women in tech

When Tech Meetings Turn Out to be Dates

An actual wedding band, custom-made for a  Microsoft Game Studios  Software Development Engineer. 

An actual wedding band, custom-made for a Microsoft Game Studios Software Development Engineer. 

Let's set the scene: You've just attended the "hottest" tech talk on Artificial Intelligence, and a lot of intriguing new ideas are flowing through the audience. They've lined up to indulge the speakers, and everyone else is mingling enthusiastically.

Scanning the crowd, everyone is matched up, flapping their business cards and pulling up responsive portfolios and LinkedIn apps, like quickdraw. You lock eyes with someone across the room, and conversation ensues. It's great, they have a new project they're struggling on a certain area for, and it turns out you know that area really well. Cards flap, websites flow, LinkedIns link. You arrange to meet for a beer and discuss it further. 

The day arrives, and you're armed with a bit more research. Approaching the pub, you shoot them a message, "How can I spot you?" A reply comes through, "I'll be the handsome guy sitting at the bar." You stop at the door. 

Is that something you waive off? Walk in and give them a chance to redeem their stupid joke? Their confidence is positive. They're probably nervous. It can be politely clarified in the conversation. It hangs in the air, you have trouble keeping the conversation on track, and you walk away wiser.

"How might we prevent that?" In my case, I bought a fake wedding band. Where have you drawn a line to make professional distinctions?

We’re Asking Too Much of Developers

Recently I was looking at postings for UX/UI Design roles, and I noticed a pattern. So many of the ads were asking for these designers to have the coding knowledge to build their prototypes. Traditionally, UX/UI Designers are not trained in coding, so those roles would be somewhat hybridized. "Looks like what you’re asking for is a Front-End Developer," I thought out loud. It made me realize - We demand too much of Developers! 

UX/UI Design is a supportive role to help take some of the load off of Developers, who already use creative ideation for problem-solving practical website aspects. Many will attest to their frustration of an interrupted workflow to have to stop and invent something that was omitted from the blueprint.

Imagine this: UX/UI Designers and Developers, are like Architects and Engineers. The architect focuses more on the artistry and design of the building, while the engineer focuses more on the technical and structural side. In a highly cohesive team, these roles work in tandem, bouncing material back and forth to iterate on the best solutions. They understand and contrast each other’s skillsets enough to validate key concepts and coordinate more effectively. 

So how might we support Developers to be able to delegate their massive workload? To hone in and advance their expertise further? How might we support their healthier work/life balance and reduce burnout? Include UX/UI Designers as part of a healthy digital product team to support the success of developers and of the company overall.