Hack Days

March 13, 2017 •  tech

Hack Days at my company usually pass without me participating. My distaste for hackathons means I typically spend the time looking at things that have fallen off my radar in my day-to-day.

Our Product Design team is male-dominated. Although the percentage isn’t horrid, it suffered from a flurry of new hires we made towards the latter half of last year. During this past Hack Days I looked for female candidates to consider for open Designer positions in hopes I could even the ratio.

As I worked my way through the Canadian Dribbble and Behance Designer listings, I wondered how we got to where we were and I wasn’t happy with the answer I came up with.

I have been guilty of ignoring women’s issues in tech in the past until I was hit in the face with overt sexism at a conference. I spent the following years learning and forcefully adjusting my mental framing. The more I learn the more I realize how interconnected the lack of diversity is to what comes out of the industry. I’m not afraid to be wrong. I am afraid of not knowing when I am.

I ended Hack Days with 68 female candidates to look at and have been meeting them over the past week. This process of sourcing has taught me:

  • Women may be qualified and what’s available online is not an indicator of whether they are or not
  • Women are less likely to have portfolios when employed
  • Most design networks’ popular ranks have men at the top… this doesn’t mean there aren’t ladies available, dig deeper
  • Linkedin is a decent tool to find leads for candidates, even for Designers
  • You can find a female candidate’s work if you make it easy on them to show it (no presentation necessary, just dump things in a folder and explain it to me)
  • Listen very carefully when a women is describing her work to you

I was incredibly saddened by my project. I’m in a position in which my actions echo and reinforce. When I turned a critical eye inwards, I realized my passivity was complicity and I let it get here.

I want to challenge myself, my team, and the leadership team here to make a pivot in behaviour. My initial attempts to course correct in the week after have not been received well but I can learn strategy along the way. What we are doing is not working and is not good enough.

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