Women Hating Women In Tech

by on 03/19/2010 • 105 Comments | Reading Nuggets

[This is a more personal post and isn’t really about search. If that’s offensive to you, Search Engine Land is probably being relevant today. No hard feelings.]

I hate talking about gender. I hate talking about what it feels like to be “a girl” in tech or on the Web because it all feels like a bunch of crap and silly excuses. I’ve never felt hindered by my gender, never felt like I was looked down upon or treated differently. Never felt like I wasn’t put on a panel because I pee sitting down. But there are also a couple of things I’ve had working in my favor.

  1. I’m 27. I entered a workplace where ceilings were semi-shattered. I know that my mother did not.
  2. I’ve never treated myself or acted like I was inferior.
  3. I’ve never allowed others to make me feel that I was.

And the truth is, if you look around the Internet marketing industry, A LOT of women have made that same choice. They lead by example, not with their chest. And so when women choose to stereotype themselves or allow others to do it for them, it makes my blood boil. I take it as a personal insult. I wonder who the heck gave them the right to take everything that everyone ELSE has fought for and set it back. Because that chair they just threw out the window? We were using that to hold open the door.

I tweeted yesterday about something that really angered me. I told my followers that I knew it would be the biggest piece of bullshit I’d read all day. If you missed the tweet, it was in reference to a post an article written by Margaret Wente and was entitled Why Are Bloggers Male? And if you went to The Globe and Mail site expecting to read statistics about how men dominate the blogosphere and researched ideas as to why that was so, you would have come away disappointed.

Instead, Margaret did what women too often choose to do to one another – she cut them down for sport.

Margaret’s article featured nothing but a stereotyped opinion as to how blogging is really just a man’s task, similar to driving a snowmobile straight up a mountain, she says. Us, girls, just don’t have the stomach for opinions and pissing contests. Women are not interested in these sorts of things. We’re more restrained and less concerned with public displays of prowess.

Right. Now someone go get me a snowmobile. So I can pee on it.

I don’t want to list off the many reasons as to why the assertion that blogging is a “man’s job” is crap. My guess is that not even Margaret believes what she wrote yesterday. The article was intended solely for debate, comments and attention (how manly of her). My problem is that Margaret, perched in a position of authority, is not helping. She’s not helping anyone who came before her and she’s certainly not helping those that will aim to follow.

Blogger (and fellow woman) Annie Urban of PhD In Parenting puts it well:

“When influential women are ignorant to the numerous women’s voices on the Internet, when the voices of many women are dismissed as endearing, cute and girly, and when the voices of those women who are most oppressed are ignored altogether, that gender gap is perpetuated. Thank you, Margaret, for proving your own point about how hard it is to change the conversation.”

When women cut down, discount, and trivialize themselves and each other it makes it easier for others to do the same. It makes us all look stupid and we need to stop.

Ever since Rae, Rhea and I formed Outspoken Media, I get a lot of folks coming up to talk to me about how cool it is that three girls were able to form and launch a successful SEO company in a male dominated world. And though we’re not blind to what’s around us or the many times I’m called “honey” on a daily basis, I don’t think any of us have aspirations to be a successful female SEO company.

We want to be successful. Period. And we are.

I think we’re lucky in the SEO industry that women really are respected and held to the same standard as men. It’s not such an easy fight in other industries, so we need to be sure that we’re honoring that. Always.

And if we’re not, we need to stop.

That means resisting the urge to cut one another down when we can. Stop the pettiness and jabs in public (guilty as charged). Stop allowing ourselves to be used as gimmicks in ways that cheapen and diminish our skill and our talent. Stop presenting ourselves as ‘booth babes’ at events and using our sexuality as a joke. Stop writing about ourselves as being “lesser than”. Stop perpetuating the stereotype of inequality and making it easy for others to discount us. The men don’t do it. We shouldn’t be doing it either.

The Margaret Wentes of the world do not help and they’re not needed here. When you have a choice to reinforce a stereotype or to open the door a little wider, choose to open the door. Or at least opt not to close it. Maybe in time nonbloggers like Margaret Wente won’t feel the need to write about being a girl anymore.

And really, if anyone has access to a mountain and a snowmobile, I’d love to drive that thing straight up a mountain. Call me.

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About the Author

Lisa Barone

Lisa Barone co-founded Outspoken Media in 2009 and served as Chief Branding Officer until April 2012.

Get social with Lisa at Twitter

105 thoughts on “Women Hating Women In Tech

  1. I saw this piece yesterday and thought it sucked on so many levels. Putting aside the juvenile gender essentiaism, the whole piece is premised on the incorrect assumption that blogs and blogging are all about opinion, whereas I suppose real grown up journalism is all about research, facts and consideration. Oh no Margaret; do you see what you did there?

  2. Amen! It ticks me off to no end when I see women tear each other down. Heck, back in my tech support days, I even had a few women ask for a supervisor because I was a female doing tech support and they didn’t want me to troubleshoot their issue. (Of course, I’d get the only female supervisor on the floor on the phone just to screw with them.) It’s bad enough that some men still see us as the inferior gender…do we have to do it to ourselves?

    P.S. I don’t have a snowmobile, but if I had one, I would. Also, if you’re interested peeing while standing up, check out: http://www.go-girl.com/. (Disclaimer: no affiliation…just think the link is appropriate.)

    • Agreed. If women are so concerned about men looking at them as inferior, perhaps we best stop tearing each other down instead of writing posts about how we’re lesser. That just seems like good practice.

      And I’ve seen that before. Really, I’m good with the sitting. :p

    • Bravo, Kathryn. For whatever reason, I’ve always worked in male dominated fields. When I was a customer service manager in a lawn care branch middle-aged men would often dismiss the women in my front office as if they couldn’t possibly know what they were talking about because they were “just girls who answer the phone…”.

      When those men demanded to speak to a manager, they’d most often transfer the calls to me – much to my amusement and the mens’ disgust. Oftentimes I’d resolve the issue over the phone and still set up a meeting at their home to walk their lawns with them solely as a courtesy. Okay, not SOLELY as a courtesy…I was out to teach those men a lesson they’d never forget.

      Throughout the conversation on their lawn I’d provide them with instructions on how they should mow, show them how to measure the amount of water coming out of their sprinkler systems, turn their mowers upside down to test the sharpness of their blades, explaining that the dull mower blades and improper watering were to blame for their lawn’s condition as much as anything else.

