Don’t Fetch the Coffee! Advice From a Woman In Tech

Kelly Murray is a senior engineer and web development instructor at The Iron Yard in Durham, North Carolina. In November, she will begin a new position as a Platform Developer at IBM .

We recently asked Kelly some questions about her experiences in the tech world so far, including whether she had any advice for women just entering the industry. Here’s what she had to say:

How did you end up in tech?

Kelly: I was about 12 when I decided I wanted to build a website. This was back in the 90s, even before CSS! I surfed around the ‘net and realized I couldn’t find a lot of sites for girls like me — young, already interested in social justice and the environment and helping others.

So, I went to the local library and picked up one of the few HTML books they had in stock. From then on, I was hooked!

What about the tech industry do you enjoy? What do you not enjoy?

Kelly: I love the day-to-day problem-solving! I have a very active mind, and if I don’t stay busy I get bored easily. I’m definitely never bored in tech!

What I don’t enjoy are many of the issues other women in tech have already documented: the “brogrammer” culture, the boys only mentality, the so-called “meritocracy” that really only rewards those who adhere to a certain “culture fit”.

Have you ever felt stereotyped or a subject of sexism in your workplace?

Kelly: Absolutely. Everything from being asked to get the coffee for the men at the table (heck no!) to being called “Programmer Barbie”.

One interesting micro-aggression I’ve noticed working with male engineering students in particular is that many tend to listen to male co-workers over myself or other women— even when we’ve explained the same information the same way first.

Do you have any advice for women just entering the tech industry?

Kelly: Don’t fetch the coffee! And you deserve to be here. Find other women in tech, network, and volunteer your time to bring more diverse peoples to tech. Give back to the community and those who gave to you!

What is the future for women in tech? What would you like it to be?

Kelly: My dream is an inclusive future for tech, period. That means all kinds of people, regardless of gender identification, race, sexual preferences, etc.

We are far from there now, but so many amazing groups — Girl Develop It , Black Girls Code , Women Who Code , just to name a few — are doing life-changing work toward this goal.

At InHerSight, our mission is to improve the workplace for women by measuring it. We bring women’s insights together into a common framework to show where companies excel and where they fall short so more women can find their ideal workplace. For more on women in the workplace follow InHerSight on or .


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