Women in IT - one personal story

The topic of women in IT has sparked a huge debate this week after the session at Geek n' Rolla which we previously blogged about. Some people (Mike Butcher and the women on the panel) get the fact that there is a lack of women in IT, and know that perhaps we should do something about it. They understand there is an inherent problem with an industry fostering males to succeed while perhaps not doing enough to attract women.

But other people don't. Without name checking them, look here here for an example.

Now I'll share a highly personal experience that happened to me, when I *swear* I was discriminated against by being a woman. I went into job interview for one of the world's biggest software companies. I felt well-qualified for the job. I felt I had a good portfolio. They told me I was on a shortlist of three for the role. But when I told the interviewer that I was getting married in five months, I swear, on my life, the entire feeling of the interview changed. A dark cloud seemed to wash over our previously warm discussion. I never heard back from the company, which was pretty unprofessional in those circumstances. I didn't get any feedback and I never even got an actual 'no.' I really suspected, afterwards, that they didn't hire me because they knew I was about 30, just about to get married, and thought I was at risk of being on the fast track to pregnancy.

Note: I could be completely wrong, they could have just not liked me. It's totally plausible. But you know that saying 'women's intuition'? On retrospect I wound up saying to myself: "Damn, stupid mistake, you should never, EVER discuss your marital status in an interview unless you have to.' How unfair is that? And if the situation was as I read it, it is their loss, because like a lot of married young women, I'm focused on my career and doing good things for other companies, not theirs. And if a man said he was getting married, it wouldn't signal such thinking. This is why I used the words 'discriminated against.'

Of course, this happened to happen in a tech company but it could have happened at a job interview in any sector. It's just that I happen to work in tech, an industry where there are far more men than women and where it feels like women have a higher cliff to climb to prove themselves. And it also seems to be an industry where teams are desperate to cling onto any competitive edge they have, and tend to freak out about small stuff, like a coworker having a baby.

Have you ever had a similar experience? I'd love to hear it. And I'll try to dig up the link to a great survey a recruitment company did about the exact issue spelled out above.

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