      By the end of those conversations, not only were they no longer staring at my boobs, they had forgotten I had them and were assuring me that my suggestions would be followed. Do you suppose those men were more likely to take my front office staff seriously and believe them to be perfectly capable of answering their questions the next time they called into the branch? You bet they did. And some of them were even man enough to tell me so.

      Prejudice and ignorance don’t go away because we bitch, whine, complain and tear each other down. The perception begins to change as more women choose to stand in stark opposition to every stereotype that perpetuates that prejudice and ignorance. We can’t hope to be taken seriously as professionals if we aren’t willing to take ourselves and each other seriously as professionals.

  3. The timing of the Globe and Mail piece was almost comical, being published a week after the ridiculous piece in the Fashion & Style section of the New York Times about a bloggers tech conference. It wasn’t in the tech or business section because *whispers* mommy bloggers moms who blog were in attendance. And yet the conference was tackling advertising, SEO, marketing… you know, the things that go on at blogging conferences. The attendees just happened to be women with children, some of whom blog about their children, some of whom blog about politics, technology, the environment, health, etc. Some women in attendance blog for the joy of it, while others in attendance blog as a full time job (like you) and earn six figure salaries from it.

    But the article in the fashion section was insulting and condescending. It was an “Aww, look how cute they are” sort of a thing. Written by a fellow freaking mommy blogger.

    This crap has got to stop.

    I wonder if Margaret read the pithy little piece from across the pond in the NYT before posting her own drivel, or if she really does live in her own little bubble where big strong men take care of business while the womenfolk simper and sigh in the background.

  4. I totally just bought a “GoGirl”… thanks Kathryn. Now… who wants to get one and challenge me to a pissing contest? Now I can finally write my name in the snow! I’ve tried before. Didn’t work out so good. But that’s another story for another blog…

  5. Do you know about blogging for Ada Lovelace day? I got a tweet about it like two above or below yours in my Tweetdeck stream, and thought it was kind of coincidental. March 24th you can blog about a famous or influential woman in science or technology. Check it out http://findingada.com/

    I couldn’t agree more with this paragraph. Amen. “That means resisting the urge to cut one another down when we can. Stop the pettiness and jabs in public (guilty as charged). Stop allowing ourselves to be used as gimmicks in ways that cheapen and diminish our skill and our talent. Stop presenting ourselves as ‘booth babes’ at events and using our sexuality as a joke. Stop writing about ourselves as being “lesser than”. Stop perpetuating the stereotype of inequality and making it easy for others to discount us. The men don’t do it. We shouldn’t be doing it either.”

    • “March 24th you can blog about a famous or influential woman in science or technology.”

      Not to be a downer on the group hug going on, but why do we need a special day to blog about influential women in tech? We should do it when it’s warranted and earned, not seek out women to blog about because there is a special day to do so.

      • Why do we celebrate Veteran’s Day or Black History Month during a certain part of the year instead of every day?

        If there’s a legit accomplishment, I don’t care when it’s noted. There’s a difference between taking a day to honor someone and ‘seeking out women’ to blog about. If you have to seek, there’s probably a reason.

        • I disagree with black history month too. We should be learning history – and we shouldn’t have to have a month where we talk about important people in history simply because they’re black. Those important people should be discussed all months of the year and not be shoved into a single month to ensure we’re not being asshats and ignoring them due to their race (or gender). What’s next? Female history month? Mexican history month? Jewish history month? It should be about history. Period.

          Veteran’s day is something entirely different in my mind. It’s a memorial. A remembrance. Much like MLK day or President’s day or Memorial Day. They’re not aimed at a gender or a race. Those days are aimed to honor people or events that have changed our world.

      • You realize I am so biting my tongue from posting a Dick Masterson reply – but fear the wrath and you are coming to the city…

  6. Lisa- as per usual, way to go. I hadn’t seen Margaret’s article until now, and lord, was it cringe-worthy. Her gross generalizations are retroactive and insulting… you did us a service by calling it to our attention so that we can shake our heads, roll our eyes, sigh, “That’s just not true,” and press on stronger than before. You and the ladies of Outspoken continue to set the bar and carry the torch along with the rest of the women of the Web… I’m just gonna go ahead and say it for all of us: thank you. Meetcha at the top of that mountain. (Either that or at SES NY. Whichever comes first.)

  7. I’m sorry, Lisa, you were wrong – that article wasn’t the biggest piece of BS of the day, it’s probably the biggest piece of BS of the month. Or the year.
    Seeing your tweet I read it yesterday, and thought to leave there a comment telling her what I think of her crap. But I held back, because that’s exactly what that idiot wants. And anyway I’m not allowed to leave there a comment, I’ll just be another male peeing in the snow.
    That idiot is being purely sexist. She has lost the right to complain about sexual discrimination, coz that’s exactly what she’s doing herself. Speaking of large groups in generalizing terms, that’s exactly what discrimination means. If she would write “why black people don’t blog” she would be accused of racism. What’s the difference then?
    Just leave her alone, she’s not worth it. It’s almost weekend, and it’s sunny, even here in Canada. The snow (and all of our male pee on it) has melted long ago :-)

  8. I am probably a bit older that most women in the social media/new media arena and I am always amazed and saddened when women do not support one another. We need to use our combined talent to fight the statistics below. Now THAT ticks me off.

    Social Marketing Compensation Survey RESEARCH COORDINATION: FORUM ONE NETWORKS SAN FRANCISCO / WASHINGTON D.C.
    18.1 Salary by Gender
    On average, the female participants earned an annual salary of $64k, which is significantly lower than the average annual salary for men, which was close to $104k.
    A large number of female participants indicated that they had a salary range that was less than $50k which brought the average salary lower for the women, whereas the male respondents, taken as a whole, had a much more evenly distributed salary ranges.

    • Those salary reports are always interesting. You have to wonder if it’s not because men ASK for higher salaries and women are often less likely to do so. It’s a gross generalization, of course, but there’s a grain of truth there. We get what we ask for.

      • I had a short stint in recruiting (very short, I hated it) and what you say is dead on. When I was interviewing potential candidates, the women almost always had lower salary expectations. I remember one in particular, that when I showed her what the average salary for the position was, she said “Well, that’s probably for a man, I can’t ask for that.” I could not believe I had to SELL her on why she deserved it. She was one of my first candidates and sadly it was a common theme.

