Photos by Dave Heinzel
“We’re going to need just one more round of edits on this one. Can you throw that in?”
“Our speaker roster is full right now, we’ll let you know.”
“How about you knock 20% off that quote.”
These are all comments I’ve heard in the past 12 months as a female freelance writer working in the world of tech. As much as I love my day-to-day work and the flexibility it allows, it’s not without its challenges. We still have a long way to go before there’s an equal playing field for men and women in this industry.
You’ve probably heard a story or two about women and the tech world recently. Maybe it was Susan Fowler’s experience with sexual harassment at Uber. Maybe it was the data that showed at tech conferences, men still hold a whopping 63% of stage time. Or maybe it was the fact that across the board, women in tech are paid at least 18% less at every level.
I’ve been a full-time freelance writer working with software and ecommerce companies in the tech space for the past four years, and I’ve been fortunate. My poor experiences have been few and far between. But I have had moments when it was clear my gender was part of the equation when I’ve been shut down for an opportunity, paid less, or asked to do more work without additional compensation.
I’m not alone in those experiences. I was talking to another writer a few days ago about this, and she’s faced similar challenges. This woman is a well-qualified candidate with years of experience and a pristine track record for producing results. She’s direct. She’s assertive, a solid communicator, and has spent more than her fair share of nights working late to get the work done.
But now she’s job hunting for an in-house role in upper management, and there’s a problem. She can’t even get a foot in door for these roles. It’s a problem when companies are dismissing highly-qualified candidates because of their gender.
Now, is this the case for every tech company out there? Absolutely not. I’ve worked with companies large and small in the tech space, with both men and women who’ve treated me fairly, respectfully, and have even encouraged me to grow my business and career.
But we do have an issue here. And that’s what I’m trying to work on in my own small way. One of the things I’ve been working on this year is joining more online communities of women in the industry--and even forming a few of my own. Living in the rural Midwest, there aren’t a lot of nearby meetups for me to go to, so I have to improvise with online forums instead.
I recently put together a Mastermind group with seven women in tech I wanted to get to know better, and we meet once a month for a Google Hangout to talk about what’s happening with our work, new opportunities, troubleshooting, etc. It’s been eye-opening to hear how we’re all facing similar struggles as women in the niche we serve, but the great thing that has come out of it is that we’re finding ways to help each other.
One of the members is growing her speaking career, others are job-searching--and when we get together for these chats we can pass on relevant opportunities and make introductions for each other.
For now, building these communities and helping each other is a step in the right direction. Is it a cure-all? No. But hopefully, efforts like these will eventually lead to more opportunities for women. My hope is that one day, we’ll get equal pay and truly equal opportunities. We have a long way to go, but it’s worth striving for.
Kaleigh Moore is a freelance writer. For the past four years, she’s been freelance writing for brands in the tech industry and also contributes to publications like Inc. Magazine and Entrepreneur. In her free time, she teaches about what she’s learned from writing and freelancing over her blog.