Lighten Up

21 March 2012

Recently, I was asked why a woman that loves coding would ever leave the field. It's true: at one point in my life, I decided that coding would be something I'd do only in private. I was only slowly pulled back into the fold.

Let me tell you, I love coding. Been doing it since before I hit puberty. I did it when I barely had the money to keep a server up. I do it on the weekends and evenings, and I'm teaching my kids how to do it. I've spent thousands of dollars to go to conferences so I can learn more about it. Why would I ever leave the profession where I got paid real money to do what I love?

In short, I got tired of being told to 'lighten up.'

This industry is one of subtle sexism. I almost prefer outright sexism, because at least that you can point out. The subtle barbs are usually dismissed as something I need to not care about. It was a joke! Sheesh. Why are you so sensitive?! All I did was make a joke about you needing to be in the kitchen!

Lighten up.

The barbs aren't always jokes, either. Sometimes, it's attempts to push me into a traditionally 'female' role. As the woman, I've been the only person in the group asked to put together a pot luck (presumably, this work is beneath the males). I've been the only one asked to take notes in a meeting... even if I'm the one who's presenting (because my title really should be 'secretary who we let on the servers'). I once had a boss who wanted to turn me into a personal assistant so badly, it ended up in a meeting with HR (he, as white and male, should be allowed to rein in the only female on the team!). 

Why did I have to take all of the above so personally? Sheesh. 

Lighten up.

Sometimes, even the unsubtle jabs are hard to combat. What do you say to the guy who sits across from you when you dress up and makes a comment to everyone about it? "Oop, Katie's got the low cut dress on today! I know where I'm sitting!" Say something, and derail the meeting? Go to HR and get stuck with his work when they move or can him? Get transferred off the best team and languish somewhere else? Start wearing sweaters, even though my breasts feel like they're boiling in there (yup, that's one reason women like low tops, guys)? Which label do I want to be stuck with today?  Ice Queen or Slut? 

What is wrong with you? It was one comment! I bet you'd sue him if he complimented your shoes. 

Lighten up.

Every time I spoke up about the above crap, I got some sympathy, but I also got some guy who didn't understand what the big deal was. If I wasn't in the middle of being raped or beaten or threatened or fired, guess what I needed to do?

Lighten up.

How long would you put up with it? Do you love anything that much? If your spouse subtly treated you like crap every day, how long would your marriage last? If you saw a friend being treated this way by their boss, wouldn't you tell them to quit? 

Or would you tell them to lighten up?

You, person who told me to lighten up, saw one little thing. It didn't seem like a big deal, did it? One little line! One joke! One comment! But it's not just one thing to me: it's one of thousands that I've had to endure since I was old enough to be told that 'X is for boys!' It's probably not even the first thing I've had to deal with that day, unless you've gotten to me pretty early. 

That's the main problem with subtle discrimination. It leaves those that it affects the most powerless against it, quietly discouraging them. If they speak up, they're treated to eye rolls at the least, and at the worst, are called oppressors themselves. We're accused of not wanting equal rights, but of wanting tyranny. 

I would just like the million little barbs to stop, and I would like to not be told to 'lighten up'.

(Update - Have to close comments! There's some issue with them not posting, and I can't look into it right now. Sorry!)


Related tags: women


1 Sam says...

Well done. Thank you for writing this. It shouldn't be so hard to understand that there's a gap between getting women's suffrage and ending sexism. There may be one or more intermediary steps that are better but not good enough!

I think we need to share some handy shorthands for calling out subtle workplace sexism, like they've done in that video about street harassment. I and other men need to remember to speak up when that crap happens too.

Posted at 7:07 p.m. on March 21, 2012

2 Katie Cunningham says...


Thank you! And speaking up when you see things like this is so important.

Posted at 7:15 p.m. on March 21, 2012

3 Ib says...

Sucks that you had to suffer through that =(

I would never (or so I dearly hope) make any remarks like those you mention. However as I am just about to get out of academia (no girls in my course) and into the field I fear there may be things good intending guys do subconsciously that may be offensive. Is that the case? If so do you have any examples of when we need to think twice?

Posted at 7:47 p.m. on March 21, 2012

4 Katie Cunningham says...


Well, you might avoid calling us 'girls' :)

I could list some things, but if you're worried, go read some women-focused tech sites, like The Mary Sue ( Find their rant posts, and see what exactly got them riled up. Avoid those things.

Posted at 7:56 p.m. on March 21, 2012

5 Ib says...

Funny, ironic or sad, can't quite tell, that I manage to fail when asking the question. See in my head that is not the slightest offensive but clearly it might be, guess I should check out that site :)

Posted at 8:03 p.m. on March 21, 2012

6 jamil says...

The reason they do that Katie is because for every one of you, there are hundreds women and men out there who sadly do fit the stereotypes and are happy to keep fitting them.

So make jabs at them back. Call them cavemen, uncivilized, vulgar... creepy. Yes, creepy. Every guy fears being labeled "creepy".

And cause a little drama. Put your foot down. We're on your side. That's the only way this will change.

That's what you've got to do.

Posted at 8:28 p.m. on March 21, 2012

7 Russ Ferriday says...

Thanks for speaking out about this. And thank you for providing the very recognizable examples.

Not to minimize the effect this has on you or any other women, but perhaps to lend weight to a joint solution... We have a related global racism problem, frequently supported by state and local government. Here is one disgusting example:

Perhaps we can make these two major changes in one giant leap. Is there a proof that we cannot fix these problems, over a generation? Doubt it.

Posted at 8:29 p.m. on March 21, 2012

8 Kartik Agaram says...

Typo: reign -> rein

Posted at 8:40 p.m. on March 21, 2012

9 Kamil Kisiel says...

Great post, as a male working in the tech industry I've seen this kind of attitude prevalent basically everywhere. It's no wonder the field is so male dominated.

However, I take slight issue with being overly sensitive about using words like "girls" to refer to women. I've always seen it as being equivalent to calling men "guys", which there apparently nobody has any problem with. I find the "men" and "women" designators to be just a bit too stuffy for casual conversation.

Posted at 8:41 p.m. on March 21, 2012

10 shiny says...

not convinced it's that subtle. sure, some of it is. but really, people act as if (and believe) it's somehow hard to see because they don't want to stop doing it or they don't want to fight it.

Posted at 8:50 p.m. on March 21, 2012

11 Katie Cunningham says...


If you don't want to be stuffy, try 'gals'. It's the term that's paired with 'guys'. The opposite of 'girls' is 'boys.' It can be a tricky problem.


