I wanted to write a post about feminism in tech. I wanted to talk about how you, my overwhelmingly male friends and co-workers, can help make my and other women’s lives easier, and how you may be making our lives harder without knowing it. I wrote out a HUGE post, about my credentials as a woman and a software professional, about what I see as the problems that a woman in tech faces, and about what kinds of things you can do to help.

…and I just can’t do it justice.

I can’t find the right tone, the right words, the right phrases and ideas, that will express to all of you how very important it is to me that women, people of color, gays and lesbians, transgender folks, all these marginalized groups, overlapping or not, get something approaching a fair shake. We have so much to bring to the table, so many different perspectives and experiences to share, and we are so valuable, if only you would let us in.

I feel somehow guilty trying to convince others of that, like if only we, no, if only I were good enough, then I wouldn’t have to persuade people that we were worth having in their club. Isn’t that the way it should be, the way we were always told it would be? Who cares what you look like behind a computer monitor, your work speaks for you! Meritocracy at it’s finest!

Except it does matter. Because women are leaving my industry in droves. They’re scared to enter it in the first place. They’re getting hired less often, having to fight harder to get the same wages and benefits, the same opportunities as their male counterparts. I was the only woman in my department for 9 years, terrified that I had ruined it for all of womankind ever. I love my co-workers, my boss, my office, my job, and I was still afraid that they saw me like this:

This comic (thanks, Randall) is titled “How It Works”. There’s something really viscerally terrifying about that, to me. It’s not about some isolated incident, it’s the Way It Is. How do you even begin to struggle against something like that?