One of my state senators ([Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand](http://gillibrand.senate.gov/) (D-N.Y.)) is very active and vocal on this topic. She's introduced legislation to establish gender-neutral, paid family medical leave. One of the co-sponsors for the bill is Bernie Sanders.
I think the universal problem here is maternity leave is considered a benefit.
Not a right, but a benefit.
The US is the only first world country without any guaranteed leave, let alone guaranteed paid leave. It's just embarrassing at this point. That is why I am in favor of federal level requirement for general leave for everyone, that you can use for your child, spouse, parent, pet, or yourself.
And lets not bring Europe into this.
I think the issue is that you're saying "Europe this, Europe that" describing Europe as a monolithic entity, when working and family life / culture, as well as employment law, varies hugely between countries.
My sister had the good fortune to spend some time in Europe, and to say that Norway, Germany, and Greece are the same. Have the same system, priorities, and motivation is way off. That isn't how it works over there.
But it is still something that we need here.
I wouldn't use it for the kids, obviously, but I think it would be great to have that structure in place. If this kind of legislation is as important to you as it is important to me, I urge you to contact your representatives to get them on board with getting this country on board with the rest of the industrialized world.
The literature is clear that bonding and parenting in the first six months to a year can establish better outcomes for the child, and one day that child will be in our workforce. It is my view that a caring society would understand that the best chance of not raising a bad child into a bad adult is to have a parent around.
Women developers may be scarce in the US and western Europe, but Bulgaria and Romania have no such issues. In Romania at least, it could be connected with the way high school education is organized, exposing all kids to STEM subjects.
The areticle goes on to state that the majority of the best Romanian high schools, which allow you to virtually apply to any university program you like. All of these are heavily focused around Mathematics and Computer Science.
From what I understand students will spend at least six hours a week on math, and 6 more hours filled with Computer Science.
After 4 years of this, you are familiar with what CS is and requires, and if you like it you have the skill set to study it further at university.
I don't think Romanian women study CS because they don't have the luxury to choose a "feminine" subject, but because STEM is not an alien option to them. Women in richer countries – Sweden in particular – pick less well-paid, but more social motivated careers instead.
I've been I this situation again and again. You may know what I am talking about. This is the situation where a man has definitely been looking down on myself and my female colleagues (the few that he has had to deal with). I've been out for a professional meeting with a client, who saw that as the right situation to rest their hand on my leg. Despite all of this people within the IT field will get worked up if you mention it.
Maybe I'm fortunate enough to now be in a situation where I am don't feel that there is a real difference in how I am treated from my male coworkers. Seniority and a higher position that most of them plays a role in this. But you have to work to get there and a lot of people wouldn't have the will to go there.
But my personal style has always been to let my work speak for myself, and just try to treat everyone equally, with the respect that I hope they will return to me.
This has not always worked. But then few things ever work a hundred percent of the time.
I've had terrible female and male coworkers equally, but I never felt that this was something that was detrimental to my own work, or something that I couldn't push through.
I can speak to effective communication tips thought, and personally this comes back to active listening. Listening and understanding is sometimes the hardest thing. But if you can listen well, you can reply well. You can ask the right questions, you can get to the depth of the issue, and you can understand the other person's struggles or perspectives. All of this is useful, powerful, and productive. And it's personally worked for me really well.
It's not just between genders, it's for every relationships - between spouse, parent-child, superior-subordinate, etc.
You mentioned you are now in a situation where you don't feel there is a real difference in how you are treated from your male coworkers. What was it like before and how did you overcome that?
If And Of This Sounds Familiar
First thing is to communicate. I can't read minds. I can't stress this enough. If you think it might be useful the shoot out an email. I can delete it if I don't care.
Second is to say what you mean and mean what you say. Don't him haw or beat around the bush. Politely and professional tell me what's on your mind.
Third (I know it sounds rude) is when asking for something then simply ask for what you want. If you need to transfer a file to another college then say that. Don't ask what our email attachment limit is. As a senior sysadmin my time is expensive. If you need help with something, then ask if I can help you work on a solution. You don't need to ask what I'm doing that day.
If I'm busy then I'll let you know.
But I will still try and help you.
I think everyone would be better off at work if we treated each other the way our moms and dads taught us. Say please and thank you.
Let me repeat that, for the ones that aren't paying attention. Say please when you want something. Then, say thank you. Three words used at the right times will make you some friends that will last you your career log.
Most of us IT professionals need to learn how to do this. Because until they do, they may know their area of expertise but not much else.
P.S. Don't back stab and talk about people behind their backs. In short, be a decent person to everyone. This is something that we have a lot of at work.
I remember having some issues in other jobs that I worked in college, one of them was working in restaurants, which was especially frustrating as a women. But that was direct interaction with people in the restaurant, rather than a systematic layer of sexism in the job.
At the moment, while there is a clear message that tech needs more women, and there should be, it is a great career if you can manage it. But while this message is less common, the one that women hear much of the time is also a clear message, tech is a really shitty place to be a woman. And it can be.
I studied hard once I realized it was for me, and I worked hard to get where I got.
I love what I do.
I didn't get to do a lot of coding when I started, projects were sparse and I had to fight for them and I made some experience that still make me mad to this day. But not all men are like that. I had an older male coworker take me under his wing and I worked on a lot of projects under his mentoring. He showed me how to do different things that were mission critical. Now that he left I'm the group's go to person for much of our code base.
Is there evidence otherwise?
We're a lot better off today socially and in a lot of other fields than 30 or 40 years ago and women are fleeing tech, specifically programming in mass. That is because women in IT were actually better off 30, 40 years ago in Computer Science fields. In the 80s woman in CS degrees peaked at just short of 40 percent, now it is around 12%. Things have actually gotten worse over time, despite fields like nursing being female dominated and around since long before the 80s.
Some insight into why women who like coding wouldn't go into it as a career: I've had some nasty experiences. I'm so glad I just started listening to myself and not paying attention to anyone against it.
I wish I just did my own thing from the beginning, but it's turned out all right for me so far. There are definitely barriers though.
I think family responsibilities is the main reason you don't see more women in engineering. I live in NY and it's rare for male software engineers to actually take parental leave.
One reason for me is clear.
IT jobs tend to be interesting and challenging work. The pay is great. In general it's a wonderful job.
With that all said, it's also a very conservative job with a lot of old school attitude going around, which may be where the looking down on people who take time off for families comes from.
Another thing to keep in mind when having kids is that IT allows you to work remotely. If your work has the option then why not use it to work remotely.
When my husband and I had our child I made enquirers and learned that this would be doable. Note doable.
If it's technically possible, but not politically doable, encourage them into trying it. Once I told them I planned on taking the full 12 weeks allowed by FMLA (though the leave is not required to be paid, mine was partially), it was amazing how fast I got set up to work from home. A year later & I'm still working from home 2-3 days a week.