115 iPS Women Who Code and Diversity with Michele Titolo

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01:53 - Michele Titolo and Women Who Code Introduction

02:15 - Origin Story

03:11 - Stated Mission

  • “Inspire women to excel in technology careers”

04:12 - Mentorship

  • Glassbreakers (A peer mentorship community for professional women)

08:54 - Getting Started and Getting Involved

11:27 - Value

12:42 - Remote/Virtual Membership/Communication

15:08 - What Makes Women Who Code Different (from other groups)?    

18:02 - Is there a need for groups like this? What issues do these address?

22:34 - Implementing Diversity into the Workplace

32:29 - Terminology (Using words like “guys”)

35:16 - Is it really harder for women to get jobs?

43:13 - The Community at Large (How can we help make the community more open and welcome?)

  • Inclusive Events
  • Codes of Conduct
  • Change Within *Your Own* Organization (Advocacy)
  • Learning About Other People (Be Empathetic; Be Respectful)

46:08 - Are there people who can help people/companies diversify?

49:49 - How can I help? (as a man)

51:47 - Study Resources (Proof)

Groups and Mailing Lists (mentioned in this episode)

Power Up Your Animations! with Marin Todorov (Alondo)Poker Theory & Analytics (Alondo)Paracord (Chuck)Soto Pocket Torch (Chuck)Kate Heddleston: How Our Engineering Environments are Killing Diversity (Michele)Ashe Dryden: The Responsibility of "Diversity" (Michele)Conference proposal writing: From brainstorm to submit @ 360iDev 2015 (Michele)


