We need some more self-efficacy, ladies

Update July 23, 2020

I came across this post in the course of other work on this site. Oof. It’s painfully embarrassing. I see some victim-blaming and internalized mysogyny in this entry. These days I dislike the use of “ladies” to address women, as I find it has a certain heteronormative and condescending tone to it.

Thirteen years have passed since I published this, and I no longer stand by this sentiment. Self-efficacy might be a helpful thing for all of us to get better at, but of course the issues for women in tech are more about the systems and community, and less about women’s behaviors.

I’m keeping the original content below, as a kind of historical record. Read at your own risk.

Original Entry

Catching up with my feed reading, I see that lately there’s been some buzz in the ‘sphere around Let’s All Evolve Past This: The Barriers Women Face in Tech Communities. It is indeed a very insightful article.

In particular, I am pleased to see someone talking about the differences in handling sub-optimal communication and how it affects the whole ‘women in tech’ issue. The bit under the heading Men are generally very good at ignoring bad behavior.

But even though the article gives some good advice on building communities with better communication patterns, it does not give any advice to women as to how to help themselves to better cope with difference in communication modes. For example, it would help if more women were aware of these differences and would try to contemplate harsh things said by their colleagues in the context of the colleague’s overall behavior and character, and avoid over-analyzing these comments.

Quite a few of the problems faced by women in tech could be addressed by working on women’s self-efficacy. Among other things, people with higher self-efficacy are more comfortable taking harsh criticism, are more likely to voice their opinions, have higher motivation, and are more willing to take some risks and experiment. So maybe we should all be working on that. I, for one, will try to work on mine.

Tags: women

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