I have made fusses, but there were times when I couldn't. I was the sole provider for my kids, and the only outcome was me moving to a team that had regular lay-offs. I still regret not saying anything at the time, but I use it to remind myself that not everyone can act when it would have the most impact.

Posted at 8:53 p.m. on March 21, 2012

12 Mogs says...

Re 'girls' there is a huge difference between 'guys' and 'girls'. 'Guy' means an adult. 'Girl' does not. Do you really want to imply to the women around them that you don't think that they're adults; more to the point, if you want to be an ally to women, do you really want to imply to the men around you that women are not adults? Especially when those women already have a problem being taken seriously, you're using a term that relegates them to a group generally considered less worthy of being taken seriously.

It's a subtle problem because the term is so ingrained in our culture. But so are all the subtle things that Katie's being told to lighten up about. If you genuinely don't want to add to the burden of subtle sexism in our society, then don't use that word.

Posted at 8:57 p.m. on March 21, 2012

13 Ben says...

As a male programmer, I have to say it sickens me when I see other men do this. Thanks for saying something. The tech industry will be poorer without you and other capable contributors who don't "fit the mold," male or female.

Posted at 8:59 p.m. on March 21, 2012

14 G says...


So adults shouldn't mind being called girls because stuffy wording bothers you boys? Maybe the boys should stop being overly sensitive about stuffiness.

Those who see calling women girls as equivalent to calling men guys are wrong. It's a loaded term that has frequently been used as an insult.

Posted at 9:01 p.m. on March 21, 2012

15 Adam says...

Unfortunately this is all to relevant with the disgusting practice of "brogrammers" and such. It's really sad that women aren't being treated as equals.

Posted at 9:07 p.m. on March 21, 2012

16 Dmitriy Likhten says...

Catch 22:

I don't work with many women, therefore I don't know the appropriate way to talk to them at work, or how to make subtle jokes. I'd feel I have to think twice over every word, something that normally does not happen. This can make women working with me feel uncomfortable, but the only solution for me is to work with women and get better at it.

However when people are just being misogynistic jerks, that is a entirely different matter.

Posted at 9:18 p.m. on March 21, 2012

17 Daniel says...

Thank you for presenting your perspective on this. A very effective way of reinforcing the concept that while it may be "just one joke" for the comedian, it's one someone has likely heard far too often.

Posted at 9:20 p.m. on March 21, 2012

18 jype says...

Thank you so much for writing this!

Though I'm now even sorrier for every single time I didn't speak up, at least I know now I really should have.

Posted at 9:22 p.m. on March 21, 2012

19 Sharon says...

This isn't just a tech industry thing or a gender issue. It's classic passive-aggressive bullying, usually from people with low self-esteem. I work in tech and experience worse than this from family members. Brothers can be the worst for it.

Posted at 9:24 p.m. on March 21, 2012

20 lifeguard says...

This sucks you stopped something you love due to politics. As I learned at HP, "Respect the other [person's] way of doing it."

I want to see more women speak up about this. I am not blaming women for the situation, but there are more female voters than male in the USA. Why are there so few women in Congress? Again, this situation is not women's "fault". Women also get paid less than men. Rise up ladies!

You have power, use it as a force for good!

Posted at 9:30 p.m. on March 21, 2012

21 Michelle says...

Most shareable blog post I've read all day. Thanks so much for putting this into words.

I got to this post through a male friend on Twitter who prefaced it with "I hope I've never made any of my colleagues feel this way"

All the best. Michelle

Posted at 9:32 p.m. on March 21, 2012

22 Michelle says...

Most shareable blog post I've read all day. Thanks so much for putting this into words.

I got to this post through a male friend on Facebook who prefaced it with "I hope I've never made any of my colleagues feel this way"

All the best. Michelle

Posted at 9:32 p.m. on March 21, 2012

23 Josh Rehman says...

This is a great example of what I call "petty injustice". The sheer volume of petty injustice causes far more net harm than "great injustice" but because it happens incrementally it is incredibly hard to combat for precisely the reasons you anecdotally state.

When someone tells you to lighten up, have a script ready. Something like, "What you just said was one small example in a long-standing pattern of subtle discrimination that I've had to endure for years. In that context, it is not okay for you to tell me to lighten up."

Posted at 9:37 p.m. on March 21, 2012

24 Frankly says...

You should lighten up.

Posted at 9:38 p.m. on March 21, 2012

25 nik says...

thank you so much for this.

Posted at 10:10 p.m. on March 21, 2012

26 Swizec says...

Honest question: Why is it so bad when guys treat gals like they're just one of the guys?

Guys give each other small disparaging jabs all the time, be it the workplace or a party between friends, it's what we do to fit in; it's how our social groups work and what keeps them together.

I've never been female, so I don't know what it looks like from their perspective, but to me telling a lass to go back to the kitchen is on the same level as telling a guy he should stick to computers because he sure as hell sucks at talking to girls.

Posted at 10:12 p.m. on March 21, 2012

27 copper says...

Interesting bit of info about sweaters vs. low-cut tops. Will file that away for making sure I don't get my wife tops that are too warm.

Also, great post ;)

Posted at 10:23 p.m. on March 21, 2012

28 Anton says...

Lighten up babe.

Posted at 10:29 p.m. on March 21, 2012

29 JC says...

Damn, girl. Lighten up! Now fix me some dinner.

Posted at 10:29 p.m. on March 21, 2012

30 Gonzo says...

As to the "girls" bit, the equivalent "boys" is used as often as "guys". There is a stigma to "gals" (the equivalent of "guys"), so "girls" gets used as the informal in both cases.

I do find somethings in this to be questionable (particularly the false choice of sweaters vs low-cut), but at heart, the "lighten up" abuses are a real problem that many of us SHOULD relate to, but often choose not to.

Jamil's suggestion is right in line with what women I work with do when this happens (or those of us around when it happens). I would be careful of words like "creepy" that can be construed as defamation, except in cases where it's obviously accurate, like your coworker with the low-cut IQ. I do this myself when I get comments about what "you boys" do from coworkers who feel it's alright to assume all males should be oafish, drunk, lecherous sports fans who can't cook. Unfortunately, I can't do that for all the internet sites where I'm told it "doesn't matter" because I deserve whatever I get because of my gender's history. (For reference, see the misandrous replies I'll no doubt get here for implying the offense might ever go the other way.)

Posted at 10:31 p.m. on March 21, 2012

31 Elizabeth says...

Lighten up? Infuriating comment.

It's the same as teling someone not to feel hurt or objectified. Women subjected to this can't change the way they feel. Men can change the way they act and what they say. So do it.