[This episode is sponsored by Hired.com. Every week on Hired, they run an auction where over a thousand tech companies in San Francisco, New York and L.A. bid on iOS developers, providing them with salary and equity upfront. The average iOS developer gets an average of 5-15 introductory offers and an average salary offer of $130,000/year. Users can either accept an offer and go right into interviewing with a company or deny them without any continuing obligations. It’s totally free for users, and when you're hired they also give you a $2,000 signing bonus as a thank you for using them. But if you use the iPhreaks link, you’ll get a $4,000 bonus instead. Finally, if you're not looking for a job but know someone who is, you can refer them on Hired and get a $1,337 bonus as thanks after the job. Go sign up at Hired.com/iphreaks]** [This episode is sponsored by DevMountain. DevMountain is a coding school with the best, world-class learning experience you can find. DevMountain is a 12-week full time development course. With only 25 spots available, each cohort fills quickly. As a student, you’ll be assigned an individual mentor to help answer questions when you get stuck and make sure you are getting most out of the class. Tuition includes 24-hour access to campus and free housing for our out-of-state applicants. In only 12 weeks, you’ll have your own app in the App store. Learn to code, it’s time! Go to devmountain.com/iphreaks. Listeners of Iphreaks will get a special $250 off when they use the coupon code IPHREAKS at checkout.] **CHUCK: Hey everybody, and welcome to episode 115 of the iPhreaks show. This week on our panel we have Jaim Zuber. JAIM: Hello, from Minneapolis! CHUCK: Alondo Brewington. ALONDO: Hello, from North Carolina. CHUCK: I’m Charles Max Wood from Devchat.tv. One quick shoutout – I know this is an iOS show, but I did just launch the RailsClips video series, but now one free and one paid video every week. So if you’re looking at learning Rails, maybe for some backend stuff that you’re doing on your iOS app, then go check it out – RailsClips.com. We also have a special guest this week, and that is Michele Titolo. MICHELE: Hi everyone! CHUCK: You want to introduce yourself really quickly? MICHELE: Sure! This week, I am representing Women Who Code, and Women Who Code’s a 501(c)(3) global non-profit focused on inspiring and connecting women in technology careers. CHUCK: Cool. So yeah, so we’re talking about women who code. Do you want to give us an origin story? MICHELE: Yeah. So Women Who Code was started in San Francisco as a meet-up back in 2011, I believe; I really should get that right. And so it started out as just a meet-up in San Francisco. It grew to a couple other locations, and then in 2013 we filed for 501(c)(3) status with the IRS. And since then, we’ve kind of exploded. So we do all sorts of different technical events. Everything from study groups, hack nights, lightning talks – San Francisco’s our largest network – we call them networks, with over 5,000 members. We have over 30,000 members worldwide, and we’re in 18 countries. And we’ve put up more than 2,000 free events. CHUCK: That’s awesome! So you’re trying to help women get into coding, or create opportunities for them to find jobs or all of the above – what’s kind of the stated admission? MICHELE: All of the above. Our stated mission is “Inspire women to excel on technology careers,” whatever that means to the women who’s going to the events. Most of our members are engineers in the field. According to our latest survey – we did do a survey that would be about 60% of our members are working in the field as engineers right now. We have a significant percentage who are learning and trying to get into the tech industry. But most of them are women who are just looking to meet other women in the industry. Because a lot of us are the only women in our job, and it’s nice to be able to have friends who you can talk about your job with that have been in similar situations, or come from a similar background, just like with anything else. CHUCK: I have kind of this dry sense of humor and I’m holding it back because I don’t want to get in trouble. But yeah, I was just going to say I like having friends who are women, too, but that’s kind of a different focus around Women Who Code, because you find people who are like you, that look like you, that talk like you – I mean, you can get some of that from your co-workers, even the male co-workers. But yeah, I mean if I worked in a place where everybody were – was women, or everybody was different – spoke a different language, or–. MICHELE: A different cultural background? CHUCK: Yeah, a different cultural background; I get it. Into a certain degree, I can also see where this makes a difference, because when I go to conferences and stuff, I don’t drink and I have a few other fundamental lifestyle beliefs that are vastly different from most of the people that I’m at the conference at. And so, sure I look like the other men at the conference, and I can understand to some degree, not necessarily exactly what it’s like, but I know what it’s like to not exactly fit all the time. Does that make sense? MICHELE: Yeah, I mean that’s one of the goals because they’ve done a lot of academic research on promotions in the workplace, and how to get to the top. And the best thing for anyone’s career – regardless of who you are, where you come from, what you identify as – the best thing that you could have in your career is a mentor or someone to keep you under their wing. And if you’re the only woman at a company, you might not have another woman there to help you, not that only women can do that, obviously. But it’s – sometimes you’re going to talk to people about certain kinds of problems that you experience because some other people don’t experience those. So it’s just providing a network for women to get together, help each other find jobs, which is huge – I got my last job through Women Who Code. And find those mentors, find those other people that you want to surround yourself with. ALONDO: So I’m curious, I think this is a great idea as far as any of us is concerned – but I think you know, in addition to the other goals of the group, how do you go about setting that up? Say, I’m a new person in an area, and I joined one of the networks; is there a process for establishing who will mentor a new member? MICHELE: No. That’s been on our list of to-do’s, but the past – since we’ve received our non-profit status our focus has been more on growth, so we’ve been focusing more on how to get new networks started in new places, which has all sorts of interesting challenges because there are very vast different cultural expectations. For instance in Brazil, it’s very unusual for events to provide dinner. Wherein San Francisco, that’s like every event in San Francisco we have has dinner, because we don’t expect people to eat at work, or go home then come back out. But in Brazil, that’s not a thing! In Hong Kong, events bases charge for the use of powered WiFi, which is just the standard thing of how they do. So, we’ve been more of trying to figure out ways to deal with those kind of logistical operations, rather than creating a huge mentorship network, which is on our to-do list. So usually how it works with new people when they come depends on the event. It’s usually very free-form in terms of people finding mentors; there’s always more experienced women around. It’s very rare to go to an event and not have someone – at least one person in the room – who’s more experienced than you, which has been amazing. So it’s a lot more informal. The study groups that we do, which are free weekly events that have professionals working in the field. And then you can go and do tutorials; we have some self-guided ones, we have ones where there’s actually a curriculum that everyone is supposed to follow. Those – you get a lot more one-on-one attention if, obviously if you want it. [Chuckles] And each night the women who are working in the industry are, essentially, act as mentors to the entire group. And of course, you can keep in touch afterwards. A lot of these women who helped mentor – I mean, I did it for a year and a half. You end up going to coffee with people and giving them advice, or connecting them with job opportunities you know of just because we’re all here to support each