The secret thoughts of a woman in tech: 💩 women have to deal with

Previously on The secret thoughts of a woman in tech… 

So here I’m minding my own business, attending the Facebook Developer Conference F8 when this happened:

InkedScreenshot_20180502-120738 (1)_LI

I did not reply to this comment simply because I value my energy and time.

But here’s the thing:

Pregnancy, motherwhood and periods have always been used against women to descriminate them and not give them fair opportunities.

We all heard comments like “She must be PMSing”, “She’s pregnant, she will go on maternity then work flexy hours, let’s find someone who’s more available”.

So my tweet was only meant to celebrate a successful woman who’s doing great things.

But then again, someone felt the urge to make a nasty comment : WOMEN CAN’T PEE STANDING UP!!! Well, congratulations on this new discovery that will shake up the lives of human beings.

PS: https://www.quora.com/Is-it-true-that-girls-cannot-pee-standing-up-If-so-why  

justsayin

Does it really have to be a competition? Why can’t we simply celebrate both women and men’s potential and success.

Also dear sir/madam, if ,due to your insecurities, you had the urge to reply to a tweet celebrating a lady shaping the future of technology and human lives by the “can’t pee standing up” argument, joke is most definitely on you.

Was it an innocent comment? I doubt it and even if it is, it’s still very inappropriate.  It’s not fun. It’s annoying.

This is a small sample of the 💩 women have to deal with on daily basis. It’s just tiring and completely unnecessary.

This incident for example made me angry and when I’m angry I can’t do my job properly because I’m not in the mood.

I also had to spend time writing this rant instead of focusing on the conference and trying new APIs.

My point is this is not only affecting individuals or just women, this has consequences on everyone. So please, let’s just all try to be more mindful.

Before saying anything nasty, ask yourself: Is is really necessary?

Before I go to try peeing standing up, I just want to add one more thing : Empathy. Empathy is a magical word that does wonders.

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.

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.

The secret thoughts of a woman in tech: episode zero

Since it’s new year, new me, new resolutions BS, I thought why not starting a new series on the blog. You know, something to give meaning to my existence. Not that watching Netflix isn’t enough.

This is going to stop by the end of January probably because resolutions (wink! Wink!) .

Anyway, here is the idea: in these series entitled “the secret thoughts of a woman in tech”, I’ll be sharing some of my everyday challenges, insecurities and thoughts!! I can already bet that my fellow women in tech have the same thoughts.

Now, to be clear, this is not going to change the world or be revolutionary. Sorry if I’m already disappointing you but if you know me, you know that I can’t really do serious. This is going to be silly, light, sassy, sarcastic and basically me.

If you do not know me, the photo below pretty much sums me up:

IMG_20171221_113945
Just for the record, there’s no such thing as cocaine tree. That’s a coca tree. 

Who knows, maybe in 10 years time when a famous presenter invites me to their show and asks me how my career as a comedian started, I’ll say ” I had this thing on my blog” .

Let the shenanigans begin!

ArabWIC Webinar: A Discussion On Industry & Entrepreneur Careers

One of our activities in the Arab Women In Computing(ArabWIC) organisation is to organise Webinars regularly to cover various topics from open source to career advice.

The last webinar was a discussion for students and academic professionals facing important career transitions.

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Speaking At Connect2016 About Cross-Platform Mobile Development

Last weekend, I was miles away from home to attend and speak at Women Who Code ‘s Connect2016 conference, a two-day tech conference designed to inspire women to excel in tech careers. There was in-depth panels, trainings, keynotes, and actionable advice on propelling more women into technology careers.

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The Power Pose

8Th of March marks the International Women’s Day, may we never need just one day to celebrate women’s achievements, recognise their rights or highlight their struggles.

Some people make the joke of how women get one day but men have the rest of the year for them. It’s not funny! It’s not funny because we are in 2016 and we are still reminding the society of the pay gap every 8th of March.

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A Proud Wogrammer!

Wogrammer is a community founded by two women engineers to showcase the stories of fellow women engineers and their technical achievements, thus the name Wo(men)(pro)grammer.

Every story is a stereotypes breaker!

One of the stories you can see in there is my story, the story of the Tunisian lady who fall in love with engineering and is now trying to encourage more women into the field, the story of the woman who thinks “Just because we are a minority in the tech industry, doesn’t mean it should stay as it is. Women can be successful in tech just like men, all we need is to leave the comfort zone, raise our voices and get the credit we deserve for our work.”.

Full story is here.

I Am On TV To Talk Tech!

Back in August, I was invited to take part of Al Hurra TV show Hunna, to discuss the issues and challenges of Arab Women In Tech .

It was an amazing opportunity to meet other inspiring ladies from the Arab World, listen to their stories and share mine.

It is important to make our voices heard, celebrate our success and point to the challenges, hoping that it will encourage other women and empower them to have successful careers in technology.

Here is the episode, I hope you understand Arabic 😉