A Study of Women in IT

There are three kinds of women in IT. And I work with each of the three types.

Type #1 is the Hardened Veteran. She had to claw her way to the top leaving bodies behind. No one showed her the ropes. She believes everyone should be tossed into the deep end and forced to show their colors right away. She is not friendly. People know she can get shit done, but aren’t apt to go to her. Why? In short, she’s a pain in the ass.

Type #2 is her opposite. She is Ms. Kill ‘Em with Kindness. She brings cookies. Makes everyone feel great. Is everyone’s buddy. She knows her shit. But people are too busy coddling her than respecting her brain. And when she does have something to say – and it is dead on – she is likely to be marginalized because she’s the one that brings the cookies.

Type #3 is your traditional nerd. She would rather be left alone and to her computer than interact with the world. She won’t say hi, but not because she’s mean but because she’s incredibly shy. People give her work, and leave her to her protective bubble.

The first six weeks in this new IT group has been funny. While the three women who are each in one of these groups has either shunned or befriended me, the men are the funniest. Why? I don’t fit into any of these categories.

One by one, they have trickled in with an excuse to interact with me. They don’t think I know what they are doing, but I do. So, I answer their questions, ask my own, then watch their face when I out-geek them. 

The guy that hired me loves me because I can talk to him at his level. He knows I had his job at the previous company, so I try to help him avoid the pitfalls. He also loves my directness and the fact I do it without being mean. I think this has made the woman in Type #1 hate me more.

One of his supervisors and I had a great conversation one day. I think I turned him on too much with my tech speak because now he gets all tongue tied around me now. Or he gets all bashful. It’s rather funny.

Another one of the guys came by one day and started talking about open source stuff. At one point during the conversation, you could see he was totally in awe of what I knew. In fact, he said he was blown away by the fact I could talk about all of these things AND I knew what I was talking about.

Another guy has become my pest. He will come in venting about things and not leave. I’ll finally give him an assignment and send him on his way, and he doesn’t realize it.

The “project management expert” wrote feverish notes when he asked for feedback on his process. It was too IT centric to the point I couldn’t see many people actually being able to fill it all out. I gave him some research to do in terms of good examples of PM processes, gave him some great personal examples of pitfalls, and told him to toss out certain things that is considered “old school” by today’s standards.

Like I said, this has just pissed off the Hardened Veteran even more. Ms Kill ‘Em with Kindness is actually happy because she has been trying to tell them these things for a while, but no one would listen to her. Now because I’m saying it, she suddenly has a voice. And your traditional nerd. She smiles instead of saying hello which is definitely an improvement from before.

Do I worry about the Hardened Veteran? Nah, she’s not worth my fucking time. Sounds harsh, but I’m not one to spend time dealing with people who aren’t working to propel IT and women in IT forward. Eventually she’ll figure it out when no one will work with her. I get where she is coming form. I know the place she’s coming from. But, it doesn’t excuse the behavior in my book.

I guess that’s why I try not to fit into any of those roles – it’s good to show people that not all women should be shoe-horned into one of them. Kinda shakes things up in a good way. Plus, could you imagine someone trying? Yeah, good fucking luck with that!

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Sa says:

    Very interesting. I had often wondered what kind of environment IT created for women.

  2. Secretia says:

    Personalitites of all types are found on the job.
    It makes work more difficult.


  3. Greg says:

    Offices are full of personalities, the real trick is not flunking lunchroom….lol from one geek to another I really enjoyed your post!

  4. Suze says:

    I’m certainly type 2 with just a little of 1 thrown in. I’ve also found that females have ideas stolen by male counterparts, unfortunatley the world of IT here in the UK is still sexist.
    It sounds like you are fitting in well.

  5. Topaz says:

    I don’t think I fit into any of those categories. But I guess I should run that by one of my coworkers…

  6. Ms Scarlett says:

    Actually, I’d like to watch someone try to shoehorn you into an archetype…. *that* would be pure entertainment.

  7. Just me... says:

    Working in a very male dominated field, I love it when they start with the ‘little lady’ talk and then realize I know what they’re doing, what they should be doing and can explain to them the difference.. It used to be fun to watch their confusion.. 🙂

  8. Apparently Emmy you fit thee archetype of geek goddess.

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