When there are nine.

Musings on women in martech.

"So now the perception is, yes, women are here to stay. And when I'm sometimes asked when will there be enough [women on the Supreme Court]? And I say when there are nine, people are shocked. But there'd been nine men, and nobody's ever raised a question about that."

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Last week I spoke on a panel at ANA EEC about women in martech. I’m so honored to speak alongside Guilda Hilaire, Carin Slater, and Aysha Marie Zouain about our experiences and what we as an industry can do to encourage women to work in tech.

I love the quote above by RBG (may her memory be a revolution). For so long we haven’t thought twice about an organization being comprised of only men. The conversation has changed and it’s on all of us (yes, men, you too!) to make our industry more equal AND equitable.

Twenty minutes for a four person panel is not enough time to talk about this. We ended up cutting the final, and in my opinion, most important question:

What are some of the steps that we can take on a personal level, and perhaps for the leaders in our organizations, to make real progress and promote change here? For example, if someone wants to become an ally, how can they take action?

During the panel I talked about organizational change and how culture is set from the top down. If you want more diverse teams, then you have to go to the hiring managers and make the argument. But what can we do besides that? How can we speak up? What do we even do?

We all have a voice in the room we stand in. Whether it’s an industry group, our home, a local community, or board we sit on, we have our voices and our influence. It’s up to us to decide how we use it.

I’ll use myself as an example. When I started planning Notes from the Dev at work, I was clear from the start that I intended to use the show as a way to highlight email developers we may not hear from often. It only took one person to give me a chance (April Mullen, thank you!), and in turn I wanted to be that person for others. I’m proud to say NFTD features one of the most diverse lineups in the email space. We launched the first three episodes by featuring amazing female email developers - two are women of color.

If you’re a known industry voice, a great way to prop people up is to defer opportunities. “Here’s a list of other people to bring on before me!” is an easy win for you and the organizer. You’re not cutting yourself off from the opportunity but you’re giving others a chance to share their knowledge. A known industry email developer actually did this with me for NFTD, and I’m forever grateful (and they’ll be on the show soon!).

It’s also paramount to take a look around the room. Are industry awards and “top email marketers” features going to the same in-group each year? Is everyone from the same demographic? If the answer to either of these is yes, ask yourself who’s missing. How can you bring others along with you? A rising tide raises all ships, after all.

Don’t forget, allyship is a practice, not a destination. You might consider yourself “one of the good ones”, and sometimes that can cause you to lose sight of what’s happening around the industry. Just because you don’t see something happening, doesn’t mean it’s not there. We all live in bubbles.

So I challenge you to look around and identify ways to help. Is there an intro you can make or a speaker slot you can give? How can you affect change at the organizational level? These are questions only you can answer.

Oh, and tell HR to post the salary band on that job listing, it’s the single most effective way to help increase the salary of underrepresented groups, because the pay gap is VERY real (and another rant for another time).

Talk soon,

P.S. If you’re tired of “the fight”, I see you. Please rest. Sometimes just showing up is okay. Here to chat if you need to, all you have to do is reply.