Man, I felt like a woman
I’ve worked at Outlandish since almost the beginning (2011) and I’ve always been in the minority and, for the majority of time at least, the only girl.
One of the best things about Outlandish is that I’ve hardly ever noticed, and I’m so very proud of everyone for that. Not because they try to treat me equally, but because they just do. I am Abi, the organiser, the one who helps you get stuff done, who knows stuff and tries to keep things calm, and I’ve never felt discriminated against for being a girl.
Non techie? Ya. Crap at grammar? Ya. Unaware of a key piece of political history? Ya.
But the other day, in a meeting with a potential client, it happened. I felt nervous and small and like no one wanted to hear me.
It felt really strange, so strange that I couldn’t identify it. The men were talking and they weren’t including me; I wasn’t including myself. Or the other girl who had brought the tea. Nice.
In the end, when I plucked up the courage to speak (what the actual fuck?!), I apologised for it. I belittled my input by firstly saying ‘Sorry for asking such a basic question…’ Oh Jesus Christ, not only were they conforming to stereotype, I was.
I walked out of that meeting feeling like crap. It was only in the evening that I realised why – it was so obvious. I was sad that it had happened, that I hadn’t spotted it, that I and all of us had conformed.
So? It made me realise that despite Outlandish not being very diverse by stats (the number of white middle-class men with beards and/or called Matt is ridiculous), it IS inclusive, and actively trying to be more diverse, although without enough success to date. Probably my being one of the first Outlanders has had a big impact on that culture.
That makes me feel good, happy, encouraged that Outlandish is progressive in more ways than one, but boy, we have a long way to go. Our industry sucks at inclusivity, and we need to do all we can to change that.
First step? Find some female developers. Know any? Send them my way.