Sexism in tech is alive and well

Honestly, I thought we were past this as an industry? But my experience at Developer Week 2024 showed me there's still a long way to go to overcoming sexism in tech.

And it came from the source I least expected; literally people who were at the conference trying to convince others to buy their product. People for whom connecting and educating is literally their job.

Time and again, both I (an engineer) and my nonbinary wife (a business analyst, at a different organization) found that the majority of the masculine-presenting folks at the booths on the expo floor were dismissive and disinterested, and usually patronizing.

It was especially ironic given one of the predominant themes of the conference was developer experience, and focusing on developer productivity. One of the key tenets of dx is listening to what developers have to say. These orgs failed. Horribly.

My wife even got asked when "your husband" would be stopping by.

I had thought it would go without saying, but female- and androgynous-presenting folk are both decision-makers in their own right as well as people with influence in companies large and small.

To organizations: Continuing to hire people who make sexist (and, frankly, stupid) judgments about who is worth talking to and what you should be conversing with them about is not only insulting, it's bad business. Founders: If you're the ones at your booth, educate yourselves. Fast.

I can tell you there are at least three different vendors who were providing services in areas we have professional needs around who absolutely will not get any consideration, simply because we don't want to deal with people like that. I don't assume the whole organization holds the same opinions as their representative; however, I can tell for a fact that such views are not disqualifying by that organization, and so I have no interest in dealing with them further.

Rather than call out the shitty orgs, I instead want to call out the orgs whose reps were engaging, knowledgable and overall pleasant to deal with. Both because those who do it right should be celebrated, and because in an attention economy any given (even negative) is unfortunately an overall net positive.

The guys at Convex were great, answering all my questions about their seemingly very solid and robust Typescript backend platform.

The folks at Umbraco gave great conference talks, plied attendees with cookies and talked with us at length about their platform and how we might use it. Even though I dislike dotNet, we are very interested in looking at them for our next CMS project.

The developer advocates at Couchbase were lovely and engaging, even if I disagree with Couchbase's overall stance on their ability to implement ACID.

The folks at the Incident.io booth were wonderful, and a good template for orgs trying to sell services: They brought along an engineering manager who uses their services, and could speak specifically to how to use them.

I want to give a shout-out to those folks, and to exhort organizations to do better in training those you put out as the voice of your brand. This is not hard. And it only benefits you to do so.

Also, the sheer number of static code analysis companies makes me thinks there's a consolidation incoming. Not a single one of three could differentiate their offerings on more than name and price.