International Women’s Day: A guide for tech companies

International Women’s Day is on Saturday, March 8, 2014. As a woman in programming, IWD is especially important to me because it is an opportunity to celebrate other women in the field.

Lots of tech companies host events for International Women’s Day - I went to one at Google last year that had some great talks. However, IWD is an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women, not an excuse to throw a PR party for your company.

No matter how pure a company’s intentions may be, their undoubtedly very well funded International Women’s Day event takes attention away from those hosted by national and local community organizations that work to serve women every day of the year.

If your company does not already have an established women’s initiative or group (ex: Passion Projects, Women @ Groupon), don’t try and do your own thing for IWD. It will come off as disingenuous. Yes, you have to start somewhere, but unless you’re launching a new women’s initiative internally, IWD is not a day for you.

There are lots of local organizations and groups whose mission is to support women. Instead of creating an internal event, work with these organizations as a sponsor. You can provide them with the funding, space, and promotional materials that they to create culturally relevant, engaging events on a much larger scale than their budgets allow.

 Organizations

Being a software engineer, much of these recommendations are focused on outreach to women in the engineering community.

If you have a suggestion for an organization you would like to see on this list, tweet at me.

 Not just for women

While it is International Women’s Day, it’s not just a day for women: it’s a day for celebrating groups who historically have not been appreciated. Celebrations that are inclusive of race, gender identity, sexuality, and able-bodiedness celebrate the idea behind IWD instead of just celebrating women.

 
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