Dear Microsoft: absolutely not.

And it has nothing to do with your software. It has to do with your new ad campaign, which I happened to see while I was at the gym last week. Here’s the gist: brilliant young girls express their ambitions to cure cancer and explore outer space and play with the latest in virtual reality tech. Then—gotcha!—they’re shown a statistic that only 6.7% of women graduate with STEM degrees. They look crushed. The tagline? “Change the world. Stay in STEM.”

Are you fucking kidding me?

Microsoft, where’s your ad campaign telling adult male scientists not to rape their colleagues in the field? Where’s the campaign telling them not to steal or take credit for women’s work? Or not to serially sexually harass their students? Not to discriminate against them? Not to ignoredismiss, or fail to promote them at the same rate as men? Not to publish their work at a statistically significant lower rate? Not to refuse to take women on field expeditions, as did my graduate advisor, now tenured at University of Washington? Where’s your ad campaign telling institutions not to hire, shelter, or give tenure to serial harassers or known sexists, as UW and countless others have done? Where’s your ad campaign encouraging scientific journals to switch to blind submissions and blind peer reviewers? Or to pay women at the same rate as men? I could keep linking articles all day. But I’m tired. Everyones’ noses have been pushed in these same data for decades and nothing changes.

There’s a reason women and girls leave STEM. It is because STEM is so hostile to women that leaving the field is an act of survival. It was for me.

Microsoft, do not dump this shit on the shoulders of young girls. It’s not their responsibility; it’s the responsibility of those in power. That means you.

Get it right.

*EDIT 10pm April 6th: Mansplainers, gas-lighters, and other sundry contradictors: I’ll mark your comment as spam, which will not only delete your comment, but prevent you from commenting on my blog (and possibly other WordPress blogs) ever again. So don’t bother.

*EDIT 12pm April 7th: And if you bother anyway, there’s a solid chance I will make fun of you publicly on my Instagram.


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127 Comments on “Dear Microsoft: absolutely not.”

  1. Sam says:

    Wow, nice rant! Sounds like the germ of a compelling novella or even a novel to me!

    • Wiser says:

      Unfortunately not a rant. Article is completely justified and right.

    • Zaa says:

      This fits on a single mobile browser screen. I’ve seen bros trying to sound like the smartest guy in the room write FAR longer diatribes in the Facebook comments of far longer articles, so I know y’all can get throigh it.

    • fubar says:

      It is a beta indeed to read an evidence based and well cited argument and interpret it as aggressive or a ‘rant’.

      Pro tip, Sam: if you actually had facts to back you up, you wouldn’t be so afraid of them. So, man up and go get you some facts!

      • Madsal says:

        Thank you! I recently posted in a facebook thread my two cents on how banning children from (fandom) conventions limits women’s access speaking from the perspective of a parent, woman who has experienced workplace pregnancy discrimination, special educator, and graduate student in equity and access research. My “claim to authority” was mocked and interpreted as “baggage”. Our culture is rife with sexist language and assumptions.

      • Danielle says:

        Man up? Seems like you’re proving her point right there with that phrase.

      • Larry says:

        I can’t speak for Sam, but I use “nice rant” as a compliment, and I interpreted their usage as such.

        In any case: Nice essay, Monica!

      • Monica Byrne says:

        That’s how I interpreted it, too. But I don’t know if “rant” is a pejorative?

    • Anita Graham says:

      So, sounds like a move out of STEM to the arts? great!

  2. Julie E. Byrne says:

    I see it’s on FB!! Good. Will share. xoxo

    • John DeFrank says:

      I saw your post of this, Julie, and I reposted it on my Timeline. Good show and right on, Monica. Several other LCHS grads pass along their congratulations, as well. You are making a positive mark on the American culture at a time when we need people like you to speak out.

  3. Rae says:

    Spot on! I wish there were more people to call bulls**t on things Microsoft does. And, so eloquently done!

  4. Dylene Cymraes says:

    Monica, please consider writing a book about this. Please let the world know about your experiences, because we need this to change. This is a story that we keep seeing blogs and references to–I am sure if you collected other’s stories as well, some light could be focused on this appalling situation.

