Ways to be an Ally to Women in Tech

Girlforce@Dreamforce - 2015

Girlforce@Dreamforce - 2015

Step 1: Notice. Notice on television shows and media, in your workplace, in your community how women are treated differently than men. Notice if women are being spoken over, if expectations for women are different than expectations for men. Notice if gender roles are being enforced around you. Notice if body shaming is taking place. Just notice.

Step 2: Listen. Engage in a conversation with women in your life. Ask them if they have ever felt less than men, if there was ever something they wanted to do but didn’t/couldn’t because they were a woman. Listen to women who are speaking loud and clear. Listen to women of color. Follow feminists on social media. Listen to their words, without making a judgement, just listen. Here’s some folks we recommend you follow on twitter/social media: 

Note: These folks are going to make you feel uncomfortable sometimes. Notice when that happens. Notice your discomfort. Notice what makes you feel uncomfortable. Sit with that discomfort for a moment.

Step 3: Amplify women. When women speak up in meetings or on calls or even in your home and community, notice when men speak over them. When you see this happening, point it out. You can say “Hey, Joni had a great idea about how to take simple steps to be a better ally. What were you saying, Joni?” Or, you can just directly confront the offending party and say “Dude, you totally cut her off.”  Boost ideas generated by women in social media, boost blogs written on this topic, educate your followers on how to be an accomplice.

Don’t speak over us. Hear our ideas. When you slip up and speak over us, just apologize and move on. Be mindful of what you’ve done.

Step 4: Use your privilege. Disrupt misogyny. Disrupt jokes at women’s expense. Disrupt stereotypes that happen in conversations around you, ESPECIALLY if women are not present. Beyond listening, arguably the most important thing you can do to act in solidarity is to engage those who share your identity. 

Consider this quote:

Sometimes I just don’t have the energy to respond to my super classist uncle or to that racist comment from a Facebook friend. I don’t want to get into an endless discussion about how they “didn’t mean it that way” or how I’m “just being too PC or sensitive.”

But People of Color have no choice but to resist racism every single day of their lives. Women have no choice but to weather the shit storm of misogyny every day of their lives. Differently abled people have no choice but to deal with and respond to ableism every day of their lives.

And in the end, part of the privilege of your identity is that you have a choice about whether or not to resist oppression. (Jamie Utt, EverydayFeminism “So You Call Yourself an Ally”)

Note: This is going to make you uncomfortable. This is going to be awkward. And that’s ok. When you disrupt these conversations, you are becoming an accomplice. You are taking on some of the risk and you are putting yourself in the line of fire. Remember that women are in the line of fire regularly.

Further Reading: