Everybody’s wondering “why don’t more women game, program, hack, or get jobs in the IT field?” Not a month goes by that I don’t see some CNet-fed pundit doesn’t produce another editorial pondering the lack of women in the geek domain. So, from many years of observing the wired world, allow me to present some of what’s causing women to avoid you IT fields in droves.
Singling her out. Imagine walking out of your house in the morning and three women outside immediately point at you and scream “Look! It’s a MAN!” “OMG! Where? Where?” “Jesus, you’re right!” “Lemme see! Does it have a beard?” Yes, it’s easy to say you’d be flattered by the attention, but tell me with a straight face that it wouldn’t freak you out after a while.
Left handed compliments. “You code pretty good… for a girl.” “Oh no, I’ve been fragged by a girl!” “OMG! A woman who can run Linux!” Seriously, you have to watch yourself on this one, because they’ll slip out absentmindedly without thinking.
Patronizing. Be helpful when asked. Answer questions as well as you can. Do not snatch the keyboard out of her hands and go “Here, let me type it in for you.” Nobody likes to be treated like a baby in a high chair except actual babies.
Hit on her just because she’s a female into computers. Women get hit on all the time. At clubs, at work, walking down the street. Assume that any female you see in a computing-related context has already fended off two advances, three wolf whistles, and a grab below the belt. Female geeks know that they can have any male geek in the world just for the asking, and probably keep three or four on a leash and take them for walks. Now, guys, do you really want this?
Make her have to prove herself. Would you be quizzing a guy this way? “What are you doing in the server room? Oh, you’re licensed? can I see?”
Be openly resentful of her presence. Enough said here, but frankly if you’re prone to resent people just because of what sex they are, you’re probably not reading a blog like mine.
Assume that you’re always talking to a male online. One of the beauties of online socializing is the gender-neutrality of most nicknames. Studies have concluded that more that half of the online users at any given time are female. So, without asking what sex people are, please just assume gender-neutrality whenever the sex of the person you’re addressing hasn’t been absolutely nailed down yet.
AND a post-note for the women: We guys in the IT field are sorry to hear that so many other guys out there have to make such idiots of themselves. But, please be aware that thinking that we are all the same is the exact same sexist reasoning that turns you off. We’ll try not to assume that you’re all frizzy bimbos snapping their gum and giggling tee-hee that they don’t get computers if you’ll try not to assume that we’re all overbearing stone-age Neanderthal pricks.
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