Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Love Letter to: Bindu Reddy

Dear Bindu Reddy,

A friend of mine linked to an article of yours.  We need to talk.  Specifically about this line in your article:
Stepping back, at a more fundamental level, I am not really sure we should worry about the lack of women in tech any more than worrying about why there are not more female truck drivers or more male nurses.  
Oh I worry.  I worry a lot.  I've been in the tech business now for 14 years.  I started out in IT, and regularly attended quarterly briefings by Microsoft in order to get more product information.  For the first few years I went, there was never a line for the women's bathroom.  Now tell me:  when was the last time you went to an event that had hundreds of people and you didn't wait in line for the women's bathroom?

I'm guessing you also haven't read Schoolgirls: Young Women, Self Esteem, and the Confidence Gap  I'll fill you in.  Girls in middle school, who otherwise out performed boys in math and science until that point, "lose interest" in math and science, and as a result don't become sys admins when they grow up.

Lucky for me, I had wonderful parents who encouraged my interest in science and allowed me to leave home at 16 to attend a math and science magnet school.  I worked at a computer lab in college and with that experience (and not much help from my politics degree) got my first job at a computer help desk.

In my first job out of college, I was the only woman on a team of 10.

In my second job, I was the only woman on a team of 13 with the exception of my boss.

In my third job, I was 1 of 2 women in the company of 12 people.

I don't want to be the only woman in the room in a team meeting.

Happily, things are changing.  I work on a wonderfully diverse team now (and my boss is an amazing woman with tons of experience!)  Lines started forming for the women's bathrooms at those Microsoft briefings.  My daughter takes Gigglebytes computer classes at her preschool.   Even Barbie is a computer engineer now!  And there are wonderful organizations such as GirlStart, which encourage girls to pursue science, technology, engineering, and math.

But I'm probably not going to stop worrying for a while.

Love,
Cynthia