    • Linda Andrews says:

      I wholeheartedly agree! PLEASE WRITE YOUR STORY!

      • Monica Byrne says:

        Hi! Thanks for your comments. But work needs pay, and I’m supported entirely by the micro-contributions of patrons, so if you want me to do this work, please consider supporting at Thanks.

  5. kirizar says:

    I would be interested to know more about your experience. Have you written about it more elsewhere?

  6. Rich Lovin says:

    Right on! Men, you are wasting and demoralizing a vast resource – the women in your company,. From a cold business standpoint, you are irresponsibly squandering the skills,
    talent, wisdom, and creativity of your employees. Get over it men, having a cock does not
    make you a better person. Remember, you would not be alive if it wasn’t for a woman!

  7. Thank you for calling this out. I couldn’t quite verbalize what about the adds I found distasteful, you hit it right on the head. You can’t have the victim change the system….

  8. Liz says:

    Reblogged this on and commented:
    So true. This is why I left STEM, years of being told repeatedly by mentors, teachers, and professors that I could not be in the field because of my gender and ethnic background meant I decided to make a career elsewhere.

  9. Trish Heinrich says:

    Spot on! Thank you for saying it!

  10. Indeed. Hey, Microsoft, how about you use your position in the industry to help the industry create a corporate culture that makes girls WANT to choose STEM, rather than taking one look at the industry and going “fuck THAT noise.” Otherwise you’re just pushing girls into an education track to meet some kind of quota, a track that will become irrelevant to them the moment someone at their first industry job makes them regret their chosen field.

  11. Nacy says:

    Sadly yes. I saw the same adds, I was really excited about it at the first glance. And then I soon felt something is wrong, it’s missing the point. I have a STEM degree and work at this industry. I can clearly tell it’s way less friendly to women, I has to be over qualify for my job but still get a lower pay than my other male colleagues. So I left my job.

  12. Annie says:

    Because dropping out of STEM shouldn’t give girls/women the added burden of guilt and shame that they are ‘part of the problem’.

  13. All of those stories in your links were news to me. Thank you for posting them

  14. Janet Bloom says:

    Yet another reason #whyImarched

  15. Eden Myers says:

    Yep. Want women to stay in STEM? Change what you, as men in STEM, do.

  16. Yes – the sheer volume of hostility from my STEM professors and my advisor – all male – was what discouraged me into leaving STEM.

  17. Kathy Fritz says:

    Thank you so much for your voice! I coach teachers to incorporate STEAM and innovation for grades K-8 and to see those girls light up when they code or wire robotics is a wonderful feeling. There is a generation of girls we need to support and companies like Microsoft have to get the message correct.

  18. alderhand says:

    Excellent article. Thank you Ms. Byrne. Shared it on my Facebook page.

  19. Christina Martin says:

    Years ago I was at TechEd, the Microsoft big tech conference, and attended their “women in technology” luncheon. TechEd is huge, and very male dominated. Most of the women were Project Managers or Business Analysts – a few Systems Engineers. The speaker – a female MS VP, talked about how we had to get more women into technology. It made me mad – not for the reasons you outline (which are very valid), but because what right do we have to tell any individual woman she has to sacrifice herself into a field because we need more women there. If her interest is public policy or finance or education or medicine – not just because she gets tired of being the only girl in her Computer Science class, but because that is where her interests lie.

    Whether they are nature or nurture, there are gender differences that make women less likely to go into STEM fields – even if you remove the discrimination barriers. STEM fields are perceived as more solo pursuits requiring less collaboration and communication – things women – for whatever reason – tend to enjoy doing.

    We need to encourage the girls with an interest in STEM fields to pursue them. We need to encourage the men to let go of the frat boy/discriminatory culture. But we also need to respect that ending up as an elementary school teacher or a lawyer or a stay at home mom (or President of the United States) are also fine choices.

