There are a lot of discussions lately about sexism on social media and I’m welcoming it! The what’s right and wrong and the actually it’s perfectly okay for a woman to say “I haven’t finished can’t you wait a sec?” Is really raising this issue around how we women are traditionally seen as the alien in the office, we keep it balanced but we should never be in charge, and that we rarely have valid points to raise. So I’m going to share some of my past experiences, because they’re pretty relevant to this discussion.
Until pretty recently I’ve always been apologetically polite and it’s done me absolutely no favours in the business world and so I stopped! Here are some of the things that lead to it.
A few years back as a project manager really struggling with getting a development team’s non-technical scrum master to actually deliver the requirements, I remember being blamed by my male manager for being… “intimidating” to all those boys in the room because… and I quote… I was “too knowledgable about the technology” and “too outspoken” when someone was being lazy and trying to get out of delivering what was possible. This manager was also non-technical, hated my curiosity to learn the code that the developers were using and quite frankly didn’t like that I could blow his knowledge out of the water. He was the king of micro management, every time I made a decision with my stake holders on their project, he’d undermine me, every time I challenged requirements not getting delivered, I was told to reign it in… Just who was I managing I this project for? It appeared this was just an exercise in keeping some old school code developers in a job rather than actually delivering any value to the business… very against my ethos.
So one day after the usual drama of the scrum master ignoring the requirements I was asked to sit down and sort out a set of responsibilities. I already had but he was ignoring them. So we sat down again. The result? His worst remark ever for his fragile male ego… “what do you want? A dick measuring competition?” Yes that’s right… I with an innie.. was challenged to measure up against his outie! In a modern day office with HR rules, not that anything got done. Perhaps he expected me to just agree that actually I had no idea what I was doing… or that he could just rule the world or something…
My response… said very dead pan… “well this would be tricky since well I believe my genital anatomy may be different to yours… however from that statement I’m assessing you may feel that my non-existent one is larger that your micro one so yes perhaps I win.”… he had no comeback… I’m an insolent woman aren’t I? Quite how I kept a straight face I’m still not sure. However raising this with my female ops manager a couple of days later that there may have been a bit of a male bullying culture within that team fell on deaf ears to the response of “well boys will banter, you just have to learn to take it.” Funnily enough she’s since been demoted! I didn’t stay there long, I got myself out of that poorly managed area and got to where I am today.
Other things that have happened… I’m a Data Architect… however I’ve been referred to as A Data Analyst and had a shocked response when I’ve corrected them, to the tune of “But you’re too young, you’re too attractive” and the best, “Wow never get women doing that”. These are normally dinosaurs who don’t know any better.
I have definitely been asked who I was sleeping with to get to where I am, and have definitely been referred to as the IT totty. And why? Because people… men and women… don’t expect that a woman can do such a role unless she’s a billion years old. People don’t realise that you can be a mum, have a full life, get to the gym, eat properly, wear clothes that suit your figure and perform a technical role.
So… my pretties, my ladies with the lumps and the bumps, my beautiful readers and the gents who follow to get inside the mind of a woman… remember, we have biological roles and we have professional roles. Biologically it makes sense that I do the popping out of the babies… I have the womb and all that jazz… I’m comforter, I’m the logical wise witch who reminds my child to be kind and I’m the nurturer. However, professionally, my brain is as good and any darn man’s brain you put on that table in front of me! So drop the sexism! Don’t apologise for being funny, clever, or an expert regardless of your gender! Experts come in packages great and small, some with innies, some with outies and the balance of the innie/outie ratio is getting better. I’m not gonna burn my bra… because that shit is expensive. I’m not gonna cry because my code broke any more than the shrivelling mess of a guy that’s been sat there churning through the multitude stored procedures since the dawn of time. But, I am different, and not because of my innie status, nope, because of the way I think and that’s what makes me good at what I do… todays rant… was brought to you by the letters N and O and the number 27… how many Data Architects does it take to change a light bulb? One to model it logically, the same one will work out the size and the storage needed for a lightbulb of that size and document it… then he or she will call the janitor because well, who the fuck is asking me to change a lightbulb? That’s physical work… I only deal in the logical silly! Unless I’m at home of course and then I’ll do it my god damned self!