other. So you obviously mentor people because you enjoy it, not because you have to, but we are working on something for that. There’s also another startup called Glassbreakers, that is a peer to peer mentoring company. They just started up; we’re not affiliated with them in any officialcrasity , but I know that they’re doing some really awesome work in that space, too. CHUCK: So I’m wondering along these same lines, let’s say that we have a listener who is a woman who either wants to get into a coding career, or is working somewhere, and they’re thinking, “Yeah, this would be something that’s really nice.” And they find out that there’s a local chapter or network. What can they expect when they start getting involved? I mean, is it just a mailing list? Are there meet-ups? [Crosstalk] What do meet-ups look like? MICHELE: Yeah, it’s pretty much all meet-ups. Each network runs slightly differently. San Francisco’s kind of like the test pilot that we have for the things at scale because it’s the biggest one. Our next biggest, I believe, is Denver/Boulder which has about 3,000 members if I remember correctly. So we try and help networks have at least one event a month. Obviously, the smaller the network the smaller the event will be just because you need more people. And those – when the network’s just getting started, it usually does very generic events, hack nights, lightning talks; and then they usually start doing an individual study groups. Because once you get into being like, “Oh, we have a JavaScript night, we have a Ruby night, we have e-mobile night, we have a Python night,” then you kind of start segregating your users – or, not your users but your members – and we want to make it as inclusive for everyone. So just starting out, it will be a lot of those larger events that are a bit more focused on networking and panels, lightning talks – all usually featuring women. And then it gets to a much larger size, like Boulder/Denver, San Francisco – you’ll see a lot of the more specialty events popping up because you can sustain them overtime. But Women Who Code in San Francisco runs four events a week I think we’re doing now, just not the most [inaudible] but more important is we’re doing six, which is a little crazy. [Chuckles] CHUCK: Wow. JAIM: That’s impressive. [Crosstalk] ALONDO: Yeah. MICHELE: Yeah. And one of the really great things about the tech industry right now is that it’s so supportive of these efforts. So events that happen in San Francisco, we don’t pay a dime for them. Companies will provide food, they will provide space, they will provide WiFi power – basically everything we need. So lots of in-kind donations we’d like to call it. Although there are definitely networks elsewhere in the world, like I mentioned in Hong Kong where you have to pay for power that will get a sponsor to give them money so that they can then pay for the things that they need. But it’s – most of our events are done at very low to no cost, which is amazing and lets us do more of them. JAIM: So what parts of Women Who Code are you getting the most value of? MICHELE: Me personally, I still get a lot of value out of the network in San Francisco, personally. I mean, when I first moved here three years ago, the first meet-up I went to was a Women Who Code meet-up, and it was awesome and I have so many friends that I’ve made just through meeting them at these events. So it’s really – personally – it’s been a fantastic thing because I moved to the city, I didn’t know anyone. So it was great to kind of have a group of people who I could just find and hang out with, and who are very welcoming and nice. So that’s what I still really like about it. And that hasn’t changed, which has been great even though we’ve grown to this big size, and there’s all these things going on in other countries, and our CEO Alaina’s being phoned all over the world for press appearances. She was on the local news station last week here in San Francisco. So it’s been a crazy amazing ride, but at its core it’s still like, I could just show up to an event and talk with women and share experiences or help someone out, which has been just – I’m really glad that we’ve been able to keep that as we’ve grown. ALONDO: So for members who come in to a particular network and they’re looking for mentorship or help in a particular technology, if it’s not available locally, are they patched in to larger network and then exert an effort to match them with help or mentorship across the country or globally? MICHELE: We haven’t quite gotten there yet. Another thing that we’re working on, we have this whole idea for this huge membership site that we want to build but obviously it takes a lot of time and effort to make something super custom like that. And non-profit pricing for a lot of those enterprise SaaS services is still really not that great – I’ve been looking into them. So believe it not it’s usually pretty easy to find someone with some knowledge of whatever technology they’re looking for within their own network. It’s just about asking someone who has the connections, and people are really willing to share their connections and say, “Oh, you want to learn Angular? I don’t know Angular, but I have this friend who’s really good at Angular; I’ll connect you two.” And then usually, it might not stay within the community of people who identifies women, which is totally okay. So, we also do have a nice big Slack chat for all the city directors or network directors worldwide, so we all hang out there. Anyone who ask questions or needs something specific can just pop in and ask them, and we try to help them out as best as we can. So there’s getting to be a lot more communication between the different directors, which is awesome, and we’ve been waiting a long time for that to happen because there’s a lot of donors; over a hundred now of director worldwide just making this happen in their cities. ALONDO: So aside from the in-person meet-ups that are happening for the networks, beside the directors, are there any current virtual meetings? The reason that I’m asking you is that I live in a rural area and I’m having the same problem with just finding enough people locally, or even regionally, which show up for a meeting – a meet-up for programming or something, technologically related and if you maybe cross that bridge and try to solve it? MICHELE: Yeah, that was not on our – one of our big goals this year, unfortunately. I know that there are a lot of mailing lists our there especially for women. I’m on, too, myself – DevChix and Tech LadyMafia. But virtual meet-ups are kind of difficult, and they are very different beasts, which we haven’t tackled because we’ve been trying to create those in-person connections and that’s what we’ve been mostly focused on. CHUCK: I’m a little curious – it seems like there are quite a few groups out there that do women-are-marginalized-group focused technology groups – I don’t know if I said that quite right, but I think it made sense. So what makes Women Who Code different? MICHELE: So you’re probably talking about things like Girls Who Code, Black Girls Code; there’s PyLadies, there’s Ladies Who Code which is – RailsBridge, which is also different. So Women Who Code is language agnostic, platform agnostic. And essentially, it’s about women in technology; you don’t necessarily need to be a programmer. We have a number of entrepreneurs and executives that are also members, who just like being able to network with women like them, or help out the younger generation or mentor someone to get them up. So we focus on that and we ship groups like Girls Who Code, App Camp for Girls, which is one that the iOS and the Mac community loves, Black Girls Code – those are more focused on getting the younger generation into technology and interested in programming thing. There’s also Girl Develop It in RailsBridge, which are both workshop-oriented. So RailsBridge and its affiliates – there’s Mobile Bridge that’s been happening in San Francisco; they’ve been trying out some new curricula here for Android and iOS development. Those are workshop-centric so they’re focused on teaching skills to underrepresented groups in technology. And then there’s a couple other – PyLadies is specifically for Python, but they do a lot of similar things and the groups usually overlap when there’s a PyLadies chapter in Women Who