Things men have actually said to me at tech events

In my experience, 99% of men and women in the tech industry are decent and genuinely well-meaning people. But the issue persists; being a woman in tech can be a bit trying at times. What’s the deal?

I suspect that it partially comes down to awareness. Everyone more-or-less wants to be a force for good, but many folks don’t know what to do (or what not to do) in order to promote an accepting environment. It’s hard to fix something when you don’t know how it’s broken.

Here’s an example for you. At a tech event several months ago, a man spent a few minutes speaking to a male coworker of mine, who then introduced the man to me and witnessed us interact for a minute. As soon as the man left, my coworker looked at me with a shocked expression. “He treated you so differently!” he said. “His whole tone changed!”

In becoming aware of some of the ways in which I, as a woman, get treated differently (and how uncomfortable that difference can be), my coworker became better-poised to both identify and intervene when these incidents occur, and to understand and account for how this might make me feel.

Since beginning my effort to point out occasional negative encounters at tech events to my male coworkers, I’ve noticed a profound difference in how they react to these encounters—starting with the fact that they react. From intervening in uncomfortable interactions to simply agreeing “that sucked,” merely acknowledging that these micro-aggressions are happening and indicating a desire to account for their impact has had a huge positive effect on my morale at these events. Disregarding the distractions has never been easier; I feel properly equipped to do (and enjoy) my job.

But what are these so-called “negative encounters,” anyway? I’ve documented some highlights below. I hope that in doing so, I can spread some awareness about the fact that these things really do get said to women in tech and that they really can be acknowledged and accounted for.

Here are some things men have said straight to my face at tech events:

“I’m married, you know.” [wink]

“I was hoping to talk to someone who can actually explain what your company does. Are any of those guys available?” [points towards male coworkers]

 “Are you actually technical?”

[to me and my female coworker] “Can I borrow you two for a second? I made my coworker a bet I could find two girls at this party.”

“What size t-shirt are you wearing?” [stares at my bust, smirking] “Can you turn around for me so I can see the back?”

“Can I take a selfie with you?”

[approaches me as I’m handing out t-shirts] “I don’t want a t-shirt—just a smile. [pause] You look stressed out. What’s wrong?”

[discussing a widely-circulated piece of writing that I authored] “Who wrote that? Did you write that? [points at male coworker to my left] Oh. Did you, then? [points at male coworker to my right] Wait, so you wrote that?”

“They only let you work here ’cause you’re hot.”

…and the list goes on. Not included here are the multiple times I’ve been followed, been photographed without my permission, had certain body parts “accidentally” brushed against or grabbed… but that has all happened too.

It sucks.

….but it’s not the end of the world. For every bad encounter, there are so many more good ones. And I am so glad for that—in fact, I would love to simply dwell on the fact that the vast majority of the folks that I meet at tech events are lovely. But improving that ratio of good-to-bad depends on recognizing and reacting to the bad.

And for the last time, I already have dinner plans.

154 thoughts on “Things men have actually said to me at tech events

    1. Ellie

      I hear you! This is something that women face in subtle and not so subtle ways their entire career. I am a much older woman working on her PhD in a tech field toward the end of my career. I have a proven track record, and still get belittling comments from much younger men that couple sexism with agism!

      I have had situations with some younger male, tech students that are belittling and mocking of me in classes for sharing ideas they don’t get or appreciate. I have had students when I teach treat me like this when they would never treat a male professor that way, in fact there are white papers written on the prejudice against female professors as seen in student evaluations. It never ends! They say things they would never say to a man in my position. It amazes me the lack of respect from some tech people toward peers and superiors— the arrogance coupled with usually very mediocre work can be very demoralizing.

      I think younger women often get the “sexualized” version of sexism while older women get the “you are worthless” version of sexism. I think in part this comes from a detached tendency of tech types that can seem to border on an Asperger Syndrome type of personality that is not very socially capable. I also think some of it is the self-focused attitude of our Millennial Generation. Whatever it is, it reminds me of the same sexism I got when I was 25 breaking into a male dominated field where I had bosses that thought if I had a baby I would be worthless so they were scared to hire me! Back then I had to fend off sexual attacks, and hide the fact I had children to be taken seriously. Men like this only find value in women in two ways–sex or being a maid/mother type. It really speaks to their narrow-minded arrogance.

      All these many years later all I can say is–hang in there, confront it when you see it, realize that you are capable and confident, and unfortunately you have to prove your worth over and over again to get recognized sometimes. Life is short, you can’t change these simple minded people’s minds. I would align myself with the best and brightest you can find that support you, and push toward your goal treating these people like a minor annoyance and refocus on your goals.

      I know several friends that had to end up taking legal action against things like this during their career. Unfortuntely, often these things happen in private where you don’t have your smart phone or a witness to prove things. Think like a lawyer–document things you think are worthy, take pictures, record things, send emails to yourself or keep a journal. Expose things to authorities that make you feel uncomfortable. Sensitivity training should be part of the HR mix at the very least so people know how to treat each other and what comments are OK and which are not.

      Be prepared if the day comes and someone steps over the edge so you can hit him with a legal hammer. Don’t get paranoid or look for trouble, or become a mercenary woman, but women have to walk two paths in their professional world–building your career, protecting yourself against prejudice and sexism. So chose your battles wisely. Some of these comments that have been made to you if you recorded them and played them back to a boss would probably get you some justice and protection, and put the company on notice that you are in a hostile work environment. Here is the double edge sword about doing that though–you can be marked as a “trouble maker”, and that can raise even more prejudice from people that don’t believe you are genuinely experiencing these issues.

      To close–nothing works better than being excellent at what you do to prove your value and gain some respect. Start your own business eventually, almost all my female friends ended up having to do that to get out from under this. Don’t get jaded there are some great supportive men out there in the tech and business fields. The ones that do this are usually insecure and weak, or just socially immature. Walk softly and carry a big stick my friend! Good luck to you!

      Ellie

    2. Govinda Tamburino

      I just want to say that men have become indecent. If you look at how they are influenced (media, magazines, social media, and especially porn) we are breeding a culture of men who bash and want to dominate over women.

      On behalf of all men, I am so, so sorry that we have caused you so much trouble.

      Aziz Ansari makes a joke about men not having to be worried about walking around sketchy areas at night, whereas women always have real life concerns (being raped, mugged, kidnapped). We need to cultivate a society in which men are encouraged to be kind, gentle, and understanding. A true GENTLEman, some might say.

      I am masculine. I love cycling and growing my muscles large. I love raging about what makes me a man, but I (most importantly) understand that this, in itself, does not define who I am as a person.

      That being said, although sexuality offers a concrete way to keep interactions flowing between the sexes, we have to stop the #brogramer culture.

      Fuck that, fuck the people who treat you poorly and say nasty things to you, but most of all, fuck that guy who said you should kill yourself.

      He should totally do that taste his own medicine 😉

      Cheers!