    • I think part of the problem is the idea of “gender differences.” There address so many subtle ways that birth men and women are socialized into thinking they need to fit certain gender roles, it doesn’t even occur to some women they might enjoy going into the STEM fields. So they imagine they wouldn’t be interested, or perhaps they had that one or treo boring science teachers I high school…

    • “STEM fields are perceived as more solo pursuits” — but are they really? Perhaps it’s that perception that needs to be challenged. Even introverted males need to learn how to “play well with others” in order to achieve great things in their fields. Also, there are plenty of introverted females in the world, and they may be attracted to science, technology, engineering and math for the same reasons that introverted males are.

      • Anita Graham says:

        That is a good question. Today’s lean corporate culture leans that way, but in my early years in tech (1980 on) we worked in small groups where we talked and shared problems together. We had fixed break times where we all get together for morning tea – and talk. Problems were discussed, innovation and new fields were shared and ‘loners’ were included and their solo pursuits could be part of the story.

        The ‘company’ has gained financially by cutting out breaks, put everyone in cubicles and isolated workers, but the loss in cross-pollination, exposure to ideas from everyone is uncosted.

      • linkcatblog says:

        I live & work in Norway, and women are treated much more equally here. About 40% of the engineers and other technical staff I work with are women, and 50% of the managers. It makes a huge difference to the work culture.
        It’s not perfect, and women still tend to be underpaid and underpublished compared to male colleagues, but the margin of difference is much, much smaller.

        I don’t accept that there are gender differences that significant to women’s interest or capability in entering STEM fields. I think they are cultural differences. Women outperform men in technical degree programs in Norway, at least in terms of grades and graduation rates. And they make up nearly half of the students, at least in engineering programs. I’m not sure about other fields, and I’m not sure about those of non-binary genders.

        p.s. I really think we need to ditch the stereotypes of introverts in STEM fields. They do
        more harm than good.

  20. evgeniagotfi says:

    Amen. I left tech for my own health and survival, coming up on two years ago now. Until I see ads about lecherous VCs and abusive executives being fired en masse, I don’t want to hear it. Filling the pipeline doesn’t matter when the field can’t retain the women it does bring in, because of abysmal behavior, pay discrimination, and all the rest.

    And thank you for this: “Everyones’ noses have been pushed in these same data for decades and nothing changes.” Exactly. And in my anecdotal experience, it is worse than it was decades ago. If anything, it’s gotten worse.

  21. Jon Green says:

    Amen. I want my daughter – a nicer geek you wouldn’t find, and comes from solid geek stock 🙂 – to have all the opportunities and advantages she can get, as she advances through her secondary education, through college, and into employment. I know the Microsoft ad was well intentioned…but – just a thought – did they ask many women about it?

  22. Thanks, Monica. That MSFT data point is frilled, to boot.

    • Monica Byrne says:

      Yeah. It’s doubly gross that they misrepresented the data to mess with the girls’ minds.

      • vme115 says:

        This touches on my gut response to the ad. Yes, everything you said. But if we could put that aside for a second…just saying it that way can create a self-fulfilling prophecy. Maybe she didn’t realize she wanted the nearly impossible until she read ads like this and (as she lives in this society) just wasn’t sure her personal courage could carry her that far. It’s like saying, “it’s probably too hard for you, but you should try not to fail anyway” We need totally new scripts of encouragement.

      • Giancarlo says:

        “it’s probably too hard for you, but you should try not to fail anyway” Not that the subject matter is a joke, but I actually lol’d reading this as it so perfectly illustrates the disingenuous and patronizing tone the ad undertakes.

    • Rhoda Baxter says:

      Woah. They misrepresented the data. That makes it worse.

  23. KatyMac says:

    And following the lead of our VP, male and female colleagues must never be alone together (even in public) lest shenanigans occur. I’m sure that wouldn’t hurt the chances of women working with men at all. *rolls eyes*

  24. Rhoda Baxter says:

    Reblogged this on Rhoda Baxter and commented:
    As those of you who’ve read Doctor January will know, I agree with most of this. Science is often a confrontational sexist place.
    I now work in academic support, which gives me the double whammy of being female and not being an academic. I once had a physicist try to mansplain genetics to me. I had to correct his knowledge at one point. Bless (rolls eyes).

  25. susie penner says:

    F-ing amen and thank you.

