Category Archives: Culture

Why aren’t more women in tech jobs?

Androgyny Edited

Last month we asked some questions about gender quotas in the workplace and whether or not that was the way to encourage more women into the world of IT professionals.

Our poll indicated that 86% of our Blog readers think that gender quotas are NOT the most effective way to equalise the IT gender gap, as one comment on our post stated:

To me, quotas seem like the well-intentioned, but ill-conceived path to diversity by avoiding cultural change and avoiding the problem of biases and institutions that create monoculture– Jyee

But what is the answer? Or perhaps we need to reconsider the question; instead of exploring how to encourage more women to embark on an IT-based career, maybe we first need to find out why they don’t already consider it an option.

  • In a traditionally male-dominated industry fully equipped with its own negative stereotypes it’s difficult for young women embarking on their careers to find role models in IT: ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’. Often women report hostility, or lack of opportunity in the workplace, finding themselves overlooked in favour of male counterparts:

The top two reasons why women leave are the hostile macho cultures — the hard hat culture of engineering, the geek culture of technology or the lab culture of science … and extreme work pressures – Laura Sherbin, a director at the Center for Work-Life Policy

  • It isn’t obvious what sort of tech roles are available until you start in the industry. A tech knowledge is a major part of almost all professional roles in contemporary society – it’s not just coding. The sector is developing rapidly, but a huge amount of this is not visible externally – girls in school may never consider that they could be in tech jobs creating robots, designing games, running start-ups, because this side of the industry is rarely touched upon as a career choice in schools. If young women in secondary education were aware of the potential of developing tech skills they might be more inclined to engage with tech-related subjects at school.
  • Women in tech have not had the best time of it. In the public eye women can see things like GamerGate and the ruthless persecution that can follow women who actively become involved in tech or web-based activities. Although this is far from the norm it’s what is predominantly shown in the media.

Clearly a culture shift is required, rather than short-term measures. Actively encouraging school-aged girls to take up an interested in technology is a way of opening up routes into the industry early on. Eliminate the notion of ‘gendered subjects’ and highlight the opportunities that a tech role brings both to individuals and to the future: it’s an ever-developing, changing exciting industry to be a part of and that’s something that will inspire boys and girls alike.

Technology pervades almost every element of contemporary culture and at least a basic knowledge of technology is becoming standard for the majority of professional roles. Using this as a way to destroy the trope that tech jobs are done by geeky men in a basement with no social skills and a penchant for online gaming.

But what are industries currently doing to tackle the problem of gender imbalance?

Companies like Google have introduced training schemes which aim to fight cultural biases and make the workplace a more positive and neutral environment. Participants take part in word association games and are often surprised at how often women are habitually associated with less technical roles. Hackathon are running a series of women-only events in India, Microsoft are running ‘DigiGirlz’ days all over the world and the Welsh Government’s WAVE scheme aims to help women improve their career prospects though training opportunities, networking opportunities and career development.

But what can smaller businesses do to help?

Companies need to research the biases that prevent women from getting ahead and then devise ‘interrupts’. Instead of single training sessions companies need to make systematic changes. – Joan C Williams.

This, to us, sounds like a DevOps approach. Like optimising your cloud-computing potential, gender equality in the tech industry is not something you can ‘do’ once; it’s an ongoing series of cultural and attitude changes that will deliver the best results for companies and employees. And remember: change takes time

We’d love to hear the strategies companies in the UK are undertaking to address this gender imbalance in the workplace. If you have any thoughts, suggestions or news you’d like to share, please get in touch.

 

Gender quota: the best way to bring more women into IT?

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With various incidents in the media drawing public attention to gender gaps not only in pay, but in traditionally male-dominated industries, women’s role in IT is continually coming under scrutiny.

But is obliging companies to employ a certain number of women the way to tackle this issue? Gillian Arnold believes it is. In the recent Tech Republic article Time for IT jobs to be set aside for women Arnold states that other initiatives have been slow to work:

“Think about the collective hours of effort that have gone into trying to encourage women to join these professions. That’s an enormous amount. We haven’t issued any quotas but maybe it’s time.”

The number of women taking on IT related qualifications is on the up, but it is slow progress. Cultural attitudes take time to change and there are a lack of technical female role models in contemporary media; the enduring image of an IT specialist being the archetypal male ‘nerd’– an image damaging to professionals of any gender.

And could colleagues respect a co-worker that they knew or suspected had been employed to fulfil an imposed quota system? In the long run, could this not be more damaging?

If more is done in the media, in education and employment to alter public preconceptions and shift attitudes about traditionally gender-specific roles diversity is sure to follow.  And it’s already taking place: take Lego as a case-in-point; the popular toy received considerable criticism about their ‘girls’ branded range featuring princesses, hairdressers and an overwhelming amount of pink. Subsequently, Lego have released a Professional Girls range, where female figurines are scientists, astronomers and palaeontologists. Is this something that would have happened twenty years ago? Ten, even?