  1. Anon

    I don’t understand why you are not happy that people are hitting on you. It’s a good thing. Embrace it.

      1. rgarant

        … it sounds to me like her job is handing out free T-shirts. at least at these events. she’s complaining about. some of these are piggish comments…

        but assuming she might not be in tech seems totally justified. usually the women who hand out t-shirts at these things are models, and don’t even work with the company.

        1. rgarant

          and usually they’re there to take selflies with.

          sorry, but if you’re at con, in a tight t-shirt, handing out free t-shirts to salesmen, being objectified is not part of the job, it iS the job.

          being, basically, a ‘car show girl’ and complaining that you’re being treated like an object is silly.

          1. Noah

            If she’s talking about her “widely circulated piece of tech writing”, I think it’s fair to assume that even if she’s handing out t-shirts while recruiting at a conference, “car show girl” is not her job.

            I’m an engineer (a male one.) I’ve done the occasional conference too, including giving people free swag. Despite the fact that I’m in tech in the Bay Area so there’s no shortage of gay guys, nobody involved assumes that I’m there to show off my assets.

            We should extend the same privilege to her.

          2. rgarant

            well… companies at tech shows don’t employ guys to hand out schwag to the mostly male crowd — they hire young female models. (to stand along side the engineers, who are there to talk about their company.)

            that’s not just my opinion — that’s just the truth, and you know it.

            Read her resume: this here blog is the most “widely circulated piece of tech writing” she’s ever done. and unless she had the article pinned to her T-shirt — she’s a girl handing out T-shirts, probably next to a booth with a girl in a bikini handing out pens.

            she’s myopic. she may be right about sexism in tech — but she wasn’t harassed in a board room. she got flirted with while she was in a tight t-shirt handing out free t-shirts. boo hoo hoo.

            you get respect when you earn it, not when you complain.

    1. Andy

      “Anon”… stay that way. You obviously are single, living in your mom’s basement, and are a big hit with the “chicks” you meet on the interwebs. Not all girls like douche-nozzles hitting on them, yourself included.

      There is a time and place to hit on women, when you learn, you can try on Tinder… anonymously.

      1. Wild

        I agree with him 100 percent. Woman have hit on me and made me feel like meat before. I didn’t go blame the entire gender like a real sexist. I mean feminist. Lol.

    2. Graeme

      Hitting on her should involve recognising her as a person! Not just a gender, a body part or a minority in a group. Surely real men want to protect not take advantage! Or am I just getting old?

    3. Ren

      The very fact that you can’t see why this is wrong in itself is a problem. The entire point of this post was not to highlight the that she gets ‘hit on’ a lot but instead to show the fact that her competency is constantly undermined solely as a result of her gender. Asshole

    4. Jonathan

      A Gentleman is formed very early in life.
      It takes very strong role models, both female and male.
      A real Gentleman never goes where he is not invited.

      1. A Gal Takin' Names

        @Wild, let’s first kick the shit out of YOU and then we can discuss your juvenile and moronic comment. Way to intelligently provide a thoughtful and coherent counter-argument to the author’s main thesis about bad behavior (said with eyes rolled and a giant heap of sarcasm, in case you missed it.)

    5. CJ Johnson

      Well now let’s put this amoebae n a tank and see if it floats! It’s a matter of being treated like an OBJECT dear. If you don’t understand that then you may never grasp it.

  2. lucky duck

    I really don’t think your experience is limited to tech. There are insensitive people everywhere, in every industry. Try going to a car show, it’s technical but I bet most of the women you find on the exhibition floor are wearing a shirt size smaller than you. Try a tech event in Asia, there you’ll find almost no women working in technical capacity and they all are dressed for a costume party. What I’m saying doesn’t make it ok, all I’m saying is that it’s up to you. Are you gonna be surprised when one of these guys treats you this way? You dismay feeds their false assumptions. If I were you, I would ignore them. Its exactly what I do to women who assume I’m some creep. It goes both ways you know.

    1. Evin

      Your comment really doesn’t account for the disparities in the obstacles you face, you having to buckle down and ignore woman who think you are creepy and constantly having to be belittled, demeaned, ignored, disrespected, etc by “professionals” are largely different. I don’t think her dismay feeds any false assumptions and if anything the author even said that vocalizing her grievances to people she trusted had largely positive effects.

        1. There's so much sexism in these comments

          Yeah those women who do “real” work. Not just the fake work all the other women get to do.

          Sexist and you don’t even realize it.

    2. Corinn

      It literally stuns me how you can straight up say “hey I recognize this widespread and frankly sexist pattern exists in all cultures and most often in the tech industry, but it is in fact your problem (whether you mean Leah herself or women in general, who’s to say?) that I have no hand or responsibility in either creating or fixing. I, too, am a citizen of the world but have no desire to invest in it by trying to make it a better place because it’s not shitty for me right now.” Like, that stuns me. How can you actually advocate “ignoring” something that actively affects her work environment and keeps her from the same opportunities as her male coworkers? How is that the same as getting shot down in a bar?

    3. CJ Johnson

      Ah but tech has been DOMINATED by males for decades refusing to acknowledge that we (me of 35 yrs of breast brushing, obstructive behavior, deliberate omission and pats on the rear) I CORDIALLY INVITE YOU to ignore a walk in my very capable very stable shoes. I served in a combat career field before it was known to be OFF LIMITS to females in a detachment of 86 males. The dirty looks from my coworkers wives and the snide remarks of HOW I GOT THERE. Hmmm You ignore THAT and all that goes with it and we shall discuss further!

  3. Not James Brown

    Maybe consider that being a man in tech is not always so great either. Actually, being a man often sucks. Ever had your face and ribs beat in? Ever had to deal with wretched men that way men have to, or are expected to? Ever found yourself on neither side of the gender fence, not fitting in anywhere? Twisting the epidemic of nasty humans into a gender issue is not going to improve anything. For every offensive thing you’ve heard in “tech”, I seriously doubt it’s substantially more grievous than what any intelligent and aware person experiences.

    Respectfully,

    1. Allison

      Its not about one-upping her experiences and minimizing her story so that you can participate. Smh.. men, like yourself, are constantly trying to make it about them. Women face sexism on a daily basis, so yes, how shitty humans can be to eachother is a gender issue.

    2. Anon

      Because it’s really a contest about who has it better, and making the world a better place for women means that it will get worse for men? How exactly does men treating women with respect increase the number of men who get their face and ribs beat in, as you put it and seem so afraid of?

      Seriously, you must not be in tech because your logic skills are absolutely atrocious.

    3. Wild

      She wasn’t even that cute! People like her should kill themselves. No one can flirt with u if your dead!

  4. Scott Arciszewski

    “Maybe consider that being a man in tech is not always so great either. Actually, being a man often sucks.”

    I don’t think there was any indication in the article that the author would find this statement in dispute, nor that it’s something that she hadn’t ever considered.

