I just got home from WordCamp US yesterday and I have to say, this was by far my favorite WordCamp US to date. I may be a bit bias since I was the programming lead this year, but I think that’s okay because it wasn’t just the content that made it so amazing. The connections, the feeling of together-ness, the positivity of State of the Word and of course, the after parties made it an overwhelmingly rewarding experience.
My favorite part of WordPress is the community—specifically the people. While having what was a silly, personal discovery conversation I realized that I build barriers around me, I presume for safety. We were discussing the idea of conversations and how some people can easily start a conversation with others while some people can not. Of course, it’s all about personalities and our comfort level, but more specifically, why do people feel anxious when starting conversations with me?
In this conversation, others shared with me that although I am friendly, I have an “I will break you” vibe. This instantly made me feel good. Not because I actually want to “break” anyone, but because I have been through some sh*t and this barrier is my coping method. And the fact that it is so obvious is very powerful for me. A part of me was also a little sad though, I strive to be a welcoming & friendly person, especially in communities like WordPress. If I have a break-you vibe, that isn’t overly welcoming.
This whole conversation caused me to reflect on why I have this vibe to begin with and caused me to want to write this post. Being a female developer, I have constantly battled with people being disrespectful to me. Either they don’t believe that I know what I am talking about or that I am just a glorified designer. There is nothing wrong with being a designer, heck, I am actually pretty decent at design when I want to be and love it. It’s the doubt & lack of immediate trust in my skills that pisses me off.
Mostly outside of WordPress, when women attend tech conferences they are constantly having to validate who they are and what they do. Why?! Why in the world do we need to walk around telling everyone we are developers when everyone assumes that every dude there is a developer? This dynamic is serious bull sh*t. I have been writing code for 12 years now and I still feel like I need to prove myself to people. Why? Why is this still a problem?
So getting back to my “I will break you” vibe—I think I built this wall around me to protect myself. To protect myself from the jerks that don’t think I am good enough, that don’t think I know what I am talking about. And this realization is even scarier for me for the greater female developer population.
I am a very strong & sassy person and I can’t help but think about the women that are more laid-back & less sassy and how they are tolerating the same sh*t that I am. How are they staying strong and speaking their mind when that is not natural for them to do? Are they even staying in the tech industry, or are we pushing them out because they fold and give up?
It’a almost 2020, why is this still happening? Why are we still doubting ANYONE at this point? Why do women have to constantly fight and push their way into the tech industry?
Anyways, that’s my rant for the day. If I have one take away, it’s that we all start treating women in tech (developer or non-developer) the way they deserve to be treated—respected, trusted and validated for their skills.