Women in IT (again!)

I have posted stuff about women in engineering and other tech fields.  Now I tackle the IT world!  YAY!!!

Ok… article here.

Comments here.

First comment:

Hrmmm,

I say we just give any and all female hires shiny new Sig sidearms with a license to shoot anyone (especially upper management) that harasses them. Seriously though, as one who has had to instigate actions against individuals senior to myself for sexual harassment of colleagues, the issue of unwelcome environments is well known. Fortunately, things are getting progressively better as I have been seeing an uptick in the number of seriously qualified individuals who happen to be women among the alpha users of the IT community (PhD candidates in Computer Science). But in the interim, I would discourage women from feeling that they have to “out-boy the boys” as that behavior simply compounds the problem and makes legal issues more complex leading to the likelihood that if problems do arise, everybody gets fired. Besides, the type of person that would engage in locker-room behavior may in fact be encouraged by a woman stooping to that level. I would also encourage women to be as vocal as necessary in meetings and not reserve comments for those times when you think that what you say is representative of genius. Just do your job, be professional, ask questions when necessary and remember that you do not have to tolerate any bullshit that your male colleagues do not have to endure.

Another comment:

The problem is that many women (and some men) are going to be turned away from IT just because people like you don’t care to make a bit of effort to accommodate others and be more cordial.

Erm. You seem to misunderstand the whole concept of a job. You get paid to do something you wouldn’t do on your own.

So getting paid means you’ll have to put up with some stuff you don’t like. Of course it makes sense to generally choose a job with stuff that you like, as this makes it a lot easier, but you’ll still have to do stuff you don’t like. I enjoy most off my work, but i don’t enjoy writing reports. Or dealing with some particularly difficult customers. That’s why you get paid, so that you shut the fuck up and do your fucking job even if you don’t like it.

Yes, I’m familiar with the “shut the fuck up and do your fucking job” line of mentality (even I’ve taken it a couple of times), but one should not have to put up with a sexist pig of a supervisor (or team member, what have you). That’s what diversity training is supposed to address. I know, I’ve grumbled along with the rest of everyone else who’s had to take diversity training, but doesn’t understanding our differences make for a stronger workplace? A stronger team? A better enviroment to work in?

Not everyone is going to like their job; that’s a given. But steps can be taken so that people might like their co-workers a little better. Not insulting them is a good start.

And, yet another comment:

McKeon eventually found a welcoming culture at The Chubb Corp., where she is now an application manager, but other women in IT simply leave the industry.

Other female friendly IT companies include:

* The well know pen island at http://www.PenisLand.net
* The Royal Tit-Watching (Ornithological) Society Of Britain at http://www.Nice-Tits.org
* Dickson’s temperature equipment at http://www.DicksOnWeb.com
* The well known scaffolding company, http://www.MammothErection.com
* Big Al’s Fishing company, http://www.BiGalsOnline.com
* Web One at http://www.WeBone.com

There are tons of women friendly companies out there!

This one gets me. Way to reveal your age and your intelligence!

I’m sick of these type of comments.

Gah!

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11 thoughts on “Women in IT (again!)”

  1. Hey! how’s it going gamerchick02? A friend of mine turned me on to your blog, and I really like reading about the technical things you post.

    First a little background for you: I do IT work for a large-sized insurance company. I personally spend most of my time at work managing our web server and writing SQL queries for our internal reports engine.

    My department has a total of thirty people, of which six are female. We have never had any productivity issues with any of our female employees (as far as I know, I don’t manage… just a peon :). Our department is pretty close-knit, there have been days where we sit around and play halo because there really isn’t a lot of work to do. (if you have ever done any IT work, you know that a good portion of the job is waiting for problems to arise and then being available to fix them). The thing is, none of the ladies ever join us. They refuse to be involved in any of the fun things that we do.

    This wouldn’t be a big deal, but recently I have heard rumours that two or three of these women (whom I do respect; they do work that is at least equivalent to the rest of the team!) are complaining to the HR department about how the rest of the staff ignores them leaves them out of everything that goes on. I think the problem is that they refuse to take part in the social culture that exists here. If they did, then there would be no reason to complain; and there is nothing keeping them at a distance other then their own unwillingness to be somewhat social (and believe me, when you spend 60+ hours a week with a team of people, you need to be somewhat social with them to stay sane).

    I think that a lot of time women disclude themselves because of some perceived boy’s club that doesn’t exist. If they ever want to take part they are welcome to do so, but nobody gets a special invitation.

    As for the initial scenario in the article, if your job requires travel and you are unwilling (or no longer willing) to do so, then it is time to look for a new job. Yes, people’s circumstances change. If you are no longer capabable of doing the job then its time for a new job.