  5. Michael

    I feel physically ill just reading these other readers’ comments, I can’t imagine how it feels to get them in person.

  6. Patriarchy Jones

    I’m surprised that your surprised that “tech” isn’t this magical safe haven of perfect humans beings. I found doubly amusing that this was posted on “hackers news”, like this is somehow “news”. But then I saw you used the phrase “micro-aggressions” and safely ignored your opinion entirely.

    1. Evin

      I don’t think the author is surprised considering this is a reoccurring issue she has to deal with, and as if half the content on HN was literal “news” anyway.

        1. Bystander

          The word “microaggressions” did not accurately describe all of those comments. It’s an overstatement. It also smacks of precious snowflake talk. And it incorrectly implies violent intent, rather than mere idiotic negligence.

          Sure, some of these comments were “aggressive”. But others were just idiots. Making a dopey personal statement (such as the wink and married comment, or the poor guy who just wants a smile and comments on the author’s stress levels) is not necessarily “aggressive”. It can simply be “clueless”. Some comments are not appropriate for work because they are personal, but also are not gender-based diminution of the other person. I am a woman and could easily have made the smile and stress comments to a man or a woman early in my career, hoping for a little friendliness from someone at work – yes, I was easily that clueless. But it’s not sexist and it’s not a “microaggression”.

          Conversely, I have had men ask me if another woman’s breasts were real, or slide up against me at a copy machine. Those were inappropriate.

          If someone almost flirts but then admits they’re married, it’s an awkward slip that they essentially admitted they’re attracted to you, but that same man could also highly value the author’s intelligence, and he did rein himself in at the last minute.

          I don’t think we want men to walk on eggshells around women; there is a difference between when men diminish or devalue women’s competency, or actually hit on women on the job (which is disturbing to women who don’t want their career to suffer if they reject overtures), versus making minor human goofs that are not “aggressive” but, instead, rather pathetic.

  7. James Carr

    Sorry to hear that. I’ve seen this to many times to count as well. At a conference after party several years ago a guy our group met at the tech conference put his arm around one of my female co-workers when she was off from the main group a bit and asked if she’d like to join him at his hotel room. Luckily one of happened to be near when it happened and made him leave but it’s really that kind of juvenile attitude that really irritates me.

    Sometimes people don’t realize what they’re doing, some people just need to grow up, and some just need to do a better job of having a bit of professionalism when they’re interacting with others no matter what their background.

    1. reason

      God, you are going to be so disappointed in life if this bothers you. It sucks, deal with each individual episode as best you can when you are present, and move the fuck on with your life. Creeps are everywhere, welcome to life and having reproductive equipment attached to everyone that affects their every move and thought.

  8. Celine

    I’m impressed (read: horrified) that many commenters are dismissing this as something flattering (since when do women like to be sexually objectified instead of professionally respected at professional events?) or that this issue is not worthy of discussing as a Tech Industry Issue (even though there are an incredible number of ways systemic sexism is propped up by everyday casually sexist actions by engineers and developers and other tech workers) or that you are being divisive by calling this out as a gender issue (because accusing an industry of sexism is not okay, but tolerating sexism within the industry is?).

    I’m grateful to every woman who continues to push these issues to the forefront, and to all the men who are aware, supportive, and engaged in facing these issues. This is a community concern and a community problem.

  9. Patrice Boivin

    Wow, even some of the comments are inane and irresponsible.

    It’s sad that you (and probably many other females in IT) have to experience this. What I don’t understand is how these men manage to get married and stay married.

  10. Kyle Dybdal

    It’s remarkable how many men in this comment section were able to make this post about men. God this sucks. My sympathies, dude.

  11. Fakey Name

    While I definitely understand the irritation at having your ability questioned or having your bum grabbed, I genuinely feel sad for what the extrapolation of that does to basic human interaction. If you’re an attractive woman, and I would genuinely like to get to know you, or even ask you to dinner, I can’t even ask? That’s offensive? It reminds me of the poor bastard who merely commented on the woman’s picture when she reached out to him on LinkedIn, and she pasted it all over social media- primarily because he was “twice her age”. We’ve become so black and white in our reactions to anything implying human attraction that the mere expression of interest or appreciation for another person is lumped in with patting her fanny or belittling her professional ability- but only, in reality, when the compliment or offer comes from someone undesirable to the recipient. The handsome, charming man gets away with a lot. It’s an unfortunate trap we’ve set for ourselves as people. No personal interactions in a business setting, even if that’s where many of us spend most of our lives and would find relationships with people with similar interests.

    1. Matt

      I’ve seen this point before, and it continues to baffle me that some folks can’t tell the difference between asking someone out and sexually harassing them.

      No one is saying you can’t have “personal interactions” in a business setting. There’s nothing wrong with approaching a coworker with whom you’ve built a rapport and saying something like, “I was wondering if you’d like to get together outside of work sometime?” Provided, that is, that you’re prepared to graciously accept a refusal, or to be cool if you learn that they’re interested in getting together, but only as friends. And by “graciously accept,” I mean DROP IT FOREVER WITH A SMILE.

      Groping someone, though—or belittling their intelligence, or commenting on their “hotness”—is NOT OK.

  12. Jeff Berry

    While this sampling of comments so far is a small N (16), two of the comments (12.5%) might be considered gender insensitive (what are known as “trolls” today but in my generation were called “pigs”). One, who cravenly signed himself “Anon” was evidently trying to be funny or was a true pig. So your estimate, Ms. Weitz, at the top of your post that 99% of people in high tech are genuinely decent may, from this small sample, actually be an over-estimate. The fact that this is a widely trending topic in both mainstream and industry media indicates that it isn’t just some touchy women complaining. It is an epidemic of unrestrained misogyny. I have also heard several women in tech testify to the truly vile (and anonymous, of course) treatment they have experienced from these pigs. And I know personally several who are afraid to speak out in public for fear of attack or of losing their jobs.

    But it’s something that employers can do something about. It is against the law and also tortable. In my own company, if anyone were guilty of displaying sexual harassment or exposing our company to a lawsuit, they’d be fired that day…for cause…with extreme prejudice. We made this very clear in our employee handbook, which all new employees were required to read and sign.

    Don’t put up with it. And if your company puts up with it, they expose themselves to indictment and lawsuit.

  13. Manole

    First in tech industry lives so many frustrated nerds without many sexual experience, so they are trying to approach you.
    Or they are too technical.. they can’t take you very serious. Ok, I read your CV and I see only bullshit there and I have doubts about your “technical” level.

    I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings, I was just being honest.

    1. Darc

      I am so sorry you have to read rubbish like Manole’s comment.

      I have never understood the desire of a certain percentage of people who just want to hurt others.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings,. The post really opened my eyes.

      I am sorry that you have to put up with this behaviour.

    2. Colby Aley

      a) people like you are the reason she felt the need to write the post. You can’t judge someone’s “technical level” by their resume, just like you can’t judge it by the fact they’re a woman.

      b) go fuck yourself,

      I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings, I was just being honest.