  26. N says:

    This also kind of smells like an example of marketing (1) seeing something blow up on social media (2) designing a shallow campaign around it to appear in touch and (3) rushing it out the door before running it by the women in STEM in their own company. It’s not too different from contemporary software development practices that prize shipping over everything else.

  27. Karin Verspoor says:

    You might be interested in my related article ftom last year:

    It doesn’t address the issues in academia that you identify, which are very real. I’m not sure how much influence Microsoft has to change that, though. I do think there are pockets of change and that as women start to have more critical mass at more senior levels, the culture will change. But it is too slow.

  28. Christina C. says:

    I have worked for Microsoft in Redmond,WA for almost 13 years. I was a software engineer in a team with 50+ men. I had a great performance record, but was suddenly laid off when I was pregnant, 3 months. Not everyone was laid off, only some members of the team, about 50%. And they expected me to start looking for a job right away, which I did, but was an especially hard task given my condition. Microsoft PR machine can go on and on about causes that sound good, but in real life they will only do what makes sense for their business.

  29. MB says:

    “Hey so we noticed that your machine is mutilating people.”
    “Huh that’s weird, have you tried sticking your arm in there?”
    “What no why the fuck would I—”
    “Because if enough people stuck their arms in there, eventually the machine would jam up and stop mutilating people.”
    “We could just… fix the machine… ???”
    “Ew no it would cost us a lot of money to shut it down. Way to be selfish, jeeze.”

  30. Good going, Monica.
    Back in the 1930’s, you’re describing stuff that happened for my Mom. PhD, biochemistry, U of Iowa. For my friend Myra, 1980, Big Bear Solar Observatory, California. To others I have known. We’re with you.

  31. I (female, engineering professor) feel a resonance with your frustration around the demand for females to adopt and adapt to the sadly sexist and toxic STEM culture. Although it must be said that not all cultures within STEM are equally bad; Engineering is far worse and women who rise to positions of power in engineering often unconsciously harass and prevent other women from advancing in their careers, particularly if the advance causes a perceived threat to their own position of authority.

    And more sadly, many of our institutions (like academia), also male, is organized around perpetuating those toxic cultures while superficially “addressing” complaints through their in-house “Title IX” units–also known as kangaroo courts.

    Thank you for pointing to the truth about the systemic conditions of misogyny that we women face.

    Also, I’m sorry that you ,as a woman in STEM, have been treated so badly. It is a large club that you’ve unintentionally gained membership.

  32. Aidan Sims says:

    Thanks for writing on this! Great post.

    How about: where’s the Microsoft Gender Equity program, providing concrete rewards (like subsidised licenses for Microsoft products) to academic institutions that can demonstrate that their hiring and remuneration policies are genuinely equitable? That is, how about Microsoft actually puts some money into doing something about gender equity in STEM at universities, instead of just trading off of it through a tokenistic ad campaign?

    • Oooh, cool idea. Plus, Microsoft should really be able to “demonstrate that their hiring and remuneration policies are genuinely equitable” before they start awarding grants to some universities and not others.

  33. terrajobst says:

    Hey Monica,

    I work at Microsoft (mind you as an engineer, not an ad designer). I saw the ad and I liked it because I didn’t see it from your point of view. Thanks for writing up this rant and raise my awareness. I have no doubt that this industry just plain sucks for women. I can’t stand injustice and I generally fight it when I see it. I’ll try my best to follow your advice and do my little part in trying to make our industry suck less for women and other minorities by speaking up and being inclusive. But I’m also old enough to realize that I have blind spots — like in this case. I know that I’m not an exception in terms of having good intentions, but people like me are also depending on outspoken people like you to remind us that “we don’t get it”. Keep doing that. And pay no attention to the jerks telling you to shut up.


  34. Completely on point. Shared.

  35. I wrote a paper about similar issues when I worked for a large corporation. After getting 2 computer science degrees, I only worked in the computer field for 6 years. Felt a little bad about it but saw all these sorts of problems and nobody even believed it was going on.

