The secret thoughts of a woman in tech- ep1: Heels or no heels?

Previously on The secret thoughts of a woman in tech… 

I know what you’re thinking. You think I should focus on the real issues of women in tech and highlight them. You think I should take this more seriously.

Well first of all, this is my blog, I write about whatever I want.

Second of all, I bet you there’s not one single woman in tech who, at any point of her career, did not ask herself the following question: is that the right outfit? Would I fit in my workplace wearing this?

So if my question of heels or no heels sounds a bit simple or shallow for you, that’s probably because you’ve never been a woman in tech.

Now let’s go back to my struggle here : heels or no heels? That’s the question.

I remember in a previous job, a job that i enjoyed btw, on my first day, I put my favourite heels on, a fine pair of jeans and was ready to rock the world except no body else was wearing heels. That day I wondered if I needed trainers to rock the world.

but what would I do with my huge shoe collection? So, purely for financial reasons and practicalities, I decided to be me and keep the heels on. 

It took a while and lots of motivational/inspirational talks and book to finally come to the conclusion that I don’t need to change my style to blend in with the brogrammers gang. It’s been scientifically proven that I can code wearing whatever I want even ugly shoes which I don’t recommend btw as the world is miserable as it’s, let’s not make it any worst.

There were moments when I felt uncomfortable because I was overdressed. By overdressed, I simply mean I made the effort to not just put a t-shirt that I got as swag from a conference. I can tell some of you are now rolling their eyes. I’m not judging you, maybe a little. It’s ok to wear that t-shirt but also it’s ok for me not to.

If you are a man reading this, I want you to ask yourself: have you ever felt uncomfortable and thought about your outfit for work?

Because for us women, the struggle is real and it’s in those little things. Why would I waste energy on these unwanted thoughts instead of focusing on my job? Maybe if we all minded our business, I wouldn’t feel uncomfortable, just saying.

Anyway, that was a long time ago. As I’m getting old, yep that’s a fact, I have less and less of those things ,which I totally forget the name, to give, if you know what I mean. I don’t seek validation or try to blend in because if I’m somewhere, that’s because I deserve to be there and I do belong there.

Did you hear me sister? If you are somewhere, it’s because you deserve to be there and you do belong there. So please keep being you, keep doing you and let the magic happen.

To be honest, I don’t wear heels as I used to. Apparently as we get older, we start opting for comfy shoes. None sense.

But I keep buying them. You know how those nerds, can’t stop buying gadgets? That’s me except I buy heels. I’m a shoe nerd. If that’s not a thing, it’s now.

But here’s another secret thought: I still ask myself the heels question.

Surprise! The woman who’s preaching other women to own their space is still having her own doubts and insecurities. Of course I do.

Now that my job involves more public speaking, I find myself going back to that old thought: would I fit in this conference that’s probably 70% nerdy white males who wear swag t-shirts and spend their time in the conference competing on who’s the nerdiest? Who’s got more GitHub repos? Who wrote more code? Would I fit in with these guys if I show up wearing a 10cm heels? Knowing that probably I’m the only one or one of 2 wearing heels and a dress.

And then I remind myself why I am in the conference in the first place. Because I deserve to be there. Because I’m there to share my knowledge just as I’m: a strong independent Muslim woman from a shithole country who writes code, speak about it, wear high heels and a headscarf.

This is how the worry and the question fade away until the next conference, until I need to remind myself again of who I’m and what I deserve.

If you ever find yourself doubting yourself and wondering how you can fit in whether you like heels, trainers or cowgirl boots, just remember you do not need to change your outfit to fit in, you are where you are because you deserve to be .

Now if you excuse me, I have some shopping to do before my next conference.

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