Being a female software engineer

Group therapy for our many shared experiences

Answers to anonymous questions

1. I’m a male feminist software developer in games development. If you worked with me, besides treating you the same way I treat everybody else (professionally), what can I do to make you more comfortable at our job?

Other than avoiding the common little gaffes on this blog, all I can recommend is fostering a general culture of empathy and inclusion. In fact, this has a far greater impact on me and the women I know than more tangible things like “hiring more women.” (But remember, there are many other reasons to hire more women. Diverse teams outperform homogeneous ones!)

2. Why the hate on PM’s?

If we lived in a world where female PMs were constantly being mistaken for software engineers, and where many people held the belief that women were naturally less capable than men of being good PMs, they’d probably get pretty sick of it too.

But make no mistake, PMs are awesome and I am constantly grateful for the good work they do.

3. Have you ever been in involved in a workplace with extremely low occurrences of sexism? Was there anything particularly different about them (unless it was a female-dominated work environment)?

Yes, I have, and so have other minority coders I know. Some places are pretty great!

4. How are males treated when they choose not to be involved in any remotely sexist conversations, humour, etc?

This is a great question, but I’m just an observer and eyewitnesses are notoriously inaccurate. If anyone on the receiving end of this wants to chime in, I’d be more than happy to add your answer here. Until then, my impression is that it alienates them somewhat from the group.

5. I wanted to ask what your advice is on a young women getting into the field is. I am prepping myself to start a SE. program at college and wanted to see if you could do it all over again, would you do it any differently and why?

That’s awesome! It’s a particularly exciting time to be in tech if you can power through the bad parts and find a good community.

There’s only one thing I would do differently: I wouldn’t have waited years to start speaking up about inequality in tech and beyond. I spent a long time thinking this crap:

  • I was just “being too sensitive” to evidence of sexism and misogyny in tech (I wasn’t)
  • I was an imposter, so I had to fit in and avoid detection (I wasn’t and didn’t)
  • the best way to make progress was to stay quiet, do good work and let the rest solve itself (it’s not, but that was a hard lesson to learn)
  • I was the only one experiencing any of this (I’m not!)

6. Wow! I am guilty of one or two things on this list..didnt realize it till now!

Education, yay!

7a. I do not understand why jokes that use stereotypes are suddenly sexist when the stereotype becomes a specific gender. I wouldn’t consider a joke about guys with long hair offending. I may not laugh about it but it’s not offending and I can’t understand why some women have such problems with that. 

The real answer to this question is “have a basic understanding of the power imbalances and reinforcing mechanisms of systematic oppression and a tolerable level of human empathy,” but until then, I’ll offer this: if women are the butt of the joke, don’t tell it in a professional setting. Period. (Even better, don’t tell it at all.)

7b. Interestingly, those three female programmers I know tell the best female targeting jokes I’ve heard.

Women’s participation in the patriarchy is well-documented, interesting, unsurprising, and definitely not permission for anyone else’s.

8. I find the term “brogrammers” offensive. How is that complaining about reverse discrimination?

That refers to a common derailment script that goes something like this: "If the word ‘slut’ is sexist, then the word ‘brogrammer’ is reverse sexist, so I guess we’re even!” If you need to know why “now we’re even” doesn’t work here, read this.

9. I am a developer who knows the team of developers at Refinery29 and the post about that blog is plainly wrong. Did you even read that article, is that link going to be posted on any hipster websites, or creative tumblrs? I hope you realize that over 50% of the developers are female. You should stop being offensive.

Wasn’t going to bother posting this but it made me lol.

10. [All the long, anonymous, vitriolic hate mail people have spent 30 minutes composing]

11. Please tell me I’m not the only person wanting to abort mission immediately and leave tech forever post-Donglegate. Not remotely exaggerating - I’ve never felt less welcome in this industry.

You might notice a several-month gap between Donglegate and my next post on this blog; you were not alone. The ensuing MRA onslaught was a massive all-out attack on our collective sanity. But fuck, we’ve gotta stay strong. <3