11 Ways The Tech Industry Pretends To Support Women

If you're looking for ways to support women without doing anything remotely effective, read on!
11 Ways The Tech Industry Pretends To Support Women

The tech industry is obsessed with looking like they’re obsessed with diversity. Of course, if they were nearly as obsessed with diversity as they are with hoverboards, the entire tech landscape would be completely different. For starters, there would be more women and POCs. (Also, fewer hoverboards.)

I worked as a data scientist in the tech industry for three years -- or, as they liked to say, as a “female” data scientist. I was on teams of all men twice and teams with only one other woman twice. In that time, I observed executives making the strangest choices to position themselves as “feminists.” My new Audible project, Yes We Mustard, deals with a male CEO who’s obsessed with fake feminism, and I drew a lot on my own experience in developing his character. I mean, I was sitting on a goldmine of data points.

I don’t merely want to offer judgment. I want to offer advice. Actually supporting women is hard -- most bras don’t even do it successfully. If you are looking for ways to appear to support women without doing anything remotely effective, look no further than the following:

Insist That One Woman Interview Each Candidate Before Hiring

The advice:

Interviews are so important—you can’t pretend to want to hire more women if you don’t pretend you’re going to interview more women. Make sure each interview team includes at least one woman. This is to make sure the candidate is not going to be “problematic,” because only women can be the judge of that, and they usually know in the first 30 minutes. 

My take: 

At my last job, this meant the one other woman and I were literally constantly in interviews. I probably did four interviews per day, and I often interviewed people without knowing what job they were applying for (no I’m not going to “read” my “emails”). On the bright side, this meant we didn’t have time to do our jobs. (On the other hand, I once did flag a man as problematic, and the CFO hired him anyway because he wrote really tight code.)

Capture Any Interaction Between Any Two Women On Camera And Immediately Upload It To The Company Website

The advice: 

If you want other people to know your company appears to value women, you have to put their photos on the website. So many photos. The most. And if you don’t have women on your engineering team, there are tons of free stock photo sites.

two women in office

KOBU Agency/Unsplash

“Sure, these two stock photo models may only work at our company in the fan fiction in my brain, but you know who else does? Ms. Pac-Man.”

My take: 

At one of my jobs, I never once worked directly with another woman. Fortunately, I was still friends with one. The other one. One morning, she was showing me her wedding website on Pinterest, and as I leaned over her computer, BOOM -- someone appeared with a camera, and the moment was forever immortalized on the company website. Without a caption, obviously. 

Sign up for the Cracked Newsletter

Get the best of Cracked sent directly to your inbox!

Establish A Weekly Lunch To Talk About “Diversity,” And Then Cancel The Lunch Each Week Because Something “More Important” Comes Up

The advice: 

The important part of “diversity” lunches is that they appear on the calendar. That way, if anyone later looks at your calendar, they’ll see you care a lot about things being “diverse.” Obviously, more important things will always come up, because literally everything is more important to you. Send an email 20 minutes before the meeting each week telling everyone that you have to cancel to instead pick up your Sweetgreen delivery (it could take up to an hour if you want to carefully check to make sure they didn’t miss a crouton). Just don’t actually remove the event from your calendar -- you may get audited later!

My take: 

I can’t say whether or not these lunches are effective, as I never actually went to one.

Move Female-Dominant Functions Under The Umbrella Of Engineering To Artificially Inflate Your Diversity Numbers

The advice: 

You can do this with truly any function in your company by simply tweaking someone’s job title slightly. No, she’s not a Recruiter. She’s a Recruiting Engineer.

Female electronics engineer in meeting with colleague

ThisisEngineering RAEng/Unsplash

"Look, if we simply recategorize all the women in the office as 'Cyber Vixens,' we'll be hitting those quotas in no time.”

My take: 

I worked at a company that struggled for over a year to hire a third female engineer. In their defense, it’s hard -- you have to read a woman’s resume, schedule her for an interview, bring her in for the interview, ask her questions, and decide if you’re willing to offer her 77% of a male engineer’s salary. It’s a lot of steps.

Eventually, they gave up and moved the business operations team into engineering. No, this didn’t make “sense” from a strategic “standpoint,” but on the bright side, the percentage of female engineers went from 4% to 10%, which is “female-dominated” by Silicon Valley standards.

