Female engineers (and other tech professionals) are awesome. Healthy companies should contain a good set not only for the great pool of talent and expertise but also because of the additional perspective and balance to the work environment that a diverse set of employees in a work place can create. I’ve worked in a number of technical organisations where the techs were all male and the admins were female, and it was just wrong. In others there was a mix, and invariably the more even the mix was, the better the environment. Correlation does not imply causality, but still…
From this week’s news: Marissa Mayer. She’s a 37yo software engineer, and (among many other things) responsible for that clean simple front page of Google. Formerly employee #20 at Google, now Yahoo’s new CEO. In addition, she and her hubby are expecting their first child, and those two facts were announced on the same day. She intends to only take a few weeks off and actually work while away – as a parent, I’m somewhat intrigued by that seemingly simplistic perspective (I am mindful it’s only the media reporting) on an event that’s going to turn one’s world up side down, but I do agree that becoming a parent does not by definition disqualify you from running a company! Who knows how they’ll arrange things… perhaps the father will stay at home, perhaps Marissa will bring the baby to work and breast feed on demand. Why not? In essence, none of what they decide is really our business, but I do believe openly discussing options (in general, for everybody) is good. It is relevant whether and how companies enable and support parenthood, should people choose to become a parent.
Of course these important choices and options are not restricted to women. As a father, I’ve chosen to arrange my work hours in such a way that I can often pick my daughter up from school and have plenty of time available to spend with her. Part-time work and flexible work hours are important factors, seriously enabling a huge extra group of people to work or even just maintaining a healthier lifestyle. I’ve found that some companies enable that kind of arrangement, while others effective make it impossible. And sometimes, it’s easier to just start your own business and organise things “right”.
But getting back to the “geek girls” topic… fellow Brisbanite Miriam Hochwald started Geek Girl Coffees some years ago, and her initiative has spread to global range since. It’s a great supportive network, encouraging young women to pursue and persist in technical studies and professions. Horay to inclusive and supportive study and work environments!