I think I’ve had it with this – Male is NOT the default

Most of you know my day job is in tech. Some of you may have heard my story about the programmer I worked with who actually refused to work with me because of my gender. All the men I worked with knew it. To save time, I would send my male colleagues the emails I needed to get to this guy so he would do necessary work, and they would then send the email to him so that it appeared the request came from them and — and voila! — he would do the work. He particularly disliked me because, as the database administrator in charge of (among other things) vetting scripts for production, I often returned his scripts with requests for corrections.

Lest you think the problem was secretly me, when I moved to the database team and had to interact with this man, more than one woman took me aside to warn me about his creeper behavior. Never go in a conference room alone with him. Never walk down a hallway where he was if there wasn’t anyone else…

This is not something men in Tech ever deal with. They have never had to do their job by proxy because some asshole can’t deal with smart tech women. They never have to know, for their safety, who the creepers are.

You-all should know that last night I was up several times to deal with server alerts in a colo with crap for infrastructure. I’m tired and crabby as a result since I STILL had to get up at 5:30 to go to work.

So, today, there’s this email forward to an Info-Sec list I’m on. It’s about a Defcon presentation and it says this:

Skytalks VI CFP
2-4 August 2013
@ Defcon 21

It’s that time of year again, people. Wine, Women, and the silky-smooth sound of slot machines. Yeah, that’s right. It’s time for Defcon, and that means it’s time for Skytalks.

You know the routine. Skytalks is presented by 303. Our mission: to show off the best knowledge our community has to offer. The kind of stuff you won’t or can’t do at home. We’re talking classic, old-school Defcon here: no cameras, no recording. No pre-con content takedowns. No sobriety. No bullshit.


We’ll be seeing you.

Actually, Skytalks, you WON’T be seeing me and it’s pretty certain there’s a lot of other really good tech women you won’t be seeing either.

Men are not the only people in tech. There are women, and you know what? Most of us have no interest in your pitch about wine and women. All that does is tell us you have no clue and it’s highly likely that you’re contributing to the number of women who won’t risk being in an environment where women are there for sex and you think the guys will all get drunk. Those women, too, I suppose.

If you ever bother to wonder where all the geek girls are here’s a hint: it’s not that there aren’t any. You don’t see them because you create a hostile environment for us.

When I set aside the tech work to write romance novels, I work hard to portray geekish men outside stereotype. After all, I know plenty of men in tech who are nothing like the stereotype. In my non-historical work, I often use tech. Because there’s a lot of cool stuff in tech that makes for exciting stories. My novella Free Fall features a hacker. He’s a demon. Here’s a picture I commissioned of him:

telos_small In the high res version, you can see his shirt says, “While you were reading my shirt I hacked your bank account.”

I give romance readers sexy demon hackers. You give hackers a stale, failed and offensive view of 51% of world’s population. No wonder women are saying no thanks.

So, now, I’m going to ask you to think hard.

1. I work in tech. In a highly specialized technical job.
2. I write and read romance novels.
3. A lot of romance authors have advanced degrees, including PHds. Readers, too, actually.
4. I’m not the only romance writing DBA.

Maybe you could open your world view just a wee bit more. It’ll hardly hurt at all.



4 Responses to “I think I’ve had it with this – Male is NOT the default”

  1. Poppy R says:

    Seconded. Before romance writing, I was a web developer. I’ve coded in Java, JavaScript, Perl, Scheme, and Tcl. And I’m married to a brilliant ops guy who is **nothing** like the misogynist idiots in tech.

  2. Love this! You are so right. And that is SO outrageous about that creeper.

  3. Anna says:

    Perhaps this will sound naive, but isn’t the tech guy’s behavior a form of sexual harrassment, discrimination, and creating a hostile work environment? I don’t understand why he’s still working with the company. If it were a woman behaving the same way toward a man she would have been fired a loooooong time ago. What about reporting him to HR?

    My best friend is a tech person at a bank in Cincinnati. It’s taken her many years to reach the position she now has in the company. Men were consistly hired for jobs she interviewed for. She had experience but not the degree, so she’d have to train them to do their jobs. 🙁

  4. […] 29, I wrote this post in which I pointed out an example of why women are underrepresented at tech […]