To Those who say it doesn’t matter

Anne Zelenka attended the recent Adobe Engage. She writes of her experience, being one of the few women present:

There were slights throughout the day: a mention of “granny mode” for a beginner’s big fonts mode of some Adobe software, a comment from some developer along the lines of “our users aren’t technically astute, they’re mature mothers,” and an example of a cell phone graphic for girls that was pink with cutesy animals. Stereotypes of females attended in greater numbers than actual females, if you don’t include the Adobe women who were there. No wonder these stereotypes prevail. If you work in an environment with actual women you might learn that some are technically oriented and some less so, some like pink and some do not, some are airbrushed and perfect like a Victoria’s Secret model… but most are not. I am not airbrushed and perfect, as anyone who has met me online or in person knows. But I am real in a way that those Victoria’s Secret models and clueless LASIK-free grannies and imagined versions of mature mothers are not.

I didn’t speak up yesterday with my complaints except on the ad hoc Twitter back channel because I do want to work within this space of blogging and technology and influence. I don’t want to fight against it and be labeled shrill or out of touch or difficult. That’s why I so appreciate James’ speaking out. James is not going to get labeled shrill–only women are called shrill. And it’s fine within tech blogging for men to speak for or against diversity.

Being one who is labeled shrill or out of touch or difficult, Amen.

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4 Responses to To Those who say it doesn’t matter

  1. Melinda says:

    Damn this is a nice bit:

    “Stereotypes of females attended in greater numbers than actual females”

  2. Phil says:

    It’s that word “shrill” that really pisses me off. No, men don’t get called shrill, but then by and large men don’t get shrill – when we raise our voices we’ve got plenty of vocal headroom before we hit the shrill threshold. It’s a larynx thing. In other words, ‘shrill’ is pure sexism – you might as well say “don’t come in here swinging your tits about”. Only that wouldn’t be acceptable, and ‘shrill’ is. So far.

  3. shelleyp says:

    What gets me is the hypocrisy, the belief that all people have equal opportunity to speak and be heard regardless of their gender, when this is patently untrue. Anne can’t speak out because she’ll lose opportunities. I have spoken out, and I have lost opportunities. When I read the smug arrogance of those who don’t see any harm in any of this, I want to hit something. Since I refuse to harm anything in my physical environment, all I can use is words.

    Oh, damn: I got shrill again.

    Phil, I agree: any time any one uses shrill, they’re using the worst form of sexism. What disturbs me more is how women will allow themselves to be intimidated by such.

  4. ObNitPick: “Zelenka”.