    3. Hillary

      Hey Manole. I am ‘technical’, have a vagina, and can second what she’s posted here. Meetings where someone shakes all the mens’ hands and ask their names, but ignore me, until someone tells them I’m the resident expert, etc… Things like that pile up over time, even though most people are genuinely great. Sooo….

    1. Anon

      Stop trying to make people whitewash things and fake being nice. we’re trying to fix a problem here, and there are plenty of people willing to say “nice things.”

  14. kisstheblade

    Do you think that hiring you as a “marketing person” has nothing to do with your looks?
    If I want to discuss technical stuff I’m sure not going to talk to a “marketing person” (your words), what’s wrong with that?

    Yes it is sad that men have to hit on you at inappropriate times or feel awkward around beautiful women, but it’s hard to generalize for a common solution for some people’s problems and behaviour. And being so nice looking that random people want to have dinner with you isn’t the worst problem to have.
    No woman I have just met has ever asked me out or for dinner, should I be crying about some gender equality here?

    Or is this once more the “men in tech are nerds and live in their mothers basement and can’t behave” stereotype?

  15. Silke

    I can totally feel with you. Just last week I was on a tech conference. We were told to collect stamps at the sponsors’ booths in order to participate in a raffle in the end of the conference. Anytime a male participant approached the booths, the people would be like “Do you also work with [product name]? What do you do?” or spontaneously offer them jobs at their companies.
    When I came to the booths they’d smile sympathetically and say “Do you also want a stamp?”

  16. Jim Bowen

    Sadly this is not a Tech issue but evident everywhere I think. As an old schooler and being raised to treat all women with respect, honour and dignity, to name a few, men should remember to treat women as they would treat their own daughters or mothers! And having said that, did you know that mad cow disease is a woman thing, because everyone knows men are pigs! HA!

  17. Dene Grigar

    I was asked to watch the male collaborator’s child while he did “something important.” I had just flown on my own dime to collaborate with him. He brought his child to the meeting and really did leave the child with me to watch. He walked away and left me with this child.

    1. Me

      If it was an inconvenience for you you should have just been honest about it and told him you had some important things you had to do too.

      1. Jina

        You’re missing the point. Why did this guy even think it was okay to bring his child and expect a female colleague to babysit? How in the world is that a professional way to conduct business?

  18. jd

    Oh yeah.

    Are you technical? [“Yeah, I write code.”] So, you’re technical?

    [“I’ve used your product.”] Our product is for developers.

    [Hacks all day long at hackathon.] So, you’re a product evangelist?

    [Stands in booth, watching sales guy get asked over and over again how our product works.]

    [Gets tired of eye contact every time a speaker says something about less technical people, juniors, and people who need help.]

    I went to a talk last night where no one said anything stupid to me, and it was delightful. But I did make a point of showing up right before it started and leaving right after.

  19. Eye Rolling

    You were groped and brushed against — that’s gross and I’m sorry to hear you experienced it.

    You say men at a conference assumed you’re non-technical because you’re a woman. Another possibility is that they assumed you’re non-technical because you are, in fact, non-technical. Your online resume says you’re a “marketing communications coordinator,” one year out of college. You majored in English Literature with a minor in Spanish. (Admittedly, for all I know, you might have taught yourself compiler construction in your spare time and forgot to put it on your resume, but I’m going to guess that’s not the case.)

    Marketing communications is a good field in some ways. One down side is that it isn’t super-high-status in the tech industry (or in most industries). In particular, it is not realistic to think that people at a conference are going to value engineering information from a junior-level marketing coordinator, or any marketing person, as much as they value it from an engineering person. ¡Así es la vida!

    1. Anon

      You are a condescending asshole. I can code and seriously, you should fuck. off.

      How can anyone KNOW if someone can code just by looking at them? seriously? Are you stupid?

      And as for marketing not being in high demand, holy shit you should see the constant stream of startups BEGGING marketers I know to work for them, because their shitty product is something NO ONE WANTS.

      1. Eye Rolling

        In this case, yes, someone could tell just by looking. In the article, she specifically said that her role at the conference was giving away T-shirts. Considering this and considering her age, visitors to the booth or table probably had little trouble inferring that her job is a support position in marketing or sales.
        I bet a male in the same job, who had graduated from high school in 2010 like her and who was youthful-looking like her, would have been the subject of the same (correct) assumption.
        One could argue that more engineers *should* have front-line customer-facing roles at conferences, like the one she had, but that’s a different issue.

  20. Pingback: A woman who wrote an explosive blog post calling out sexist men in tech explains why she did it | Digital Wealth

  21. Pingback: A woman who wrote an explosive blog post calling out sexist men in tech explains why she did it - Responsive | Responsive

  22. Pingback: A woman who wrote an explosive blog post calling out sexist men in tech explains why she did itNicoleTammaro.com | NicoleTammaro.com

  23. Michael Hall

    So sorry you are experiencing such horrible treatment. I can’t imagine saying or doing any of those things to a woman in a professional environment. It’s so incredibly rude!

    I think about my daughter and what she will face in her career and this makes me sad.

  24. Pingback: A woman who wrote an explosive blog post calling out sexist men in tech explains why she did it - NewsNIM

  25. Pingback: A woman who wrote an explosive blog post calling out sexist men in tech explains why she did it - bns24.com

  26. Pingback: A woman who wrote an explosive blog post calling out sexist men in tech explains why she did it | SafetyFist.com

  27. Tee

    I completely understand. I was a techie for over 12 years and had to endure a litany of BS, for an altogether different reason. But, the sometimes closed-minded, insular community of tech nerds can be frustrating when one has to deal with some of the cavemen, who dwell within their ranks, if you happen not to look like them or don’t pee standing up. Intelligence does not guarantee social awareness, human compassion or the requisite self awareness to not display the depth and breadth of one’s ignorance. No, not all men in the tech world are like this or live in their moms’ basement subsisting on hot pockets. That’s not the point. The point is that there are still far too many self-assured, self-important troglodytes who are standing in the way of progress. The jackholes suggesting that you should be flattered by men not taking your work seriously, but want to date you only affirms this loathsome notion. Rock on. Keep doing what you’re doing.

  28. Pingback: A woman who wrote an explosive blog post calling out sexist men in tech … | Tech Reformers

  29. Pingback: A woman who wrote an explosive blog post calling out sexist men in tech explains why she did it

  30. Chris

    Who ever was at a tech show as a man and exhibitor knows, that most of the guys are hunting for woman. One of the reasons is that they are not @home and normally such events are in other countries or at least far away from home = quite secure ground. “It’s a men’s world” – unfortunately. One of the reasons I try to skip big events/shows because I’m ashamed to be a man when hearhing how they talk about women. Has anyone a clue how to change this? For most women, it’s really a very bad experience that we should change.