I'd like to hear a man who has ever been raped to say "lighten up". It's not about the sex, it's about being objectified. Such men should try simply try to walk in our shoes - but they can't. Rather than judge, try to understand.

Thanks for the article - hits home obviously.

Posted at 10:31 p.m. on March 21, 2012

32 Kris Roadruck says...

One of the most difficult hurdles for the concept of "equality in the workplace" as far as treatment goes seems to be that women don't actually wanted to be treated the same as their male counterparts, but rather their male counterparts to be treated the way women want to be treated.

If you ever go into an all guy shop (as the above comment just mentioned) you'll see guys taking playful jabs at each other all day long. They don't dress up thier language or generally worry about if they are hurting someones feelings. Very few topics are considered "off limits".

I suspect this is where the misunderstanding and "lighten up" comments stem from. Guys think they ARE treating you equally (minus that whole note taking thing).

Post like these don't bother me. Calls for more professionalism in the workplace are fine. I just wish they would call it that rather than a call for equality when what they really mean is "special treatment". Because that's what it is. When you ask everyone to change their normal behavior to suit you.. you are asking for special treatment, not equality.

Posted at 10:32 p.m. on March 21, 2012

33 Jennifer Lopez says...

You said it! Wow, it's amazing how all those little things can add up. For 10 years I was a web developer, working mostly with men. And while I enjoyed my work and most of the guys were great, there were those little things.

I somehow found myself setting up meetings for people, answering phones, coordinating lunches, etc. If you know me, you know I don't do those things well. I'm now a part of a marketing team, and you don't see that nearly as much as it's a good mix of men and women.

But damn, even with a more open and "liberal" group, I was always the "woman" and they would always think of me differently.

Thanks for summing it up!

Posted at 10:35 p.m. on March 21, 2012

34 ross says...

It is a sorry state of affairs, because most female software developers I have worked with have been exceptional professionals.

Posted at 10:39 p.m. on March 21, 2012

35 melinda says...


Asking for people to not act like d-bags is not special treatment. I know guys who don't like playful jabs, themselves. What would you say to them?

I can only surmise that you're probably annoying your coworkers, and you think it's okay because it's "funny".

Posted at 10:41 p.m. on March 21, 2012

36 Glen says...

Your working in an industry that's populated by the most outcast geeky asperger ridden males in our society...these guys never knew how to act appropriately and never will!!!

Posted at 10:44 p.m. on March 21, 2012

37 danny says...

Awesome post, i am interested to hear what you think about this and how parts of it do or dont relate to your situation.

Posted at 10:55 p.m. on March 21, 2012

38 Kaila says...

Applause, applause, applause!

I really like what Josh says above - petty injustices. They do indeed add up so quickly and create one monster injustice. The idea for having a retort is genius!

Posted at 10:57 p.m. on March 21, 2012

39 Vanessa Hurst says...

Katie, You rule. Thank you for your articulation! If you ever want to create more safe spaces to code, feel free to reach out :) I'm @DBNess on Twitter.


Posted at 11:05 p.m. on March 21, 2012

40 Some dude says...

Sorry you've gotten stuck working with some dicks in the past, but I don't see what makes you think it's specific to the coding field. Your story sounds like it could have just as easily come from the investment banking world, or some alpha male dominated sales department, or some "with it" marketing company, etc...

Posted at 11:09 p.m. on March 21, 2012

41 Criação de Sites says...

Landed here via Hacker News... Wow, what a post! Very brave of you. And I agree with a commenter above who says that this kind of situaion is pervasive of any filed, albeit more strong in the "coding" or "tech" industry. Wish you the best and don't give up!

Posted at 11:36 p.m. on March 21, 2012

42 Joe says...

You wrote a great article that needed to be written. However, I will say that behavior is encouraged when you choose not to do anything about it. They are wrong for acting in that way and you are wrong for not bringing it up. Not only did the behavior continue, but for a time you let them stop you from doing what you love to do.

In the future, you need to address this when it happens. Make sure they understand, in a professional way, that you do not appreciate the comments. If they have any moral fiber, then they will apologize and stop with the comments. If not, I am sure they have watched as many of those HR videos to understand what happens next. The manager should support you because he is as responsible as the person who said it if it is not dealt with.

Behavior such as this will not stop unless it is addressed. Keep doing what you love, and make sure no one pushes you away from it.

Posted at 11:39 p.m. on March 21, 2012

43 MichaelG says...

As a male programmer I have heard of this happening and I just don't get it. I have only worked with a few female programmers over the years, but most of them could code circles around their male counterparts.

Good luck Katie, I hope that you find someplace to code that treats you a little better.

Posted at 11:41 p.m. on March 21, 2012

44 Roland says...

No one should have to put up with being treated that way. But let's be honest, women don't belong in the workplace to begin with so that's the root problem here.

Posted at 11:43 p.m. on March 21, 2012

45 Mackenzie says...

"Girls" has a long history of being used on women of all ages to relegate them to "not really grown-ups." Here's a photo from 1902 entitled "Working Girls"

Note how some of them have gone grey and are clearly middle-aged. But they're just factory workers making a little money on the side, not the <b>real</b> breadwinners of the family doing <b>real</b> work. They're like children, still needing a man to do the real work and take care of them! I suspect this attitude that women are just doing jobs on the side and have a man providing, like a kid with a summer job, has a bit to do with differences of pay.

Move up another 50 years, and you've got the phrase "the girls at the office." See, that's how someone in a 50s firm would refer to the secretaries. Girls. Because they weren't doing "real" jobs.

And yeah, laws until relatively recently treated grown women like children. Women couldn't own property (sometimes with an exception for her jewelry--that diamond wedding ring? her only possession, able to be pawned for the cash to escape an abusive spouse), just like children. Women couldn't open their own bank account and have their own money. Such things were reserved for adult men.

Posted at 11:47 p.m. on March 21, 2012

46 Erich says...

@swizec - this is not a bad question. I would like to make several points here, and hope a woman commenter chimes in with first-hand perspective too.

First of all, the "guys joking and jabbing each other" thing is true. But it really isn't that simple of a social interaction. At the early "getting to know each other" stages, the punches are pulled a LOT, and the pairwise bits of acceptable jokes are slowly teased out. Each member of the group must be felt out for OK and Bad joke topics etc. Think about every male bonding commedy (or drama with comic relief) you've ever seen. The new guy is paling around with the group, and suddenly he makes fun of the dog, or the tattoo or someone's mom, suddenly the whole group is quiet and serious, and "oh you just don't go there, never make fun of gary's poodle". There are rules and boundaries to it, even in "everything goes" atmospheres. (exceptions being douche-fests like Jersey Shore....)