Code network; they overlap significantly. So Women Who Code is doing a slightly different niche, because we’re not all about the teaching, although we do teach, we do a mixture of that. We give resources whenever we can, but we’re not about teaching, which is a lot of the other organizations in doing this kind of work do. JAIM: So a couple other organization that seem like they have a similar focus that I've run into, that maybe aren’t the same network. There’s like Geekettes; they’re active in the Twin Cities, where I live. I’ve worked with some people from PowerToFly, which is focused on getting women into tech careers that maybe weren’t in them before. Do you run across those groups? MICHELE: Me, personally, no. I’ve heard on Geekettes because I have some friends in Berlin. And PowerFly I have not heard of before, [chuckles] which I’m looking at their website right now and–. So they seem to be a little bit similar – PowerFly seems more about hiring. Geekettes definitely seems a lot closer than, say, Girl Develop It to Women Who Code. So it’s just about connecting and helping other women in the industry and organizing stuff, so yeah. But neither of those are in San Francisco, [chuckles] which is probably why I wouldn’t [inaudible] pop up at a probably similar time as some the other groups. CHUCK: So I want to veer into a little bit more, I hate to say, controversial, but this is the area that people tend to argue about a little bit more; I’m curious, is there a need for groups like this? [Crosstalk] I know I’m teeing you up for some of the [chuckles] easy answers, but is there a need for groups like this? And what issues, specifically for women, do they address? MICHELE: Absolutely, there’s a need for groups like this because – I’m trying to figure out where to start because there’s been so much research and so many articles written, even in the past years, in this topic. It has become really big, which has been fantastic because there’s all these resources and we know a lot more now. So, one of the biggest things that people get out of groups like Women Who Code – I mean, any of the groups that showcase underrepresented people in these careers – is the fact that growing up, when you think of a programmer, you don’t necessarily think of a woman in her late twenties, early thirties, living the life in a fancy apartment, who goes to work and write codes all day, like that’s not the kind of stereotype of a developer. So a lot of people, when they go into these careers, if they don’t see anyone like them in more senior roles and executive roles, then it’s harder to imagine yourself being in those shoes because you don’t see anyone like you. So these groups help that problem which is somewhat one aspect of imposter syndrome which is, you know, when you think that you’re not good enough for something even though you are, because of cultural stereotypes and gender expectations and biases, and all sorts of sociology/psychology stuff that we all deal with on a daily basis. So, yes; and I think that there’s going to continue to be more of these groups, and I think that we’re finally starting to see some change. Last year was the first year that anyone can recall that major tech companies actually released diversity numbers. That’s huge! Like knowing how many people are women, how many identify as gender queer, or how many Latinos/Latinas – all that information is so useful and so important because tech industries are very dominated by one specific group right now, so anyone else not in that one group is kind of like, “Eh, is this for me?” So I think we’re seeing a lot of these efforts in bringing diversity to the forefront. And it’s been proven time and time and time again that the more diverse the team is, the more diverse the company is, the more diverse towards – being more successful, because you need that extra perspective that you don’t have. Pinterest for example; I think it was this year they added their first female board member when 74% of their web users were women. CHUCK: Well, that’s crazy. MICHELE: [Chuckles] Yeah, it took you how long? Okay–. JAIM: I know I’d be the perfect developer for Manterest. MICHELE: [Chuckles] So that kind of stuff where a lot of the tech fashion companies, their boards are still very heavily manly just like, “Okay, that’s fantastic but how do you understand?” A friend of a friend is an entrepreneur at an accelerator , and there’s a company-making “men’s fashion for women”, and she asked him once, “What are you doing about the boob problem?” And he didn’t know, but he was on the board of an accelerator and making clothes for women, and he didn’t know how they were handling women figures. And she was just like, “You didn’t think about that?” [Chuckles] So it’s a big, heavy topic, but creating specific spaces for groupings that urges any underrepresented group to just let down their barriers and talk a network, and bring to the forefront the amazing things that all of these people are doing in technology, because they’re doing some freaking amazing things, let me tell you. I think it’s important and I think that it’s going to make this a better place for everyone to work. JAIM: So what are some of the success stories from Women Who Code, or any other groups that we’re talking about? MICHELE: Yup. So there’s so many. So Women Who Code has a weekly newsletter, and in every newsletter, there’s at least one story, and we’ve been doing the newsletter for over eight years. [Chuckles] CHUCK: Let’s say that I’m a company – because I know that this is an issue – let’s say that I’m a company, I go to work with all of my white dude buddies, and somebody brings up the topic of diversity, and they convince me that having diversity in my workplace is going to benefit the workplace. They show me the studies, I’m like, “Okay, I see these figures; I’m behind these. We need to get diverse people in here. We need people with different backgrounds; we’d like to get some people who are of color or women, or some of these other diverse groups.” How do they take advantage of a group like Women Who Code to open up their company for diversity and hire some people who are going to add to diversity? MICHELE: the biggest thing to think about when you’re in a position where you don’t necessarily have a lot of diversity, is you first need to figure out “why”. [Chuckles] Because you need – if you want to improve your diversity, chances are you’re probably doing something wrong. For example job postings – I actually posted one on Twitter earlier today about half an hour before we started talking. It said, “Prior experience must include computer graphics, 3D, OpenGL, OpenGL ES, Shaders, C++, Objective-C, Visual Studio, XCode; development on Windows, Mac and iOS; Agile/Scrum, web development using JavaScript, PHP, C#.” CHUCK: And must make a mean sandwich. MICHELE: Yes. So, a job posting like that – I mean, there’ll probably be a few applicants, but a lot of underrepresented people in the industry don’t necessarily apply to jobs unless they have all the qualifications, women especially. There’s a study done that men will apply to jobs when they have about 50% of the qualifications. Women will apply when they have 80%, if not, more of the qualifications. So there’s a lot that can be done and the job posting side make it sound nice and also not include free beer, don’t mention late nights, like all of the basics. And–. JAIM: This company’s programmer haven’t [inaudible]. [Laughter] MICHELE: Exactly. CHUCK: I can totally see some guy there looking at a list of qualifications and they meet 100% and they’re like, “I am overqualified for this.” MICHELE: Yeah, so not necessarily the best thing. And then there’s stuff like hiring process; people from underrepresented groups, chances are will actually are much more likely now to actually have Computer Science degree, so asking like Big O notations and algorithms, which I know personally my day to day as an iOS developer, I’ve never needed to know; I have a CS degree. That weeds out more people because they’re like, “Oh, you don’t have a degree from a top school in Computer Science, well we don’t want you.” Well, schools have the same diversity problems that we do in computer science programs, so you’re already limiting your pool. JAIM: I think [crosstalk] is actually, Graham Lee said that it actually stands for, “Oh, I forgot