    1. Me

      What’s the logic in going to a tech show to find women? I would think that if one were really looking for women, one would go to places where women tend to congregate.

  31. Archer

    Leah – that really sucks.

    For any guys (or anyone really) reading this article, something I do for my mostly female team members (particularly at events) though I would do this in any circumstance for any team member male or female…

    1. Let them know you’re there (and actually be there) if they need any support for any encounter, or want to pass some rude person off.

    2. Step in and ask if everything is okay, even if you just suspect something is wrong. You know your colleagues demeanor, when you sense a drastic change in it, chances are something is affecting it.

    3. Call people out on their behaviour. I have no problem saying to someone, prospect or not, excuse me sir, that was inappropriate. Ignorant people don’t necessarily know what they are doing is affecting someone negatively – once you tell them, and they continue, they are no longer ignorant and just plain inconsiderate/rude/stupid – and I’d be happy to enlighten them to that fact as well. Our business is also represented by the company we keep, the customers we have, team members, etc., someone like that is not someone I want to be associated with my company and brand in any facet.

    Props Leah for speaking up. The trolls on here only underscore people’s ineptitude.

    Regards,
    Archer

  32. Charlie Wood

    Leah-

    Women shouldn’t have to put up with the kind of behavior you describe. I agree with Seth that we as a community should actively denounce and reject this behavior and try to help the men doing it learn how to act like adults.

    Regards,
    Charlie

  33. Michael Eger

    This more an issue because IT attracts socially uncalibrated males. These guys would put their foot in their mouth some other way.

    The gender issue comes in when a socially award male (often lonely and lacking experience) meets an attractive member of the opposite gender. When they open their mount, their lack of experience will show.

    1. Danna

      I worked in Tech start ups in Seattle for 18 years. I left 20 years ago to raise my kids. Sorry to hear that some things haven’t changed since I left.

  34. Alison

    Happens in any male-dominated industry. At a conference, several of us were dining with potential clients; but I bailed out after dinner because they were headed to a strip club.

  35. Katie

    Thank you so much for sharing! There are so many things one could say in response to the negative experiences you’ve had, and since a lot of them have already been said, I wanted to share some (sorry for the length) of my own insights and my appreciation of the overall tone of your post.

    Thank you for teaching others about what’s going on and what needs to stop, but thank you for doing it with such a positive tone–and explaining how, once others around your were enlightened and active in your experiences with you, your experience changed (though I’m sure, simply due to the number of people we pass by in life, you will experienced negative encounters again).

    I hit a point in my life in my late teens which spanned into my early twenties where my negative experiences with men (some of which were physically violent/ injurious) made me feel hateful towards male encounters in general–fueled my defense, which was on high alert all the time. And there are a lot of girls and women who feel this way–who act out in context with their negative experiences with men and/or women (I have been assaulted by women, too). A lot of these girls and women are the ones out there passionately advocating for other abused girls and women–but unfortunately, a majority of their comments and posts are very negative TOWARDS men.

    And I want to give a bit of perspective on this because I see all too often a hate-war going on simply because it lacks the most important element needed to foster true understanding (and hopefully change): context.

    After my younger experiences, In my mid-twenties, I was lucky/ blessed to find myself in a work environment as the “boss” of a group of men I worked with closely during the week, and sometimes on the weekend. At first, I treated them with distance. I had learned to master my mistrusting and negative emotions for professional environments, but because of my position, I often met with these men outside of work as well (it has to do with working in a foreign country, etc). However, no matter where we were, these men continuously treated me with respect–not as their boss, but as a human being. At work, they both took charge of themselves and their responsibilities while at the same time, came to me with concerns or questions–and discussed issues openly and with an earnest desire to make the best of our job. My respect for these men grew, and my habitual dislike of men gradually eased so that I didn’t automatically feel antagonistic towards any man I came into contact with, ha ha ha.

    Because I was able to spend my days in a positive environment with other me–and women–because we were able to work together for a cause we believed in and wanted to succeed in together, issues like sexual tension or sexual expectations (perpetrated by various social evolution via media evolution, etc) were never a priority–and by the time we had worked together long enough to discuss non-work topics (politics, religion, cultural issues, etc) we had already built relationships of respect with one another so that it felt natural to progress into more personal territory without abusing that personal connection.

    I, for one, am so thankful that I had the opportunity to work with those men and to remember how wonderful men are and can be–as people. That, just as I am an individual, so is each man and woman. When a specific people continue to bombard a person with negativity that leads to fear and mistrust, it’s very easy to fall into a place where every one of those peoples’ become a potential enemy–a thousand enemies with a single face. It’s a sad way to live, let alone interact with others, and I am so glad when I read posts by people who experience negative interactions and can come away recognizing the wrongness of it but are still able to acknowledge that there’s more out there. That there is always hope–because there ARE so many GREAT men and women in the world–people we’ve yet to meet and people we never will. But I’m grateful for them all–grateful to know of a woman like you. Thank you.

  36. Jen

    I used to work in a predominantly male industry. I once had a phone conversation that occurred as follows:

    [Male Customer] I need to order some parts.
    [Me] Ok, sir. Let me get some basic information to determine your part numbers.
    [Customer] YOU are going to help me?
    [Me] Yes, sir.
    [Customer] But…. You’re a girl….

    This wasn’t an isolated incident, and my customers never saw me in person. Just the fact that I was female was enough for me to receive comments like these. It isn’t just the tech industry.

  37. Mojo Rison

    Ok, so dudes shouldn’t be douchebags and hit on girls at work. I can ride that far with you, but from what i read here and on the article that linked me here she is not technical, so where’s the rub? If you are hot and don’t like being hit on fine, but please don’t confuse working a booth at a tech event handing out swag with a technical role in the company. You are in marketing, maybe you use photoshop, some indesign, but if you don’t program, diagnose or manage data then by most people’s definition you aren’t a techie. Even SEO folks aren’t “technical”. Not that its a bad thing, we need folks in every role to make a company run properly, but if you want to be treated like a programmer learn to code. If I missed something and you are a techie, then ya it sucks, but I work with girls who program and I don’t see them as treated differently. Sometimes people do give a strange look when one of the girls starts talking about java arrays or parsing XML, just because its traditionally been a male dominated sector. Same thing for a female cop 20 years ago. Now its commonplace, but when you are breaking new ground you have to expect that some folks aren’t aware. So, if you are truly technical, good for you! That’s cool. But if you just want a pity party because you work at a technical company and guys hit on you instead of being floored by the fact that you can post something to wordpress or sharepoint then boo-hoo for you. Get over it.

  38. custom tee shirt

    I believe everything published made a bunch of sense. However, consider this,
    suppose you were to create a awesome post title? I am not saying your
    information isn’t solid, however what if you added a headline to maybe grab folk’s attention? I mean Things men have actually said to me at tech events | Leah Weitz is kinda plain. You could
    look at Yahoo’s front page and note how they create post titles
    to get people to click. You might add a video or a related pic or two to get people interested about everything’ve written. In my opinion,
    it would make your posts a little livelier.