Second, there is a lot of difference commonly found between the jokes towards majority "one of the guys" and women or minority "one of the guys". Sure, its funny for a core group member to yet again make a joke about how Isaac can't be trusted because he's a mexican thief, if a new person said that, s/he would be reamed for making that comment -- the trust of "just a joke" is an earned one. Same goes for "katie is just looking for a guy with that top" jokes. And sometimes, they would never ever be allowed, because the person joking is NOT cool with it, and that is OK.

Third, the contents of the jokes should mostly be neutral. I'm pretty sure Katie would be ok if you poked about the time she brought the server down. But, if you follow it with "thats why girls should stay off servers" it changes it, because you would never poke al with "thats why boys should not code". Again, it is the subtlety of bringing the extra factor into play that wouldn't otherwise be noted in "one of the guys" (e.g. gender, race, sexuality etc).

There is probably a lot more here too, but I hope i concisely addressed them well.

Posted at 11:48 p.m. on March 21, 2012

47 Mackenzie says...

Joe: I'm pretty sure that attempting to address the behaviour is what she was doing every damn time she was told to "lighten up."

Posted at 11:48 p.m. on March 21, 2012

48 Eli Ford says...

Thank you for writing this. It inspired both conviction and sympathy in me.

My view is unpopular.

The best solution is to stop teaching children that men and women are the same. Boys should learn, at an early age, how to speak respectfully to a woman. In particular, they ought to understand that unsolicited sexual comments are akin to physical threats.

Many men already know this, but keep silent about it because it's considered sexist. But they behave themselves when a woman is around - and they're the ones who would speak up on your behalf. This should absolutely be encouraged, without regressing on women's rights at all.

Posted at 11:57 p.m. on March 21, 2012

49 Lukas Blakk says...

Right on, Katie! I didn't get a chance to tell you at PyCon, but your noobs server talk was awesome and inspired me to start over again with my first attempt to create my own server on a Linode. Your talk informed me on how to set it up right. I hope you'll keep finding the energy to stick around and sharing what you know with the rest of us.

Posted at 12:07 a.m. on March 22, 2012

50 invisiblepilot says...

I've found that your either a "girl" or a "bitch", depending on if you smile and nod at everything or say "I can't agree with that."

Calling a female colleague a "girl" is more akin to calling a male colleague a "boy" (and patting him on the head).

Personally, I get my satisfaction from continuing to succeed. It drives me at times, rather than beating me down.

On the other hand, I would like to say that I have worked with a great number of men who are fantastic and would never think to treat me as thought I am less (or a sex object, or a bitch) because they are - as most people are - just good people.

Posted at 12:14 a.m. on March 22, 2012

51 Andy Joslin says...

I'm sorry for how we men have treated you.

I don't think I'll ever make a kitchen joke again, this opened my eyes more...

Posted at 12:26 a.m. on March 22, 2012

52 Eric Muyser says...

Yeah. I really don't understand where this is going on. If I were around, I'd basically just tell them they're being disrespectful.

"Lighten up"

Response would be "Because sexism is OK. Where do you stand on racism?"

Posted at 12:37 a.m. on March 22, 2012

53 flotsam says...

Most of the greatest advances in womens' rights in recorded history happened in the last 100 years, and rapidly at that. We just have to wait for a few more generations of woman-haters to expire. Not in this lifetime, but definitely a fight worth fighting in the meantime.

Posted at 12:37 a.m. on March 22, 2012

54 Aaron Gustafson says...

It’s a shame the programming world is losing you. Passion is so important and seeing it beat out of you by subtle (and not-so-subtle) bullying saddens me. I wish you luck in the future and hope you find a way to back to programming. Maybe the “boys” will have grown up by then.

Posted at 12:40 a.m. on March 22, 2012

55 Eric Muyser says...

What they need is a sufficient punching of the gonads.

Posted at 12:42 a.m. on March 22, 2012

56 Lou says...

Good on you ! ... you have it nailed! .. it is not the one comment.. its the constant wearing down and chipping away that makes it a BIG problem. Keep smiling xox

Posted at 12:43 a.m. on March 22, 2012

57 Harry says...

Thank you for writing this. I'm a guy and one of the reasons I quit a previous job was because a superior was sexist (toward women) and hiding under the "lighten up" badge. There were other reasons but that really got under my skin.

There are lots of ways to hide under this behavior and other similar behaviors. It was just sarcasm. It was just a joke. I'm sorry you got offended. I didn't mean anything by it. You need thicker skin. Gosh, it wasn't that bad.

But the truth is, emotionally mature people take responsibility for their actions and apologize when they harm others. That's the long and short of it. Real people own their actions. Even if it was just a jab at a friend, if you discover that you hurt your friend, you apologize. And then you stop treating your friend that way.

The same goes for work, for friendship, for marriage, for communities, whatever.

Posted at 12:43 a.m. on March 22, 2012

58 Eric Ries says...

Thanks for speaking up about this.

Posted at 12:52 a.m. on March 22, 2012

59 Jack Daniels says...

The time wasted writing this would've been better spent making me a sammage.

Posted at 12:53 a.m. on March 22, 2012

60 Max says...

If a man wore a low cut dress (or any dress at all for that matter) to work, would you make a comment?

Have you ever asked a man to pick up a heavy item because you assumed he was a bit physically stronger? Is it possible that you were asked to organize a potluck not because its "beneath a man" but "above their skillset" and maybe the assumption was that you were better? In college, I noticed that female classmates were almost exclusively better notetakers than male classmates. Does that mean notetaking is beneath me? No.

Posted at 12:53 a.m. on March 22, 2012

61 Dhruva Sagar says...

I would still suggest you to lighten up, but obviously being a guy I guess it is a bit difficult for me to get a good perspective on how it would feel if something like this was so common and frequent.

You have done a good job here in trying to do so. Although in my personal experience I have actually rarely actually seen such behavior in reality, it's mostly just confined to comics and such :), but I obviously come from a very different background so I could be wrong.

Another thing I would like to mention is that if something like this bothers you, you need to make it a point to openly say that you don't like such sexist jokes, however funny they might be. In fact if I were you I would even go to the extent of wearing a t-shirt that says exactly that so even if I am meeting strangers, they would think twice before actually trying something on those lines.

I like programming a lot, I wouldn't let something like this come in the way of my passion.

