I recently read this article “Everything wrong with Silicon Valley culture in one gross presentation” about Alex St. John’s views on what recruiters should look for in employees. Alex St. John is a trainer of recruiters in the tech industry or something like that. Among other somewhat sexist comments, he says that women in the tech industry are only good for communication and management, men are superior engineers and developers, and girlfriends and wives of employees are actually who companies must please in order to retain its employees.
What interested me most in the article though was St. John’s views on people with Asperger’s syndrome. To him, men with Asperger’s syndrome, identified by poor written and verbal communication skills, a machine-like work ethic, and few job changes, if any, were the holy grail of employees. Women with Asperger’s syndrome, however, were to be avoided because they wouldn’t be able to fulfill their stereotyped duties in a managerial role.
I’m a female software developer with some form of undiagnosed Asperger’s/high-functioning autism/social anxiety/perpetual shyness/awkwardness. I’ve always considered my anxiety, lack of ability for small talk, and slow speech my greatest weakness when it comes to finding a job and performing it. I’ve been told throughout my academic career that I must have these social skills to succeed, and while I’ve gotten a little better at speaking through the jobs that I’ve been fortunate enough to have throughout the years, I’m still a worse than average communicator and often feel inadequate. I’ve compensated for this weakness by broadening and deepening my skillset, developing my written communication skills, and working constantly on volunteer and personal projects.
Now, after years of thinking and being told that I’m inadequate, I’m reading that my lack of social skills is actually a beneficial trait that employers are being trained to look for? O.o *Sigh* If only I were a man… I could be taken advantage of in Silicon Valley… 😛