  39. Anneli

    Don’t worry about that. As long as they don’t touch you (in a way you don’t like it) you should be above it all. I’m an IT-Technician and I’ve heared a lot like this. 😉

  40. Pj

    Wow, it still goes on. I could write a book about my similar experiences in several male dominated fields.

    I am saddened, though not surprised, to read of your experiences. I am dismayed at the apparent need for men to to your aid. It’s nice that they are becoming aware of the problem, but damn it, they are still in the role of knights in shining armor rescuing the damsel in distress.

    30-35 years ago I was a computer programmer, consultant, wrote documentation, taught “how to” classes, etc etc. I installed networks crawling around on my hands and knees connecting cables. I got a new job as the computing coordinator at an organization with several thousand people. My first task was to set up a large micro room with ~50 computers using three different operating systems (DOS, CPM, and Mac OS), peripherals, and a central mini in a different building. At a meeting with men in a variety of areas in the organization, such as facilities, finance, etc, I was the only person in the room who had ever connected a network with micros, server, etc. I attempted to specify the type and layout of cabling, and was told, “oh, you leave that kind of stuff to us. You can pick the carpet color…..[pause]…as long as it’s not pink. “. Gales of laughter followed. The meeting and the job went downhill from there.

    Years later, after I had moved on to a better environment, I was told that when it came time to upgrade that particular network, they had a heck of a time dealing with the old layout because they had gone against my recommendation in how they installed the cabling. Though I derived satisfaction from that, I doubt that any of the “old boys’ club” involved in the original incident were still there, and if they were, I doubt that they remembered what the “pushy broad” had recommended.

    I have so many more examples, from the 70s till now. Suffice it to say, that I hear you, I’ve been there, and you are not alone.

  41. Michele

    I’m just curious where your technical background comes from? In an online news article, you mention you have an English Lit degree, but I don’t see anything else……

  42. SinnPR

    I am a female programmer/developer at a major media company. Whenever people outside IT asked me in what department I work and I said IT the answer would always be “Which of the help desk girls are you?”
    My coworkers undermine my knowledge and some have said to my face that women belong at home or should be secretaries and not programmers. The fool had to later ask me for help with a programming task, Karma!
    The majority of women in male dominated fields are far more skilled than their male counterparts because we’ve had to prove ourselves beyond sexist expectations.

  43. doug

    well, everywhere you go in life there are bad elements . To include business, sports and little league footballl games….yep i heard it there too. The way the article is written is as though every man in the field is this way. Im not, Ive worked for some of the smartest tech savy women and it never crossed my mind to speak with them that way. I would guess these “men” are of recent post college age and maturity really hasnt set in.
    Beer Pong U hands out sheep skin for grades, not maturity.

  44. Jennifer

    Thanks for your post. Clearly there is still sexism in the world. It is not only in the tech world. It exists in every business to some degree. In my 30+ years of working in high tech and management consulting, I found tech to be the least sexist!
    I am saddened that in 2015, young women are still experiencing discrimination you described. We older ladies who started working in professional jobs in the 70s and 80s have fought long and hard to change things. I graduated at the top of my business class and was the only woman in the office for many years who wasn’t a secretary. The men expected me to make the coffee!
    However….tough love here… Get over it, learn from each and every experience, and learn to laugh. You will never make it in business or in life if you think it is going to be fair. Life is not fair! Life is hard and will be much harder for you if you don’t accept the facts, laugh and become part of the change! If a married man asks you out, ask him when his wife is picking you up! Make it your business to become witty with your responses. Trust me. Laughter will get you through most anything.

  45. fred

    Um sorry you’ve had to put up with actual bona fide sexual harassment.

    I hope you reported to you HR dept the co-workers, vendors and, yes, even the customers who saw their way clear to grab you and do other harrassing behavior.

    It happens the company I work for includes vendors and customers in the scope of sexual harassment prohibition.

    Having said that, in my opinion only, you hurt your case by grouping certain other behaviors such as “his whole tone changed” and potential customers preferring to talk to male representatives of your company in with incidents of sexual harassment.

    I don’t think it’s reasonable of you to be aggrieved by “his whole tone changed” etc.

    Fortunately for me I guess, I don’t directly work with any females in my tech job, although I used to.

    I remember those days of walking on eggshells, not wanting to give offense to the females (who probably considered that different treatment itself to be offensive had they been aware) while I could be myself around the guys.

    It all seems rather analogous to the way my now-ex-wife could find a reason to be offended by any possible behavior on my part in any given situation unless it was very close to identical to exactly what she in her mind expected, but which she rarely notified me except after it was too late for me to adjust.

    And I’m talking for example about her complaining about my not being helpful enough on one occasion then complaining about my being too helpful in practically the same circumstance on a later occasion..

    I’m not saying you’re like my ex but I would suggest not conflating absolutely inappropriate behavior like sexual harassment with arguably boorish but not absolutely inappropriate behavior such as you have done here

  46. Jocelyn

    Here is something that I am noticing that a lot of the negative responses are forgetting. This is not a one-off occurrence. Women experience this constantly in different settings. If it’s just an isolated incident, sure, we shrug it off. But when its happening very often, that is a pattern and it wears us down.

    And really, don’t bother with the many excuses about why she should take it anyways. (Because she hot, asking someone out never hurts anyone, this is how the world works deal with it). You are not a genius who suddenly came up with these answers all by yourself. We have all gotten these same excuses every single time we tell you we don’t like it.

    In case you haven’t noticed, these situations are affecting women in the workplace. There are statistics that show that the tech industry is hemorrhaging female workers. If you felt unwanted at a certain place do you stick around? No. If you think all these comments and actions don’t have a negative affect, then there is nothing more to say.

  47. em

    When I was still in grad school getting my MS, I went to a user group for some of the software I use. Since I’m kind of shy, I had gotten in touch with the organizers beforehand to introduce myself over email so I wouldn’t just be walking up to someone cold. I was comfortable enough with the group and I went to two of the meetups and they were okay. There were very few other women and it was much more nerdy than the group in my program, but I needed to network and learn. I’d go after classes and then head back to the lab and keep working on my projects.

    At the third one though, one of the the organizers walked me to the subway. I thought “Hey! I’ve made a friend and industry contact!” He clearly didn’t think that way. On that night, he turned to me and said something about how his wife had moved out of the house and he thought the two of us could have an affair. He gave me a giant bear hug that I couldn’t wiggle out of and then rubbed his erection on me. I was nice (ugh), and just kind of walked away.

