So, I thought I would take some time to articulate some of my experience as a woman in tech.
1. Male privilege is real, and it is harmful.
The company I work with is rather small right now - a dozen people, only half of them full time. The CEO is male. The two other full time "tech" people are male. Two more part time tech contractors are male. The social media consultant is female, but we have as little in common as it's possible for two people to have (she has two children and never talks about anything except kids, partying or fashion).
There are gender driven assumptions at play constantly. They're very subtle - each one not worth noticing, but they add up. Despite the fact that I'm more confident in my opinions, the CEO gives me orders when he disagrees, whereas he gives my male colleagues arguments.
Privilege doesn't mean easy. It just means that I deal with things - very small things - that the men I work with never even have to consider. When was the last time someone hinted, subtly, that the calendar was responsible for your bad mood? A tiny, ever so unimportant put-down and reminder of gender hierarchy.
2. If you want more women in tech, you need more girls in tech.
The single largest factor in me ending up in tech was early exposure and encouragement. One summer when we were getting a new computer, I expressed some vague interest in seeing the inside of the old one. My dad moved in into my room and left a screwdriver.
After I took it completely apart, I asked for help putting it back together. My dad obliged, and we spent a week reassembling everything (I was thorough - every single screw that could be removed had been). That was how I got my first computer.
I was... 7, I think? Maybe younger? He handed me a screwdriver. That was life-changing. Goldieblox are so close, and yet so far. They're cut, dried, prepackaged and safe. Spend that $100 on an old box-PC and give it to your little girl. Give her a screwdriver. Yes, there are sharp bits inside. Sharp bits are better for for learning than rounded corners.
3. Ignoring a problem doesn't mean solving it.
I keep hearing arguments like so: "how can you expect gender to be less of a factor in the future, when you keep bringing it to the forefront?"
Let me digress with another anecdote for a moment. It's relevant, I promise.
When I first started playing Magic: the Gathering, I was terrible, like all beginners (especially like all very young beginners!). I didn't know I was bad - I was the best in my little local group. I only really learned how much better other people were when I went to a bunch of tournaments and got crushed repeatedly.
Then I knew I was bad, and it was frustrating. And I had trouble getting better, because all the people I could practice with were even worse. Over time though, I helped everyone (and especially myself) improve. In fact, I got pretty good - I even won some tournaments of a couple hundred people. I stayed sharp by constant practice, and carefully analyzing my every move.
Now, I don't care as much anymore. I play perhaps once a week, and I play with some very good people. I'm not the best in the group, but a little above average. And mostly, I find it really easy. I evaluate game states at a glance, and come to correct conclusions most of the time without even thinking about it.
Now, back to gender.
My magic experience follows a pretty standard pattern of learning, in four stages: unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, conscious competence, and finally unconscious competence. The opening criticism seems to imply that we can somehow skip the middle steps - the ones where we're aware of a problem and learning how to fix it - and skip straight to the end.
Nope. The first step to fixing a problem is knowledge that there is a problem. Different people are at different places - but to say "stop using the word feminism!" is a pretty good sign that you need to be exposed to more of it, not less.