        Its a shame that in a those surveys its necessary to have separate numbers for men and women. You’d think we’d be past that by now.

      • Salary disparities don’t exist because women don’t ask for more money. There have actually been studies done – replicated – where men and women have been sent in to job interviews – actors paid to use *the exact same script* and ask for the *exact same salary* for the same position, for which they are each equally qualified. Turns out, the women are reviewed negatively by the interviewer – words like “pushy, aggressive” are used to describe their negotiations vs. men who were viewed as “assertive, go-getters” – and the like. I’ve searched for links to it, but it was based on an NPR report I heard about a year ago or so and I’ve come up blank, not recalling the specifics of who did the research.

        My point is this – blaming women for pay disparity is missing the point on the subtleties of gender discrimination that is real and happens – irrespective of a given woman’s behavior or negotiations. Would you maintain that the pay disparity among minorities vs. whites is because “they don’t ask for more?” Discrimination is alive and well and is subtle and insidious, and not necessarily based on how the person being discriminated against behaves as an individual.

        The argument here (women just don’t ask for it) isn’t that far from Wente’s argument about men v. women bloggers (women just aren’t up for it).

        • I’m not saying it is the only issue or that the discrimination isn’t there Michelle. Just pointing out that a lot of women simply “accept it.”

          • Understood Rae – just wanted to address Lisa’s point that “We get what we ask for.” Sometimes we don’t, and more often, women are penalized just for the asking. I completely agree – you gotta fight for it – absolutely. But I also understand there are consequences for doing so – and some women aren’t necessarily in the position to suffer those consequences (esp in this kind of economy); and they shouldn’t, in addition to suffering discrimination, be blamed for it.

        • And the “pushy, aggressive, and ‘bitchy’” adjectives go beyond asking for higher salary. My personality type is ISTJ, and only 16% of this personality type are women. So, I am often accused of being too aggressive, blunt, or ‘bitchy’ in the workplace because I come off more like a man. It’s sad that there is still a mindset out there that women need to behave and speak a certain way in the workplace.

          • I get painted by the same brush Melinda. On my last review the comments were, “We have no complaints about your job performance; however, you might want to work on your communication skills. Many of your co-workers (all male by the way) find you too outspoken and intimidating.”

          • I’m an INTJ, Melinda…so I know just what you mean. Like Kathryn, reviews throughout my career have always been exceedingly positive, with the exception of several mentions of labels like “intimidating” and “too outspoken”. In other words, “You do a great job, but some people don’t really like you…”. I guess they expected me to cry or something.

            The particularly amusing thing is that they thought I’d consider those labels blemishes on an otherwise glowing review. I never have. I wear them as badges of honor, as it means I’ve managed to break the other derogatory and typical molds that sexists like to shove women into – like “hysterical” and “emotional”.

            At the close of one review I said, “…it’s interesting that you note my performance exceeds all of your expectations, yet some people find me too intimidating. Your suggestion that I should ‘work on that…’ seems counterproductive. Is it possible that those who are intimidated by me do what I’ve asked them to do because they’re intimidated by me? I don’t actually like being a bitch. I’ve never been one to manage based on fear…people will always work harder for those that they like and respect than they will out of a fear of losing their jobs. But my having to be involved at all means that other managers have failed in their attempts to manage the situation. If I were a man, would we be having this conversation or would I be walking out of here with pats on the back for a job well done and told to keep up the good work?”

            They were dumbfounded. It was awesome. :) And then I said, “You might have a point about that outspoken thing…”.

  9. Bravo, Lisa, for taking a stand on this! People like Margaret Wentes only set gender roles back about 80 years. Since when is the topic of blogging even a discussion about which gender does it better?? It seems like she doesn’t even understand the blogosphere, when she can so easily dismiss the hundreds of thousands of women out there who all write successful and popular blogs.

    I think the sooner we stop differentiating between men and women, and stop perpetuating all these dumb stereotypes, the faster we can advance in tech AND society as a whole.

    • I think the sooner we stop differentiating between men and women, and stop perpetuating all these dumb stereotypes, the faster we can advance in tech AND society as a whole.

      Could not. Agree. More! :)

  10. Ironically, I had no idea how vicious women can be to each other until I attended a recently-assimilated all-male military college. Much like the tech world, the military is male centric- and it seems the way to stand out in either as a woman is simply to be good.

    Scary good.
    Scary crazy good.
    And not make it about being a woman, at all.

    We had a saying that in order to make rank (military, not SERPs) as a woman you had to be twice as good, expect half the credit and 3x the bullshit. In my experience- much of that stems from other women… and as you called it, cattiness and cutting one another down is both causticly divisive and undermines the work that *all of us* were trying to achieve. Consciously or otherwise.

    The Margaret Wentes of the world inspire me to work harder and kick ass to deflate these archaic stereotypes. They are inaccurate and destructive.

    And for the record, I don’t run a personal blog (yet) but I *love* snowmobiling. Fast.

    • I totally agree. Best way to stand out ‘as a woman’ is to stand out because of what you’re doing, not because you’re a woman. It drives me batty when I see women trying to get ahead by playing up their sexuality. Don’t you realize you make us all look dumb when you do that? Please stop it.

  11. Women are respected amongst our peers in the SEO industry but many old fashioned businessmen still see us as eye candy or less intelligent.

    I had a boss who was like this and sent me and the PPC girl to an exhibition for the only reason that he wanted girls on the stand not because we were actually good at our jobs!

    This traditional business man and owner of an internet marketing company went on to show his true colours by making a pass at most of the female staff!

    With some men treating us a second class citizens you hope for a bit of support from other women rather than putting us down.

    Come on Margaret women can be as geeky and techie as they like and open your eyes have you never heard of all the mummy bloggers out there!

    Her naivety on how useful a marketing tool the blog can be just shows the hypocrisy in the ‘I don’t blog because I think/research before I speak/write’ bullsh!t.

    • “many old fashioned businessmen still see us as eye candy”

      Well, that’s human nature… women in an office certainly notice and flirt with the good-looking men at times… you can’t expect it not to go both ways.