  36. AA says:

    Great post! I’ve had quite an awful interview experience when I interviewed for Microsoft for an engineering position. The interviewer was extremely rude, disrespectful, did not listen what I had to say because he thought it wasn’t “unique enough”. At one point he claimed that he wanted a story along the lines of someone in my family having an illness and therefore that was why I wanted a job in the engineering field to somehow make a difference in this said persons life. I was outraged. Ten minutes later he said I would not get the job but he could keep asking me questions if I wanted. I’ve had over 50 tech interviews for internships and never had I experienced such disrespect and discrimination. The company does not realize what their ‘senior’ employees views on social issues are.

  37. Yep…didn’t even make it past my first semester in Engineering back in 1987 – being the only girl wasn’t a problem to me, I was pretty shy and kept to myself anyway, but the constant sexual harassment, judgement, and need to be twice as good to get half the credit/praise? Too exhausting. The best part? My father was a computer programmer and offered to pay for college if I majored in engineering. When I gave up half way through second semester and changed to Theatre I was cut off from any support…talk about mixed messages. This “rant” (sane dialogue) is much needed even to this day 😦

  38. webbish6 says:

    I worked at Microsoft as a manager and had a pretty positive experience (except for one manager who threw a chair across the room at a meeting and a tech director who kept a poster of Britney Spears in his office – ew!) I went to many tech conferences and never was put in uncomfortable positions, even when there was lots of drinking. But I agree that the big dogs in tech need to do more to actively promote women into positions of power in the company, make sure to pay them equally and make sure to get rid of harassment when it rears its ugly head. (I got my first degree in biology – but went to graduate school in English and Creative Writing. But I saw more sexual harassment in the English/AWP/MFA environment than I did in my twelve years in tech, is all I’m saying.)

  39. As a teacher, I want ALL of my students to succeed. Thank you for more information (I had not seen the ad before my friend’s facebook post). I teach in a high school where some of the girls seem afraid to be seen as smart. I am trying to fix my own little corner. But I would also like to ask women (and men) to give that little tittering laugh while saying “I was never any good at math/science” or telling their kids, “That’s OK I wasn’t good at math either”

  40. Maia says:

    Thank you, Monica! I’ve put in 14 years working at Microsoft and I completely agree.

  41. Dan says:

    Yes! Long past time to address the reasons women aren’t staying in STEM. Am I wrong to be slightly hopeful that Microsoft might actually listen and address this?

  42. Sandra Matteson says:

    It begins in education where student names are on the top of exams and homework to be viewed by the teacher/professor, typically identifying gender. Biased grading. Perhaps with today’s technology thumbprint identification should be used for exams and papers. Truly, a name which identifies gender and the individual is the first block to equality here.

  43. Aurélie says:

    I probably don’t want to know how many men have tried to derail this post by pointing out that men get their ideas stolen, too.

    It’s sad how many posts I’ve seen from women who still wistfully talk about their interest in STEM, and how it’s sometimes an internal battle between wanting to go back and knowing that doing so is bad for their emotional well-being.

  44. Stephy says:

    This is why I left my STEM program. Some of the men in the program took offense at my existence and started a campaign of harassment and cyberstalking that left me afraid to continue. We don’t leave it because we want to. We leave our passions because we have to.

  45. Reblogged this on The Random Craftacular and commented:
    This pretty much says it all.

  46. hardhatcat says:

    As a woman and an engineer, all of this! I was lucky that I had one employer look past my gender and gave me a foot in but my whole study even back in high school and ongoing career I’ve had to push against all of this.

  47. Gail says:

    You’re Awesome! Thanks for the source links. MS = Bullies, egomaniacs, & posers who don’t have the balls to do the right thing. Boycotts work. Just say’n.

  48. Reblogged this on Devin on Earth and commented:
    This is a fantastic response to Microsoft’s recent ad campaign — and Monica is 100% right. Fellow men — this shit is on us and how we behave, what we stand up for and what we look away from, what we tolerate and what we don’t.

  49. […] Great Rant–Quote And it has nothing to do with your software. It has to do with your new ad campaign, which I happened to see while I was at the gym last week. Here’s the gist: brilliant young girls express their ambitions to cure cancer and explore outer space and play with the latest in virtual reality tech. Then—gotcha!—they’re shown a statistic that only 6.7% of women graduate with STEM degrees. They look crushed. The tagline? “Change the world. Stay in STEM.” […]

  50. What a hypocritical company! They even plan on supporting The O’Reilly Show with their advertising.

  51. Ren says:

    STEM graduate here. Unfortunately, Microsoft is only good at talking the talk, but they don’t walk the walk. I was at one of their events last month and one of the key topics was women in the industry. Listened to several variations of “it’s crucial to hire more women”. 17 out of 20 speakers were men.