Posted at 1:05 a.m. on March 22, 2012

62 kp says...

thanks for the post. I work in the tech industry and am one of the few women in my sales organization of several hundred. Not only have I faced many of the subtle sexism and barbs you mention, but I've encounter direct sexual aggression on business trips and meetings. I've been chased around my room by a male colleague trying to tickle me, another where a co-worker masturbated in his car, and at award dinners where I was recognized for being the top performer in my team with a back-handed compliment as to who they wonder I could over-achieve my quota. Overt sexism and harassment like the examples you mention and I noted runs rampant. And, no, I don't think we are asked to organize potlucks and be note-takers because we are better adept. Truly.

Posted at 1:06 a.m. on March 22, 2012

63 Chris Adams says...

Great, necessary post. For @lb, et al. the excellent blog frequently runs or links to accounts full of helpful perspective

Posted at 1:14 a.m. on March 22, 2012

64 Larry Beall says...

I just wanted to say that I have worked with female coders my entire professional career and am proud of that fact. More often than not it has been a pleasure and a relief. I have often found that some of my favorite co-workers have been female. It is a true shame that you have had to endure this. I am glad to see you stand up for yourself.

Way to go.

Posted at 1:19 a.m. on March 22, 2012

65 xanthe says...

@max Is it possible that female classmates were almost exclusively better notetakers than male classmates because they've been asked to take notes since they could hold a pencil? Or perhaps because they've been praised for nice handwriting and even margins rather than clever solutions and interesting questions?

Most things boil down to exposure and practice.

Posted at 1:21 a.m. on March 22, 2012

66 Cam says...

The saddest part is that speaking up won't change a thing. Workplaces that allow those "barbs" are also the ones that will brand you "confrontational" and "not a team player" for trying to stand up for yourself. Hopefully, as good people leave such companies, they will just die out.

I've had male coworkers say extremely rude things to me in jest, and I can tell the difference between a joke and a "barb". They may sound pretty much the same to an outsider, but they are not. It's your history with the person, it's the context, it's their body language - those things add up. But this also mean fighting unwanted "banter" is near impossible, especially if everyone else around you shares the offender's worldview. Been there, done that, had to quit.

Posted at 1:33 a.m. on March 22, 2012

67 Joe says...

You may be correct, or it could be that it was assumed that was the response she would get. I say this because of the various assumptions she made about what kind of reaction she would get. Fears she would interrupt the meeting for example. Wouldn't talking about looking up someones dress be "interrupting the meeting"? Fears she would be transferred off the "good" team. Sexual harassment is not a trait of a "good" team.

Reading through some of the discussion's comments has me agree with some and not so much with others. There are three(or more) different sides to this discussion. There is what is legal. There is the assumption that everyone needs to adapt to a "least likely to offend anyone" approach. And there is the idea that general acceptance results in lowering the guard.

I especially like the comment about what the conversation would be like if it was all guys. Acceptance generally lowers guards and makes people more likely to take concessions with others around them. If you reversed the situation and made it all women, the conversation would likely change, however there would still very likely be subjects that would be very inappropriate (assumed) to discuss in front of guys.

So what does this tell us? That guys communicate in ways that women do not understand, and women talk in ways that guys don't understand. Thus the need to communicate and speak up if something makes us uncomfortable. I do not know how many different companies you have worked for, but it sounds like the assumption of male dominance is presumed from your point of view. If you do not speak up, then they can not understand your point of view. This can be done in productive manner.

I will be the first person to say that if I get comfortable around people, men and women a like, I think less about what is right and wrong to say. I have slipped and offended people before. However, in all cases I apologized (even if I thought they were being silly and especially if I was in the wrong) and kept it in mind when working with that person. There is a possibility that it was because the person was comfortable working with you that he made what he felt was a harmless comment as a joke. Legally, it is wrong, however because you didn't speak up, you perpetrated part of the problem. You do not understand his point of view nor does he understand yours.

In a fit of disgust, you may think the comment is atrocious and that there is no need to see his point of view, but if you do think that way, how can you expect anyone to understand you?

Posted at 1:45 a.m. on March 22, 2012

68 Joe says...

Sorry. First part was in response to MacKenzie's remark. The rest is about the article.

Posted at 1:47 a.m. on March 22, 2012

69 OneManicNinja says...

Caroline Drucker presents "How to Get More Women in Tech in Under a Minute"

Posted at 2:09 a.m. on March 22, 2012

70 Aaron Seet says...

Pretty glad over here in Singapore we don't have this type of problems pronounced to such levels. While generally males still form the majority, some organisations (like where i am now) can have a high population/ratio of females. We just work as it is, gender mix is part and parcel of life, and is a non-issue. You're rated on your performance, not your body type.

Posted at 2:20 a.m. on March 22, 2012

71 Chris says...

Great post - aside from the important message I am really arrested by the style, very poetic

Posted at 2:26 a.m. on March 22, 2012

72 William Pietri says...

Thanks for posting this, Katie. It really inspires me to keep fighting this stuff whereever I see it.

Posted at 2:26 a.m. on March 22, 2012

73 Wode says...

IT is filled with people that are better with machines than other people. Those people are insecure, shy, and often terribly frustrated (especially males I assume).

Other people, male or female, are more social and in tune with others. For those people, working in an IT environment can be challenging.

I don't buy the "sexist" complaint though. I don't think that's the right word for expressing the lack of skill (or will!) to express one's general frustrations in a more appropriate way.

You can't call all of IT sexist while you admit yourself it is often just one guy that ruins the atmosphere for everybody. IT attracts asocial and frustrated behaviour – probably more than other industries – but to lash out against the whole industry as one of "subtle sexism" is sexist in and of itself for all those people who do know how to engage in sane social contact.

As a social guy, I often dream about studying or doing something different because of some of these frustrated jerks and awkward people. I believe it's the same unpleasantness that drives women like you out of IT; but I think "sexism" is a misnomer for that. If you don't like the environment, male or female, get out and find something better.

Posted at 2:30 a.m. on March 22, 2012

74 Aaron says...

It's always so disappointing to read these accounts.

Sometimes it's hard for me to relate to this, because my workplace is so completely the opposite of this culture. Though our small engineering staff is male dominated, females outnumber the males where I work. And some of the most senior, most influential members of the organization are female. The men, including the engineers, in no way exhibit any of what you have described - not remotely.

So perhaps this is a reflection on your organization more than the field of work? Or would you say that it is baked into the profession regardless of the company or group?

Posted at 2:40 a.m. on March 22, 2012

75 Max says...

@xanthe - its entirely possible. but my point is that other coders could just as easily be making that request because she's better at it than them, not because its beneath them.