  12. Great article, Lisa. That article by Margaret Wente was complete rubbish. I have several blogs (one on feminism & gender, one on LGBT issues, one on the relationship between Pagans and archaeology, and some team blogs). Thanks for standing up for female bloggers and exposing this nonsense as essentialist rubbish.

  13. Thanks for bringing attention to this -although I hate that her article is getting more hits because we have to read it to be able to comment! Her article is even insulting to men as well. I know lots of men who are horrified at the prospect of going to a party and are complete introverts. And a few have overcome that to be able to blog and do so effectively. There are many more differences among the genders than between and it is time people get that. Margaret is certainly entitled to her opinion but how sad if that is her world. She needs to meet cooler women!

    • I agree the article is insulting to pretty much anyone who actually read it. And she really does need to meet cooler women if the only women she knows aren’t the type to ride snowmobiles up mountains. :)

  14. Great post, Lisa – and I fully agreed with you yesterday on Twitter about Wente’s – ahem – article. It’s particularly disheartening to me that it was actually published by what used to be considered the “premium” Canadian publication (I’m a Canuck, but sorry, no snowmobile). After reading that bunch of drivel, I’m thinking it’s definitely fallen from that position.

    Having worked in male-dominated industries (automotive, paints & chemicals, etc.) for my entire career, I’ve had to do my own share of ceiling-shattering and establishing myself as someone who’s got her shit together and knows what she’s doing. It’s unfortunate that the battle STILL rages today, and people like Wente are doing nothing but perpetuating it.

    It’s 2010. I’m pretty sure that we girls have proven over years that we can play with the big boys, and don’t need to pee standing up to do it.

  15. Hey Lisa,

    I already Rt’d this, because I agree and wholeheartedly. Women hating on women never made sense to me — but baiting people for attention is even more irritating. She managed both, which makes me throw up in my mouth a little.

    I do have a question, though, because it’s one I’ve dealt with before and after 87 comments to this post, it’s obviously on other people’s minds.

    Geek Girls, Like Unicorns, Don’t Exist

    Yes, it’s women in tech, but geek girls who enjoy comics, gaming and all other manner of geek things come up against it as well.

    I’m female, I assert my feminine side and, while I don’t use my boobs to get attention — I do flirt, I do enjoy being a girl and I’ve never understood why that seems incongruous. But I’ve been slammed for it, but men and women.

    What would you say to the people who take issue with the idea that women want to be women and express themselves as women — but who would also sock someone in the jaw for saying they can’t do the things a man can do?

    • I think you have to walk a line. A man can do whatever he pleases and still be respected for being a man because he’s the privileged sex. A woman cannot. And perhaps that’s “not fair” but that’s the world we live in. I was attending a conference recently and the subject of Danica Patrick’s GoDaddy ads came up. She’s playing on her sex, not her talent, in those ads. Tom Brady can post shirtless for GQ and he’s still a great quarterback. Danica does it and she loses cred as a driver and is now a sex symbol. Do a search for Danica — all the Image results that come up show her half naked.

      I think any time you use your femininity in a way that diminishes or takes the attention away from your talent, you need to be careful. That said, I like to be silly and that silliness often comes off as “flirting”. Am I going to change the behavior? No. I get too much enjoyment from being a girl and giggling and having fun. But I am aware of how that affects work and I keep the silliness where it’s appropriate. You wouldn’t find me giggling while speaking on a panel. Doing it there undermines credibility. Really, as long as you can back up whatever you’re selling without resorting to using your sexuality, you’re probably okay.

      • Isn’t that amazing? Scary and amazing. ::chuckle::

        I know so many women who I find even more interesting because they embrace their sexuality along with their intelligence and I’m straight ;-)

        Maybe I’ve just always found intelligence sexy in both men and women. I also like women who drink double shots of whiskey, shoot a good game of pool and know how code. But I like men who do that too.

        Ever notice that, if a women blogs about tech, she’s mannish, but if a guy posts about cooking it’s “cute”?

      • Lisa, it’s interesting that you mention Danica Patrick. In a sense, I think this is the best example for AND against your argument. The only reason anybody even knows her name is precisely because she is a woman. She’s not a good indy car driver (now Nascar I guess), she’s a good female driver. More importantly, a female who beats men. And she’s attractive. The best part is, I’d guess if you were to ask someone randomly to name an indy car racer that she would literally be the only person he/she could name.

        I’d much rather see her use her skill as a driver as a vehicle for selling than her sexuality. Maybe she could take Tiger’s place in the Gillete Trio (Tiger, Henry, Federer). Granted, then they’d probably just make some dumb commercial with her shaving her legs or something.

        p.s. In other female sports heroes, anyone heard of Kelly Kulick? Probably not, because she’s a bowler, and a woman, and not particularly attractive. But she had maybe the biggest accomplishment, possibly ever, by a woman in a male dominated sport. This should have been national news, and, yet, nothing.

  16. All of Wentes’ points are generally bashing bloggers for being ego-maniacal hot heads. It seemed (to me) to be trying to demean “Blogging” in general, as an inferior medium to . . . I don’t really know what. Internet article writing? Whatever she wants to call it, she’s blogging, so she’s really bashing herself.

    I think the whole “Why are bloggers male?” title is just baity and inflammatory. In my opinion, a defense of blogging is more appropriate than a defense of women in this case. It’s really just the same old vs. new media debate, wrapped up in pseudo-feminism.

    Don’t worry, the Wentes of old media will be gone soon enough, either by extinction or evolution into new media. She/he who evolves the most efficiently will prosper the most.

    • The whole article was just generally….bashing. Her snowmobile comments were a stab at the extreme snowmobile event in BC recently where an avalanche killed several people. She accuses men of being comment trolls and women of being vapid. She just wanted to start a fight about *something* it seems.

    • To me, it was really less about blogging and more about yet-another-woman taking a shot at woman. Mostly because her argument that blogging was a man’s job was so ridiculous, it made the gender argument seem that much more out of place. I can see your point though. :)

  17. I am a young female (25 years old) in the SEO industry too. It’s amazing that it’s a male dominated industry, however, I managed to have the luck of working with 4 other talented women in my office that do SEO with me. I haven’t noticed any gender discrimination really- it seems that happens in place when women start behaving like women. We don’t have any of that in our office, and the two partners in the company treat us with the utmost respect and as equals.

