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WiCipedia: Smile to Get Ahead, Coding Ninjas & 'Women in Tech' Need a New Moniker

Eryn Leavens

This week in our WiCipedia roundup: You better smile if you want to work in tech; job descriptions need an overhaul; is being called a "woman in tech" offensive?; and more.

  • Looking for a tech job or currently negotiating a new position? Luckily, you've got plenty of resources at your beck and call. An article on Forbes addressed salary negotiation and the mistakes that women sometimes make in the process. Kimberly B. Cummings, founder of Manifest Yourself, a company that helps women and people of color with job preparedness, said that extensively researching the salary before you accept the job is key, as women often don't want to bring up what they think they should be making. She also explains that as difficult as it may be, "not taking 'no' for an answer" is crucial. If you're still in the job application stage, Computing addressed the three things that should (or shouldn't) be on your cover letter as a woman in tech. They advise that tailoring your CV to the specific job, not including a headshot and tackling why you're interested in the specific role you're applying for are often dealbreakers. (See Progress, Opportunities Still Abound in Tech.)

  • Is Silicon Valley where tech dreams go to die? Maybe, if you're a woman. Michaela Dempsey, vice president of demand at Scout RFP, explained in Fast Company that it may be the case unless women do three semi-offensive things -- smile, be respectful and be authentic. While the third item sounds like solid advice, the first two made us question if this article was even written by a woman. After all, would a man receive this advice? What woman hasn't been yelled at to smile while walking down the street, or been told to be polite? These may be tools for gaming the system, but they're also ways to keep women in their place. (See WiCipedia: 'It Takes One Misstep to Fall Off Your Pedestal'.)

    Has anyone else noticed that this guy seems to be in every single free photo of people working?!
(Source: Pixabay)
    Has anyone else noticed that this guy seems to be in every single free photo of people working?!
    (Source: Pixabay)

  • Companies seeking diverse job candidates may be shooting themselves in the foot with antiquated wording and practices. Computing explains that in job descriptions, for example, terms like "coding ninja" are inherently biased and skewed towards male candidates. While companies say they want to up their gender equality, their actions say otherwise. "We have this entire system that's built around men going to work. This dates from the 1920s, when the industry kicked off. Most industries are based on old structures of working that worked for men... A lot of the time it's something really silly, like the job spec says coding ninja. I wouldn't apply for a job that says coding ninja, that doesn't really relate to who I am," said Anisah Britton, CEO and founder of 23 Code Street, a coding school for women. (See WiCipedia: VMware Goes to Mount Kilimanjaro & Barbie Gets Geeky.)

  • Does being called a woman in tech make you squirm? In an article in Fast Company, Sarah Lahav, CEO of SysAid, suggests that specifying that a person in an industry is of a specific gender or sex may be "degrading and disempowering for women" and negates gender equality. She writes, "I believe the movement for 'women in tech' is stuck. I can't say definitively what it is asking for, but if it wants to elevate women because of their gender instead of their skills, I will not play along. If you want women to feel more welcome in tech, stop using the term." Fine by us in theory, but what do we call ourselves instead? (See A Women in Comms Glossary.)

    — Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor, Light Reading

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    Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
    8/2/2019 | 1:50:19 PM
    Re: Ninjas in Tech?
    Yep, I concur with all of these points. I'm actually very comfortable with Ninjas in Tech...

    Those tips all really bugged me, but the "Smile!" one hit a nerve.
    Kelsey Ziser
    Kelsey Ziser
    8/2/2019 | 12:22:04 PM
    Ninjas in Tech?
    If we can't call ourselves "Women in Tech" should we be "Ninjas in Tech"? Totally kidding :)

    Also, I think stock photo guy who's always smiling while workign is getting ahead in his career not because he's smiling, but because he has such a stunning mustache that defies gravity.

    The advice to ''be respectful" irks me as well. Shouldn't everyone be respectful, regardless of gender?

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