  52. Paul Kingsley says:

    Good piece. There has been a decrease of women in STEM since the 80s, only recently rebounding due to efforts in education. Companies must take the next step by provide a supportive environment for all employees, paying special attention to those underrepresented groups, who, due to bias, even small amounts of bias, are not advanced by companies into positions of responsibility. This is on management.

  53. shelly says:

    As a Professional engineer and a woman, I fought a retaliatory firing in response to asking my boss for a salary survey. My career was destroyed at 50 years old. I should have been reinstated to my job, instead I fought in court for 3 years ,settled for a large sum, a letter of recommendation and a consulting position. But no one would hire me after that. The laws were not strong enough to protect me, the EEOC is a joke. I loved my job. Thank you for your posting.

  54. Carol Emerson says:

    I LOVE this! Thank you!

  55. Meg says:

    Thank you for this thoughtful analysis. It was really timely as yesterday I was at a firstvrobotics competition for High school students. As the teams were choosing alliances for the quarter finals I was excited to see the 2 of the top 8 teams had female captains. As those teams chose partners the number of young women on the field rose and when the selection was over 30% of the team captains on the field were young women. On one hand, I was ecstatic because that was more women than I’d ever seen up there. On the other hand, how long will it take first to get to a steady 50%?

  56. […] angry about the Microsoft ad. You know, the one that tells us that little girls don’t have a chance and should stay in […]

  57. Elle Baker says:

    Good rant and very useful information about the field and pitfalls for women in STEM. Consider, however, that there is a LOT of money in those fields. Consider how teaching first and now doctoring were high paying when mostly dominated by men. Once there were far more women than men, teachers were paid relatively poorly. That is happening with medicine now that majority of medical student heading toward being doctors are women. Although women should go into the fields that they are drawn toward and have the aptitude for, I’d like to see lots more women go into politics and the financial fields. Perhaps that could lead to changes for the positive for women in any career…new laws and the money to support politicians who support women.

  58. codyrachel says:

    Reblogged this on codyrachelsirises and commented:
    Monica thank you thank you thank you – said it a lot in the 70s needs to be said every decade!!!
    And I’m writing on FB about viagra commercials every 5 minutes -Bless you💖 oh and you most likely need this🍸or more🍸🍸🍸

  59. codyrachel says:

    Bowing to you – if only the boys and men would at least call them out !
    And viagra ads every 5 minutes – but planned parenthood and clinics for women are being shut down – seems to be at opposite purposes – don’t you think?

  60. Shawn says:

    Thanks for the insights. I think it is tragic that historically women entering fields more populated by men have had to face similar behaviors (harassment, higher expectations, stolen ideas, lack of due credit, etc.) in everything from medicine to politics to the military. I am one of those male people who sees it, or at least attempts to, and who tries to do something about it. As a psychologist/counselor in a middle school that is big on promoting “tech-ed” (robotics, digital editing, 3D printing, rocketry, app development, etc.) I would like to ask a sincere question… What advice would you recommend giving to, say, 11, 12, 13 year old girls who express a desire to go into STEM fields? I’m asking not only you, Ms. Byrne, but to anyone in the field. Thanks in advance.

    • futurebender says:

      As an engineer with 35 years experience in the Construction field, I would encourage them in any way I could. I would tell them to work hard in all of their classes, and to take advantage of any opportunity to do presentations and participate in academic panels. Developing the ability to articulate one’s opinions and gaining confidence in academic and professional discussions is key to success in the sometimes gender-hostile worlds of STEM. I would also say that if a girl or young woman finds herself in a hostile academic or work environment she should call it out and push back, and be ready to walk away. Not all workplaces are sexist, and those that are not are going to reap the benefits.

