Whoa! Predatory women in tech trying to entrap people like (and including) Linus Torvalds the way an old-time private eye got the goods on an errant husband as part of a divorce case? Scary! And worrying about thoughtcrime, too? Oh my! But Liz Bennett is an actual software engineer who works at Loggly in San Francisco. She writes for her company's blog when she's not writing Java code, has a (not very active) GitHub account, and plays bassoon. And her attitude is similar to the one espoused by ESR in the second post (above): write great code -- and if you do, they (for any value of they) have no right to be negative about you, period. And, she says, before you take a job you should be sure the company is a good "fit" for you and doesn't harbor people who will work to bring you down -- which is great advice for anyone, in any field of endeavor.
Robin 'Roblimo' Miller for Slashdot: This is Liz Bennett who is a coder, a programmer with--what’s that company?
Liz Bennett: Oh Loggly?
Slashdot: Loggly, which is an interesting cute name. We were talking about some stuff that the well-known Eric S. Raymond has been talking about recently about women who are being so put upon or feel they are so put upon in the coding arena that some of them are supposedly trying to trap Linus Torvalds, among other people, into some sort of huge uh oh bad sexual harassment thing. So Liz, are you trying to trap Linus Torvalds or Eric Raymond?
Liz Bennett: You know the thought actually hadn’t crossed my mind. But seeing that blog post has surely got me thinking, maybe I should. That was sarcasm by the way, in case, it is being lost.
Slashdot: Realize people, that she does play bassoon -- which leads to sarcasm. And she writes Java. Liz, so how about you? Does anybody give you a hard time for being female or whatever?
Liz Bennett: To be honest, not, not really. No. It is not like something that never comes up. Sometimes, most of the time I am the only woman in the room, and something will come up and they will be like “Oh Liz! How does that make you feel as the token woman?” and I will be like, “I don’t know. I am just a person. Like how would it make you feel?” I don’t know. It doesn’t really happen. It doesn’t happen. But I have also been really careful to vet the company culture, the place that I am interviewing, at which I’m interviewingwith the idea of working at it.
I am really careful because it is kind of a cultural thing; like some companies may have a culture where it is kind of a more “taken for granted” type place and I would probably avoid a company like that at all costs. Loggly is a really fantastic company. Their culture is just so open and so nice, so accepting. Nobody has ever said anything disparaging to me ever, so I am just so grateful that most of the time, most people are actually decent human beings in the tech industry despite what you might think.
Slashdot: Well, I looked at the company’s About page and staffing team thing, and you are not the only woman who works there in a position of responsibility, are you?
Liz Bennett: Oh no. I am just so for the first like eight to nine months I was here I was the only woman in the engineering department.
Slashdot: What about the whole Gamergate junk? Did that affect you?
Liz Bennett: Oh not really. Not too much. I mean if I start getting too involved in this stuff and too invested in the internet comments and, like, the flames, where am I? And it’s like, it is not really what I face on a daily basis. It is not like that. So it just kind of gets me all rattled for finding no reason.
Liz Bennett: I just don’t, I don’t know, maybe I just don’t keep up with it too much. It kind of doesn’t matter to me. It doesn’t matter one way or the other. Or I can view it as just work on the relationships I have with people around me and just focus on doing a great job and being a great person. So I don’t think the industry is rampant with horrible sexist men who are actively trying to push women out. It is in reality, it is just not what it is really like. It is not like that. Everybody I have ever worked with has been really nice, been really supportive and just been awesome coworkers. And it just so happens that there is only one woman in the room. I don’t know – I guess I don’t maybe – I just don’t have a particular inflammatory thinking about it, so maybe I am not that concerned.
Slashdot: No but I noticed you said that you before taking a job, you looked them over a bit.
Liz Bennett: Yeah, yeah, I mean anybody assesses a company they are going to, they are not just assessing inclusion, and I wouldn’t want to work for a company with a culture that I don’t enjoy. I don’t think anybody would. Everybody has their social things that they like and maybe there are people out there who really like the programmer culture that they think is awesome without female. That’s not the kind of place I am going to be looking for. And maybe those are the kinds of places where there aren't going to be any female engineers. If they decide hey this is a real big problem for us, we need to hire more female engineers, then yeah, then they might need to take a closer look at the culture and examine, “what it is that’s kind of putting women off??” It is a little bit of a Catch-22. Sometimes because maybe a culture is not great for women because there are no women there. So how do you get more women, have more women? Like how do you start? But I was one of the first women to join, I was one of the first women to join the Loggly engineering team, but at that time I was the only, there were no other women when I joined. And I still felt fine about it, like all the people I have interviewed with were so nice.
Slashdot: What do you have for advice? There are other women out there who are either just graduating college or just moving into actual programming jobs, you just face it, we both know the majority of women working in tech are doing like marketing and PR, non-engineering work.
Liz Bennett: Yeah.
Slashdot: Doesn’t mean they are bad people. I know a lot of people in that circumstance who are very good people, good friends.
Liz Bennett: Yeah. So I guess the only advice is the thing that is actually pretty hard for me on a day to day basis is kind of the subtle biases that people have, and it is little bit hard to know how to deal with that. It does get easier though. I feel like they stereotyped it a lot. Being the only woman in the room is still, you can kind of second guess yourself a lot. Everything you do and say everything that people say and do to you, it's like do they say that because I am a woman or they say that I am the youngest person on the team, and they said, oh okay, I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know, so that is really exhausting. I think the best thing you can do about that is to just see yourself as a person and everybody else is a person, you are not a woman, he is not a man, we are all just people working together. And try not to think of one isolated incident as a symptom of a much bigger problem or a much bigger issue it could just be an isolated incident if you go talk to that person, it might have been in this communication, you never know.