    It’s already a tough area to work in where there are areas that are black, white and shades of gray… but throw catty women in the mix who value being in the industry but don’t take themselves seriously and realize how much knowledge they have, and it just turns ridiculous. Women need to know that to be successful in the business world you need to rely on your knowledge and brains- not your looks.

    PS: Kudos to you for starting your own SEO company! I love hearing about success from driven women who are confident in their skills.

  18. I can’t express how much I agree with you. Women like Margaret only help to close the doors that my mother helped to open. She is more than entitled to her opinion, but I can’t believe that in this day, we are in a position where people still think like this. I can’t do it as well as a man because I am a girl? That’s some of the same reasoning behind the resistance to the Suffrage movement — that women are more “emotional” and less likely to base their opinions off “facts.”

    I’m a woman. I’m a wife. I’m a blogger and business woman. I’m proud of it. It’s nice to see I’m not the only one who is.

  19. Well, done Lisa. I was SO hoping you’d respond to that, aqnd you did not disappoint. Her rationalizations of why Blogging is a “male thing” are truly appalling. Sure, it’s intimidating to put yourself out there in a public forum where criticism flows quickly and freely. But that’s not a gender thing, that’s a human thing. Fortunately, for every Margaret Wente that justifies the fear of speaking openly about our thoughts and opinions, there is a Lisa Barone who helps us find the courage to be true to ourselves and speak our minds.

  20. This is a great essay. I’m obviously a proponent of female blogging since I have a blog and I’m in the industry, although I do think it’s a little overdone in this case. I read her post and I thought it was an interesting analysis of female/male tendencies. I’m all about encouraging women to take a stand and earn more, do more, become louder voices. I just wish this energy had been funneled more toward that end than to what I now see is a long list of angry commenters on Margaret’s site. Maybe this is a different angle that can be approached in a follow up post.

  21. Great post:) I love the tips you give to put a stop to these types of actions. I have to say the women I follow on twitter are aamazing. I started reviewing books and blogging more beacause of them. The Book Bloggers on twitter are also very supportive of each other and cross reference each other in positive ways.

    Kai

  22. Fantasticness (made up word but appropriate).
    I have had so many conversations at conferences, over IM, over wine, etc. with women in this industry that mirror the sentiments above. I really appreciate you taking the time to wrap your head around this problem and put it on the soapbox it deserves.
    Too many women mistakenly use the authority they have earned to bold the gender separation rather than erase it. By changing our perspective on things and focusing more on what we are bringing to the table rather than what gender is sitting at the table we will all leave our daughters a better industry to join.
    Great post Lisa!

  23. Stirring the pot is Margaret Wente’s gig. She thrives on controversy. In fact, one of the top Google suggestions for her name is “Margaret Wente racist”.

    The Premier of Newfoundland was even forced to respond (in the Globe and Mail no less) to an article she wrote about the people of that “vast and scenic welfare ghetto” province as “deadbeats”.

    http://www.fairdealfornewfoundland.com/williamsresponse/

    You are giving her exactly what she wants. Why else would she be “taking on female bloggers” live at noon ET today?

  24. Ok, so here’s my issue. She clearly has a problem with shyness. No biggie. Plenty of people do. The problem is she wrote that piece as if her (and a handful of her friends) personal anecdote was proof of a female stereotype. This is the laziest piece of writing I’ve seen in a long time and is, in all honesty, just as offensive to men as it is women. Not all men want to have a pissing contest or drive a snowmobile and just as it doesn’t make me less of a woman for wanting to drive a snowmobile up a mountain, it doesn’t make men who don’t have that desire less of a man. So, Ms. Wente, you can take your archaic rigid gender roles and keep them. No one here wants them.

  25. I have lots of opinions, feel the need to express them, I tweet, I blog (when I manage to shake off my laziness), I can be loud-mouthed and direct and rarely see a reason to keep shut when I’m in the right. Oh, and I raise my hand in classes, public lectures and love socializing – guess that makes me a man, then? At least, that’s what the article seems to suggest. What absolute BS, she honestly could not have believed any of that herself, considering she is expressing a strong and controversial view using the same medium that blogging does!

  26. I disagree (a little) with your response, Lisa. I think the only appropriate reaction to the Wente article is bemusement. This wasn’t a thoughtful provocative piece like Shirky’s… it was just silly fluff and so over the top that it can’t *possibly* be taken seriously.

    To see others (especially women) become offended by this is nearly as hard for me to process as her article. Can anyone *really* think that what she wrote “set women back”? How, exactly, would it do that? Any man who might read her article and think, “Oh, so that explains women with respect to blogging” is suffering from far more than a lack of accurate information.

    Really. Maybe it’s just the programmer in me, but it does not appear logical to me to think what Wente wrote could have any significant negative impact. Or any impact AT ALL, other than to offend those who take this personally.

    I’ve about had it with ANY discussion on “women in tech”, though. We are people. We are people who do tech. Some of us are people who wear lace lingerie. All that really matters is our results. Or rather, the results we bring to others–specifically those who hire us/read us/use our products and services.

    I might be an outlier, but I feel that to overemphasize/focus on You Go Girl! is more damaging to women in tech than one-dimensional stereotype “comedy” posts.

    • I can shake my head at Wente’s post and move on. I don’t think her post is going to have any lasting impact on anyone other than that people now really think she’s an idiot. But the need to keep perpetuating the inequality that really isn’t even there and keep showing women as victims of themselves, pokes at me. Because it’s often women doing it to one another, and we don’t need it. We also don’t need the You Go Girl posts, but that’s a different battle for another day. I agree they’re equally damaging and even more silly. Once we all stop talking about gender and start talking about what you actually bring to the table, it’ll be a much better discussion. But it’s hard to have that discussion when grown women act like little boys.

      Thanks for the comment.

      • Awesome comment :)
        “We also don’t need the You Go Girl posts, but that’s a different battle for another day.” You say things with far more spirit and punch than I’m usually capable of, so I cannot wait to see you go on *that* topic!

        And thank-you — for this post. For all your posts.

  27. As someone who has been watching idiots online since 1985 (and yes – one of the few females actively participating on the net back when we called it Usenet), thank you for pointing out another one. I count myself fortunate that the internet that I’ve been working and playing on for the past 25 years is obviously not the same internet she occupies. She might like it better over on our side.

