The First Women in Tech Didn’t Leave—Men Pushed Them Out – WSJ

Women filled computer-programming jobs in the U.S. and U.K. after World War II, but as government and business professionalized programming, the decline of female coders began.

Find the full article at the Wall Street Journal

If nothing else happened in 2017, this has been a year where women started to assert themselves more into society in a push that hasn’t been seen in decades. In the process of doing so, we are reminding ourselves of where we have been, where we are, and where we should be.  Women in tech has always been a topic of interest here at TechCommGeekMom, because there is a generation (namely mine) that essentially got shut out because our predecessors got shut out.  We found some other ways to work around it, but not always. We need to learn from our history (which is spelled out well in this Wall Street Journal article), and see what we can do to change this. There is no reason whatsoever for the technical field not to be equal between men and women in the workforce doing the same jobs. None.

Think of it like this–they don’t say that “Mother Necessity” is the reason for invention for nothing, right? Women have often been the inspiration for technical advance, and even a few super smart ones were able to break those barriers to the world’s advantage. So why would you want to lock them out?

It is not only up to women to fight for their right to work equally in the tech field, but it’s up to men who understand and appreciate that women are perfectly capable of doing the same jobs for equal pay as well.

What do you think? Include your comments below.

–TechCommGeekMom

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Remote Workers Are Outperforming Office Workers–Here’s Why

Research shows that office workers cannot concentrate at their desks.

Source: Remote Workers Are Outperforming Office Workers–Here’s Why

April Showalter had liked this article on LinkedIn, and I can see why. I totally agree as well! This is an argument that I’ve been making for a long time now, if you’ve been reading many of my postings for the last couple of years.  Most of us really don’t need the flashy stuff. We need an environment that’s conducive to us getting our work done, and we need flexibility.  Just today, my doctor called me and said I had to come over for some overdue tests. I wasn’t doing much this morning, and the doctor is only five minutes away, so I was able to schedule that in. There are other times I need that flexibility due to my family responsibilities or my STC duties (I often have to leave a little early for chapter meetings since I live far away, and usually have to battle rush-hour traffic around Philadelphia.) When I’m working from home as a remote worker, I can usually get SO much more done, because I actually have fewer distractions. I can be here to have lunch with my son when he has a day off from school. I can take a quick break and greet him when he gets home from school. And I still get all the work done.

So, if this article isn’t more proof that companies should seriously consider hiring remote workers, than I don’t know what the problem is, other than backward thinking in the digital 21st century.

What do you think? Include your comments below.

–TechCommGeekMom

 

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The Best Technical Writers are Not Techie at All

The job of a technical writer is to translate complex information into words that a non-technical/non-scientific person can understand and use. Now at

Source: The Best Technical Writers are Not Techie at All

Thanks to Dave Gardner for finding this and posting it on LinkedIn.

This is an argument that I’ve made to prospective employers and recruiters time and time again.  Having a little technical knowledge helps, but ultimately it’s hard to find people who have the same super technical knowledge they require AND can write about technical things. I’ve often thought as technical writers almost like translators; we translate English into English. We make the complicated less complicated. We shouldn’t have to be former programmers/developers, post-doctoral scientists, or whatever else requires very specific knowledge to write. We just need to know how to write, to write well, and decipher the hard stuff.  As Dave Gardner, the person who originally posted this on his LinkedIn feed said in his own commentary, “Find a candidate who is a quick study — someone who can ramp up quickly in your technology and who can translate that technology into understandable content for your end-audience.”  I don’t think I could have phrased this better myself. (Thanks, Dave!)

What do you think? Include your comments below.

–TechCommGeekMom

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I’ve had 4 jobs in 6 years — and ‘job hopping’ helped me double my salary

Job hopping can actually help your career.

Source: I’ve had 4 jobs in 6 years — and ‘job hopping’ helped me double my salary

This article is interesting, as it’s written by a millennial who feels that this is the norm. Oh, Gen-X had it covered long before millennials. Gen-X was the first generation that really didn’t have the backing of “the establishment”–there were fewer jobs or companies where you could stay there your entire career. You could say that I’ve been a job hopper my entire adult career–often not by choice. Layoffs were often a source whereby I was ousted when I wanted to stay. Even a more recent job I had was one where I really thought they would keep me and get me out of the cycle of contracting job after contracting job.  Didn’t happen. I’ve come to the conclusion, much like this author, that the only way to move up and attain new skills and experiences is to embrace job hopping. In the technical communication world, it’s practically a given that most jobs are going to be temporary, contract jobs, even if they are “long term” (six months or more), and so it adds to your resume very quickly. Whereas this author has had four jobs in six years, I was realizing that between part-time and full-time jobs, I’ve easily had twice that many jobs (or possibly more)–and that’s considering I’ve had long unemployment or underemployment periods in that same six years! She is lucky that she’s gotten as big a pay raise as she has. In the same six years, I’ve only had one pay raise, and that’s with the new job I’m about to start.

