Sunday, November 13, 2011
Goodbye to the Bye for Men in Technology
Being a weekend in Fall, when football is on many people's minds, I got to thinking about "byes". A bye, in sports and other competitive activities, is the practice of allowing a player or team to advance to the next level without playing. In my career (though rarely at my current company where diversity is valued as a business advantage), I've seen numerous men get jobs because of who they know, not what they know. They're given a bye. They are allowed to advance despite marginal skills, education, or experience simply because they are on the right team, the mostly male team. I call for an end to this practice, and I'm not alone!
Last week I joined approximately 3,000 people (mostly women) from 34 countries in Portland, OR for the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. It was a wonderful celebration with terrific speeches, panel discussions, and opportunities to hobnob with women of all ages. I was especially impressed by the college students and recent graduates. The young women I met are brilliant, poised, easy to talk to, and interesting. Their knowledge of hard-core computer science astounded me. Their college studies result in skills that are very much in demand: computer programming, software engineering, data mining, statistics, hardware design, bioinformatics, medical informatics, computer networking, etc.
Every major company was at this conference interviewing for new talent (Facebook, Google, Amazon, Adobe, Apple, Pixar, Cisco, Intuit, Symantec, State Farm, Bloomburg). Numerous universities were also interviewing for professors and for PhD students. These organizations aren't waiting for privileged men to waltz into a position after getting a bye. By the time men schmooze the old boys club, the jobs will be gone, taken by brilliant young women who earned their way into the interview. Good bye to the bye for men in technology. It's time for technology to be a meritocracy and for men and women to compete on equal footing. OK, back to your regularly scheduled program. (Go 49ers!)