UPDATE: I expressed myself very badly in this post. As a result, I hurt and offended some good people, and some of them were quick to let me know. I’m sorry. I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed by the response, but as soon as I saw the comments I knew I’d made a mistake. I appreciate people taking the time to call me on it.
I never meant to disparage marketing careers, it was a mistake to use the phrase “women near tech,” and I didn’t define “job” and “career” well enough for what I was trying to say.
I wanted to talk about tech careers in terms of how much mobility one has. How big is the cage, and how tightly is it locked? Does a marketing person at a software company have different options from a software engineer at the same company? Is it different if they work at an energy company, or when they become sufficiently senior? There are a lot of corner cases where this breaks down, and those places are (to my mind) the most fascinating. I’d been thinking about this idea for a while, of how different options make for a different experience, and jotted down some incomplete thoughts.
I’m sorry. I did not mean to offend or disparage anyone. I need to take more care to work through these kind of thoughts and get some input from other people before I hit “Post!” I hope people will see that this was a failure of wording and not of intention.
Every so often there’s some article/panel/thing on women in tech that drives me nuts, because I look at who is on it and I think, these are not women in tech, these are women near tech. This is my life. Don’t tell me what you think it’s like! On reflection, the distinction between women in tech, and women near tech to me is this.
If she gets tired of being surrounded by the… terrible shoes, poor dress sense, low standards of personal hygiene, arrogance, patronization, or just plain feeling like the odd one out, does it require a change of job, or a change of career?
(I would like to say here, that aside from how smart they are, the vast majority of my colleagues are extremely normal.)
So Marketing at a tech company? Job. Software Engineer? Career. HR pro? Job. Technical program manager? Career.
This means if a woman spends enough time in tech they essentially become a woman in tech, even if that’s not their background. Sales – still job, but progress to be CEO of a tech company and that would look more like a career change.
Still a theory-in-progress, because I don’t want to be exclusionary, but I need some way to explain why when I went to a “women in tech” event where I only met marketing people working for tech companies, I left feeling very “not for me, probably won’t go along to one of these again”. I’ve no doubt that women near tech face their own set of challenges, and that women in and near tech have many things in common, but it’s not the same, and it’s helpful for me to have an idea of what differentiates.