When it comes to gender politics, tech companies have been considered progressive, yet a recent review by a female coder at Facebook has called into question gender bias. According to the Wall Street Journal, the report authored by an unnamed employee, showed that codes put forth by female engineers were rejected 35 percent more often than those written by men. Though Facebook officially notes that the rejections were due to codes written by lower-ranked engineers that included disproportionally more women, it still calls into question why women aren’t rising in the ranks more quickly.
The organization, Women Who Code, was created in part to help female engineers achieve their career goals, and it just launched a new network in the Raleigh/Durham area. We spoke with Co-Director Lisa Smith, a web developer at New Media Campaigns, about the importance of the group.
Facebook has been in the news lately with respect to gender bias. Are there concerns locally about this issue?
All of us have at least one personal story about bias in hiring, salary or advancement. Those are concerns throughout the industry, not just in high profile companies like Uber and Facebook.
How can female engineers and coders help affect change in this area?
We can come together and support one another, helping us all move forward in our careers and in our lives. Personally, I wanted to bring Women Who Code to our area because we need more safe and inclusive spaces in the face of mounting intolerance and partisan politics.
Why is this network important to the Triangle community?
Retention of women engineers is a key issue facing our industry, and Women Who Code helps provide the mid-career support for women in technology that is sorely lacking in the workplace. Women engineers are spread out all over the area and coming together for networking, education and mentorship strengthens us all and helps us stay in our chosen profession.
What are some of the key benefits or services that the organization offers its members?
Locally, Women Who Code brings women together in a variety of formats—networking opportunities, educational experiences, hack sessions, as well as social events—all provided for free or as close to as possible. The global organization offers a robust and well-curated job board, scholarships to conferences and coding resources available to all members.
Can you talk a little bit about the inaugural event and the feedback you received?
Our inaugural event featured a panel discussion with four speakers in different stages of their career in technology. Topics covered in our discussion included owning it, seeking inspiration, building community and finding your path. We had enthusiastic participation from attendees, and the overall response was excitement that we were coming together to support one another.
What future events do you have planned?
We’ll be hosting talks on career-advancing topics like the technical interview process, writing successful resumes and salary negotiation, as well as submitting conference talk proposals and public speaking skills. We’ll have specific educational events in a variety of areas like user interface/user experience, front- and back-end web development, and the Internet of Things. Networking and community building events like brunches and hack sessions are planned monthly.