Book Review: Women In Tech

This is the book you need to buyIt’s been a while since I wrote a book review, mostly because I’ve been reading fiction and history, neither of which really fit this blog. However I just finished a book that definitely deserves a review, Women In Tech.

First, the TLDR: Read the book!

Women in Tech was written by Tarah Wheeler Van Vlack in conjunction with women drawn from across the tech world. It is a blend of a career guidebook and inspirational stories written by women from different backgrounds. Each woman has made their unique mark in the industry.

Before I get much further with this review, it must be noted that as a man, I am not the primary target for this book. That is not to say I didn’t gain value from reading it. Far from it.

I learned a lot and enjoyed reading the book. Women in Tech is well written, humorous at times, and I highly recommend it for anyone in the tech industry. One last note, as women were the primary audience, my perspective on the book should be considered in that light.

Mapping the Career Stages

The book is structured as a series of chapters providing practical advice for navigating the different phases of a career in technology. It has a definite startup-culture view for much of the book. Even so, most of the career advice applies to the tech world that I’ve dealt with in my career over on the east coast.

There is some specific advice for women on how to remain on equal footing with men in the tech world. It is based on behavioral differences between average men and women in the space. However if you are a man who is less assertive, the advice will be helpful to you as well. Additionally, it will help managers better understand women, and others, who do not fit their mental model of a techie.

Quick tip, there is no single model.

One example is the section on how to negotiate for salary. As a whole, women negotiate their salary less often then men do. The book goes in depth as to why women, or anyone, should try to negotiate their salary. It provides several tips on how to actually do it. It is well thought out. To be honest, I wish I had read that chapter a couple decades ago.

Inspiring Viewpoints

Between each chapter is a story from one of the contributing authors. Each faced their own challenges and the stories line-up fairly well with the phase of the career that is being discussed.

The women contributing stories are Angie Chang, Katie Cunningham, Keren Elazari, Miah Johnson, Kristin Toth Smith, Kamilah Taylor, and Brianna Wu. I was following several of them on Twitter before reading the book. Now I am following all of them. I highly recommend you do the same.

Reading their stories helps to build awareness of what others have gone through. The perspectives are different than mine and that is what makes the stories valuable. The stories are recommended reading for everyone. Especially men.

But I’m a Guy…

As I’ve stated, throughout the book there is advice that only applies to women. The cheap way out would be to advise men to read the book and just gloss over those paragraphs. That would be a mistake.

The advice that applies to women is important to read. It helps men better understand what our women coworkers have to deal with during their career. From stories I’ve heard from friends and colleagues, women face a lot more challenges, challenges created by others, than those discussed in the book.

At the end of the book, there is a chapter written for men. How to Be an Ally and How to Help is an important chapter. I am not going to try and summarize as the chapter should be read in full. The subject headings from the chapter are:

  • Start The Ball Rolling
  • Women Are Not Décor
  • Watch Out For That Unconscious Bias
  • Be Deliberate
  • OMG Pregnancy OMG
  • Leading People Who Don’t Look Like You

Get the Book

If you are a man, read Women in Tech. Learn what is happening that you may be unaware of. Use the book as a starting point to learn more.

If you are a woman, read it and share. I’d be interested in what you think of the book. Could it have done more? Was it perfect? That is an answer that I cannot provide.

If you are a techie, read the book. You will learn something that will help you in your career. Promise.

Ada Lovelace Day 2015

What I wouldn't give to have a conversation with Ada LovelaceAda Lovelace Day snuck up on me this year. While I had thought-out topics the last two years, making events more welcoming to women and sharing about tech women in my family, I hadn’t planned anything out for this year. Part of that is on me but the rest seems to reflect a malaise I have seen of late.

While I have continued to see people working to improve the diversity in technology, I have seen a lot less fervor in the past few months. It is as if people have put efforts in cruise control. I know that many things happen outside of my awareness but in the world that I observe there has been less discussion of getting more women into technology.

Continue reading

Guys, We Have to End Sexism in Tech

There has been a lot going around the net in the last few weeks about sexism in the tech world. These issues are not new, nor are they limited to tech. I am shocked, disgusted, sad, and disappointed that these things happen. We are all supposed to be better than this. At the same time, people always seems to find a way to demonstrate the worst traits of our species.

Everyone talks about getting more women into technology and STEM as a whole. We, as in the men, need to work harder to make them more welcome. That isn’t just getting them in the door, it is making sure that once they come through they are treated as equals and not as a token female or “one of the boys”.

Continue reading

2001: An Enterprise Odyssey

The Discovery from 2001When I was at the AIIM Conference this year, Thornton May, gave a frenetic keynote address. While I am never quite sure what the key point Thornton is trying to make during his talks, he always makes everyone in the audience think, which is a very good thing.

During his keynote this year, Thornton used the following exercise to get the audience thinking about the future.

Choose movie, show, or work of literature which comes closest to capturing the essence of the external environment facing your enterprise today.

There were a lot of answers, some good, some mired in the past, but it was a very thought provoking discussion. My choice, if you haven’t figured it out by now, was 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Continue reading