  2. As a woman in the industry…

    I wish I could come work with you. I have done IT work for two organizations…one of them a major auto manufacturing plant, and the other a small local government. Where I work now, the department has no men, and I’ve found it a lot harder to feel like I’m worth anything. The guys at the auto plant were the coolest co-workers ever, even if the company sucked.

    getting back on track, it does seem that a lot of IT women go out of their way to exclude themselves and then cop an attitude about it. I wish your coworkers weren’t those sort, it makes the rest of us look obnoxious and prissy.

  3. First.

    IT is a DEMANDING industry. IT and children do not mix on almost every level, if you’re a guy OR a girl. Folks need to understand that one going into the chute. Can’t find a company that’ll play ball with your schedule? That’s unfortunate, but not at all unrealistic, either. It is NOT the company’s responsability to make exceptions for you. Be appropriately appreciative if they do. I have passed my fair share of jobs away to not being able to make certain schedules. Some jobs just DO NOT MIX. I have a relative that works as a DBA for a server farm. She’s got three kids; A Pager, a Girl, and a Boy. She sleeps with the pager, it almost always goes off three times a night, she misses basketball games. Sometimes, that’s just what it takes.

    Second: The whole ‘give the girl a gun’ schtick has got to go. It’s attitudes like this one that only make a bad problem worse. IT is a male-dominated field due to circumstance, I think, more than talent. I know plenty of smart IT chicks. But I also know plenty of IT chicks that play the ‘Wah, they aren’t being nice to me/playing with me’ card, when they won’t go the distance to either insert themselves into the workplace, or accept that they’re not being treated poorly…they’re being treated like everyone else.

    And yes, I’m very sorry, but guy or girl, sometimes, you’re the kind of person that NO ONE wants to hang out with. Get the hell over it or find another job. It would be nice if folks made an attempt to include everyone, but no one’s obligated. Period.

    It’s very hard for me to listen to ‘Women in the Workplace’ schpeel because I know women on both sides of the spectrum. My sister is freakishly smart, in a good office, and she just got a massive promotion. I know another freakishly smart woman in a SHITTY workplace who is underappreciated, despite having the social skills necessary to make it. You know who you are. But I ALSO know a woman who is a closet case, in a great office, and bitches about her work because she’s…well, a closet case.

    Reality checks for everyone. I think the sooner folks realize that the world isn’t always fair, and that you may have to work a little to find a nice place in life, the better.

    …As an aside, I DO know guys who bitch about being mis-treated by women. But no one believes them. ;)

  4. I agree with the “girl with a gun” thing, but only to an extent. A certain amount of…let’s call it spunk…goes a long way. That doesn’t mean that she has to be condescending, or vicious, or crude…it simply means she needs a good sense of humour and a backbone.

    The thing almost no IT woman wants to admit is this…the guys aren’t the ones holding us down. The guys WANT women around and are willing to treat us like equals. The women will spend a lot of time and effort in trying to hold each other back.

    Yeah, I miss the auto industry some days.

  5. The problem with “diversity training” is that, IMHO, it exists more as a CYA move for management than any attempt at building a community.

    When I was first hired here at Kettering, I had to attend a mandatory “Sexual Harassment Training” seminar, which mainly was watching an hour-long movie on dos-and-don’ts in academia. As such things go, the video was pretty decent. But there’s never been any follow-up. I honestly think the only objective was to give HR an out if I ever screwed up on the job, so that they could say “See? We told him not to do that … he even signed the attendance form here, see?”.

    “Diversity awareness” can’t be accomplished in a one-shot seminar. If workplaces are serious about it, there has to be an ongoing commitment to building that sort of community. And since the community is constantly changing with people coming and going, the process of building community must be ongoing.

  6. See, I think that’s a little naive. I think we exclude people from internal cliques all the time, subconsciously. Sometimes those cliques are gender-based, sometimes interest-based, sometimes whatever-based. But they exist. And it’s hard to realize they exist when you’re on the inside.

    You’ve invited the group to play Halo, and they decline. Ever consider that they might not like playing FPS games? Statistics show that, generally, women are far less attracted to FPS games than other games. (Yes, it’s a broad generalization. Your mileage may vary. Void where prohibited by law.)

    So … pick something else occasionally. Why not play other network games that have different aspects than combat? MMORPGs? The Sims? Civilization? Or perhaps you could ask them what they’d like to play?

    Saying that “they refuse to take part in our social culture” is blaming-the-victim. Maybe you can find some ways to adjust your social culture that they would find more appealing.