Cite Diversity Statistics For The Percentage Of The Company That’s Female And The Percentage That’s POC, But Dodge All Questions About The Percentage That’s WOC

The advice: 

Haven’t you done enough? You have two women and one POC, which counts for Three Diversities. Don’t they know you’re working on it? Didn’t they see the weekly “diversity” lunch on your calendar?

My take: 

I was asked to weigh in on the “hiring women” and “hiring POC” issue many times, despite the fact that I was neither a recruiter nor a POC.

Talk A Lot About How Great Every Woman You Interview Is

The advice: 

When a woman comes in to interview at your company, she is Great with a capital G. This is very important. There’s really no point in bringing a woman in for an interview if you’re not going to show off how Great she is, so parade her around the office like a show pony before and after the interview. You want everyone to know you would hire her, if you could. Which you can, but you still don’t. 

My take: 

I had a coworker once who said a woman was a super talented programmer but didn’t fit the company “vibe.” We ended up not hiring her (because who cares about skills, we want someone who can play beer pong), but we continued to discuss what a great programmer she was for months after her interview. Months. I left the company, but I assume they’re still talking about her.

Order Greek Yogurt For The Communal Kitchen

The advice: 

Ladies love Greek yogurt -- it’s in our genes. This is something you should know as a person who cares about diversity, or a person who’s slept with at least one woman. (Nice.) If you have a woman on your team who seems unhappy with the lack of diversity at the office, simply point her in the direction of the communal fridge. “Don’t you see we bought you Greek yogurt? How are you still sad?” you must ask her. If you’re out of Greek yogurt, direct her to the recycling bin so she can see all the Greek yogurt you once bought for her. 

woman yogurt

The BlackRabbit/Unsplash

 And if she’s lactose intolerant, tell her you also bought Diet Coke.

My take: 

When I worked at Facebook, they once brought in a manicure truck. This probably canceled out everything bad Facebook has ever done. I’m assuming. I never did the math, but I did get a manicure, and boy oh boy did my nails look nice for 36 hours.

Ask All The Women If They’re Friends With All The Other Women, And Then Keep Asking Them This For The Entirety Of The Time They Work With You.

The advice: 

Look, if you only have two women at your entire company, they might be a little lonely. Sure, you could hire more women, but that’s really an exhausting amount of work. Why don’t you just force a friendship between the two of them instead? Ask each one if they like the other, and then eventually pressure them into making each other bridesmaids in their weddings, even though they only met a month ago and neither is engaged. This is great for morale.

LinkedIn Sales Solutions/Unsplash

“Hey stranger, management is really leaning on us to synch our cycles by Q3.”

My take: 

At my last job, my coworkers would ask if my one female coworker and I went to spinning class together at lunch. I mean, we did, but still. It made me feel so included to know my male coworkers were talking about me.

Put Tampons In The Ladies’ Room At Least One Time.

The advice: 

This will demonstrate that you know women menstruate, which is very insightful of you. If men complain that women are getting perks the men don’t get, simply raise their salaries. It’s just basic math/courtesy.

My take: 

A man I worked with at Facebook once noticed all the free “goodies” in the women’s restroom, which was a really good point, because it’s literally the only place at Facebook where you can get free stuff. They definitely don’t have fully stocked snack kitchens, eight restaurants, and a vending machine of electronics. I could have asked him why he was looking into the women’s restroom, but instead, I did the much easier thing and asked if he wanted any (he didn’t).

Quote Lean In

Lean in book

Virgin Digital

Pro tip: reading this book proves you care about all of the women.

The advice: 

If you’re only ever going to read one book written by a woman, read this one. If you’re only ever going to read one title of a book written by a woman, read this one, because the title is the most quotable part. If you say “Lean In” over and over again like a broken record, it will be clear you got the gist. 

My take: 

I actually did read this book, and “lean in” is the most relevant quote.

When All Else Fails, Point Out Other Tech Companies That Are Less Diverse Than You.

The advice: 

Because there will always be some. Like, especially new startups that only have one employee who is a white man. Yeah -- humiliating. You may be 2% female, but he’s 0% female. Also, we’ve never had a Girl President, so let's focus on that instead.

My take: 

This is around where I quit the industry.

Ginny Hogan is an LA-based stand-up comedian and writer. She’s the author of the upcoming Audible Original Yes We Mustard, available September 2. You can find her tweeting far too often here.

Scroll down for the next article
Forgot Password?