Feckin’ Women’s Knickers! Girls! and SEO

With a name like SEO Chicks, I think it’s obvious that we’re trying to capitalize on being female in this industry. As some people have said, we’re not baby chickens. Sure some of them are blonde, like Lisa, but still…

Here are three reasons why I think that’s completely okay (to capitalize on the girl thing, not to be blonde like baby chickens)…

1. We happen to be biologically female and therefore entitled to use that however we want or need to, even if it means that people envision us having tickle fights in cheerleading outfits once the conferences are over. For the record, that has only happened twice.

2. We’re currently a minority in this industry, even if that’s slowly changing.

3. I got paid $20k less than my husband did for an agency we used to work for and we did the same damn thing AND I HAD MORE EXPERIENCE.

That being said, I’d like to address the topic of being a woman in SEO.

There is currently a ton of great dialog out there on the issue of being female in our industry. I’d like to point you to two particularly interesting pieces on this that my fellow SEO Chick Lisa showed me:

Sugarrae’s A Note To My Fellow Women of SEO
Kim Krause Berg’s Finding The Women in Tech and Women in Search

Both of these are really well-written and quite on point about all this, and I have to say that I agree with both points of view. I do wish that women never had to think of themselves as needing to prove something, but I also think that only a very small percentage of women have never had to do this, have never had to work harder for less money than a man would make or to prove their intelligence.

I like Rae’s point about not being impressed by someone just because she’s female. I’m not either. I like Kim’s point about how many companies will grab women employees because they can pay them less money though. I LOVE the fact that we have women who write really well putting their opinions out there, most of all. Like Rae, I don’t respect these women only because they’re women, but there’s a part of me that is a bit more proud of that fact. So throw a tomato at me when you see me. I can’t help it. I’m also proud when Sparklehorse sells a song to Volvo for a commercial. They’re such underdogs.

This is a really difficult topic for me to choose sides on, so I’m not going to, because I seriously do not currently feel that anyone I work with at the moment has any less regard for what I can offer just because I’m female. However, I think that is in large part due to the fact that I work with some incredibly fantastic people (except for Rob Kerry and his “little lady makes a good cup of tea” antics.) In my current state of employment (I co-own an SEO consulting firm with my husband and work closely with some amazing people over in London) I can safely say that I’ve never once felt that anything work-related with them had ANYTHING to do with my gender.

In a previous job, however, it was a very different story. As I mentioned above, I was more experienced in SEO AND the leader of the team yet I made quite a bit less than my husband made, working alongside me. I never made a huge deal out of it because the money was all coming into our household and I didn’t want to create problems by seeming like I was whining.

I hope that things like this aren’t going to continue happening. With all the people I know in this industry, I don’t think it will. I don’t want anyone to give me anything because I’m a woman, but I don’t want everyone to ignore the fact that even though they may not personally be the victim of gender bias, it still exists. I’m sensitive to the idea that if women do complain that they’re treated unfairly, it sheds a poor light on them, and it should be a last resort. Things aren’t always about gender, but you can’t assume that gender plays no role either. I’m also sensitive about being mistaken for a midget, though, and if I could get more money by being classified as one, I sure as hell would do it.

[Note: being a good girl and not wanting to deeply offend anyone, I've edited this piece after initially publishing a nastier draft of it. Pointing fingers really isn't nice even if it IS deserved. ]

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13 Responses to “Feckin’ Women’s Knickers! Girls! and SEO”

  1. Excellent post Julie, and well put. I do totally agree with you. Let’s not be an ostrich and stick our heads in the sand. Women being treated differently beacuse they are woman, it still happens!

    I was just interviewed by another SEO blog this week, where I wrote about one particular experience I had. A well known (male) SEO referred to me and another female SEO as “bimbos that didn’t know anything about SEO” It boiled my blood. Just because we are woman and not butt ugly does not mean we are bimbos or stupid.

    Ok so maybe I have a bit of a Erin Brokowich syndrom, but no one should define me for being a woman or for the way that I look. My WORK should!

  2. Great post! Sexist attitudes can be so ingrained in people that they don’t even realize what they’re saying, or how they’re treating you, is unacceptable.

    A while back my husband (Kevin) and I went to dinner with a friend, who we were doing some Website work for, and his acquaintance. At the end of the dinner, even after I explained how the Website would work and what exactly I was going to do for him (while Kevin sat there quietly), our friend’s acquaintance says, “Alright Kevin, our Website man!” This obviously isn’t as severe as being paid less for the same job, but it just goes to show how people have certain ideas about gender. I think simply bringing this issue up will help people recognize that it is still a problem.

