Saturday, September 10, 2011

new solution when women complain about tech industry

Every once in a while, someone wants to commiserate with me about the challenges of being a woman in the tech industry. But I don't want to commiserate about it, unless we're going to brainstorm actionable solutions, and then take those actions. If we're just bemoaning the ways in which we're disadvantaged as a gender, that's very depressing for me. So it's awkward when people bring it up.

But now I have a solution! From now on, I'm going to tell them to read this book:

This is my new favorite book. It's an autobiography about Erik Weihenmayer, who goes blind at age 12. At first he rails against it. But then he learns that he can still excel at wrestling and mountaineering. Everything is harder for him. After graduating college, he gets rejected for every job, even dishwasher jobs.

When climbing, he gets big cowbells for his climbing buddies so that he can follow the sound and not fall off the mountain. When placing hooks during ice climbs, he can't see the color of the ice, so he devised a system of knocking on the ice and listening to it.

Imagine if he had just sat around saying, "Damn it, why am I blind?! This blows. Everyone else has it so easy compared to how much effort I have to put in." But instead he summited Everest. I am so inspired. I bow down to his action-oriented attitude.

Everyone has some "disadvantage". You're too young and people don't take you seriously. Or you're too old and people think you're obsolete. Or you are a minority. Or you are overweight and feel judged. Or your parents are super successful and you feel emasculated walking in their gigantic shadow. Or you changed careers and are starting out again in mid-life. Or you are newly divorced and feeling depressed about it. Everyone has something. So instead of complaining about it, find ways to overcome it! A blind guy summited Everest!


Justin K said...


Anonymous said...

Great post, Niniane.

The same women who complain about there not being enough female role models in the tech industry are the same ones that have no problem with the fact that little boys have no role models while they're in primary school. It's time to stop being a hypocrite and find solutions to both problems.

Michelle Zhen said...

alright your blog just shut me up on complaining for being a woman and a minority with english as third language, coming from a less-fortunate-family/education-background-than-others, struggling in the hi-tech industry :) thanks for sharing the story, i think i will buy the book.

Anonymous said...

Women in Silicon Valley should stop complaining about the availability of single men and the excuse of "The odds are good, but the goods are odd." :)

Anonymous said...

This is an incredible book. This person visited and spoke at the camp for blind children that I worked at.

Anonymous said...

This is an incredible book. This person visited and spoke at the camp for blind children that I worked at.

Anonymous said...

some of us have considerable disadvantages and are justified in pointing them out.