I repeat my question, have you ever asked a man to help you lift something heavy? isn't that kind of a parallel example?

Posted at 2:41 a.m. on March 22, 2012

76 Ben Reich says...

As a developer and a father of two young daughters, I know the rage I would feel if either of my daughters ever had experiences like those you detailed. Unfortunately, in many professions, empathic behavior is often lacking, resulting in a hostile work environment.

I hope that you do return to coding, and that you find an environment where you are a valued member, and you are not objectified.

Posted at 3 a.m. on March 22, 2012

77 Steohen says...

I was tempted to post to the HN thread, but my comment is really for the author not the audience.

Firstly, direct (not sure if that's the right adjective) sexism is so easy to confront. Did you confront it, or did you "lighten up?" Make a few examples right away and people will tend to avoid treating you like a door mat.

As for the so called subtle sexism, yes, it is hard to challenge. We are in complete agreement that its hard to deal with and it is wrong.

That aside I have 2 major problems with your argument.

First, you have the choice of where you work. Moreover we are fortunate in this industry to not only have more progressive employers than most other industries, but additionally a great many opportunities to be self employed. If you have a problem with where you work, find a new employer (or self employ) not a new career.

Second, I don't think its fair to label this as a woman problem. Are women victims, yes. Are women the only victims, hardly. Most guys just learn to cope and play the game. If you aren't interested in the corporate (though not limited to corporations) game, then more than likely self employment would be preferable. Don't get me wrong, we are in agreement that this type of behavior is not okay. However, it rather convenient to pull out your woman card every time you are treated unfairly. I get treated unfairly for a plethora of different reasons on a daily basis, most of which are not protected (great example: age).

That's my take, and I think its a fair one.

Posted at 3:13 a.m. on March 22, 2012

78 Jarod says...

"When asked, most men will gallantly express their admiration for women in general and profess a profuse love for their mates in particular. Despite these touching personal testimonials, society is rife with misogyny and patriarchy. A cursory glance at the current newspapers or television news reveals a global society in which the majority of men disdain women. While some cultures are more egalitarian than others, men's actions suggest that they believe firmly in their superiority over women.

-Leonard Schlain (Sex, Time, and Power)

Posted at 3:15 a.m. on March 22, 2012

79 SSS says...

Did you ever think those passive jokes were a form of acceptance? You do realize that men makes jokes about each other CONSTANTLY in both the private and workplace life? Them making jokes about your gender is merely a form of acceptance into the group. Bitching about it (which is exactly what this article is), is you failing the "test" of being accepted. I have a coworker that is married to a hispanic woman, guess what kind of jokes I throw his way constantly ? I'm 5'4" tall, guess what kind of jokes get thrown my way constantly ?

I'm sure that someday you will have your way and there will be so many laws in place that merely looking at someone the wrong way will be highly illegal and punishable without jury, but until then you'll have to only dream of your Orwellian society of robots.

Stupid bitch.

Posted at 3:44 a.m. on March 22, 2012

80 Josie says...

Awesome post, Katie. These "microaggressions" that you're experiencing would wear anyone down. The research out there shows that these types of daily interactions demoralize employees and destroy productivity. More companies need to get serious about putting a stop to this type of stuff. Losing valuable employees is reason #1 for them to get started.

And for a few of the commenters:

@SSS - Is that the best you can do? Try harder. You really think you're saying something she hasn't heard? Ooooooooh the b-word! Oooooooo

@Steohan - Woman card? That's DUMB. No really, it's really dumb. Being a woman is what she is, not a card to be pulled.

@Roland - Stormfront is your website? Really? Now THAT is hilarious!

And to all the ITGs who think they are hurting the OP by saying "lighten up" or "kitchen something", guess again. This woman is much, much tougher than you are. I'd wager that what you're saying doesn't bother her one bit.

Posted at 4:12 a.m. on March 22, 2012

81 Anon says...

I can't say that I know how you feel but have heard a similar saying - "suck it up" - everytime it's a racial slurr or a poke about minorities. Totally unexceptable from my view for both our situations and the many others out there... You can only truly understand one's suffering if you've walked the same path yourself. Perhaps thats where true wisdom comes from.

Posted at 4:26 a.m. on March 22, 2012

82 mary sue says...

The site the girl recommended has a subtitle of "A guide to girl geek culture".

I think you may be over sensitive. You will be discriminated against for many reasons besides being female where I work.

Posted at 4:26 a.m. on March 22, 2012

83 Vonskippy says...

Maybe your mommy could call the mommies of the bad people who are making mean faces at you.

Posted at 4:37 a.m. on March 22, 2012

84 Bruce says...

Bullying is a terrible thing. I have been bullied for literally most of my life. I have been stabbed in the back by most of my so-called friends.


Because I'm Christian. Because I can't fight well when I'm angry, therefore it is funny to brutalize me. (Anyone who is nostalgic for their school years probably has amnesia) Because I had a "nerdy laugh". (I don't anymore. It just disappeared. That wasn't a conscious choice - Social battering repressed it) Because I'm a big guy and therefore "must be stupid". Because I have no interest in sports. Because I'm a guy and therefore must be rude, crude and unmannerly (I'm polite, soft-spoken and ready to hold doors for whoever's behind me, regardless of gender) Because I'm polite, soft-spoken and courteous. Because I'm a "nerd".

And I've tried literally Every. Single. Method. There. Is. to get them to stop.

You can't change other people. The lightbulb has to want to change.

So I just lightened up and realized "The only one responsible for my own happiness is me."

So I made a choice to be happy. To carry a smile on my face.

Because, in the end, I am happy - And they are not.

And happiness, in the end, is the only winning there is.

Posted at 4:38 a.m. on March 22, 2012

85 grumpypants says...

Nice post, thank you.

Posted at 4:43 a.m. on March 22, 2012

86 tre says...

@Bruce, that's wisdom right there.

Posted at 4:43 a.m. on March 22, 2012

87 Rachel Nabors says...

Thank you very much for posting this. I was almost bullied away from development early in my career. Luckily, I ended up working at a company where the men were more respectful. Perhaps it's because I was working for a large adult advertising network. Guys who jeered at or looked down on our advertisers usually "didn't fit in" and disappeared.

It was that job in an industry often painted as one of the greatest objectifiers of women out there that made me love code and working with male developers again. Ironic, isn't it?

Posted at 4:44 a.m. on March 22, 2012

88 Cal says...

Katie, while it does sound like those guys were dicks, You really do need to lighten up.

Posted at 4:59 a.m. on March 22, 2012

89 Danni McNinch says...

It is sad to see these things happen to you at your workplace. I have great respect for you for speaking up for women. However, I also have a similar feeling as @Aaron, perhaps this is more about the organization you were/are at other than this field of work.

