Julie Pagano, a software engineer at Google, says that her experiences in technology have felt like death by 1,000 paper cuts.
“…Sometimes being a software engineer means death by 1000 cuts because you don’t have the power to make it stop,” Pagano writes. “Even the tiniest little things add up to something big — sometimes it’s really death by 1000 paper cuts.”
Pagano says the cuts started early, and followed her from high school to college to her professional work.
In college, she was one of the few women in her classes, where her professor would make “creepy comments about ‘geeky girls’ during class.” And it was in college that she learned you “get to be a bitch or you get to be ignored — a choice that would later follow me to the working world,” Pagano writes.
At nearly every technical conference she attends, Pagano says, someone usually makes a comment about women not understanding technology.
“It’s clearly intended to be a joke that the audience will identify with, and most of them do because theses conferences are largely straight and male,” Pagano writes. “For those of us who aren’t, it’s a regular signal that we’re not considered, that maybe we don’t belong. The heavy drinking makes some of us feel unsafe. A paper cut for every conference.”
Pagano says her working life has been plagued with men patronizing her and dismissing her ideas.
“Every time I try to push to make things better, I am guaranteed a patronizing response from someone,” Pagano writes. “If I had a dollar for every time someone suggested that some demographics just aren’t biologically predisposed to be good at programming (even though research does not support this argument), I’d be rich.”
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