  3. Hey, don’t get me in trouble with the SEO ladies – I’m in Ms. Barone’s bad books as it is for some strange reason.

    Love the anchor text for “SEO consulting firm” by the way ;)

    Maybe we should do a SEO Chicks vs. SEO Blokes drinking contest on Friday?

  4. A well known (male) SEO referred to me and another female SEO as bimbos that didnt know anything about SEO It boiled my blood. Just because we are woman and not butt ugly does not mean we are bimbos or stupid.

    Just to clarify, that wasn’t me. I’m only well known by the police and a certain hotel in Cumbria. I do call you several other names though :D

  5. lol yeah you do actually, but thats ok evilgreendonkey…And for the recod it wasn’t Rob, if it had been I would have just given you a slap ;0)

  6. Julie Joyce says:

    I will participate, and gladly, in the Chicks vs. Blokes drinking contest. You’ll be sorry, and you may get slapped (again)…

    I’d like to say two more things:
    1. Rob Kerry is one of the least sexist men I know. As much as I make jokes about him, he’s a great guy and if you don’t agree let me know so I can have you spammed. He’s serious class even though it pains me to admit it publicly.
    2. Speaking of serious class, one of the classiest women I know is Louise Jordan, who’s married to RC Jordan (probably THE best old school SEO mac daddy.) At my first SEO Roadshow Louise told me to ENJOY being one of the only girls in the field. I think it was great advice. She just wanted me to understand that it was a pleasure and not something I should complain about, which I had been doing (this was before I met so many women that I love in this field.) I think that’s fantastic advice and I’ve taken it ever since the day I met her.

  7. Julie Joyce says:

    QueenBeeCassi, you make an excellent point when you state “Sexist attitudes can be so ingrained in people that they dont even realize what theyre saying, or how theyre treating you, is unacceptable.”

    The same is true for racism and other forms of discrimination. They really do become ingrained and people aren’t as aware of the attitudes. This is why pointing it out and discussing it is so important. I’d sure like to know when something I’m saying or doing offends someone–then I am on the spot to explain myself to someone, or to MYSELF.

  8. Wow, LOL
    I hope you didn’t think I was playing around when I came here and commented. My nickname is Babychicken and has been for … well … since I was a child. I use it all over the Internet. You are dead on about women SEOs.

  9. Hes serious class even though it pains me to admit it publicly.

    Are you trying to freak me out again or sucking up in the hope that I’ll take on baby sitting duties for your little horrors when you’re over?

  10. Judith Lewis says:

    Where I am at the moment, I’ve been able to differentiate myself for my knowledge, and not my gender. I’ve pretty much done that everywhere I’ve worked and management has rewarded me. However customers haven’t always seen it that way.

    I remember one time at a tech firm where a customer asked to speak to one of the guys despite the fact I was the only one who could fix his server down situation. I went on lunch.

  11. Well well… I just have to fly the flag here :o )
    I love the post, Julie – as usual, with a lot of humour infused.

    I tend to be on the side of the Rae camp. I’ve never really cared much about people taking me less seriously for being female. I do a job because it needs doing, I put the best effort I can into it, and I do it for the love of my job – not because I have a point to prove.

    Maybe that’s why I haven’t really noticed much sexism going around. In my opinion, if a guy is silly enough to think less of my competence because I’m a woman, than that’s his mistake/misjudgment & later on his problem.

    There are two side notes to this though…

    1) First – I’ve been very fortunate to be surrounded by men in this industry that have been very supportive, and somewhat enthusiastic about the increasing female presence in search (guys in my ex London team, and many guys I’ve met at conferences). I brand those guys as very wise :o )… Seriously though, I feel that there are more guys ‘for’ than ‘against’…

    2) Secondly – I’ve never really focused on noticing if people treat me differently because I’m a woman. Again, it goes down to the fact that I am proud to be one, and I’ve never really doubted my own abilities. That’s not to say that everyone that feels differently is in doubt – it’s just what I feel.

    Hey, Julie – this should have been our first post!

  12. LOL – nice one Judith! Exactly what i mean by – if a man is silly enough to underestimate a woman in the industry just ’cause of gender, then the onus is on him…

    Lisa, don’t know if you remember my reaction to the “well known (male) SEO” in question, that evening… His face said it all…

  13. Julie Joyce says:

    Anita, your point number 1 perfectly sums up how I feel now. We are both extremely lucky to be surrounded by open-minded men who think of us as people, not as women. I don’t think a lot of women have been so lucky YET but you are dead on when you say that there are more guys “for” than “against”…I simply have to believe that, especially in this field. I’d also like to add that when Lisa and I were in Seattle with our SEO Chicks shirts on, we had equal attention from men and women, all of whom were very supportive of the idea of a female-run SEO blog. I think this industry in general has some amazing people in it, and hopefully other industries will follow the trend of seeing all of us equally.

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