Geek Feminism Wiki

Notes from two sessions held at AdaCamp Melbourne.

Scribe, facilitator: Sarah Smith

Session titles: The Ship Metaphor: Valuing Skills that Women Have in Spades, and IT Hiring Policy to Value Diverse Skills.

Participants (over both sessions): Anna G, Selena D, Anne, T, Bianca and TigTog

The below content is rough notes from the sessions featuring mostly responses from the participants.

Action Plan

There is now an Action Plan page to build an initiative behind these ideas.

The plan is to reshape this, build on it, and identify some actions that we can take to improve hiring. One important initiative I hope gets up is to create some resources (initially on this wiki) for those hirers who are wanting to improve hiring and retention of women employees. But that does not need to be the only outcome.

The Problems

Hires into positions get told "You've been doing great as an engineer so we figure since you have a degree, you can now be the Project Manager as well". This goes for all the other so call "soft skills" - since everything in that category is so easy and you have a degree, well you can do all them too. Graphic design, business analysis - all those things are far far easier than Software Engineering, right?

Ah - not so much.

There is this "hard" and "soft" distinction. The old role of System Analyst doesn't exist so much any more. Now we divide it into coding (hard) and everything else (soft). The "everything else" gets dismissed as being easy, and of low value, especially by technical folks.

In a cross-disciplinary team it is hard to know exactly what each person does. We hear "What does that person even do?". When a persons area is so different from our own its easy to discount it.

Agile process can help bring a cross-disciplinary team together.

But the jargon and three-letter-acronyms that are so deeply ingrained in techies (like me) can be such that we don't even realise we're talking in a way that does not help inclusion.

Diverse Skills

Users of the new hiring skills process should start the interview by saying "what we're doing different in this interview is..."

The hiring process - they will want something "off the shelf", something they can use. That is what they are doing now.

Resources on-line. People who are looking for jobs go and find these on-line sites that provide advice for job-seekers on how to pass the interview. Mostly those are "gimmicks" and tricks. They have sample answers to technical questions. Update: Glassdoor is an example of such a site.

Then companies hiring check those same websites to see if their questions are listed there. Also they get ideas about hiring process from those sites. Thus such sites shape the process of interviews and hiring.

The process needs to be more inclusive.

We should do something on tumblr. :-)

The sites with tricks to pass technical interviews make the interviews more intimidating than they already are.

Qualifications. These can be at fault for trapping us into a set of skills and self-definition


"Women Don't Ask" - book.

The "Who" book. Malcolm Gladwell - interview style.

Sara Falamakis Notes on Recruiting and Retaining Women on this wiki

HOWTO: Recruit and Retain Women in Tech Workplaces on this wiki