Confessions of a woman in tech

I have enjoyed being a woman in a profession dominated by men. I love being the only woman in a roomful of men. I love when they open doors for me. When they carry heavy boxes for me. When they give me a chair in a full room.

I love it even more when a man patiently answers all my new-team-member questions. When my infrastructure requests get done fastest because I call the man and ask him nicely. When I introduce myself to a random person in the coffee room and he is happy to talk to me.

I tell penis jokes and curse so that men won’t mistake me for a lady they have to tiptoe around. The stereotypical programmer – white, heterosexual, historically sexually frustrated, geeky — these men like me. That sexual tension can be an asset. Women don’t like me. I have made-up reasons for why, but I don’t know. I’m too busy hanging out with the guys.

At conferences it’s even better. I can sit down at any random table and strike up a conversation, and it’s easy because I’m a woman. Most men at conferences are pleasantly surprised and talk with me. Attention is everywhere. Speaking is even better, because then I seem extra-smart. I don’t have to prove my geek cred when my badge says “Speaker.”

I’ve been hit on at work. I don’t mind – hell, I relish in it. Call me “toots” and I’ll smile at you, as long as you are smart as hell or know your shit. I’m supposed to be offended, if not for my own sake then for other women who don’t want to be “toots.” But I like the attention.

The movement for women in technology has received lackluster support from me. As a woman, I’m supposed to be all passionate about this. Yet, deep down, I don’t want more women in my group. I don’t want more women speakers. I love being in the minority, because I love special attention.

Is this ugly? Fuck yeah it’s ugly. It is also me, it has been me for years, and I have to own it before I can move on from it. This is me owning it.

Next post, I’ll tell you the moment this changed.

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