this set of [inaudible] again.” [Laughter] MICHELE: Yes. JAIM: I rarely have to use it, so I always forget it. CHUCK: Well, the other thing is, is that 90% of the code I write, it’s fast enough until it’s the other stuff where I’m looking where I’m looking at, “Okay, is there a better way to do this?” and then I find another algorithm, plug it in and see if that does it. So then I’ll find out later on, “Oh, it’s Big O,” whatever, Big O-n or Big O-1, instead of whatever, so it almost never comes up. MICHELE: Yeah, having interview questions that are much more practical, but also better for universal. I have a friend who did a bunch of interviewing a couple of months ago [inaudible] in India, so she – not necessarily familiar with a lot of American cultural norms that kids go through, and she was asked to program a Battleship game, and she never played Battleship. And she told the interviewer – the interviewer did not do a very good job of explaining it and still made her try and write it even though she was like, “I have no idea how this works,” and they didn’t help her with that. CHUCK: Oh, wow. MICHELE: So you kind of have to be careful of expectations because that’s a big thing. And then obviously workplace culture – I mean, women are much more likely to be caretakers of any children. There was a study done at Harvard that the highest earning female executives with small children spend 25.2 hours on childcare per week. The male equivalent only spend 10.2, so it’s still very cultural, even we’re taking care of children, therefore women can’t stay late. I have a friend who was working back in the Mid West, and her and her husband didn’t have kids but they had dogs [chuckles]. And so they both work, and most of his co-workers had wives who didn’t work. So they’d all stay late and then he’d get pressured to stay late because all of his co-workers were staying late because none of their wives worked. And then so she’d be the one to leave work early to go take care of the dogs – all of them – because she had the situation that worked out. So stuff like that obviously having very alcohol-centric cultures – lot of people don’t like that. Also it tends to have a lot of problems happen when there’s a lot of drinking as we all know. [Chuckles] CHUCK: Oh yes, I’ve heard [crosstalk] stories. MICHELE: Yeah, and then also the things like benefits and of you have a family of four and you’re going to work for startup, is that startup paying for your health insurance? Are you paying for your own health insurance? Will it cover your children? Believe it or not, there’s a lot of really small companies who just can’t afford to do a lot of that, so they kind of self-select out the people who have dependence, the people who had major health issues. I have a friend who has really terrible migraines because of some health issues she had, so she can’t work a regular schedule at all. She’s a very productive person but her schedule’s very intermittent even though she can work forty hours in a week. So there’s a lot of barriers, and companies who really want diversity kind of – you can’t just do the whole “we’re going to host a meet-up” and hopefully hire people from that. You actually have to make a change to make sure that you’re a welcoming space for people who are not like you. ALONDO: I mean it sounds like you’ve brought up a few other things that I didn’t even recognize as impediments. Some of them, [inaudible] but it’s just you have to be – sounds like you really have to be aware of all the ways along the pack that people get lost. MICHELE: Yup. ALONDO: And you make sure that you account for that so that you can give them one of the best opportunity. Or give your [inaudible] if you really think of yourself as the best opportunity to find good people, you could come in and help your organization. MICHELE: Yeah, and I’ve had a lot of conversations with people around what qualities they look for in team mates. And while, obviously for a technical person, the things that are subbed the most are really good coding ability, really gives smart person, problem solver – all of that stuff. But a lot of your day to day except being communication and team work, and first of all –. CHUCK: Can you say that again? [Laughter] MICHELE: One of the most important skills set as a software developer – good communication skills and good teamwork, and be a good member of the team. And first of all, interviews usually don’t interview for that – it’s kind of hard to interview for that. But also, I hear people all the time say that when they’re hinky about hiring more diverse candidates, they think they have to “lower the bar”, which is really not true. [Chuckles] It just means that you’re not measuring the right things because if someone comes along who has amazing communication skills, that’s a really great team player but, hey, he might not know that one JavaScript library very well; why would you not hire that person? Because they could learn, like it’s JavaScript library it’s not the end of the world if they’re not familiar with the new version. But the communication, the teamwork stuff – that’s a lot harder to teach someone than a JavaScript framework. [Crosstalk] CHUCK: I kind of want to restate this a different way and that is is that, the results matter. MICHELE: Yeah. CHUCK: So if they communicate well – you know, all of the things that you’re talking about are the things that lend to better factored code; they lend to easier to maintain code; they lend to better structure in the code. And all of these things are the things that are going to pay off down the line. So, like you were saying, sure they don’t know some obscure JavaScript library, but darn it they do a really good job figuring out what has to be done and doing it right the first time; that’s priceless. MICHELE: Yeah. That’s harder to look for than just reading off a list of essentially quiz questions on the new in training , but it will make a huge difference. ALONDO: Yeah, I agree. The teamwork and communication aspect is really important, and it goes a long way to keep in [inaudible] and making the team successful. I’ve worked in places where you’re in a hiring process, they’re like, “We are rock stars!” And I’m like, “Why are we all rock stars? Isn’t that like a band staying together ?” [Chuckles] It’s just not like a corporate president , you know, you want people who can actually work together and accomplish a goal as a unit. JAIM: Yeah, rock stars vomit all over the place and it just kills people. [Laughter] MICHELE: My friend Cate Hudson, a couple of weeks ago, had this great tweet about comparing programmers to racecar drivers. And it was all sorts of, “Can’t do anything without the support of very large ends and unacknowledged team; can only go in a very short circular path [chuckles].” I’ll send the link for the show notes, but the responses happen to be [crosstalk]. JAIM: They go really fast in a cirle. MICHELE: Yeah. The responses were just hilarious to that, because she got a recruiter thing that compared programmers to racecars. [Chuckles] JAIM: Yeah. CHUCK: So I have another question, and I know some people are going to be upset with me for asking this because a lot of people take it for granted, but I hear things like using the term “guys”, or just some of the words we use. And I can see the arguments for some of it but not for others; like “guys” I think is common in the vernacular to where it probably doesn’t matter most of the time, but does it matter or am I wrong? MICHELE: Oh, it totally matters. [Chuckles] CHUCK: Okay. MICHELE: I don’t consider myself a guy and I’ve never been – I would never use that word to describe myself. CHUCK: Okay. MICHELE: As much as people would like to say that that is gender neutral, it is unfortunately not. So with stuff like that – I have friends at companies who actually created a guy’s jar. So they have a jar and you put a dollar in the jar everytime you refer to a group of mixed gender people as “guys”. CHUCK: So if I’m out with my man buddies – that sounded really awkward – but if I’m out with my buddies and it’s just men and I say “guys” then whatever? MICHELE: Yeah. CHUCK: Okay. MICHELE: But it’s the whole “there’s no one here like you” kind of thing, so if you refer to a group of mixed gender people as only one gender it’s just like, “Well, what about the other people?” CHUCK: Yeah. MICHELE: But there’s no real good word in English, like English is lacking in the sense of – some people I know use “folks”. ALONDO: As a southerner I would propose “y’all”. MICHELE: “Y’all”, yeah I’d definitely use “y’all”. JAIM: The more proper, “you all”. [Laughter] CHUCK: But in other cultures, I mean I lived in Italy for two years, and if there’s a mixed gender group of people it’s “they” but it’s masculine “they”. MICHELE: Yeah. CHUCK: And it just defaults that way. And so I think that colors my thinking a little bit because it seems normal to me, but –. MICHELE: Language in general has been very gendered for a very long time. CHUCK: Yeah that’s completely [crosstalk]. MICHELE: Yeah, French for instance has a singular gender neutral but does not have a plural gender neutral. CHUCK: Yeah. MICHELE: Which is nice that they at least have a singular. CHUCK: Uh-hm. MICHELE: English doesn’t have that. We have “they” and you get grammar stabs, or like, “Don’t use ‘they’ if you don’t know the gender,” but people still use it. CHUCK: Yeah, and I think ultimately a lot of these conversations – for me anyway – boil down to people feeling welcome and people feeling like they can be involved and that they belong. So when I ask these questions it’s not because I – I mean I am skeptical sometimes of some of the arguments that I hear made, but if it makes people feel welcome then it’s something that I think we should all at least think deeply about. MICHELE: Hm-hm. JAIM: Yeah, changing a word – not that hard. CHUCK: Yeah. JAIM: It could be hard but not that big of an effort, you know. CHUCK: Yeah. JAIM: Pretty small. MICHELE: Yup. CHUCK: So one other thing that I hear disputed a lot – I can see where and why this happens sometimes – but I hear people all the time, basically, saying, “Well, we’re not biased. If a woman applied here she has the same chances as everybody else.” So is it really that much harder for women to get jobs? MICHELE: So this is, what I like quoting, a scientific study done in – I forgot what scientific field, but some researches out of – I’m not going to misquote the school – but academic researchers sent applications for lab assistants to most of the different labs around the country. Exact same resumes – some with a women’s name on the top, some with the men’s name on the top – exact same resumes. And the male-named resume got about 50% of the labs responded positively saying, “Yes, we’d like to interview this candidate.” The women – exact same resume – was down to 24%. CHUCK: Oh, wow. MICHELE: And in general, the academics rated the men’s resume to be stronger, that he had more potential and that he would excel in this position when it’s the exact same resume. [Chuckles] CHUCK: So it’s not explicit, it’s a bias that people have that they don’t even see. MICHELE: It’s unconscious bias, yes. There’s been an amazing amount of research done in the past few years specifically on that topic and it’s just everywhere. I even saw a startup recently that it’s a recruiting tool that what it does is it anonymouses resumes, which is some larger companies do it – I mean not really, really large companies but there are some companies around San Francisco that do that – so it goes through a process where someone applies, the name gets taken off, the plans all gets changed. And men – you know the hiring manager or whoever scans resumes looks at it what’s all of the identifying information had been taken out. And that leads to many more, not just women, but people from underrepresented groups; they did similar studies with traditionally Latino/Latina names or African American names, and very similar results where the same resume with a white man name, like John Smith, versus like Laquisha Thompson or something. Like John Smith will get way more “yes, we’d hire this” than Laquisha – which is a random name, I don’t actually know anyone named Laquisha. ALONDO: I do! MICHELE: Awesome! [Chuckles] But there’s a lot of things that happen in our heads. And this isn’t just a problem for men, this is a problem with everyone because that’s how culture, especially America, favors specific kinds of names, specific genders, that kind of stuff. ALONDO: Yeah, I’ve actually seen this happen. I mean, I know it’s anecdote but I was part of a higher process at one point and I’ve actually seen it take place and recognized it while it was happening. We had a couple of candidates, and we had similar screenings, and just to listen to – doing a round table – how the female candidates were described versus the male candidate. And I spoke up and said, “Wait a minute, we just had this other person that came in and we talked to them – why are we not saying the same thing about potential and things like that? We’re not even using the same language.” And it’s just one of those things where it’s like it became apparent, and just seeing it, it’s kind of unnerving. It’s like we have to be really – I didn’t have to be hyper vigilant about it. CHUCK: Yeah, but how do you compensate for it without going too far the other direction? ALONDO: Well in that instance it was just a matter of just breaking up the fact that [crosstalk] the previous person was –. CHUCK: So you shined a light on it? MICHELE: Yeah, it’s a lot of that. And just being aware of when you see a person’s name, or even more common in this industry is a company name that you recognize on a resume, or very well-known college or university, same thing happens where you’re just like, “Oh this person went to Stanford; they must be awesome but they could be a total and complete jerk.” [Chuckles] CHUCK: Right. MICHELE: Or they could’ve never actually shipped anything, but hey they went to Stanford. I’m not saying that Stanford’s a bad school, it’s just. CHUCK: Yeah. MICHELE: Stanford’s a fantastic school, I apologize to everyone who went to Stanford and happened to be [inaudible]. CHUCK: No, but it is – I mean it’s a fair point. Just like any other school they have terrific people that you have there and they have absolute jerks who go there. MICHELE: Yeah. CHUCK: You can’t know that from seeing Stanford on the resume. MICHELE: Yup. Just being aware of those things and trying to come back at them whenever possible. I was in one interview panel for a position and there were two people in the room who were like, “This person is not technical enough,” and we were all just like, “She has over ten years of software development experience; what are you talking about?” [Chuckles] CHUCK: Right. MICHELE: Like, “No, she has not worked on a Python application for a very long time.” But pretty sure she’s technical. Just saying. [Chuckles] CHUCK: Yup. ALONDO: Is that one of the other issues that you ran into because you mentioned having family? Like women being away from the workplace for a longer stretch of time and then returning into the field so maybe the candidate had technical experience and they were developing years ago. But now the landscaping has changed, new languages and platforms and what-not? MICHELE: Yes, now there’s actually a fantastic article in Model View Culture that came out yesterday about how the leaky pipeline, as a terrible analogy because anyone that comes out of the drops – out of the tech industry, which usually happens with women having babies, to be perfectly honest. Women usually spend a lot more time with the babies and they take time off work and all that stuff; and how those very technical, very smart women who decided to focus on children, coming back in the industry is a lot harder for them. Facebook actually has a programming boot camp called MotherCoders that is – to solve that specific problem, which I found really interesting. But yeah, a lot has to do with potential and I meet a number of women who go to Women Who Code events are in that situation where they’ve been out of the industry for x number of years and they didn’t want to learn the new frameworks, the new stuff because that’s what companies ask about. And unfortunately, the last tenure with JavaScript was in 2001 – things have changed a lot, so you might not be able to showcase your skills and talents as well in an interview because we ask about JavaScript features now, not necessarily how would you solve this problem given any constraint, any language or anything. So yes, that is definitely a problem. Companies haven’t quite gotten there yet to fixing