About a year ago, my co-founder and I started work on Transposit. It’s not that weird to start a company, but one way in which we were an outlier is that my co-founder is a woman. Starting a company comes with many many lessons; some of the most surprising have come from sitting next to Tina: a front-row seat of what it’s like to be a woman in tech. I see these moments of profound obliviousness and lack of empathy and squirm. I apologize to the women reading this: I know everything that follows will be obvious (but hopefully not redundant). I hope for the men reading this that it will help them be more aware of the subtle (and glaring) ways tech is unwelcoming / discriminatory / hostile to women.

Disclaimers

Others have and will write more authoritatively and more eloquently on the subject. Go read about the need for recognition, repentance, respect, and reparation from my friend, danah. Read this distressing story about two folks in a service role swapping genders and how massively their experiences improved/declined; I lamented how oblivious I must have been when running a technical support organization. And if you’d just like to cringe yourself into a migraine, either of these will do the trick: Yes, Uber board member David Bonderman said women talk too much at an all-hands meeting about sexism at Uber, Antisocial Coding: My Year At GitHub.

When you assume…

When I was a kid I used to read Dave Barry’s column in a PRINT NEWSPAPER (millennials, if you made it this far, I’ll wait while you show yourselves the door); I think of this quote when people carelessly create these awkward moments:

You should never say anything to a woman that even remotely suggests you think she’s pregnant unless you can see an actual baby emerging from her at that moment.

I recently asked someone if they’d extend an invitation to my Chief Technology Officer, Tina; fine, he responded, as long as she’s technical. Each individual time a woman is presumed to be less technical or have a particular role might seem like not a big deal, forgivable, but think about what an asshole you look like when you’re the 1,000th person to do it. Think about Dave Barry’s advice.

Knock knock. Who’s there?

Standing around at a conference I’ve seen men do this weird thing. Rather than facing inward to the group to create a multi-way conversation, they orient themselves to face me, physically closing Tina out of the conversation. My strategy is awkward overcompensation. I’ll try shifting my body to face Tina, directing questions to her, or excusing myself from the conversation briefly. It never works.

Take my wife… please!

The devil you know

Building computers at Oxide; past: DTrace, ZFS, Delphix CTO, Transposit founder, CEO