    • As someone who has been watching idiots online since 1985 (and yes – one of the few females actively participating on the net back when we called it Usenet), thank you for pointing out another one. I count myself fortunate that the internet that I’ve been working and playing on for the past 25 years is obviously not the same internet she occupies. She might like it better over on our side.

      (And please, nobody ask me to pee my name in the snow. By the time I got finished with “Margaret Elizabeth” I’d either run out of pee or snow before I got my last name in)

  28. I would just like to point out, I work in one of the best online teams I have had the pleasure to work with. It is a team of twenty.
    There are 4 guys, and the rest are women. AND they all blog. Only two of the guys blog.

  29. As a woman involved in technology and a “woman of a certain age,” I can say this is an issue that has been around for a long time. Frankly, I’m weary of women undervaluing other women. However, I love how social media has provided us a place to find other noteworthy ladies!

    I’ll have to read more of the comments later, but I’m going to start tweeting what I’ll call #powerdames. I’m going to be filling my “People I Don’t Want to Miss” stream with more women leaders. For my niche (marketing), Sonia Simone is awesome and I know there are more out there. And yes, I’ll be following more women techs. :-)

    Thanks for a refreshing post. I just started to follow you and look forward to reading more.

  30. Just read the original piece. If you ask me, I’d say it’s way more offensive to men than to women. She basically said men are jerks that’s why they blog, and she doesn’t want to be a jerk. Nice.

    • I’d agree with that! She basically attributed blogs to testosterone. That’s like saying Hillary can’t be President because she gets mood swings and might nuke Iran while cramping. Men are clearly big dumb animals that just need to one up each other. While I may agree with that after watching The Jersey Shore, I know that’s simply not true with most of the men in my life. In stereotyping one gender, she did the same to the other. Either way, it was a gross generalization with anecdotal evidence as Erin pointed out. We’re bigger than that and I like Lisa’s affirmation of the fact.

      • Well put Rhea, as a male I had actually been discriminated against in a predominantly female industry when I was younger. The demeaning things we say about gender are very unfortunate and divisive. Some men and women treat each other as a different species, so no wonder divorce vs marriage is somewhere around 50%. It is very telling about most cultures that women and men still do not truly empathize with one another, in fact it is primitive in my opinion. In the IT industry I have met many remarkable women and they should be paid everything they are worth.

  31. I’d be more worried about being discriminated against for being from Upstate NY :-)

    There are so many real inequities that she could have written about. I always feel the blogging community – at least here in Ireland – is more equally balanced (and excepting of people of any kind) than most other areas. Many women feel that tearing down other women will give them better standing in a man’s world, but of course it just makes them less on all sides.

    I do have a hard time finding someone to blog about on Ada Lovelace, though.

  32. I wanted to read the original piece before commenting, and there’s actually another aspect of it that bothers me just as much. There seems to be a trend (even among people claiming to be journalists) of writing pieces in this basic form:

    “I don’t like X, so you shouldn’t either.”

    The gist of the piece is: “I don’t want to blog, and neither should other women, because girls don’t blog. Blogging is for dudes.” It’s all a post-hoc rationalization, opinion in the guise of editorial. If you don’t want to blog, fine. Not everyone in the world has to blog. Why does that have to become an indictment against everyone who does (or a slam on one gender or the other)?

    The problem is, this argument style is far too easy and formulaic. Let’s try one.

    “I don’t like the PlayStation 3. Jesus didn’t have a PlayStation 3. Gandhi didn’t have a PlayStation 3. Clearly, anyone who likes Sony is evil. You should buy a Wii.”

    (1) Opinion
    (2) Nonsensical correlation
    (3) Unfounded conclusion
    (4) Gross overgeneralization
    (5) Opinion revisited

  33. Hm, I didn’t read everyone’s comments (too many, which means this blog is well-read :) ), but the first few comments were all being pretty mean towards that Margaret Lady and isn’t that the main thing the post was trying to prevent?
    Isn’t Lisa saying that women SHOULD NOT be cutting each other down for sport? Some of the comments make me feel like some of you are cutting down Margaret just for the hell of it, when you should instead be supporting Lisa’s point of view in a “Constructive” manner.

    I just read Margaret’s article and it doesn’t feel like she’s bashing women. she’s saying “hey, guys are hotheaded people who want to stick their neck out above the crowd constantly” not “hey women can’t do this stuff”. She obviously knows women can do it too, she is one and her blog well-read too. I think she just meant to say that more guys write blogs because guys tend to want their opinions heard more than women do. Note, it’s a generalization and may not apply to all women, but she is correct that the majority of blogs are written by men (i think, just seems that way, i have no stats to back that up).
    As a guy, i’m actually saddened to see that we now argue about blogs being a “guy thing”, at least when i was growing up it was stuff like “construction work is a man’s job” and that at least feels manly, lol. The only way anyone will ever move on from these arguments is if we all just shut up about it and live our lives how we feel we should.

  34. I really enjoyed your article. As a male, a geek, and an IT manager, I can honestly say that I have never even considered there being a difference between male and female geeks. For me, the geek aspect is the most important trait because it dictates the zeal (or apathy) with which they will perform a given task. Thusly, I agree with you that there is not a significant difference in opportunity. Where I have seen (according to statistical data anyway) a difference is in salary surveys that show women in IT still get paid, on average, less than men. I cannot corroborate the data but am certain that, as with many industries, such is still the case. For my own part, I can with 100% certainty that such is not the case with my employer. Salary is based on level of responsibility and expertise, which is how it should be. I can only hope that this is something that will become the norm in the future. Thanks again for a great article, through which you encourage both men and women to set aside the gender issue and simply geek out to the best of their ability.

  35. Whenever someone puts ‘out there’ an opinion that I don’t really understand, I try and think, what is that person getting out of this? what are they gaining? publicity? ratings?
    I looked at Margaret’s bio, her husband is a television producer, the website is published by CTVglobemedia.. is there a publicity connection there??

    She posted this article http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/the-nightmare-gender-gap/article1488609/ earlier this month, which recieved almost 300 comments, the largest reply on any of her more recent articles. Maybe she saw that attention and needed more?

    The first article about the gender gap, talking about the declining woman’s rights in Canada over the past 15 years, ending on a ‘there isn’t much to fix it because of the oppression of women is so great”.