that a lot except for apparently Facebook, but it is another thing to think about. I mean ages are also within, especially San Francisco tech area, is definitely a thing with older women, especially. It’s just like, “You’re how old?” And it’s just like, actually these people are really amazing. CHUCK: Yeah. I’ve also seen ages in establishment companies who work the other way where somebody is apparently too green for the position even though they’ve basically been doing that job for five years. MICHELE: Yup. CHUCK: And so, you know, it’s really interesting, just the perception that people have over who should be in that position, and how that affects the judgment that they make about it. MICHELE: Oh, absolutely. That’s one of the reasons that having really good job requirements – I mean job postings are one thing but I’m a big advocate for – like you have your public job posting or whatever. And then internally you have a list of technical skills, non-technical skills, communication skills, team member qualities – like you have that and you try and find someone that matches that giant list, which you don’t want to tell people about beforehand because then they will apply, but you still want to have that. So if someone is really good at talking through problems and you’re like, “That would be a great person to have on my team,” that you make sure that everyone you interview, you try to find that skill in, versus you only do it for some candidates but not for others. CHUCK: Uh-hm. So I want to ask, we’ve talked a lot about hiring and finding jobs, that I’m sure that there’s more that people could learn about these stuff, and people who can help them figure it out so I’m going to ask you about that in a minute. But first I want to go into the community at large. So what can we as a community is that when – iOS or larger tech programming community – what can we do to make the community feel more welcoming, more open? MICHELE: So it’s a lot of just making really inclusive spaces, things like having code of conducts or meet-ups. If you are having an event and you want to have alcohol, which is perfectly fine – I’m not saying “don’t ever have alcohol”. But if you only have pizza and beer, well first of all not everyone likes beer; there are people who like wine or cider or cocktails. Not everyone can eat pizza, there are people who are gluten-free and dairy-free. CHUCK: I’m dairy-free and I don’t drink so I wouldn’t be there. MICHELE: Yeah. So it’s about making events as inclusive as possible so all Women Who Code events in San Francisco provide food, and on our RSVP form we ask if you have dietary restrictions. It’s a simple question; we’re giving you food, let us make sure that you can eat our food. Everything like that, I know a number of open source projects have started to have codes of conduct. I know CocoaPods has one for just making sure that people are working on the tool are being respectful to everyone in their community. And then within your own organizations, that’s where a lot of the change really has to happen. And it’s just making sure that someone else sitting at the tables aren’t getting left over for the project. There have been a lot of really interesting studies on how at very large meetings, certain kinds of people essentially getting bored [inaudible] intelligent. There is one article – I don’t remember where it came from – but basically a woman had said something, completely ignored. Like five minutes later a man who knew her was like – knew kind of what’s going on – said the exact same thing. And everyone was like, “Oh, that’s a great idea!” [Laughter] ALONDO: Oh great. MICHELE: I’m not joking! Like that actually happens. So being an advocate for the people within your team or within your circle of influence rather, to make sure that everyone’s getting equal opportunities. And that the person who doesn’t speak up all the time is not just getting bug after bug and not able to really showcase themselves. And then it’s just kind of learning about other people and just being empathetic to live the experiences, and not doubting people when you say, “Oh, this thing happen to me.” Don’t be like, “Oh, that never happens; I don’t know what you’re talking about. That could never happen.” Well, it happened; it happened to that person [chuckles]. So it’s respect, it’s empathy; and it’s actually working towards those goals instead of just being passively sitting back and being like, “You know that person over there is doing a real job at being inclusive. I give them a thumbs up,” because that doesn’t really help. CHUCK: Awesome. Alright, now I’d like to know if I’m a company out there and I want to increase the diversity of my company, and I’m looking at things and I’m just not seeing anything that really jumps out at me. Alright, I listened to your advice and I don’t see – we’re not having beer parties and we’re not advertising that. And our job description is pretty much right on what we need and doesn’t have a whole bunch of extraneous or extra stuff, but it doesn’t seem to be working. Are there people out there that can help companies actually diversify, and how do you find them? MICHELE: Yes. One of my picks is from a woman named Ashe Dryden who does consulting exactly on that. [Crosstalk] She also has a book coming out called The Diverse Team, which you should all pre-order; I ordered a pre-ordered copy of it. So there are a few consultants out there who do do these things. And there’s also other organizations that are focusing on hiring. The Ada Initiative which is the non-profit that runs Grace Hopper, the Women in Computing conference. They just opened up a resume database essentially, and there are a couple other ones that do similar things. So reaching out to consultants, reaching out to organizations, Women Who Code and every newsletter that goes out – there’s job postings. And also reaching – I get asked by a lot of my male friends, “We have this position open and there are no women applicants; what can I do?” And I asked them, “Do you know a single woman or member of an underrepresented group that you would want to refer to that position?” They say “no”. [Chuckles] That is a problem. CHUCK: Right. MICHELE: So it’s about getting the people in your organization to actively grow diverse networks themselves because it’s one thing for a company to sponsor an event that’s focused around diversity, it’s another thing for the people at that company to be active in the community and fostering diversity as much as I can. That second one speaks of a much higher commitment to actually changing things, where the other one is just like, “Well, we had a thing, we had a budget to do whatever is the event so we did the event.” Which is a great first step – getting your budget to do whatever related event is a first step, but if you stop there, you stop there. CHUCK: Yeah, I can totally – yeah I just wanted to step in and just say the same thing. I mean my network has become more diverse because I got to know people who are in these underrepresented groups. And then they’ve introduced me to other people that they know that I never would’ve met, that also fall into these groups. But it’s not a function of, “Oh, you need to introduce me to more women.” It’s just, “Oh hey, I think you’d be interested to know this other person.” And it’s just a natural thing that comes out of it. And so if you go out and you find people who are comfortable meeting people, and comfortable within this arena of helping people meet other people, and they have these diverse networks, I think that’s really where, at least for me, it’s made a difference. And so I’ve gotten to know you, Michele, a little bit. I’ve gotten to know Saron Yitbarek who does the CodeNewbie podcast fairly well and she’s introduced me to several people. You know, Jessica Kerr on RubyRogues; Aimee Knight on JavaScript Jabber. And then just some other men that I know that are well connected to diverse groups that, you know, we’re like, “Hey, you should meet so and so.” And it’s just a function of that person being a very cool person, they happen to be a woman, or a person of color, or Hispanic or whatever. But then I have that diversity around me and then it just builds from there. MICHELE: Uh-hm. CHUCK: Alright, well anything else that we should jump in on here? ALONDO: I have one specific question. We talked about