    It doesn’t have to be intense and overbearing and angst-filled. I know that if I was in a workplace where they played country-western music all day long, I’d probably go insane. I wouldn’t want to ban Garth Brooks … I’d just like to have a little Coltrane in the playlist, too.

  7. See, what you say is generally sound …

    … except when we get to the original premise of the original article, which is “why aren’t there more women in IT?” It’s one thing to say “here’s the job requirements: take it or leave it.” But then you can’t turn around when huge numbers of women leave the profession and wonder why.

    If we start with the premise that we want to have more women in IT jobs, then we have to change the way we think about the jobs — both from an employer and and employee perspective. But if you don’t agree with the premise, then there isn’t a problem to be solved.

  8. Wow. I didn’t expect so many responses from this little rant/posting. I also didn’t know my blog was read by anyone other than my buds from school and some other people I gave it out to.

    That being said, There are a ton of good comments here.

    ti3ed said:

    “[These women] are complaining to the HR department about how the rest of the staff ignores them leaves them out of everything that goes on. I think the problem is that they refuse to take part in the social culture that exists here. If they did, then there would be no reason to complain; and there is nothing keeping them at a distance other then their own unwillingness to be somewhat social (and believe me, when you spend 60+ hours a week with a team of people, you need to be somewhat social with them to stay sane).”

    Very good point. People need to acclimate themselves to the culture of the company they are working in. It’s important to pick up the interests (and if you’re paying attention, you’ll be able to recognize what people are interested in) of the other people in the office. My dad did this when he moved to Michigan in the late 50’s. He was working at Saginaw Steering Gear (now Delphi) and everyone there followed the Lions. So, he learned all he could about football in order to fit in (he’s from Maine; basketball is lead dog out there).

    jkhuggins said:

    “Saying that “they refuse to take part in our social culture” is blaming-the-victim. Maybe you can find some ways to adjust your social culture that they would find more appealing.”

    Taking part in the social culture is important. Everyone needs to have a little bit of understanding (I sound like a new-age hippie here). We all have different interests and opinions. Sometimes, learning about a new interest can be fun. It’s like if you’re dating a guy who likes hockey. You’ve gotta learn a little bit about hockey (I’m also assuming that he knows about something besides the fine sport of hockey) if you want to carry on a conversation with him about his main interest.

    @echthroix:

    I’m not denying that the IT industry is demanding. Although, I think that companies could be a little more interested in helping their employees with some work-life balance. Many companies talk a good game when it comes to that sort of thing.

    wildirishrose80 said:

    “I agree with the “girl with a gun” thing, but only to an extent. A certain amount of…let’s call it spunk…goes a long way. That doesn’t mean that she has to be condescending, or vicious, or crude…it simply means she needs a good sense of humour and a backbone.

    The thing almost no IT woman wants to admit is this…the guys aren’t the ones holding us down. The guys WANT women around and are willing to treat us like equals. The women will spend a lot of time and effort in trying to hold each other back.

    Yeah, I miss the auto industry some days.”

    Women in ANY male-dominated field need some sort of spunk to get through the day. And yes, here’s the famous “thick skin” comment: they need that too. Sometimes the behavior of the men (or even the women) in their workplace just crosses the line. Belittling, teasing, and general nastiness is the name of the game when it comes to some companies (most of it directed toward co-ops and contractors).

    @jkhuggins re: diversity training:

    Diversity training is a “cover your ass” move with management. Yes, I know this. But it can be used for good as well. Maybe instead of a crappy video with 80’s haircuts, everyone (new hires, managers, etc) can come together and talk about what they expect with the job. Some managers aren’t really clear with what they want from their employees.

    Diversity training is mostly about learning about your co-workers and everyone learning about what is expected of them at that job. And, treating the other people at the workplace with respect/kindness is and should be required. (I’m not sure if that’s the right word.) Everyone runs into someone they don’t like at a job, but you still have to work with him/her.

    I’d like to thank everyone for their comments. Let more roll in!

    Amy

  9. Sometimes, learning about a new interest can be fun.

    Yes. And in return, the dominant culture ought to return the favor by trying to pick up a new interest, too. So, if she agrees to play some Halo, they should agree to play a little Civilization. Compromise needs to run both ways.

    [Diversity training] can be used for good as well.

    Oh, I have no doubt about that. But it is only effective if it’s continuous and ongoing, not a one-time event. Otherwise, it becomes the “going-through-the-motions-to-keep-HR-happy” exercise so prevalent in many businesses today.

  10. I don’t read slashdot because things like this infuriate me so. These people just don’t have a clue, and aren’t interested in ever having a clue.

  11. Yeah… well… I got suckered in. I never responded to anything, as my anger would be evident and I’d be thrown down as a “feminazi” or something. Bah!

    Amy

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