    We’ll maybe with her new post, she felt like being the devils advocate, trying to get attention in the wrong ways.

    Whatever the case…. stint or not, women need to work together. I feel what she was saying in her more recent post was irresponsible.

    Lisa, I liked your article, like I do much of your articles. You get down to the issue, call out the BS and move on with it.

    I’ve delt with a lot of oppression, I guess just the timing I grew up in, but I always stood my ground, I never let someone treat me badly because I am a women (as much as they tried).

    It is great to see the world slowly changing, and I hope that women like Margaret will learn that a better approach to talking about womens rights is support.

    All the best,
    Manda

  36. Late to the game here but I just read through the chat, and although the whole thing has me riled up, this particular quote from her pushed me over the edge:

    [Comment From Margaret Wente Margaret Wente : ]
    is my job different from what bloggers do? Yes, in a couple of ways. It’s far more structured. I do it three times a week, and it’s longer than the average blog, so it has to have a structure and an extended argument. It has to pass muster with my editors (who DO give me tremendous freedom), and it has to be popular with a whole lot of readers. It’s also got to be intelligent, informed and well written — although whether it always meets those standards is of course a subject of some debate.

    Oh! So now I get it. Perhaps her whole thing is that women are better than “blogging” as if it is a bad word. And what she does isn’t blogging because she has structure, her articles are intelligent, informed and well written. Because, a blog post could never be written well, have an editor or reach a large audience.

    This goes back to thought that bloggers aren’t journalists. Obviously not all bloggers have writing backgrounds, but many do. Many very successful bloggers, have editors and structure and huge audiences. Bah.

    It’s Friday afternoon and I’d rather be thinking of my lovely weekend than this ridiculousness… so I’ll end it here. :) But Lisa, thanks for bringing this to my attention and thanks for always kicking ass!

  37. Ok – for those of you who aren’t Canadians, ‘Peggy’ Wente has been a Globe and Mail columnist for decades now. She has always been an oddly right-wing and contrarian element at that newspaper. It doesn’t really matter what subject she chooses – she manages to give offence; it’s her raison d’etre. Her thinking is scattered, she’s allergic to logic, and one might sometimes wonder if she doesn’t actually manifest a lot of the symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder (in that she seems to prefer negative attention to positive attention – the one thing she can’t tolerate is not getting any attention). Even odder is that when a right-leaning national daily was created in Toronto (The National Post) and started raiding the Globe for staff, giving many huge raises, Peggy either wasn’t recruited or didn’t go. How to describe her in terms Americans will ‘get’ right away. Think of her as Ann Coulter’s spiritual mother. Now isn’t that a really scary thought?

  38. Ms. Wente is trying to cling to something solid while the world dramatically and rapidly changes around her. She’s in traditional media and she’s getting boxed in. She’s afraid of blogging, probably mostly because she hasn’t paid much attention. She hoped it would never amount to much. She doesn’t even want to find out very much about it or she’d know that there are plenty of powerhouse women bloggers out there. I’m sure everybody always wants to know about her blog and she hasn’t got one. Nobody likes that sensation of nakedness in public.

    It brings out weirdness in people. In my job I have to face the oddest and sometimes very weird comments and attitudes from people –people who should know their job better but don’t — and all because I represent Change, and they have a Fear of Change. And I just think I’m me!!

  39. I opened this post in my email this morning and the topic brought me back to a workshop I delivered to 40 women College Advisors on Understanding Anger. On the break 3 women asked me about how to deal with ‘perceptions’ in the workplace about women in positions of power. At the time I answered them with much the same sentiments as you expressed in this post, but I believe I was not successful in given them something they could ‘remember’ when they faced this dilemma in their day to day life. Your post today gave me a short and powerful statement for the next time I have the same question posed to me; I will tell them: “Lead by example, not with your chest!” Of course I’ll pay you a nickel for every time I use it and point them to your blog. Thank you for capturing the sentiment so clearly in this phrase, it is very powerful and as someone who works in CBT this goes a long way to helping people change their problematic thinking patterns.

  40. I think anyone can do anything – if they put their minds and passion behind it.

    I got a real reality check with this article – the whole “Men dominate the field” thing. I work for an agency of about 30 people – the department I manage – all SEM Project Managers & SEO/PPC/Social Media experts – are ALL women – except 1 kick ass fella (who will actually hold my purse when we’re traveling if my hands are full – my hubby wont even do that. He rocks on so many levels of awesomeness :) ) I actually forget on a regular basis that that is NOT the norm……

    I think we need to support each other – regardless of gender – and stop picking on that as the “reason” for things…….Lisa is right on in her assessment.

    Thanks for the article, and the thought provocation.

  41. The stereotype is alive and still kicking.

    I find it so infuriating that when I ask technical questions I am told to ask my web designer.

    I don’t have one. I’m learning about the internet by trial and error and by reading the web, and that’s fine by me.

    I’m not giving in to the stereotype.

  42. Back in the 1970s, when I was one of the first women on the local news set, I was disgusted when the boss hired a Twinkie who was clearly trading on her sexuality while the other two of us were desperately fighting the macho newsroom culture to be taken seriously for our actual skills.
    My then-husband, hearing me lament the way she was sabotaging us as professionals, said:
    “Darlin’, if you’re gonna go kickin’ down all these doors for women, you cain’t be surprised if a few c*nts run in there.”

  43. I am pleasantly surprised at how much respect women get in this industry. AND I can’t STAND it either when people call me “honey” and especially “sweetie.” UGH.

  44. Does it count when other ladies call you sweetie? I’m afraid I’m a “sweetie”-er – meant as an endearment for my friends (including the gals I work with) – not derogatory in any way – on my part.

    Now i’m thinking maybe they dont take it like i mean it – ugh…..rethinking….

  45. I loved your comment Ruth Ann. I am in a male dominated industry(only female in a group of 15 men-in a kitchen), and even in 2010 I fight so hard every day against the sexist culture. After being there a while(and many sexual harassment issues), I noticed a pattern in a former female kitchen employee’s sexual behavior with all of the men there(whenever she’d visit, which was often), and after everything I fought so hard for, her behavior disgusted and angered me. I don’t know why I was surprised, it was common knowledge to everyone that she slept with the boss while working there. Anyway, I know this isn’t even on topic(as I am a cook, I don’t really know much about this topic lol, but it was a good article and good comments), but I just wanted to add my two cents on the whole “women making strides only for some women to come in and muck it all up.”

