[Book Review] Women In Tech by Tarah Wheeler Van Vlack

The book Women In Tech by Tarah Wheeler Van Vlack had all the elements to be a good read for me. I was looking for a woman oriented book, about their success in the world of computing and technology. Sadly, my expectations were not met through it and although a few chapters were interesting, many didn’t appeal to me the right way.

1

Tarah Wheeler Van Vlack is a well educated woman with a BA, MS, CSM and CSD. She is also a technology oriented entrepreneur and CEO/cofounder of Fizzmint. She worked with many projects including at Microsoft Game Studios and founded many organizations. A good background, but not especially impressive in the world of Silicon Valley.

2

The book was able to invite eight guest writers, all women, to talk about their experiences in the technology field. They ranged from a variety of specialization, from hacking, academia, event hosting, and much more. I liked reading these stories. All of them talked about how their parents pushed them since youth to be creative and amazing and that is why they have what it takes to survive in the technological world. I disagree as I believe any childhood experience good or bad can direct you toward the IT field. We need to encourage girls to try out STEM subjects since young age, but it is not a prerequisite to enter it! Out of all these ladies, I especially liked Angie Chang‘s chapter where she talked about creating and hosting Girl Geek Dinner meetups. Very inspiring!

Now, into the book. The book’s main focus was to tell the reader how women should behave in the technology world to not be discriminated. Its chapters covered subjects like how to apply for jobs, how to ace the interview (what to wear?), salary negotiations, communication on the job, family balance, personal branding, networking, mentorship, getting management roles and even starting your own company.

Although the book is delivering the right message, I didn’t like the way it was doing it. As I was reading it, I felt like the author was saying that we women are on the losing side of things and must follow this ultimate bullet list to be able to catch up to men. Yes, it felt like the book wanted to dictate the way I think and behave just so I can assimilated to this world. Maybe she is right, but that is not what I want. I want to use my unique skills as a woman to bring my own point of view to the company, I want to be seen as equal without having to fight back and being aggressive. I don’t have much experiences in the work force, but from my student years and my first internship experience, I found my coworkers very respectful about me and my opinions. Why would I need to put myself in the seat of a victim?

Of course, this book does bring up a few interesting elements and bad ones. I liked how she recommended not applying for rockstar/ninja positions because that is just synonym with bad company culture (aka a lot of overwork for low pay). She also recommended using github as the best CV tool because you can put all your best code there. But she also bring out bad advice like having a five pages CV: I am pretty sure this author is the only one to present such a view.

All in all, it was an interesting read again, but did not bring out the elements I wished it did. Not a recommendation to others.

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