This clearly reflects a change in public attitudes towards the representation of women in the media and in the professional sector, but it takes time for people to adapt to these attitude shifts and for the changes to manifest themselves. Opening up opportunities culturally and socially and making IT roles a desirable role for everyone will ensue that employers are able to access as wide a cross-section of IT professionals as necessary to ensure that the best person for the role is given the job.

Tell us what you think:

DevOps is for life, not just for techies

DevOps is a philosophy; it’s a way of life that you can use to transform your business methodology, improve your customer communications and revolutionise your results.

We’ve collated some fundamental DevOps principles that you can apply to all your business practises to streamline processes, revolutionise thinking and improve internal and external communications: Keep CALMS and use DevOps.

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Culture – Let yourself Fail

“The one who falls and gets up is stronger than the one who never fell.” It may be a cliché, but we really do learn from our mistakes. Don’t be afraid to try things, but learn to fail safely and make sure you learn from things that don’t work out.

Constant testing, re-evaluation and development is the only way to keep up with the modern world and this can be applied to software development, marketing strategies, personal goals – anything!

Automation – Focus on your business

Modern technology allows you to automate loads of areas of your life to free up your time – without it, juggling work, family, friends and the other components of contemporary culture would be impossible.

Automating systems and processes at work not only eliminates the risk of human error, but it frees up time to focus on the running of your business. Without having to spend man-power on monitoring, testing and updating your software you can focus more time into making your business the best it can be. Automation also means that your release processes are consistent, reliable and specific to your needs.

Lean – Cut down on waste

Originally devised and initiated by Toyota ‘Lean’ is a way of working that improves flow and eliminates waste: making obvious what adds value by reducing everything else. Implementing a Lean system in your processes means discarding superfluous, ‘wasteful’ activity and focusing on efficiently achieving your end result. These processes also reduce costs and production time as well as improving productivity.

This is ideal for efficiency in and out of the work environment – whether your new year’s resolution is to be more productive in your spare time, to recycle more or to get fit, try applying Lean principles to your day-to-day goals!

Metrics – Audience analysis

Who are your customers? How well are you able to monitor the way in which they engage/interact with your business/service? It’s important to keep up with the technological demands of an ever-tech savvy client base, but without listening to what they want, how can you know how to meet their need?

Implementing effective audience analysis technologies and responding quickly to their queries will establish you as trustworthy and responsive and will encourage repeat business.

Sharing – Sharing data

Do different departments within your business share work and information freely? Breakdowns of internal communication can result in the duplication of work and ineffective data management: one department may already have the data that another department is spending time collecting.

An integrated staff which shares information and works cohesively can understand each other’s individual roles, challenges and goals and will work more effectively to make your business the best it can be.

 

To learn more about how DevOpsGuys can help you make the changes you need visit our website or get in touch. Our Blog also has loads of fun, helpful articles to help you get an idea of how we work and what we can offer you.

The DevOps Revolution

“We transformed from a team of employees to a team of owners”– Jim Stoneham, Opsmatic

In a fascinating interview with Opsmatic’s Jim Stoneham Gene Kim revisits Flickr’s innovative 2009 ’10 deploys per day’ presentation.

Comparing different approaches to tackling the rapidly evolving platforms within Yahoo! Stoneham highlights the benefits of integrated working across departments, taking risks in order to learn and involving everyone, at every level with every element of the deployment process.

Working quickly, deploying frequently and developing on the fly means that teams learn faster from mistakes and are able to remain ahead of competitors, as well as responding intuitively to the needs of their audience. Teams are also more involved in the process – collaborating across departments means that everyone learns more and the product belongs to the team as a whole,  because they are all involved in every element of its creation, deployment and improvement.

Sharing knowledge and experience across teams means huge pools of resources at your fingertips. You can monitor your audience and give them what they are asking for as they need it. Working slowly to avoid risks will just lead to missed opportunities and an overall slower development. Frequent deploys and rapid responses to audience needs are vital:

When you move at that speed, and are looking at the numbers and the results daily, your investment level radically changes. This just can’t happen in teams that release quarterly, and it’s difficult even with monthly cycles.” Jim Stoneham

Check out the full interview; a  genuinely interesting insight into the start of the DevOps revolution.

Leading experts bare all about the DevOps movement

The DevOps movement is rising, and an increasing number of IT professionals are keen to adopt this new way of working in order to achieve optimum collaboration between their Development and Operations departments. The ability to react quickly to customer demands is of top priority to businesses all over the world, and the benefits of DevOps is rapidly becoming widely known as offering fantastic business value.

Rackspace has released an Ebook and infographic, highlighting The DevOps Mindset: Real-World Insights from Tech Leaders to help you realise and implement your own DevOps practices within your organisation.

