This blog entry originates from conversations that happened as part of #onthetable2016. Thank you to the women who shared their stories and the men who are allies who let me pose questions and “eavesdrop” on their answers.
Disconnect #1: Github Profiles in the Hiring Process
In Woman-Developer-Land, posting to Github is a source of stress. Yet you have to have a Github profile to apply for a developer position. You need code in that profile to prove yourself. (It’s the first in the constant battle to prove yourself as a woman developer.) However, women know their code isn’t good enough. Whether it’s because they are super junior and they know they still have a lot to learn or they have a lot of experience and know that while their code works it’s not their best work or they just have enough experience to know their code won’t be judged the same way. Women know they will be judged on the code they write, they judge themselves harshly, and therefore they keep their repos private so that others do not judge them.
In Man-Developer-Land the point of a Github profile in the interview process is to have the green squares filled in. For those of you who don’t know, Github profiles display a heatmap of your code contributions to public repos over the last year by day. Green squares mean you’ve spent time writing code. The greener the square the more actions done on that day. The more green squares the more days you have committed code on. That code is experience and experience is valuable and so you can go to someone’s Github profile page and get a sense of their level of involvement in the open source community.
Once I heard the Man-Developer-Land version I was like: that makes sense. When hiring candidates I never would have had time to go through all candidates code on Github. Not even one repo per candidate. It’s just not logistically possible. So of course what matters is the heatmap of green squares.
However, no one has bothered telling women that.
You may want to point out: but women don’t ask what’s important about the Github profile.
To avoid digressing past the point of this blog entry let me point you to the book Women Don’t Ask and remind you that nothing says more about the divide between the the male and female genders to me than that they live two different truths about Github profiles.
Disconnect #2: How to Improve Interview Processes for Diversity & Inclusion
The second thing that shocked me in listening to the men is that they were concerned about whether they should be paying candidates for their time to do coding challenges in the interview process. However, if you listen to the women by far the sentiment was: how do we get them to stop doing whiteboard interviews?
I think the men were talking about paying people for their time for doing a coding challenge because that’s what was being discussed in the #hiring-practices channel of the main(stream) Chicago Tech Slack. In the lack of any other information and being posed a question about what to do about hiring for inclusion, they used the public script that was there for them.
Meanwhile, women talk about the anxiety of whiteboard interviews, the unfairness of them because they are so entirely dependent on who is giving them, they talk about not knowing what to expect, they worry about the lack of a known rubric on how they are being judged. Let’s face it, almost no one provides practice for how to do a whiteboard interview.
The On the Table discussions I did were the week of May 10. It’s now August. As I think back, I honestly think this is the surface of the disconnects between man-developer-land and woman-developer-land.