Women Who Test

By Alison Wade - 07/23/2015

There is a movement across the globe as groups that support and promote women are popping up in the hundreds of thousands. Is this a fad? I think not!

It is more of revolution, fueled by the economic and social inequity women have experienced for centuries. But why a revolution, and why now? It’s only been in recent modern history that the paradigm has shifted to encourage women in higher education and the workplace. Now that those are commonplace, the next step is equality and full participation in rewarding careers. To that extent, we see the collective minds of women reaching out to take their equal and due place in this world, literally bursting, oozing and seeping through every crack in the fabric of society. The advancement of these groups is propelled by access to technology, and by the voice of social media, which have each provided a perfect conduit for this eruption.

These groups are popular and successful because women know that is it important to learn from other women, to mentor other women, and to inspire each other.

Women Who Test started because of my desire to encourage women to talk about their experiences in testing and their careers. I have been on a mission for a while to help increase the ratio of women practitioners speaking at our software testing conferences, and it has not been without its challenges. Each conference brings us about three to four hundred submissions. While women are well represented in the profession of software testing, only about ten percent of the submissions to speak come from women. Why?

It is well documented that men are comfortable touting their abilities, experiences and credentials. It is as equally well documented that women notoriously underestimate and underplay their abilities and their experiences. This difference was driven home to me when I asked a female in a very high-level role from one of the country’s most well known software organizations to give a talk. Despite her twenty plus years of experience and her interest in speaking, she felt she was not ready. She was smart, articulate and came highly recommended. I was stunned and knew she had a lot to offer. This is not an uncommon situation in my experience. Statistics tell us that women suffer from imposter syndrome at a much higher rate than men. Imposter syndrome is when – despite outside evidence to the contrary – an individual feels they may be discovered as some sort kind of fraud. Suffers are often plagued with self-doubt, believing that they are not successful and competent and are only posing as such.

Many women lack the kind of self-authorizing behavior that many men take for granted. Much of these be behaviors need to be learned by women through practice and persistence. I want women to be as equal and confident in selling themselves, their careers, their experiences, and their lives, as their male counterparts. After all, according to UTest, over 30% of the 170K plus software testers in their community are female, and about 73% of those female testers are under the age of 35, indicating they are probably at the beginning stages of their careers.

You only have to look to the Forbes magazine June edition “America’s Richest Self-Made Women” to know that the topic of women crashing through the ceiling is still – well – a story. While women’s incomes still pale next to men, I hope there is a shift in women’s thinking. Women are looking at their work as a career, and not just a job. And there is a movement underway to support that shift in thinking.

Creating a day for “Women Who Test” is a way to support and further that movement. It allows women to hear from other women in software testing. It provides the space and time for them to talk with their female peers, to problem solve together, and to be inspired by each other.

Join us for Women Who Test, October 2, 2015, at the STARWEST Conference in Anaheim

Tags: Leadership, Public Speaking, Women, Women In Tech