how to promote diversity and help in general in a larger landscape, but I wanted to ask, more specifically as a man – how can I help Women Who Code specifically? MICHELE: Help Women Who Code specifically? Well, we’re a non-profit, we do accept donations [laughter], obviously. So donating to any of these causes will enable a lot of things to happen. There’s a – I wouldn’t call it – it’s not a startup but it’s a group of people who recently started doing something; it’s called Fund Club. What Fund Club is is that every month a large group of people each day a hundred dollars, and that amount of money goes towards some sort of diversity initiative. So if you don’t necessarily want to donate to one particular cause, they pick a different cause each month. And I think last month was a donation to AlterConf, which is – another thing you could do is support AlterConf. It is a conference series that happens around the country, that focus on marginalized voices, underrepresented groups – all sorts of auxiliary to tech things, but it’s still – I know a lot of people from San Francisco who got to the one that happened here a couple of months ago. So being involved in that, and just basically getting involved in whatever you can, whether it’s volunteering time –. I know a lot of teachers for RailsBridge, and I think some Girl Develop It teachers are not always women but they do it, volunteering usually. So stuff like that; just kind of get involved in what way makes sense to you. CHUCK: Yeah, and I know that some of those workshops they also do a little bit of training with the teachers beforehand –. MICHELE: Yup. CHUCK: And so they help them understand what approaches work to make people feel more welcome. MICHELE: Yup,RailsBridge especially is. If you’ve never taught before, going to a RailsBridge teacher’s training is a very good introduction, yes. CHUCK: So, one other question, if people – I know there are people out there who are kind of skeptical of the whole – of a lot of things we’ve talked about, you know, with some of these issues that women face in tech. Are there good places for people who go get these studies and kind of look at them and really see, “Okay, this is how they did the study, this is how they got the information, and this is what is means,” so that they can start to kind of go, “Okay, I see some proof here; maybe I’ll start taking it a little more seriously. MICHELE: Yes, but they’re kind of scattered right now. So, two of my picks actually come from a publication called Model View Culture, which is focused on “technology culture and diversity media” – is their tagline. So they do a lot of articles on underrepresented groups; things like mental health, things like activism and the intersection of technology and politics. So they have a really wide variety of articles, and I guarantee you’ll find something that interests you. And then there is – I’m trying to find the name of it and I’ll make sure it gets into the release notes. Brianna Wu recently started a daring fireball-like site, but for more feminist media, so that’s another really great place to go, which I’ll make sure – the name escapes me; I will find it and make sure it’s in the notes. CHUCK: Great. Yeah, we’ve had Brianna on this show before, and she’s awesome. So, cool. Alright, well let’s go ahead and do some picks then. Alondo, do you want to start us off with picks? ALONDO: Sure! I have two picks this week. First pick is a talk from AltConf and it had to do with iOS animations, and it was given by Marin Todorov. It got me excited about some subtle ways I could animate an app I am working on; it’s really accessible. It’s a lot of fun, so I definitely recommend checking it out. It’s not that long; it’s pretty short like 30 minutes; it’s really good. The second pick is something that we discovered at work. We play a lot of games both online and at our biannual company meetings. One of the games we played in addition to the countless board games is Poker. And so there is a Poker Theory and Analytics course, one of the MIT open course work classes that we thought was hilarious and really probably going to finish it before our next company meeting in October. And I think some other people are probably will get a kick out of it , at least let them have a play or having a recent understanding of the game. So those are my picks. CHUCK: Alright, I’ve got a quick pick here. I’ve been playing a lot with paracord. I’m really into scouts; I’ve been doing cub scouts for about seven or eight years. And I actually do the training for leaders every month at Roundtable. And we did a round robin in one of the leaders there at – the scout staff, he did a paracord demonstration. Of course, I couldn’t go because I was teaching my session, but afterwards he showed us how to tie these cool things with paracord so I made a little key fob that goes on my key ring out of paracord. And then I've got a neckerchief slide that I’ve tied with a turk’s head knot or a woggle. And basically, it’s kind of a braided ring. Anyway, so it’s a lot of fun; I’m looking for other projects to do with some paracord. Anyway, so I’m going to pick that. And then he had this cool little case for a Bic lighter, and you just slide it in there and then you put the lid on. And there’s a button on the back that actually strikes the striker, and holds the button down that releases the butane. And then it – it’s almost like a mini blow torch, and so it’s pretty cool, I’m going to pick that, too just because I thought it was neat. But yeah, so those are my picks – paracord and mini blow torch lighter thingy. Michele, what are your picks? MICHELE: I already talked about Model View Culture; I’m just going to pick two articles from that one, I’ll just make sure they’re in the release notes. These are kind of related to what we talked about today because people always ask for resources. So, there’s a woman named Kate Heddleston who did this awesome talk at PyCon about call – it’s called “How Our Engineering Environments are Killing Diversity”. There’s a talk and also a five parts blog post series on it, which brings up all sorts of things from general diversity, micro-aggression stereotype threat. All the kind of stuff that if you have never delved into this stuff before, it’s a really good introduction. I also talked about Ashe Dryden, which I guess I will pick. And then –. CHUCK: Oh, go ahead. Ashe is one of my –. MICHELE: Ashe is great. So I was going to pick an article called “The Responsibility of Diversity”, which kind of goes into the how/why of diversity. And then my last pick is completely unrelated. So there’s a conference next month called 360iDev. It’s awesome; I’m speaking; I’ll be there, and I would like to pick –. There’s a conference proposal workshop on the Sunday before the conference run by my friends Cate and Chiu-Ki, which is going to be super fun. And if you have ever wanted to go get into conferences or kind of get some behind-the-scenes information on what it’s really like, that is going to be a fantastic resource for anyone. I don’t think it will be recorded, unfortunately. But they run Technically Speaking which is a newsletter. [Crosstalk] ALONDO: I am looking forward to that one, I’ll be at 360 [crosstalk]. I’m excited about that. MICHELE: Yeah, I’ll see you there. ALONDO: Yeah. CHUCK: Awesome. Have some fun for me. ALONDO: Okay. CHUCK: Alright. Well, let’s go and wrap up the show. Thanks for coming, Michele! MICHELE: Thanks for having me! CHUCK: Alright, well we will wrap this up and we will catch you all next week.[This episode is sponsored by MadGlory. You've been building software for a long time and sometimes it gets a little overwhelming. Work piles up, hiring sucks and it's hard to get projects out the door. Check out MadGlory. They're a small shop with experience shipping big products. They're smart, dedicated, will augment your team and work as hard as you do. Find them online at MadGlory.com or on Twitter @MadGlory.]**[Hosting and bandwidth provided by the Blue Box Group. Check them out at BlueBox.net.]**[Bandwidth for this segment is provided by CacheFly, the world’s fastest CDN. Deliver your content fast with CacheFly. Visit cachefly.com to learn more]**[Would you like to join a conversation with the iPhreaks and their guests? Want to support the show? 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