      • Monica Byrne says:

        Thank you for your comments, but you’re missing the point. Please understand that girls and women already do these things all the time and are still routinely ignored, passed over, harassed, abused, dismissed, and so on. It is not a matter of women not having “developed the ability to articulate their opinions.” They have. We have. In fact, we never didn’t. We’ve always been fully capable, talented, and equal humans. The idea that it’s somehow women’s responsibility to “catch up” is part of exactly the institutional sexism in talking about. It’s your responsibility to see that.

      • futurebender says:

        Monica – I do get your point and I totally agree with you. But I was trying to answer the other person’s question about what to tell girls who are interested in STEM, and I stand by my suggestions. These things are not mutually exclusive. You are 100% right in your point. But girls who are interested in STEM careers still need advice about what they can and should do as individuals.

      • futurebender says:

        PS – I did share your piece on social media!

  61. drannmaria says:

    Preach, sister! I wrote a post on this about a year ago. Nothing has changed. (I am shocked!) I’m still in STEM and co-founded a company but I am a dyed in the wool bitch and I say that matter-of-factly. I was the world judo champion so I don’t get sexually harassed because I WILL break your arm. However, all of the things about less funding, needing to prove yourself twice over, not getting the same recognition – well, you said it all.

  62. Jocelyn says:

    Also telling someone to join a field so they can be the only one isn’t really compelling. Come on girls you can be the only female on your team. Really? That’s supposed to be enticing? I think most of the messaging meant to get females into STEM actually pushes them away.
    Want women to enter these fields? Then show them all the great things they can do in the world. Show them the companies and teams that are doing it right and already have equal representation. Don’t focus on the negatives and expect them to fix it for you.

  63. Despinamy says:

    Thank you. I love you. Sing it loud.

  64. jen2franne says:

    US Labor Department found gender bias at Microsoft last year

    and Google last week

    We have plenty of research and numerous investigations that get ignored. Women and minorities continue to get incorrectly blamed for this problem. There are thousands of women and minorities that do enjoy STEM professions; most get forced out of the profession within five years. Recruiting more women and minorities into entry level support roles won’t improve this matter unless the core retention issues finally get resolved. For everyone to have a chance to thrive, there needs to be accountability for equal opportunity.

    As a senior women in tech of over 20 years, I have seen and experienced these challenges even at Microsoft and I did report it. Thank you for calling out the incorrect focus of the PR campaign.

    The current system of promoting happy PR campaigns, looking away from the real problems, shunning women and minorities that do report valid claims, and relying on inadequately funded government EEOC offices that can’t do anything prevents positive change for the next generation.

    In the meantime, if you do experience challenges and want to persist in STEM. I have found that being an independent contractor is helpful. It is not at all easy but it is viable. People that want to work with you do, while those that don’t want to work with you won’t call.

  65. […] A new ad campaign by Microsoft supporting women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) was not well-received; critics say it blames women for leaving STEM rather than blaming the reasons they leave (MonicaCatherine). […]

  66. Ben says:

    Oh no! I’d love to be a “sundry contradictor”, but I agree with everything you’ve said.

  67. Randall Tinfow says:

    May be silly to you, but I never before considered the burden to be corporate education of men. Makes sense. Eye opener.

    FWIW, I work for a woman CEO. It was she or I at founding time, and I deferred to her. It may not have been the right choice for day 1, but by 366 it proved unequivocally to be the right choice. Given the chance, she gained the force of personality to hold her own in any testosterone driven encounter.

  68. Reblogged this on Vilma Reynoso and commented:
    Here is a spot on article on what reality is for women. Thanks, Monica Bryne. I could not agree more that the responsibility lies in the hands of those in power and not on young girls!

  69. GeoZa says:

    i am curious what you think about this article? the nurse example was actually quite surprising to me

  70. Tabitha says:

    My job is currently working in Operations, heavily populated by men. It was really rough when I started several years ago. It was comforting to see more women come along, but you could tell they were conventionally pretty and fun to have in a room because they made you feel good about yourself, but made your job harder because they never did theirs. It made it more conflicting. It’s hard to be happy seeing more women in my specific field of work when they’re only there as ego boosters and something most could enjoy to look at for ten hours at a clip. Times are changing for sure, but sometimes the fight to stick around is exhausting. There’s this inner war of sticking around and not giving up and playing the martyr, or punching out for the last time and going into retail at the mall and spending more time with my cats.

