Double Bind

Book: Double Bind – First Glance, but mostly about me and how it’s not about me.

First, before I tell you about this cool, new book, I’ll give you a snapshot of my life as I see it pertaining to the book’s subject.

After umpteen years in the tech industry, I left my career as a web developer to go back to school and pursue a career in art. I earned my Masters Degree hoping to become an art teacher. I needed to find a career that didn’t take me for granted. I needed to feel like my ambitions and skills appreciated and not squandered. I needed to feel like I mattered to the world. I’d been feeling mostly like a cog.

Sure, I mattered plenty to the companies I worked at but it seemed, only after I left. I’ve heard rumors that my last job had to hire two people to replace me. I gave one company a very detailed 6 month plan to help me advance my career. Everyone was on board, but I couldn’t make progress. I had to make good on my commitment to leave if no progress was made, only to have to sit and have the heartbreaking “what can we do to keep you” talk after the 6 months had come and gone with too many roadblocks and not enough progress. And damnit, I loved that job, but I had nowhere to grow.

I’m modest, hard working, dedicated, inspired, creative. I am generally not a squeaky wheel and I go out of my way to grease other’s wheels, even when I get no benefits from it. I’m a silent wheel greaser. Maybe that’s my problem… Maybe this book will help me figure out I should be shouting it from the mountain tops. I am awesome, hear me roar! Maybe modest is a dirty word.

I’m not cut out to be a cog.

After graduating. I felt totally lost. I couldn’t see myself anywhere in art school except teaching tech classes. Turns out, I missed tech. I missed it to my very core. I was the kid who took apart her toys and reassembled them. I was the kid who NEEDED to know how things worked. I was the kid who NEEDED to know why and how things were broken and wanted to fix them.

I did some research and found out I’m a statistic. Women leave tech mid-career twice as often as men. If you’re curious why, make a very large pot of tea and do a google search. This women-abandoning-tech-careers business has got to stop. It’s a problem, I can see all the various ways this problem operates and I NEED to help fix it. The (lack-of-women-in-tech) wheel is a-squeakin’ and I am at the ready with a giant tube of lube, just let me at it!

Getting back into tech after not having a corporate web developer job in 6+ years has been HARD. I always make it to round two of interviews, but the jobs so far, have been given to someone else. I know I’ll find my forever job soon, but damn, some days I get so frustrated and sad. I keep inspired by soaking up more learning and by looking for kick ass women. So much of my struggle is from my damaged ego, if I can just lean on the strength of others, I will relaunch my career. I will become part of this incredible new movement of women taking on tech.

Second. Double Bind: Women on Ambition, Edited by Robin Romm, fresh off the presses.

My virtual friend Evany Thomas has an essay in this book, so of course I had to get it. I opened it directly to the page where she talks about struggling as a new mom to land a new challenging job in tech. It gave me strength to know that yes, my stubbornness will continue to serve me, as long as I continue to honor it. There is no other choice. Forward forward, never straight has been my motto since high school. The wind may force me off course slightly, but I will not turn back.

After reading Evany’s ass-kickingly inspiring essay, I started poking around the book. And there in the beginning of the book are a set of quotes. The middle one reads:

“My heart says, get up, get back into the game, this isn’t just about you.”  –Theresa Rebeck

And I am reminded where to find strength when it feels too personal, too close to the bone. It’s not for me. It’s for my daughter. It’s for young me who didn’t give up… didn’t listen when boys told her girls weren’t smart enough to program. For all the women out there struggling. Especially for all the mothers out there afraid to try again, start again. I’m doing this for you. I love you, you are beautiful.