Posts Tagged ‘co-ed fraternity’

Women in tech (and how they’re treated)

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , , ,

mini boot camp platoon formation with drill instructor yelling

Just me and all the guys.

Gosh, where do I start? It’s the strangest thing how timing works… my morning already included a lot of reflection on how men have treated me over the years, and then I saw that our CEO sent out a message to the company about being respectful to the ladies in the office. While no single incident triggered it, I think it came at just the right time, now that there are 5 gals in our particular office (and like 20+ guys). It’s not like I’ve felt discriminated against, but I have noticed certain things being said or done that are insensitive to women. I’m used to that, having come from a company of a dozen guys outnumbering little old me and joining a co-ed fraternity before that and participating in ROTC and JROTC even before that. I spent most of my life surrounded by guys and I loved it – they’re a whole lot less complicated, more chill, and pretty drama-free overall. Still, I’ve been mistreated by more than a few.

I’m glad that the CEO preemptively brought up this issue before it really became an issue and I hope the guys take it to heart. At the same time, I don’t want them to feel like they have to tiptoe around us for fear of offending us and causing an HR nightmare. Certainly none of the girls in our office are the type to create problems and overreact to something. I also don’t want the gender issue to really be an issue. Unfortunately, we’re still different enough that it can’t entirely be avoided, but I’d rather focus on personality and skills and effort. In fact, most of the time I forget that I’m any different from the guys (except that I’m more social, but that could totally be a personality trait unrelated to gender). I think that with this door open, it does allow more room for dialogue if I do feel harassed or that a line has been crossed. The sad thing is that it seems that without a man bringing up the subject, if one of the women were to voice a complaint, it could easily be perceived as whiny.

I absolutely believe in standing up for yourself though. There were so many times where I let a guy push too far and pretty much abuse me – mentally, physically, emotionally. I didn’t want to create drama and I hoped it wouldn’t escalate, but perhaps guys are just too used to getting their way. I still struggle with being firm, but now I look back on all those times I wasn’t and how things happened that I never wanted to. I certainly don’t want to relive them, for they were hard lessons learned. For the most part I just shrug or laugh off these encounters, like when a guy I was talking to for work hit on me or when guys say suggestive or vulgar things. If they don’t push it and keep pursuing that line of thought, then it’s just another case of life as a female to me. But sometimes, it’s much more than that.

Getting that email really struck a chord with me. It’s often too easy for men to abuse women, whether intentionally or not. I mean, when 1 in 5 women from a survey report being sexually assaulted, it makes me worry. Maybe I’m that one out of the five in our office, or maybe there are more. I don’t want to dwell on the past, but it comes to haunt me at times. I can’t yet put away the melancholy I feel so I’ll just have to work through it. As I’ve been learning over the years, it seems these memories will never quite go away.

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