women. Women leaders will seek candidates that are more diverse and know some of the different recruitment places that other women frequent. Together we can begin the process of increasing the number of women in tech.
The bro-culture exists because no one challenges the way that things have always been done. The more women there are in the work place, the more the culture will change.
If you are already in a position of leadership, seek out other women in your organization. Consider starting a mentoring group. Look for ways to involve women outside their department.
Fixing the issue isn’t going to happen quickly, but it will happen.
VCs, love ’em or hate ’em, only want to invest in companies that earn large returns. Bro’s are their current horses but data proves it might not be the smart bet.
Studies show women CEOs produce higher ROI. Gender-balanced teams perform better than having one dominant gender. Women-led startups outperform male-led startups in nearly every meaningful metric.
As Lyons said, the incumbents — Google, Apple, Uber — are too far gone. But the next generation can do better. Change, as Lyons added, is going to come from the company that hasn’t started yet.
JJ DiGeronimo, a speaker, author and thought-leader for Women in Tech and Girls and STEM, empowers professional women and consults with senior executives on strategies to retain and attract Women in Technology to increase thought and leadership diversity within organizations.
Check out JJ’s new award winning book Accelerate Your Impact by downloading three free chapters.