How strongly do I recommend Women in Tech?
5 / 10
Women in Tech provides some solid advice to women joining the tech industry and offers a few considerations I definitely had not thought of. But I have two issues with this book that explain my low rating:
Overall I expected more based on the high ratings on Amazon, but finished this book feeling disappointed. My recommendation is that managers read this book, but I probably wouldn’t recommend it to more junior level individual contributors.
Top Ideas in This Book
Our industry always looks for the 10x developer or genius programmer going on marathon coding sprees.
But we’re usually better off trying to build 10x teams and good coworkers represent the foundation of those teams.
When I interview software engineering candidates, I do look for a baseline knowledge level but I’m equally looking for people smarts and emotional intelligence.
Technical skills are sometimes easier to teach than interpersonal skills.
The author devotes whole sections to physical appearance during interviews and it felt a bit shocking. Women just need to think about their appearance and the potential consequences.
For instance, previously I never considered how for female engineers, there is a threshold level for makeup where you start being perceived as a marketer or receptionist.
Wheeler has very specific suggestions for women like don’t wear skirts or dresses, but do wear shoes that make you look tall. Or making sure your nails are done because people will stare at your hands if you’re at a keyboard, but avoid acy
When a manager senses a team is getting too bro-y and casual, the idea of bringing a woman onboard quickly enters their mind. It feels like a natural protection against inappropriate behavior. In a way, it also represents a cop-out. The manager avoids confrontation by hoping bad behavior will just disappear.
Women sense this during interviews. Every engineer interviewing them is a guy, the manager is a guy, and they know they’ll be the first woman and it probably comes with the expectation of being the “mom” on the team – discouraging bad behavior and keeping rambunctious guys in check.
The author gives a detailed description of how to give a firm, professional handshake. Amazing detail. Something I’ve never consciously thought about.
Handshakes are a good example of how small differences in child rearing impact professional lives later on.
Parents and educators often discourage girls from being competitive and ambitious.
As a software manager, you should consider that when hiring and managing people. Your job is to understand what motivates people and part of that requires understanding their previous life experiences.
Even with +15 years experience, I struggle with imposter syndrome. Like there’s some threshold I haven’t met yet. That’s fine for driving my personal growth, but I’m actually hurting other people by not sharing my knowledge and experiences.
No matter your level of skill and knowledge, you still have something to teach.
Job titles don’t automatically grant authority. Social pressures still play a critical role in how we interact. For instance, a male Engineering Manager may unconsciously expect a female VP of Engineering to act deferentially and she may do so, both behaving according to social norms that transcend job titles.