An Open Letter to Fem-Designers-in-Tech

March 20, 2017 •  tech

Dear Ladies,

Sandberg’s book sucks. Let’s just start there. The industry is unfair and the odds are stacked against you. Asking you to over-deliver while the industry is under-delivering reeks of privilege and undermines your contribution.

All that being said, you’re still going to have to meet me halfway.

I manage a team of Designers, I taught Design for two years, I speak at schools, and I’m partly responsible for who is hired onto our team. A large portion of the Designers I see/teach/manage are female… we can probably guess why. I’ve spoken to a lot of you and there’s something eerily similar about all these conversations.

You're not taking credit for what is actually happening.

Self-doubt is healthy in doses but be careful what story you are telling yourself. Self-doubt is a mechanism to help you gauge what’s real not to over-exaggerate anxieties. Self-doubt is, “Hmm, I should think about this a little.” not, “I am terrible at this.” This is many steps too far in the wrong direction.

I ask of you, and these are simply suggestions, to meet me halfway:

  • Put a portfolio up. Not because you are looking for a job but because you should be proud of your contributions.
  • Share what you’re doing. Allow the other women coming into the industry to see people who resemble them.
  • Acknowledge yourself. What you are doing is actually happening. Don’t give credit where it’s not due. Did we do it? Or did you do it?
  • Turn compassion inwards. If you are practicing, you will get better. It’s just going to take time.
  • Drop belittling words. The value of your contribution is context-dependant, but it shouldn’t be affected because you used the word ‘just.
  • Accept compliments. Thank you. Stop speaking.

This shit is cray and I know it’s hard… we can work on changing the culture together. Until then, meet me halfway: do not shrink who you are.

See you around,
Helen

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