The Blog

An Open Letter to Hot Tech Today From a Woman Working in Tech

This is my friend Kim, by the way. She's a very talented Digital Producer. She builds amazing digital products using Node JS, Javascript, all that kind of complicated coding that I don't fully understand, and creates new views and templates for our Drupal CMS.

I thought you were a joke. I really did, I thought you were some guerilla feminist campaign to promote women in the tech industry. My colleagues and I (I work in the digital team at a charity. Even though I have a womb! I imagine that's a surprise to you) we read your website and said "This is an elaborate joke. Everyone will all get angry and then on April 1st it'll all be revealed as a joke."

But then my colleague Kim pointed out that your Twitter account had been active for over a year, and you said in a tweet from a long time ago tweet that the imminent launch of your magazine was a result of two years' work. And there are basic copy mistakes on your website as well. Surely someone smart enough to create an elaborate hoax that's fooled The Guardian would be smart enough to give their homepage a quick proofread? Although in fairness I suppose any decent proofreader might find the enormous picture of the woman in her thong a bit distracting.

This is my friend Kim, by the way. She's a very talented Digital Producer. She builds amazing digital products using Node JS, Javascript, all that kind of complicated coding that I don't fully understand, and creates new views and templates for our Drupal CMS.

You might recognise that picture because I've sent it in to your 'Tech Hotties' competition. I think Kim deserves to be on the centrefold because she's brilliant. She has an awesome career here at the charity, but in her spare time she also works freelance. Last year she worked on a cool app for Gresham College that enables anyone to watch free video talks and lectures. She's currently working on her own business in her spare time, building unique cloud-based novel writing software. I'm sorry but I didn't know her "measurements".

I once heard someone at work say to Kim "I was really surprised you could write code. I didn't know women could write code."

I also sent you the picture because I thought you should know what women who work in the tech industries look like. We don't dress up as French maids and bend over to provocatively dust keyboards. We turn our computers on and do things with them. Here's a picture of me, I'm working late building HTML emails for our supporters:

It's probably less of a tech job than Kim's: I work on digital content and building communities. But I really love working on websites and in a digital team.

In my last position I managed the digital production team at a publishing house. One day I noticed one of the junior salesmen leering aggressively at young women who were coming in to interview for a job. I went over and told him to stop. He said I was jealous and shouted "You come in and walk about in a short skirt occasionally love, and we'll give you the same treatment."

But you know what? I'm not writing to tell you how my friends and I are limited by sexism in the workplace. That's another letter and I'm sure someone will send it to you. I'm writing because I've been lucky throughout my working life to have a vast majority of colleagues who are men, couldn't give two shits what gender I am, and judge me on my ability to do the job. In an industry with an overwhelmingly male staff, these inspiring, clever men have been my mentors, my teachers, my friends and my hard-working assistants.

Carl gave me my first job out of university. I didn't have any digital experience but I told him in the interview that I could learn HTML in two weeks. He trusted me to do that. Adam is the brilliant web developer who patiently taught me HTML, CSS and SQL. He even put up with me calling it squirrel code. Rafal was the first person I managed, he taught me how to edit video. I taught him how to politely tell our advertisers that they couldn't have things fast, cheap and good, but they could pick two of those options. My dad is a retired IT consultant and a feminist. He taught me millions of things, including how to stand up for myself. I have worked with many many more talented male 'Tech Hotties' who have made my career so far rewarding and fascinating. I notice you have not asked for photographs of them.

These are the people I feel angry for when I read about your repulsive magazine. Because I'm not your target market - they are. You have made an assumption that my friends and family want their tech news with a big side-helping of misogyny. You have assumed they see women as objects to decorate their desktop backgrounds, not as fellow tech consumers, enthusiasts and colleagues. You are wrong about them. It's not just the women who like technology who can see your bullshit for what it is, it is all of us.

I want to say that I believe that there are more clever enlightened men in the tech industry than Neanderthals. I am an optimist. I not only hope, but sincerely believe that they will reject your sexist magazine and refuse to be patronised by you. If looking at your magazine makes me throw up in my mouth, it will make my male counterpart throw up in his mouth too. Because we are a community, we work together, we are all people.

I expect more from my tech industry colleagues than you do. Because I know how great they are. I fully expect them to stand by my side in mutual respect to reject you and what you stand for.

Kindly do your market research and bring your magazine into this century.

Yours faithfully,

Ellie Dawes

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