The Ebook shares valuable insights from practicing DevOps leaders with a key focus on outlining the need for enhanced collaboration, measurement and sharing through all aspects of any business. The DevOps Mindset showcases unique perspectives, challenges and achievements, as well as the catalysts which led them to adopt a DevOps mindset.

By successfully balancing the technical and social side of your development and operational processes you can actively learn and advance much quicker to help achieve your company goals. An unequal development of both sides will result in automation without collaboration and a lack of thought into exactly how your ideas and services will effectively be available to your customers.

DevOps advocate Jim Kimball, Chief Technology Officer at HedgeServ says: “I think the fundamental shift toward DevOps started when we got away from focusing on individual team goals and elevated our conversation to organizational goals and let the teams drive toward them.”

“To achieve true DevOps collaboration, you need your employees to really think and act as one, not just be merged together in name only. By pushing communication from the start, everyone gets a better feel for others’ needs and how they do their jobs.” Said James Kenigsberg, Chief Technology Officer at 2U, Inc.

This awesome Ebook shapes a Q&A format and delves deeper into how this new form of agile collaboration is sweeping its way through the software and IT industries.

You will also be able to take away useful tips for business leaders considering transforming their company culture towards a DevOps methodology.

We think this Ebook from Rackspace is a grade A piece, and an asset to anyone contemplating DevOps or thinking about adopting this innovative way of reaching new levels of productivity.

B.F Skinner on #DevOps (circa 1985)

I came across this interview with one of the founding father’s of behavioural psychology, B. F Skinner, the other day and was immediately struck by the phrase below:

What’s needed is to give satisfaction back to people. It’s the difference, he said, between a craftsman who makes a complete chair and a person on an assembly line who makes only the legs. The craftsman’s work, Skinner said, is constantly reinforced by the process of seeing the chair take form, and finally of producing the finished chair. But the assembly-line worker sees only chair leg after chair leg — never the completed product.

Skinner is not advocating elimination of important modern advances, such as the assembly line. But he would like to see industrial engineers and psychologists continue to team up and produce better workplaces and better ways of working that will offer modern employees the psychological lift that the craftsman once felt.” B.F. Skinner interview

To me, this neatly encapsulates one of the central tenets of the DevOps movement – we want to “team up and produce better workplaces and better ways of working” that deliver simultaneously better value (faster) for our organisations AND  improve the morale and job satisfaction of Developers & Operations staff. 

We need to CARE about the “completed product” because we’re following the “First Way” of Devops and using systems thinking models to look beyond our silos and relentlessly focus on the big picture. 

 

Is the S (Sharing) in CALMS Redundant?

@MLCarey321 asked a interesting question on Twitter the other day – is the S for Sharing in the CALMS model not redundant? If you have the right culture that emphasises collaboration & “no silos” surely “sharing” flows out of that? 

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My view is that from a cultural perspective he’s probably right, a DevOps Culture definitely should encompass “sharing” as a core value so why do we need the extra S? 

CALMS Model of DevOps

I think that the extra S is there to emphasise that just having “sharing” as a core value isn’t enough – you need to actively put in place mechanisms to promote, facilitate and reward sharing at multiple levels

For example here at DevOpsGuys we:

  1. Heavily use Atlassian Confluence as a wiki for documentation and documentation is seen as a “living thing” that must be kept up to date because it has value to the team every day.
  2. Use HipChat for informal communication, “What am I doing now”, “Does anyone know something about topic xyz” etc. HipChat is also integrated with JIRA, PagerDuty, CI/CD. 
  3. JIRA Kanban boards for sharing “this is what the team / individual is working on how”, plus time-tracking and work status. 
  4. All of the 3 above are also accessible by the clients – so sharing means “sharing with the customer” too, not creating an “us&them” silo. 
  5. Blogging and presenting to share with the community is strongly encouraged and we’ve started a meetup group DevOps Cardiff (in addition to London Web Performance that I’ve run for 3 years)
  6. Our GitHub repo is a bit sparse at the moment but we hope to open-source some stuff in the future, particularly some samples around Powershell DSC

As we grow and we bring on more grads & apprentices everyone will be paired with a senior mentor to ensure that skills & experience are shared across team, and we’ll start doing weekly “brown-bag” session to further share knowledge.

One area we haven’t looked at yet is explicitly promoting sharing via an incentive/bonus scheme based on “# blog posts” or “# open source commits” or “StackOverflow Reputation“, mostly because I’ve never seen it work successfully in previous organisations in which I’ve worked.

That’s not to say it can’t work… but you have to think about it very carefully or otherwise you risk incentivising the wrong behaviour. My feeling at the moment is that this will remain “ad-hoc” when someone shares “something cool” or gets accepted to speak at a conference or something.

How do you promote, facilitate and reward sharing in your organisations?