  46. I think it depends where you work. There is a tremendous amount of discrimination in the tech field that is driving women away. If you haven’t experienced much then good for you, but that is not the norm for most women. And yes we kicked when we were there too.

  47. Nice. Something tells me the ladies here are too smart to respond to such desperate cries for attention. Good try though fellas. Maybe you’ll have better luck elsewhere getting women to respond to you.

  48. I agree with you one hundred %. Doing this to 1/2 of the human race is horrible. You would think after about a million years of walking on two legs with a brain that continues to grow that we would be past this prehistoric nonsense.

    I’ve been looking for information on this for a while and your post was so helpful. Are you planning on expanding on these ideas at any time in the near future?

  49. First of all, it’s great to see this blog, it has definitely made my day! Second of all, it is written by amazing woman who actually know what she is talking about. Thank you for calling attention to feminist bloggers and digital marketers, which not only I can relate to, but a lot of others out there as well. Thank you.

  50. You go, Lisa! I worked for 7 years in a male-dominated field (software engineering) on projects for the male-dominated Navy. I switched careers to something more creative and fulfilling, but still male-dominated (architecture). I have done well in my fields because I am oblivious to stereotypes. It drives me batty when women use their gender to explain all that’s wrong in their lives and careers. As Nike says, just do it.

  51. I don’t know about your article….
    Currently in the IT world, there is still a lot to be fixed in terms of accepting “female Characteristics.”

    Last week I just go demoted from my position, and I believe it was attributed to the fact that I acted too “feminine” in an IT consulting role.
    You talk about not acting “inferior,” and to be honest I am not sure what you meant by that. Is acting “inferior” like smiling, being friendly or just manifest our feminine side??? And before someone gets mad at me, I am just saying that these traits has NOTHING wrong with them. Girls are more giggly, friendly, smiley in general. Again, there is NOTHING wrong with that.
    We need change in this world. I am not acting like a guy just to get ahead. That is putting the feminist movement back. I will dress up, enjoy my makeup while being friendly and bubbly. And I should still be taken seriously at the same time. F-U, dumb managers. You two need to stop hating on girls. Male traits doesn’t equal intelligence.

  52. My perspective is a bit different from the other commenters’.

    When I discuss discrimination against women in high-tech with peers, I am referring to Web, software, and app development, not SEO or blogging or marketing. While women hold as many (and often more) leadership positions than men in marketing, SEO, content creation, social media marketing/blogging, link building, etc., they lag far behind in high-tech development, including software design, Web development, UI design, and even digital interaction design and creative direction (in both representation and pay). That’s before we even touch on the anti-women environments where sexual harassment, lack of mentorship, boundaries-steamrolling, and freezing out run rampant, and which is why the numbers of women in those concentrations are dropping.

    I started in SEO when it was a new field, doing many of the activities your company offers, and switched to development and UI when I saw how versatile it was. When the Web was new and SEO had just emerged as a practice, it too was male-dominated. The pay was incredible during the dot-com days and even in the early 2000s, depending on the company. You had guys who didn’t know anything but simple HTML raking in big bucks to code tiny sites that didn’t sell anything or do anything, all running off of speculative funding from angel investors. Those who could write content and raise awareness of the sites were considered geniuses beyond compare. As Web has evolved to semantic Web, mobile, and tablet, I’ve seen the money leave SEO and go into development, and I followed it. Now, the angel investors are chasing the people who build the SaaS and social platforms that enable Internet marketing to happen.

    It’s easy for anyone to say this discrimination is all my fault, and in fact, that’s the most common retort I hear in online discussion, from men and women alike, very few of whom work in the field. Frequently, the solution offered to me is “work harder instead of complaining.” That’s a nice thought, and of course I do, but after years of putting in 80-hour weeks, when you look around and notice that men who have less education, experience, and high-profile projects under their belts than you do get more respect, more job offers, better treatment, and their names on the awards you won, you begin realizing the glass ceiling in Web and software is as rigid as ever.

    Absent starting my own business – not an option for me, since my state prohibits individual or small-business coverage for someone with my health profile – there’s very little I can do about the shoddy treatment. Changing companies isn’t the answer, as the treatment is endemic to the software industry, and when you lack the network and mentoring a man has, you don’t get access to the top jobs at top companies, either. “Work harder,” when said to someone who worked the weekends the men weren’t willing to work, went the extra miles after the men gave up, motivated the teams the men couldn’t, and doubled the incoming business during economic slumps, is a slap in the face. Working harder simply won’t change the fact that men and women alike – at Web/software/app development firms where I’m working for someone else – deeply resent assertive, creative, intelligent, capable, hard-working women, and do everything in their power to drive them away. My mother, who entered medicine in the 70s, at a time when 2 out of every 10 doctors were women, mentioned a similar work environment.

    SEO marketing is quite friendly to women, I agree. I wish I had the interest in it and patience for it, but my heart is in the engineering of interfaces and the development of code, which is a field where women aren’t, for now. I, like you, take Penelope Trunk’s and Margaret Wente’s commentary on women in tech with a grain of salt because they’re bloggers. They write content into CMS and blog systems featuring interfaces that were designed and back-ends that were coded by other people. They aren’t creating the technology – they’re using technology created by someone else. I wish they wouldn’t speak for me, because they don’t know what I and other women in software have endured and seen.

    Overall, it’s easier to be a critic than a comrade. It’s easier for other people to lay blame than to lend a hand or an ear when they haven’t been where I’ve been or seen what I’ve seen. What they’ll never understand is that I can work 80-hour weeks with a smile until I drop dead, and the respect and equal treatment – forget equal, in fact, I’ll take “decent” – won’t materialize in my lifetime, or until I’m ready to retire, like it did for my mother. It hasn’t materialized over my last decade of nose-to-the-grindstone, so it’s little wonder that the older I get, the more I feel I’m fighting a losing battle. As I see it, women who deny the existence of discrimination against other women in tech contribute to the problem as much as or more than women who claim we don’t belong here. I know I have few allies for now, but perhaps in time, the landscape will shift. For now, all I can do is speak up, even though very few want to hear what I have to say, and even fewer are genuinely listening.

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