Inequality in IT: It’s not all doom and gloom

This blog isn’t around testing specifically, but I hope it will help those in IT, or thinking about a role in IT, that not everywhere is horrible. I originally meant for this blog to be about sexism, but the more I thought about it, it went beyond gender and became about equality and inclusion.

A couple of weeks ago I saw a post shared on Twitter and the testing slack, that I found upsetting. It was by Susan Fowler talking about her time working for Uber in IT, and needless to say, it does not put Uber in a good light (putting it mildly). I won’t go into any detail about it here, but if you care to read, the original post can be found here.

As part of International Women’s Day, I then saw another topic going around, where a male employee noticed the responses he was getting via e-mails from a client were more negative and difficult than they usually were. He initially couldn’t work out why, until he realised that as part of it being a shared inbox, he was signing the e-mails with his female co-worker’s name. As soon as he stated in a response he was writing them and not her, the responses suddenly improved, even though his context never changed. When he asked his co-worker if that was typical, she agreed. They then performed an experiment where for a week they intentionally signed their e-mails with the other’s name to see what impact it made. She had the most productive week of her life, whilst he had the most difficult. It was initially a series of Twiiter posts, but it was then compiled and elaborated on further here by Nicole Hallberg wanted to go into more detail about her experiences.

If I looked for more examples, I expect I unfortunately could find some. Yet I don’t want this post to be showing how IT can be terrible to work in. Like the title says, it isn’t all doom and gloom.

As part of International Women’s Day, the amazing site and community Ministry of Testing made this post on Twitter, naming all the women who help keep them going:

Where I work I feel we do great things, and when I talked with a friend of mine she agreed, talking about all the problems she has had currently working in a bar and then previously in a call centre.

Before recently changing which sub-team within my testing department I belong to, my manager was female and white, and now is male and Indian (which I mean is from India, not a Native American). My departmental manager is female, and worked her way up from being a tester, to a lead, to a team manager to her current role. Our Chief Information Officer (CIO) is female, and on an internal blog talks about work as well as her family life, wanting everyone to never forget that we all have a family in some form outside of work.

Within my testing department we have a mixture of genders, ages and sexuality. A colleague in a different department talks to me about their same-sex partner, but also told me in their previous career they couldn’t talk about it openly as it would make some people uncomfortable, or they didn’t know how they would react.

Many members within my testing department have children, some very recently. Some of my co-workers don’t work 9-5 as a result, working part-time so they can collect their children from home, others compress a 5 day week into 4, so they get an extra day at home with their family.

We have an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion initiative to make sure that whilst we are going forward in being progressive, we never stop and go backwards on things. We even had one of the senior managers in a department talk about they are no only gay, but have a disability that isn’t immediately visible (and many aren’t, which several friends and family of mine are in the same position), and how when they opened up to co-workers about their disability they were more scared than when talking about their sexuality, worried people might treat them differently or that they won’t be able to do their job right. They then said how once they talked about it in the open, they realised how they didn’t need to be scared and it took a burden off them.

Yes some places inside of IT (and outside of IT) may discriminate you for one thing or another, and that is not right. But I wanted to share the message that not everywhere is like that, so please don’t let stories like the ones I linked earlier put you off a career in IT.

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