    Needless to say, I didn’t tell anyone and I didn’t go back to the meetup. Not just that — I’ve never been to another technical meetup in my industry. I went once to a big conference for the tech side of my industry and gave up because the crowd was overwhelmingly male and pretty nerdy. I’ve had an easier time of it in the marketing and artsy type of conferences, but think about what this means for the industry as a whole… It’s been 12 years since I was assaulted. I don’t think I was this guy’s only target ever, so let’s assume that his actions alienated a couple of women. That means we never saw each other at conferences. We didn’t learn the things that other people did at those conferences. Other women who did go didn’t see us and maybe also felt alienated and didn’t get as much out of the conferences. Over time, the jerks win: there are fewer women visible in the industry, there are more jerks. The women who do show up are more likely to be paid to be there — marketing managers, booth babes. Even women who’ve had mostly normal experiences feel off-kilter. That’s where this goes over time if we don’t keep the jerks in check. Most of us know who the weirdoes are in our friend groups and work groups. If you’re at a conference with them and you see them say something jerky, say something.

    I can’t blame my 22-year-old self for not wanting to raise a hue and cry over that guy’s behavior. I didn’t want to have a bad reputation in the industry. I didn’t know who to tell — my boyfriend blamed me for leading that guy on when I told him the story, so I didn’t tell anyone else — and I didn’t know what good it would do me. This year, the guy found me on LinkedIn and asked me for a recommendation. I think he’d just dumped all of the email addresses from that old meetup into a form, but it wrecked my day.

  48. Jess

    Couldn’t agree more, I wish I would have thought of this list and put my own out too. I am an engineer with a BS in Comp Sci and a MS in Engineering Management from two very well known universities and it is appalling how women engineers and technical professionals are treated at times. Just a few examples, I was at a show for engineering products, and I was having trouble with one of my cables being used for testing losing data and reliability because of the distance. I walked up to a very well known cable building company, and explained my issue and asked if they had any cable products that could go the distance I needed without data loss and his response was “baby I can go as long and any distance you want.” REALLY??

    That is just one example of many many tech shows where I am the customer approaching the booths and STILL get the nasty comments. I have also been working the booth and have experienced all of the above comments and much worse. I know some of you think oh “its a compliment” or whatever but its not. It feels degrading and when someone says something to me like “wow looking at you I would never have thought you were an engineer.” It doesn’t feel good, it makes me mad and uncomfortable.

    More power to the author and all those women who go through this and keep powering through!!!

  49. Sarah

    As a female in the technology field I have experienced many examples of men thinking that women are incapable of working in the field. I am sad to hear so many people comment about the author’s tech skills. The fact of the matter is that women, even with little to no tech background, can add unlimited resources and experience in their tech jobs. If any man at the conference asked the author about her product she would have been able to answer as well as if they had asked a programmer. She may have been able to answer better because she’s got the communication skills to effectively convey her message. The issue is that many men in the tech world won’t give women the chance to answer because they assume that women aren’t qualified enough.

    I’m the only female in my department, and I have a degree in CIT but I’m not the most technical person in my department. However, when someone needs assistance or an explanation, I’m usually the first one they come to because I have better communication and organizational skills than the rest of the department.

    The conversation shouldn’t be about women getting hit on, of course that’s inappropriate, what’s more offensive is men thinking that I can’t fix their computer because I’m a woman. Kudos to the author for calling out the sexism that exists, not only in technology, but in the workforce in general.

  50. Wei Huang

    I give shit to anybody that does that at a professional event, tech or not, male or female. The word “professional” should mean something, but a lot of people don’t get that. The difference is, men does the stupid shit way more than women as far as personal experiences go, sometimes I don’t understand why my gender can be so dumb, maybe one day we’ll all stop thinking with our penises and ego, though I don’t see that day coming even til human extinction.

  51. Andrew

    I rhink this discussion demonstrates a need for psychological therapy for men and women, in the tech industry and elsewhere, to learn to deal with their thoughts, feelings, emotions, coping mechanisms from childhood and adulthood, and the sexual insecurities, tensions, or loneliness they may feel in their own personal lives or work environments.

    Human sexuality remains an inconvenient, persistent, and occasionally pleasant arbiter of human behavior, despite repeated efforts to act or think otherwise.

    Maybe everyone can just relax a little bit, be nice to one another, and learn some skills in self awareness and interpersonal communication.

    Ha ha. Laughter makes things better.

  52. Andrew

    Laughter at the absurdity of the human experience.

    P.S. I think the guy who asked for a smile, rather than a t-shirt with a frown, was probably the nicest person encountered that day. Strangely, this was perceived as negative.

    I wish the author success, genuine fulfillment, prosperity, and freedom from inappropriate stresses in her career.

  53. Julie

    Wow. Thank you for calling out the elephant in the room. For shining light on the shadows. It totally sucks and says so much about the men who think and say these things.

  54. Dad

    I like how you’re gently educating your male co-workers. I think this is one of the most positive and effective ways to raise awareness that I’ve read about. I wish my female co-workers helped raise my awareness this way (though, of course, I like to think I’m generally sensitive and aware of such things already… , I know 🙂 ).

    Thanks for writing this!

  55. Pingback: The woman who wrote that explosive blog post listing all the awful things men in tech say to her at meetings explains why she did it | Technology Insider

  56. Pingback: The woman who wrote that explosive blog post listing all the awful things men in tech say to her at meetings explains why she did it | Cách ăn giảm cân

  57. Pingback: The woman who wrote that explosive blog post listing all the awful things men in tech say to her at meetings explains why she did it | Recipe Course

  58. Pingback: The woman who wrote that explosive blog post listing all the awful things men in tech say to her at meetings explains why she did it | DIGG press

  59. Pingback: The woman who wrote that explosive blog post listing all the awful things men in tech say to her at meetings explains why she did it - Technocrafts

  60. Terrie zimmerman

    Yes ladies & gentleman this IS how women in the Tech industry and in many other businesses are treated everyday. I have been in the IT tech industry more than 25 years having been a tech entrepreneur since the late 1980’s (yes before many of you were born.).
    I could tell you so many stories and YEs I coul write the book, as they say. What has always SHOCKED me is that these same men have wives, daughters and even mothers that worked have careers and also hopefully positive self esteem.
    Why is it that men (some of them barely out of boyhood) still think this is ok? I had one foreign male business associate explain to me that men, all men, are able to separate personalization from sexuality and automatically respond with a typical male response-as if they just can’t help themselves. Very interesting theory but if good parenting and social norms have been part of the man’s upbringing, then WHY do they still think that it is ok to verbalize and marginalize women?
    I don’t have the answers but I am seeing something that I thought generationally would change in the tech, pharma and scientific arenas….however it is not and in recent years has gotten worse.
    I am not saying we should all dress androgynously or hide our natural femininity. MEN need to get control of their reactions to women AND be respectful of everyone they encounter in the business world. It will be a long time before venture capitLists, bankers, lawyers etc Really understand how hard it really is for a woman tech-entrepreneur….I wonder, if we all slapped a sign with our IQ number on our ASSES if that might get through to men? Probably not because by looking at our heinous they (according to my friend) would automatically have a sexual response and never see our numbers!
    Keep going all of you powerful women, ladies, girls or whatever you preferr to be called!