I am a female Front-End Developer. I also work at a place where the engineering team is dominated by male developers; however, I never once encounter anything remotely sexist against me. I even feel that I am well taken care of in some occasions. For example, on a company trip, due to the limited amount of lodging allowance for each employee, the male developers were sharing a hotel room, and they requested the extra money they saved by doing so to be applied to my allowance, so that I can get a room by myself without paying the exceeding amount, since I have nobody to share with. Also they feel that it is unfair to me to pay extra for being the only female. I believe it would have been done the same vice versa, if the team were female dominant. And that, to me, is equality.

I believe subtle sexism exist in the general work force, not particularly in the coder world. I once wanted to be an actuary soon after college, but I was told to "go get a nanny job" on an official actuary forum. I eventually quit the actuary world, not because I was treated unfairly, but because I just really didn't like it, and found web development much more fun.

So I do hope that you eventually get back because this is what you love to do, and also hope you find a place where people are actually modern-minded about women.

Posted at 5:23 a.m. on March 22, 2012

90 JEEV says...

Hi, I always support women. I also end up on posts like these via twitter etc. I always make comments showing my support. My comments always get deleted because the author gets easily offended, despite supporting them.

This time I will tell my side: I do not check women out at all (despite being attracted to them), because feminists have made it clear that doing so is unacceptable. So is it okay for women to take a two second 'glance' at my package upon meeting them? No, it's not. Not if I can't look back, although it does make me feel good about myself.

I agree that it is inappropriate to make jokes like you described in your post, and will support women who encounter them. But if you are a man-hater who is rude to me because you think I'm someone I'm not, before meeting me, I will stop caring.

Also with the low-cut-top, the coworker's comments are inappropriate. My balls boil just like your breasts, but I can't hang them out, just to point that out. But I don't care what you do, it's your choice and people shouldn't google on you. You should be able to feel empowered to dress how you want and society shouldn't hold anything against you for it.

Have you seen the crazy fashions that end up on the runways? People need to be able to wear what they like, even stuff that is unusual. Women should be able to wear stuff like this in public without having constant jabs at them. But if you get a compliment, if just a bit inappropriate, cherish it. Compliments can be hard to come by. Many people never get compliments on how they look, sometimes even the beautiful ones don't get compliments because everyone fears being given the same label as perverts and creeps. It's a shame the designers only get to sell their conservative wears.

Some nerds are really filthy people, some are really friendly people. You shouldn't have to change where you work, but if I were you I would also be leaving/searching. I hope for your sake you end up somewhere nice.

Posted at 5:42 a.m. on March 22, 2012

91 Ralph says...

You post made me think about my behaviour and realize that I've often been condescending towards women without even realizing it. I think we feel threatened by women & that's the reason for this subtle discrimination. I, for one, am really sorry about it. I'd love to say that I'm going to make a concerted effort to change my ways, but it's difficult to break habits that are so ingrained that you don't even know they're there. Still, I understand where you're coming from.

Posted at 5:58 a.m. on March 22, 2012

92 Richard says...

I cringe when women are asked to take notes, or similar.

I also suspect we all have some latent sexism that the wrong phrase at the wrong time would reveal! The book 'blink' has some interesting commentary on e.g. subconscious racism that likely applies.

Now, if I can just get my fiancee to stop expecting me to fix everything in the house just because her dad does. He makes things out of wood, I fix their computer when it regularly flakes out. I'm also expected to earn what her finance-world colleagues do. Likely a losing battle, that.

Posted at 6:20 a.m. on March 22, 2012

93 Eva says...

So sad to hear this. Had no idea it was this bad in the USA 2012. I knew it had problems, but this is not good... I live and work in Sweden. Fortunately, we have come a bit further in these questions. At-least in the IT field.

Posted at 6:34 a.m. on March 22, 2012

94 James says...

Sorry to hear it.

I can't stand it when people use the "Lighten up" line.

What it really means is that they can't empathise.

For them it's no big deal... so therefore, as far as they see it, it is no big deal.

Posted at 7:55 a.m. on March 22, 2012

95 Harri says...

Perhaps you should move to Sweden or Finland, it probably is much better there in that respect.

I'd guess this kind of bias is reflected through society. You should count the number for females in congress/cabinet. In Finland half of the cabinet ministers are female.

Disclaimer: I'm a male.

Posted at 7:57 a.m. on March 22, 2012

96 Matteo says...

Hi Katie, I don't know your situation and it might be a big step, but if you might consider moving here to Appsterdam, where we respect women. Cheers.

Posted at 8:01 a.m. on March 22, 2012

97 Britta says...

Gues what the first comment on the post by the person setting up the Arch Linux Womens group was. You guessed it, A JOKE about when the arch women calendar is coming out. Oh, and then posts about how we should all 'lihten up' for not getting the joke. Yeah...

Posted at 8:58 a.m. on March 22, 2012

98 Rituraj says...

"If your spouse subtly treated you like crap every day, how long would your marriage last?"

When one faces a problem in a marriage or high commitment relationship, the first thing to do is communicate the problem. You are indirectly communicating the problem here to the perpetrators. But it will be even better if you are direct and assertive in letting them know that you have a problem with sexist remarks! In fact, most problems in a relationship (workplace or otherwise) persist due to the fact that the problem is never communicated! I'm sure that your colleagues will refrain from making them remarks after you make it clear that you are not comfortable. We men are not that dumb and headstrong, you know B)

Posted at 9:05 a.m. on March 22, 2012

99 personable says...

personally I tend to live in prevention mode.

In any new group, if people are starting coffee/tea rounds, I suddenly don't want a cuppa because I'm not going to be dragged into making coffee/tea for everyone.

In meetings where I don't need to take notes, I don't bring a notepad or writing implement with me.

In meetings where I do have to make notes, I can't keep minutes as that would interrupt my note taking and participation.

Stupid comments from others, I deal with it then and there. Generally with a simple "that was an odd thing to say." Though twice it's caught me so off guard I told the person where to stuff it.

It's a small minority though sometimes I do have to wonder, was I recently told to basically "sit down, shut up, and stop having opinions" because the idea of a strong female is scary, or because they'd say the same to a man. (the rest of the company is composed of "yes men" which is scary to me in other contexts)

I hate that I wonder that. Because it's like sexism is pervading my brain, and making me see it in places it isn't, yet missing it in places it is.

It was told to me straight out that the reason for another female hire was because she'd look good at conferences. Is that good business, or sexism? She's a highly capable person and a good hiring decision as it is.

