Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Bad Talk, Take Three: Sabina's Story

As announced in my post about How to Respond to Bad Talk in a Good Way, I am honored to host the voices of some of those who joined our discussion back at Agile Testing Days 2017.

Today I'd like to share with you the thoughts and experiences of Sabina Atic, written by herself, in her own words.
As a woman in highly man dominated IT job, I have had a lot of thoughts on how to achieve an including working culture where we have respect to each other and each other’s differences. In Sweden, the theory about equality is highly valued and in my senior working experience (+5-10 years), I had the luxury of not being directly addressed in an unappropriated way at my work. When I was younger, it happened a few times that both older men and women colleagues tried to “put me in place” in front of others, without any intervention from the public. Today I’m much more confident with both myself as a person and my professional knowledge. I also think that in most of the societies, the rib on how to talk and respond to young people and children is quite low. We somehow tend to forget that they also have equal feelings and that they are learning from us.
As for myself, as a woman not afraid to speak up and question talk I find disrespectful, it is quite easy when the talk is clear and direct. I can ask “how do you mean” or “could you please explain” or just explain how I perceived the message. I like using humor. I feel proud when I manage to use civil courage and I also am thankful to others doing so. But how do we handle subtle hints? Body language? Would I be able to understand that I hurt someone by using my ironic humor because irony has bypassed him/her? Is a man colleague/manager et al. even aware of being more critical to my suggestions and my knowledge compared to other men’s? Is he unwilling to listen to my questions and suggestions because he unconsciously thinks that I have less technical knowledge than my men colleagues and thereby is lacking trust? How do we communicate when our prejudices are constantly present, not just regarding men-woman relations but also relations between different cultures, races, gender identities, ages and so on? This is a quite complex and multidimensional topic and some people are more open and sensitive to both spoken and non-spoken vibes. Do we need to experience inequality to be able to perceive it? I think not. I think is a matter of taking the effort and time to evaluate own values and believes. To sometimes critically review societal structures, to understand and dare to trust that equality to others don’t mean inequality to me.
#metoo campaign is huge in Sweden and even reached government level. Hashtag technical failure points to the fact that harassment is present in our branch (https://www.thelocal.se/20171120/metoo-technical-failure-swedish-women-in-tech-say-sexist-culture-is-normalized-in-the-industry). If we want to live in a more tolerant and open world, we need to become a majority of men/women/other leading by example, questioning the structures and daring to speak out when encountering injustice.
—Sabina Atic
Thank you, Sabina, for sharing your thoughts with us.

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