I woke up to my niece's phone call today. She had called to tell me that she finally had an answer to that fateful forever question of "what do you want to be when you grow up". She wanted to make video games. This didn’t really surprise me - she always had a knack for summarizing complex game play in a few words. What did surprise me, however, was my inability to go back to sleep after that call. I lay awake, thinking about her future career choice, about how things are now, and how much I wish I could change them for her. I got up, and I wrote her this letter.
Dear niece - on your 8th birthday,
As a future woman in technology, I want so much more for you than I can articulate. Hopefully, things will have seen some change when you are ready to make this world your own. If that is not the case, here is what I wish for you, for every young woman, and for this industry.
I hope that if someone chooses to toss an adjective in front of your job title, that it is about your qualifications - not your gender.
I hope that you never have to develop a "thick skin". You are sensitive and thoughtful and lovely - cost of entry should not include compromising who you are.
I hope that you never understand the terms "boys club" and "sausage party" and mostly, that you never find yourself using them.
I hope that being a female developer will cease to be a novelty.
I hope that you attend conferences and find yourself complaining about long lines for the bathroom.
I hope that you never have to see that look of shock when you tell someone you are a developer. Mostly, I hope you never have to hear someone say "good for you".
I hope that when you attend a meeting that is mostly male, that you never get asked why you are not taking meeting notes. I hope you say "fuck this" more than "it's okay".
I hope that you will speak about your expertise. And that when you do, people won’t use some form of social media to point out your body issues. The only body on display, is your body of work.
I hope that skill will always be held in higher esteem than your gender - if you had no skill, you would not be part of the discussion, and your gender is simply a modifier.
I hope that when you ask for what you want and work hard to get it, ambition won’t be misplaced for aggression.
I hope that when you say what you think, you will be considered a contributor, and not a bitch.
I hope that no one ever tells you to "deal with it", "relax", or "ease up" because you refuse to laugh at something that simply is not funny.
I hope that your initial interactions involve an immediate transfer of trust in your abilities, rather than starting off by always having to prove yourself.
I hope that you never have to fight for equal pay. And if you do, I hope that you never feel like you need to disparage another for what is rightfully yours.
I hope that you never have to hear a co-worker disservice a colleague by describing their physicality before their competence.
I hope that you find yourself as lucky as I, working with people who are respectful, encouraging and inspiring. Find people who want to raise you up, rather than keep you down.
I hope that you embrace your own inner honey badger.
There will be generous, supportive people in your industry. May you have the good fortune to make those connections and hold them close. They will define you in ways that you could not imagine.
Passion is infectious. I hope you allow yourself to be inspired, but to also inspire. Your work will speak for itself, if you let it.