  71. Susmcclain says:

    Brutal and authentic truth – thank you! How about a Microsoft ad that says “We are leading the global effort to transform the company through diversity and inclusion, and here are our stats.” Leadership and innovation *inside* Microsoft by blasting through old barriers would be smart business.
    Microsoft employee by gender: Female 25.8%, Male 73.7%. (Includes all roles, not only engineering)

  72. Tim Dunn says:

    Very well-linked article. It appears that is the ingress point for this sort of feedback.

    I think Microsoft very dearly needs to hear this, but from the world at large, not an employee.

    Disclaimer: I do work for MSFT, but not in any position to address these issues directly. I’ll keep the biases documented herein in my everyday interactions.

    FWIW, I’ll also forward it to our internal HR ingress email address.

  73. Ellen says:

    I really appreciate you making this point. Thank you.

  74. Conor Corrigan says:

    I only came here for the “sundry contradictors” but was sorely disappointed to see that you’d deleted them all…

  75. AFC says:

    add me to the list of women who have left technology- this article was excellent. I lasted 14 years but just didn’t have the fortitude to keep on. Add to it that I worked in financial services where the old boys club was alive and well and I never had a chance.

  76. A Microsoft ad putting the onus on women to remain in STEM is hardly surprising! After Satya Nadella who has some regressive ideas about unequal pay for women probably approved the ad!!

  77. Heather says:

    You speak for so many of us Monica. Thank you.

    And for those of you who don’t see this problem in STEM, you are the problem. Now, get right and listen.

  78. […] responsibility; it’s the responsibility of those in power. That means you.” Dear Microsoft: absolutely not. (by Monica […]

  79. Sadly it is not only an issue in STEM – just more out in the open there as scientists and engineers are less schooled in the use of socially-acceptable language and social niceties to cover up predatory behaviour.

    See a comprehensive report from my university (which we are now struggling to get implemented against the institutional culture that makes all this possible):

  80. […] on the subject of womanhood, Monica Byrne wrote a scathing note to Microsoft about their Stay In STEM ad campaign. The gist: why blame girls for dropping out of […]

  81. Leigh says:

    Thank you for writing this post! I wanted to go into computer science, but I was the only girl in my class of 9, and every time I tried to ask a question, the boys would belittle and tease and humiliate me afterwards. (We all lived in the same block of rooms in the freshman quad.) Things came to a head when I was trying to get work done in a lab after class and an older student who was sitting nearby began talking about how much he liked the look of my breasts (I was wearing a V-neck shirt). The professor, who was sitting right there, also began to chime in. I went home, threw away the shirt, and transferred to a new major (communication) the next semester. I work in the tech industry, but I still wish I’d been able to make a STEM-focused major work. But the problem wasn’t me, and I did what I had to in order to protect myself.

  82. […] Dear Microsoft, stop blaming girls for not pursuing STEM careers. […]

  83. cat mac says:

    Reblogged this on cat mac.

  84. […] I read this blog post about Microsoft’s recent ad campaign targeted towards women working in STEM and realised my approach to the female STEM issue had been centred around my expectations of women, rather than reprimanding or highlighting male attitudes, read the article here. […]

  85. […] then, a Facebook friend — who happens to be a woman in tech — posted a link to this blog post from Monica Byrne that put into words exactly what I’d been feeling underneath that anger (boy, those […]

  86. […] rather than confront directly. For example, when it comes to the equal rights for women movement, Microsoft faced criticism for essentially blaming the low employment rate on women in STEM ad. On the contrary, Under Armour […]

  87. […] this list as a way to put the onus on women for the industry’s diversity problems — as one disgraced Microsoft ad once did — but rather as a testament to that support system, and a push to ensure the resources […]

  88. […] Microsoft’s new ad urging women to stay in tech, despite the company having a laundry list of sexual harassment and discrimination problems.) They know that explicitly slating digital personal assistants as helpful, demuring women is bad […]

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