The Surprising Strength of Vulnerability – how can tech companies attract women employees?

At Future Cert, one of our mission statements is to attract more women to careers in Linux or Open Source in general. The lack of women in the industry (read, serious lack) is not confined to Open Source, it goes across the tech industry. A few months ago an article caught our eye on LinkedIn, by owner of US-based software company Corgibytes Andrea Goulet, called ‘Technical; Non Technical? Both!’ It is a fantastic personal account of her own battle trying to be recognised within the tech industry when she is a – gasp – woman! We are delighted that Andrea has written this guest blog article for us on the topic of women in the software industry – and her personal views on what companies can do to encourage more women to work with them.

The Surprising Strength of Vulnerability

By Andrea Goulet (follow her on LinkedIn)

andreagoulet_hiresWhy are there so few women software developers? It’s not because the math is hard. It’s not a pipeline problem. So what is it? It’s the culture. Or, more specifically a hero culture that systematically pushes women out. Developers are expected to sacrifice themselves at the expense of their personal health and family and must be perceived as impenetrable automatons, filled with facts and void of feeling. The culture of software expects us to be extensions of the machines we program, rather than people who value empathy, creativity, and human connection.

So, what’s the big deal? Why even bother creating an inclusive culture?

When vulnerability is seen as a weakness, rather than the strength that research shows it to be, we guard ourselves with secrecy and structure. Communication systems close off and Conway’s Law begins to take effect — our codebases begin to mirror the communication structures that are designed to hold up the hero. The code becomes more difficult to work with and technical debt takes hold.

This means that the root cause of so many of the software challenges we see can be resolved by building a culture that centres around human connection: valuing trust, empathy, vulnerability, flexibility and autonomy is the key to making better software. These values are at the very core of movements such as Agile. Embracing human connection in software helps us all, plus it has the side benefit of attracting women to the industry.

I’ve seen this first hand at my company, Corgibytes. At the heart of our corporate culture are three pillars —  balance, empathy, and autonomy — and five core values:

  • Act with Empathy
  • Adopt a Growth Mindset
  • Calm the Chaos
  • Communication Is Just as Important as Code
  • Craftsmanship in Context

That’s what defines us, and we have no problem attracting very talented software developers, of all genders, ages, and ethnicities, who want to work for us. The key here is inclusion — human connection —, and I’m hopeful because so many organisations are genuinely embracing this change. It makes software better for all of us.


In 2017 we’ll be launching a month of ‘Women in IT’ campaigning and blogging, if you’re interested and would like to get involved (perhaps you are a woman in IT who’d like to blog on the topic, or you’re a woman with Linux qualifications) please get in touch by emailing: [email protected]