If you follow my personal account on Twitter, you will occasionally see the articles I retweet or share related to the problems with sexism in the tech industry.
Now I'm not an expert, most of what I've learnt about feminism and being an ally has been learnt through my friends, my girlfriend, and the articles I read. Nonetheless I'm well aware that being in a position of privilege as a young white male, puts me in a position better suited for talking about this and asking for people to educate themselves in the problems in our industry, and some of the solutions people are working on.
This article is mainly to point you in the direction of where you can learn more, and support the attempts for change that will make our industry better by bringing about more diverse working environments that everyone can feel comfortable in.
Constantly reassess your actions and words
In the article "On the Fixed State Ally Model vs. Process Model Ally Work" by Melissa McEwan, the point is made early that being an ally isn't some badge you get to wear saying you're a good guy, and that being an ally is about constantly reassessing how you support people and stand up to/for people when someone says or does something that they shouldn't be because what they said furthers the problems.
Rather than imagining myself as A Good Ally, full-stop, I try to assess whether I have been an effective ally in specific instances and in specific ways. Did I speak up when I should have? Do I equally set off-limits any "debate" of intrinsic humanity for all populations? Am I giving enough support to writers whose life experiences are fundamentally different than my own? Am I listening? That is not a comprehensive list.
Melissa McEwan, "On the Fixed State Ally Model vs. Process Model Ally Work"
On Julie Pagano's blog, she's composed a list of articles and answers to common questions which I highly recommend you read titled "101 off limits". She provides the information you need to learn about being a good ally, including realising that you need to accept that when you make mistakes you should be called out for them and think about them to learn and not make the mistakes again.
She lists answers for common questions about Rape Culture, Diversity, and many other extra questions you might have.
Feminism isn't trying to ruin the careers of men
There has been a horrible stigma that's been attached to feminism where men are convinced feminists are just out to bring them down. This isn't the case at all, feminism is about creating an even playing field.
The article "Why do women try to get ahead by pulling men down?" by Missy Titus has possibly one of the best metaphors for describing the problem that I've ever read or heard where she compares the sexism in tech and many other industries to an up elevator for men, and a down elevator for women, but both groups are trying to get to the top. Definitely another must read.
The women explain that while they are running non-stop to get to the top, the men don’t have to work nearly as hard to get as far. Again, note that they are saying the men don’t have to. Some of the men are working really hard, and many of them are working fairly hard, but all of them are certainly also benefitting from the fact that they’re being propelled upward simply because of their gender. The women don’t think this is very fair at all.
Missy Titus, "Why do women try to get ahead by pulling men down?"
First of all, Julie's list is one of the best out there, and I suggest you read eveything she has linked to, dedicate just 15 minutes a day to read one of the articles and within a few weeks you'll understand just how problematic our industry is, and why we need to fight for change.
If you're wondering which ones to start on though, here is a list for you to begin with.
- How Does Biology Explain the Low Numbers of Women in CS? Hint: it doesn’t
- Gender neutral language FAQ
- Rape culture 101
- Schrödinger's Rapist
- What can men do?
Please spend the time to support diversity
I can not stress enough how damaging the general culture in tech is to our industry, and how oppressive our industry is just due to day-to-day things that most people don't even realise. Women shouldn't have to feel like they need to be "one of the bros" to be in the industry.
Remember too that this is only one part of our diversity problem, I haven't even mentioned the lack of diversity when it comes to other genders (trans, androgynous, etc.) and sexualities, or race, which are just as important to spend the time educating yourself about.