“Job hopping” has become a norm, whether we like it or not. At least in the U.S. (although I’m sure it happens elsewhere), are trying to cut costs by not having as many employees, and by not having as many full-time employees, they don’t have to pay for company benefits like medical, dental, etc.  I’ve often been asked by some potential employers why I’ve done so many contract jobs–is it because I like it? The answer is no for me. I don’t do contracting because I want to be a contractor. There are pros and cons to being a contractor. You have a slightly more liberal absence policy, because essentially if you don’t work, you don’t get paid. So, you can take more time off within reason–saves them money, but you lose money. You don’t know if your position will be extended or if you’ll have to look yet again for a new job in a few months, and it can take months (or as much as a year) to find the next job. You don’t have any security of benefits. Yes, you can still get laid off as an employee, but often you get a small financial package when you leave. When you are a recruiter, they just say, “Bye! Thanks for coming!” I’ve resigned myself that most likely, I will be contracting until I am ready to retire, but I’ll probably have to retire when I’m 75 or 80.

In the meantime, companies either have to figure out how to keep good employees longer to prevent the job hopping through internal opportunities and benefits, or create an economy of people who are always hopping around. That seems unstable in the long run.

What do you think about “job hopping”? Include your comments below.

–TechCommGeekMom

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How To Impress Recruiters When You’re Unemployed

There’s a good chance recruiters could be biased, but there are ways to overcome this problem.

Source: How To Impress Recruiters When You’re Unemployed

I found this article through LinkedIn.  While the article has sound advice, I would add two more pointers that I think are especially important for technical communicators.

  1. While you are unemployed, don’t sit around. Do something to keep your skills fresh or add new ones.  Take courses either in person or online, create an e-portfolio of some of your work or other content that can showcase your abilities, if possible. If you do something that’s not easily something that can be showcased, then blog about it. When blogging, either write original articles or curate content and comment (much like I’m doing at this moment) to show that you have an understanding of the topic in the “real world”. Take a part-time job or volunteer for a group that can use your skills. All of these things keep various skills fresh, or give you new skills. It shows that you can keep active and grow.
  2. Tell the recruiter that you are taking that course, writing that blog, been working on that e-portfolio, and include that volunteer or part-time work on your resume if it’s applicable.  Any of these things show that you haven’t been in a holding position until your next job. It shows that you are pro-active, and that’s a positive attribute to have while job searching, and a positive attribute to employers.

How do I know this? Yes, experience. There are jobs that I’ve gotten for my writing ability because of this blog, for example. I have an e-portfolio which I’ve generally kept up to date as my work has been published or promoted. There are experiences from my volunteer work first with the Cub Scouts, and then with the STC that have given me an advantage when talking about interviews about certain topics.

Always learning, and always growing–whether you are unemployed or not–is the key to staying competitive if you are ever in the position of wanting to move ahead, or just get a job in the first place. It’s been a big advantage to me as I’ve moved from position to position. Give it a try.

What do you think of this article? Is this sound advice? Do you agree with the “not staying still” during employment? Include your comments below.

–TechCommGeekMom

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The Unforgivable Sin in Silicon Valley: Being Gen-X | Inc.com

If you grew up listening to Pearl Jam, you can kiss your high-tech dream job good-bye.

Source: The Unforgivable Sin in Silicon Valley: Being Gen-X | Inc.com

Many thanks to Rachel Houghton, fellow technical communicator and Gen X’er, for finding this article and passing it along to me.

Oh, I’m so delighted by this article! This is a very good explanation of what’s going on in the tech field, and it does affect those of us in technical communication as well.  Even I admit that I don’t put my college graduation year on my resume, and even the least recent thing I have on my resume is about 18 years old (it’s when my shift to IT/tech comm happened, so anything before that doesn’t really matter much anyway)–with a gap, no less, where I leave little part-time jobs that don’t pertain to tech comm out, and were also the years that I spent as a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom).  We can’t forget that part–that parents who take time off to care for their children, or people who have to care for someone ill in their family and need to take extended time off–get penalized, too.

But this has become a bigger and bigger problem as time moves along, and this article validates this problem. The author of this article suggests that we form unions and such. Well, our generation isn’t used to doing that. How many tech unions are there anyway? I would join up if I knew one existed. How do you join a union if you are a perpetual contractor, because you can’t get anything but contract work rather than full-time employment? That’s an issue in our industry.  This is where the professional societies really, REALLY need to start stepping in more.  That means STC, IEEE-ProComm, ISTC–you name them, they should be helping with this endeavor, or providing more support on these issues, as we are not only a large group, but we are also the same ones who are trying to keep these professional societies afloat.

What do you think about this article? Include your comments below.

–TechCommGeekMom

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Moderately Motivated Gen-Xer for Hire – McSweeney’s Internet Tendency

Source: Moderately Motivated Gen-Xer for Hire – McSweeney’s Internet Tendency

This was published a year ago, but it still works. While this is meant to be satire, as it is, it’s almost accurate. When I look at the description, it’s almost exactly what I would say. You know my position. I think Gen-X gets the short end of the stick, as they say. Read this, and understand while this is said sarcastically, there is some truth in it.

The growth of STEM careers, including Tech Comm, cannot be limited to Millennials or resting on the shoulders of the Baby Boomers who invented the tech. Ageism in tech is still an issue, to the point that I learned a new hashtag recently– #techageism. (I plan to use that one more often.) Ageism in the workplace needs to stop. Really. I mean it.

What do you think of this article, even though it’s meant to be humor? Include your comments below.

-TechCommGeekMom

 

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