I’ve described myself as a feminist for years and, for many of those years I didn’t take too much time to stop and think about what that meant to me. My definition was fairly straightforward and one that I’ve seen in many other places. Feminism meant equal rights for men and women. My definition didn’t go much further than that.
In my earlier days of blogging, I didn’t particularly want to write about feminism. To an extent that’s still true. There is a tax for people who are part of any marginalized group. The tax requires that you will spend your time and energy not on the actual topics you care about and want to write about such as software, but that you will spend time and energy defending your participation in the space and your right to be there. The tax is so far-reaching and insidious that you will end up paying before you even realize what’s happening.
Payment comes in many forms: your influence, showing actual emotions on twitter, a boss’s anger, exhaustion from explaining yourself (again) and then there are all of the requests people make of you to teach them because they don’t feel like finding answers for themselves. Eventually you become #thatwoman who has opinions on feminism. This turns you into a “go-to” whether you want to be or not.
There was a time when I was willingly paying all of these various forms of tax. I’ve done organizing, participated in “visibility” efforts and written about feminism. At the end of it, I found myself exhausted and needing to focus on my own career rather than continuing to feed the testing community with all of its various requests.
I largely disengaged from the testing community a few years ago because I’m pushing my own career in a different direction and it is taking all of the energy I have. In the meantime, I’ve paid attention to what has been happening in tech around gender and diversity outside of testing. For the most part, I focus on listening and signal boosting other people because, as a straight, white, cis woman who already has a tech job, I have my own share of privilege.
Through all of this listening and signal boosting, my feminism has grown and changed. It has outpaced my old definition and is now anchored in bell hooks
Simply put, feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression.
I’m done arguing, debating and/or discussing the meaning of quality, but I don’t think we talk enough about feminism, what it means to us, how it touches our lives and what it looks like in our communities.
The testing community, in particular, seems to operate under this two-headed shadow of a certain leader with mysoginist tendencies coupled with other leaders who don’t seem to have an awareness of what is happening in tech diversity outside the walls of testing. (Yes, that is a challenge. I don’t mind if people communicate with me to tell me how wrong I am about that, just don’t expect me to give you a cookie.)
One thing I’ve learned in this new world is that if I am part of a marginalized group, it is ok for me to push back on taking responsibility for fixing things. It is ok for me to voice a frustration or call someone out and leave it at that. I don’t have to write tons of articles for different testing publications explaining myself. I don’t have to be the one giving talks about this. In fact, by not doing these things, it leaves space for other voices. I’ve noticed that there are some great new voices in software testing who are paving the wave for even more change.
My hope is that people in software testing reach outside of the testing bubble for influence on multiculturalism and inclusion. Prove me wrong. Show me that you are learning and listening. I am not the person who will say to you that my opinion is the only one and you should blindly follow it. We’ve had enough of that in software testing.