Posted at 9:29 a.m. on March 22, 2012

100 iamkeir says...

@bruce absolutely 100% spot-on

Posted at 9:40 a.m. on March 22, 2012

101 Brett says...

Lighten up!

Posted at 9:56 a.m. on March 22, 2012

102 Fuxy says...

I mostly aggree with you expecting certain things just because ur female is not cool however the guys comment on ur dress does't apply it has nothing to do with discrimination in the work enviorment he just thinks ur dress is hot and unless you think ur a guy you should take it as a compliment. Although i do aggree it is not a very tactfull way of expressing it.

Posted at 9:58 a.m. on March 22, 2012

103 rodrigo rodrigez says...

your problem is not sexism. your problem is that you don't have any skill.

Posted at 10:33 a.m. on March 22, 2012

104 jameshigham says...

Katie, with the greatest sympathy in the world, you really do need to lighten up a bit. The world is not out to get you. Well, actually, it is but not for the reasons stated.

Try being in an oppressed demographic, e.g. the older male and you'll learn what real negative discrimination is. It's not just one's colleagues, it's the state too.

Posted at 10:40 a.m. on March 22, 2012

105 Aaron says...

@Erich and @swizec

It's really not that complicated. Palling around generally doesn't involve comments that make men out to be less competent than women, just less competent than other men. They don't exist solely to reinforce a privileged position. "STAY IN YOUR PROGRAMMING CAVE, NEANDERTHAL" is actually "KEEP USING YOUR SKILLS TO PRODUCE VALUED PRODUCT AND LEAVE THE SOFTER STUFF TO OTHER PEOPLE". "STAY IN THE KITCHEN, LADY" is saying, "YOU ARE BEST ABLE TO PRODUCE VALUE WHEN YOU STAY OUT OF MEN'S SPACES". See the difference?

Also, I would argue that "its funny for a core group member to yet again make a joke about how Isaac can't be trusted because he's a mexican thief" is not actually that funny to Isaac, he just laughs it off because he doesn't have your privilege and he'd prefer to have an in-crowd over ostracizing himself by confronting it.

@jameshigham You idiot. Both you and her are in oppressed demographics. Why are you turning against her when you should both be fighting for equal treatment? There's an enormous difference between the persecution complex of "the world being out to get you" and "the world happens to have social constructs that make being a certain type of person more difficult", and institutionalized sexism belongs just as firmly in the second category as institutionalized ageism. If you belittle Katie's legitimate complaints, you're belittling the entire movement for equality, and undermining your own goals.

Thanks for this post, Katie.

Posted at 10:46 a.m. on March 22, 2012

106 Wojtek Kruszewski says...

Use used to be like "lighten up! we're all experiencing bad jokes."

But now I'm noticing how my co-workers really avoid jokes related to me being the only remote worker and foreigner in the team. They suspect this is a sensitive topic for me. There's always a lot of harsh jokes, but for last couple months there was not a single one related to the fact that I'm Polish and they are English.

On the other hand, if you're in a team with no taboos where people joke about each other's religion, clothing, weight, odd habits, sexual orientation - then I think you should just suck it up or leave rather than try changing the culture or making gender the only taboo.

Posted at 10:54 a.m. on March 22, 2012

107 Steve Ford says...

Great Post. We were talking about that at a Java conference I'm at. The presenter said that GStrings in Groovy offended him for the women coders. He only refers to them as "Groovy Strings". Sexism built into the language. Anyway, he said we need more women coders, I agree.

Posted at 11:24 a.m. on March 22, 2012

108 Some guy says...

I've witnessed these subtle (or not so subtle) things that infuriate you in my workplace and I get it; I have one question though: What does it have to do with coding? Do you think it's any different in other professions?

Posted at 11:25 a.m. on March 22, 2012

109 EveryTimeAnAwfulPostIsMadeGodKillsAKitten says...

I have to agree with "Steohen" (Stephen, presumably). This is nothing unique or novel to technology, nor women for that matter.

Perhaps it's not so much "lighten up" as correcting your frame of mind in the first place. If you're looking to get offended by something, you will.

Maybe you're not being asked to take notes because you're a woman but because you're the only person in the room with legible handwriting or maybe it's because you were the lowest pay grade in the meeting and had nothing to do with your genitalia.

Maybe you're not being asked to organize the potluck because you're a woman, but because someone maybe actually knew that you enjoyed cooking and/or baking and thought it'd be something you'd enjoy. Seeing as one could read that from your "about me" page, that doesn't seem beyond the realm of possibility.

As someone who supposedly has a background in psychology you should be well aware of the mind's ability to attempt to construct patterns even when none are present.

Now for the 99% of us who are not on either extreme of this discussion (i.e. the author or an actual offender), let's actually get back to getting things done.

Posted at 11:30 a.m. on March 22, 2012

110 Jem says...

Great post. Just a shame that so many of the above still don't seem to "get it".

Posted at 12:12 p.m. on March 22, 2012

111 AlekNovy says...

Nobody mentions that men who work in female-dominated professions are always the ones asked to change the light-bulbs in the office, have to hear catty jokes about male mutilation, they are the ones asked to change water-cooler, move furniture around and carry any weight for the female workers... and also endure long and loud cackling descriptions of the shirtless look of twilight actors.

Posted at 12:23 p.m. on March 22, 2012

112 withheld says...

You shoul try being transexual. We get it from all sides, in all ways, but if you're doing what you love, then what does it matter. People are idiots. Always have been. Always will be. Men & women, young and old.

Posted at 12:41 p.m. on March 22, 2012

113 man says...

Men talk like that to each other all the time ... in essence you are treated as equal.

The proper comeback to a jab like that is not: "That's offensive to me"


"Blow it out your ass"

and so on :)

Men talk like that to each other all the time (male bonding) ... so yeah EQUALITY :-).

Posted at 12:56 p.m. on March 22, 2012

114 Amélie says...

I'm a woman and a coder. However, I've never had to endure any of this. I've always worked in male-dominated environment, and even in a place which was porn-related. In every company I worked, the guys were professional, even though they were making jokes at each other. I participated with them at the joke things, but even if they were sometimes well under the belt, jokes were never sexist, and if someone was truly offended, then this joke would stop right there. I was never asked to take notes in meetings, nor to answer the phone. I'm anyway very bad at these things. All this to say that there is good working environments, and I do hope they are all over the world. I personally live in Canada, and I sure hope that Americans are not waaaaaay more douche bags than Canadians.

Posted at 1:30 p.m. on March 22, 2012

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