The secret thoughts of a woman in tech-ep2: being a minority in tech

Previously on The secret thoughts of a woman in tech… 

Raise your hand if you are a woman who’s been asked in tech events who’s she with.

Raise your hand if you are a woman who’s got a tap on the shoulder for being a woman in tech and doing your job.

Raise your hand if you belong to an underrepresented group in tech (basically if you’re not a white man. Mean, I know but I never said I’m nice) who felt uncomfortable because all eyes were on you.

Raise your hand if like me you hate the “good on you” accompanied by an approval smile.

Unless you are my boss or on a conference committe, I doubt I need your approval (if you are neither my boss or on a conference committe to which I submitted a talk but you think I may need your approval in the near future, please let me know and I’ll apologise for my arrogant tone. The rest of you, stopping rolling your eyes at me as if you never practiced the art of arse kissing).

I usually get the “Oh!! good on you” <Eyes glaring with surprise/> on two occasions:

  • When I’m having a casual chat with a stranger in a coffee shop or airport and they ask “so what do you do for a living?”

Me: I’m a software engineer

Them: “Oh!! good on you” <Eyes glaring with surprise/>

  • When I’m in a conference and someone asks about my partner/husband/boyfriend/any male I belong to

Me: actually I’m here by myself like a big girl. I’m one of the speakers.

Them: “Oh!! good on you” <Eyes glaring with surprise/>

Then I get the smile, that smile that says “I approve of this, you little Muslim brown immigrant woman” (technically I’m white skinned but politically I’m brown from a shithole country).

Now most of the time these smiles mean well, they don’t really say all that stuff mentioned above  but I’m not perfect, I’m a human with my own biases. If anything it makes me uncomfortable. I’m not seeking anyone’s approval.

It’s really tiring to be the one to answer all the damn questions all the damn time. Why do cover your hair? So you don’t drink alcohol? At all? All the time? Are you vegetarian? How are things back in your country? Is it safe now? Do you have cars there or do you still use camels?

As much as I’m happy and proud to talk about my country and my religion, it’s simply tiring at times.

By acting overly nice in an attempt to make me feel welcome, you’re actually confirming that I don’t naturally belong there, I’m not normal enough and you have to do the extra effort. This doesn’t just apply to people from minority ethnicities, Non-binary/bisexual/homosexual people also get the special treatment.

Would you ever tell a man “oh!! Good on you”. No, you won’t.

If a man tells you they are a speaker or coder, you’d simply ask them about the details of their talk or job and you guys start nerding out together.

No one ever asks men how they balance between their work and life. No one ever asks men how they can excel in their careers yet be good fathers.

Here’s a simple thing to consider; that applies to all of us, even you minority in tech: before spelling the words, ask yourself how you’d feel if someone asks you the same question and would you still ask the question if the person in front of you is a white man (white men, I really have nothing against you. You just happen to be the majority and let’s face it you are the trouble makers).

Now because I only aim to please, here are the answers you’ve all been waiting for:

Why do I cover my hair? So I’m never having a bad hair day.

Am I vegetarian? No. I actually love meat but only eat halal meat which makes me pescatarian/vegetarian most of the time. I’m happy with that as I’m trying to have a balanced diet.

Do I NOT drink alcohol at all?<scream face emoji/> Do you really want to see me drunk? Do you think that’s a good idea? Exactly.

Do we really use camels in Africa? Absolutely. Also as an Arab African, you should know that my dad is the king of Africa and an oil baron.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s