Hi Jeff, it is strange to see you in the “Tech Sexism” discussion. For those of you who do not know me, I am a 47yo, and a geek, front-end, jeans and t-shirt variety, not truly hard-core. I can walk up and down the stack, but am happiest near the user. I am in awe of my neighbor for whom everything is an excuse to wire up some hardware, but it is not me. I have MSCS from uiuc, and have done ~7 startups in the last 20 years, and bunch of volunteer geek work.
The entire “Geeks are sexist, and their culture is not inclusive” discussion feels like it is happening in an alternate universe from mine. The facts they throw around do not match my personal experience at all.
20% of programmers are women? In my career, I’ve worked closely with >100 serious coders, and I remember 6 of them being female, 1 transgender. In the last year, I’ve worked with about 10, and none of them were women.
Technically, working with women did not differ from working with men.
Socially, working with some of women was initially different. Why? Because they were pretty women, and they would talk to you. See #4 why women talking to you is interesting. After an initial shock wore off, she’d be treated like a fellow geek.
As a geek, women were not interested in you at all. My geek awkwardness was like women repelant. Any woman talking to you was an exciting event. This awkwardness and chasm between geeks and women was a fundamental part of geek experience, and was universally acknowledged. See Sex question at http://www.joereiss.net/geek/geek.html: “Geeks have traditionally had problems with sex (ie, they never have any)”.
This changed in my late 20s, when suddenly we all got married in a just a few years. I am still puzzled what changed, there was a sudden turnaround, famine to feast.
In conclusion, there was definitely awkwardness between the geeks and women. The awkwardness manifested itself in us falling for any cute girl that’d talk to us, and not doing anything about it (or something meek, like an awkward invitation for coffee). This was universal, in or out of the workplace. Once we got married, the awkwardness was gone, and we were happy.
The workplace described in all these posts is foreign to me. I cannot imagine a true geeky guy ever being agressive towards women. I’ve seen it among sales/business, but not among techies.
But then, parts of the new startup culture feels very strange to me. I’ve never been to a conference where drinks were part of the experience. Walking down the street, I look and wonder: who are these people, and where’s the awkwardness?
I’d love for my little girl to be an engineer.
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