Monday 22 July 2013

The fly in the room

I'm not sure how I feel about the Line at the Ladies Room and the Women in Testing issue of Tea Time with Testers. The noise about women in IT isn't a new thing, but it's like a large blowfly in my lounge that I wish would either die or disappear, instead of making that persistent and annoying buzzing sound.

My initial reaction to these new noises stems from the fact that I don't like being told what to do. "Speak Up!" they say. This is, perversely, much more likely to make me purse my lips and refuse to say a word.

Yet in making the decision to contribute to the testing community I feel a little resentment at the implication by TTwT that I could only be heard in a forum specifically requesting the opinions of women. That my thoughts would be drowned or ignored in a general populace.

The mentoring program seems like a great idea, with benefits for both the aspiring speakers and mentors, but I still have not filled out a form to participate. The sales pitch starts with "We all have something to share with others", and that might be the crux of the issue. Perhaps we don't?

Just excuses and doubts perhaps.

Finally, I'm not convince that either measure is going to kill that blowfly in my lounge. We create a testing magazine with articles written by women, we orchestrate a 50/50 gender ratio in presenters at a testing conference, then what? Creating strong female role models is great, but who are we leading? 

Instead of preaching to the converted at testing conferences and in testing magazines, perhaps we should focus more attention on attracting women in to testing in the first place? Why aren't we making our voices heard at high schools, colleges and universities first and foremost?


  1. I'm right with you with regards to drawing more women into testing.

    It'd be great to let others know what this career path could do for them and what they could do for software testing.

    I wish there was more awareness of this career path and how much human interaction it involves. I bet if people (specifically women) knew that they get to discuss ideas, learn and adapt to how a system behaves and brainstorm ways to 'attack' a system- you would have more people wanting to get their foot in the door- including women.

    If the portion of women in IT is low, then the IT industry is pretty much missing out on half of potential, talented candidates.

  2. I hope you will consider writing something about how you feel about this and submit it to the TTwT women's issue. I think it's another discussion that's important to have.


  3. Hi there. I actually run A Line At the Ladies Room and to be honest, I agree with much of what you said.

    Truth be told, I feel the same way and say it loud and clear in a million other places. I've written a lot (outside of Women In Line) about how we need fix the gender ratio in tech. Testing is actually in pretty good shape - development is pathetic. But the goal of Women In Line was to focus specifically on the conference problem. And it's not just about speaking - it's about attending. It's about building your network and knowledge the way the guys do so you have a fighting chance.

    Yes, we have a recent push to get women speakers, but really all we want is for women to go to the conferences and get the same leg-up as the guys. If you read my latest post there, you'll see that I too am not a fan of "women's initiatives" - it's why it makes me crazy to see how segregated the conferences are, even more so than the industry is.