  61. Pingback: The woman who wrote that explosive blog post listing all the awful things men in tech say to her at meetings explains why she did it - NewsNIM

  62. Anon

    Try being female in this industry AND being from the south. A southern accent from a female speaker and they all stop listening. There are many times where it is easier to provide words to other people to speak/send. The man behind the curtain in my case is a southern girl… It doesn’t offend me anymore. It becomes humorous how ignorant people are to the fact that stereotyping is prevalent. And I’m not an oversensitive ‘hormonal’ person.

  63. Pingback: Silicon Valley start-up employee Leah Weitz calls out sexist co-workers in blog | Quorai

  64. Linda

    Through the 80s (my 20s) I worked as a computer operator of old IBM mainframes with printers spewing out boxes of green-bar reports. I loved working alone, being trusted to with keys to huge buildings, odd schedules and good money, for that decade anyway. This was tech then. During interviews for these jobs, and the earlier due-paying data entry jobs, I was asked the most absurd sexist questions that would so piss me off and were still legal to be asked, e.g., wa s I single or engaged, if married when would I be getting pregnant… When a single parent I the early 90s, for a technical writer’s assistant position I was asked whether childcare be an issue for my reliability?”

  65. grussgott

    Sorry you have to deal with this … My question is, do you think this is “sexism” or statistics?

    It’s a problem either way, I’m just looking for root cause … Here’s what I mean: Both my wife and I are “technical” (we met at a startup) and live in silicon valley: these days, she works for a tech company, I work for a healthcare company.

    At my company, women are at least 50% of workforce … maybe more. In my division (~$500M) I work for a woman and our team is 50% women. Our top technical employee is a woman, our top sales person is a woman, our top product person is a woman. We have discussions about this stuff and the standard answer from my female colleagues is, “I don’t see it here or in our industry but I have friend that works at a startup …”

    At startups that I know of, the ratio is probably 8 out of 10 employees are men, and for engineers it’s usually 100% men.

    So back to my question … if I’m a man, and I work with 100% men, and most of my friends that work elsewhere work with 100% men, and I see very few women …. then is it fair to say that the “sexism” is just math?

    Again, problem either way, and awareness is good … but if true the real question is, how do we get more women into STEM and to be engineers?

  66. Scot

    There are a few assholes everywhere. Some men hit on women for no reason at all. That’s how it is. Deal with it. Did anyone say anything nice to you or smile at you for no overt reason? Why didn’t you write about those experiences?

  67. Linda

    …for some reason I had to post the comment above before I finished…with kid on hip I went to college full time at UCSC to become so educated I would never have to put up with such crap again, so I thought. Because of my humanities degree I was hired by a bio composites engineering lab in WA state at good ol WSU to work with 3 engineers as a research pubs editor and organize a male dominated symposium sponsored by the Forest Products Society. When I just once complained about their language like “balls to the walls” and “pissing match” being used in an email I was copied on, I was the one punished with isolation for the next several years. Being a single mom, I couldn’t afford to let them run me off, I would not find another $2,200 job with full benefits esp insurance for my son anywhere else soon, though I still tried of course. FFD to son is grown, and I was working at Harvard, remarried to a professor at a local state college and not a lot has changed. People – both men and women – about 85% by my experience – will always treat others like shit – one way or another if they can get away with it. I left Harvard promising – half-heartedly – not to tell. Since I just finished a Masters in Professional Writing, at 56 yrs old, and tell I will. It won’t change things, but bad behavior needs to be called out, pointed out, and have a light shown on it. Behavior – there’s all kinds, but manners and decency are paramount. I raised a son, he’s married now, and he learned from my telling him of all my yucky experiences: to use his brain before he speaks and to think about the people he’s talking to. Not hard to do, men and women. And of course the good old golden rule always applies: treat others as we want to be treated.

  68. We Support You - Female NY Finance

    Thank you so much for speaking out. I am a female who works in finance (PE, investment banking) in NY. Here are some of the sexist comments I’ve heard:

    When interviewing female candidates – “I only want to interview the hot ones”

    Labeled “defensive” when in fact, I am stating an opinion or facts in support of something that is in opposition to what they believe.

    Repeatedly referred to as an “analyst” when told

    On the theme of not agreeing, I was once told I had to “agree with everything I say” [from a man] to have a good relationship with said person [no independent thinking allowed, and certainly no strong opinions]

    “If I was your father…” [non-helpful, aggressive statement couched in what he believed to be helpful commentary when it was in fact not useful commentary, after the fact and beside the point]

    Finally, the classic, “are you the assistant”? Also have heard “are you with HR”? No. I do what you do. Thanks for implying that all women in a crowd of men are the assistant or HR (neither of which are bad, but no benefit of the doubt that I am as smart as you, or in fact, smarter).

  69. Pingback: The woman who wrote that explosive blog post listing all the awful things men in tech say to her at meetings explains why she did it

  70. jk

    Glad you posted this. I didn’t take away from this that you are about bravery or making a point. Males in this industry seem to be technically, young and socially awkward, but that is obviously not limited to this industry. Socially awkwardness, holy crickey, that’s what happens when they never knew how to attract the opposite sex..it’s pretty hilarious… I think they need adult supervision or maybe parents who taught them to treat people with respect regardless of race, gender or academic/technical background. Keep it above board and you’ll always be the better person. To think, we only have so many years to live and love life and some choose to live it the way they do…seek good people and positive motivation every day.. all the best

  71. Peter Zaballos

    Leah, you are simply awesome and brave and what we need a whole lot more of in the tech industry, and in society in general. I am so sorry you’ve had to experience this, but know that there are a growing number of males in technology who are committed to gender equality, and to ensuring what you’ve lived through, and are living through, becomes part of the past. Quickly.

    That’s a great, strong voice you have. Please continue to use it.

  72. Pingback: A woman who wrote an explosive blog post calling out sexist men in tech explains why she did it | Business Insider

  73. Pedro Ball

    You have to remember that the Tech industry is loaded with socially awkward, pimple-faced, pencil dick geeks. And don’t even get me going with the Asians. So you give that lot a little money, and a title, and all of the sudden they think that they’re swinging a log between their legs like John Holmes, and that all women want them.

  74. mancheeze

    I’ve read about 60% of the comments and I see dudes on here saying ‘life is just like that.’ Do you realize what a cop out that is? Life doesn’t have to be ‘like that.’ You men could grow some self awareness and stop treating women as sex objects at work. You could just stop behaving like sexist assholes.

  75. Randall "texrat" Arnold

    It’s a shame you have to deal with that bullshit, and it’s just compounded by you trying to conduct a serious dialog that turned out to be a troll magnet. Personally, I’d cull the trolls. They haven’t earned the oxygen.

  76. fred

    I haven’t seen my comment from a week ago addressed either by Leah or other posters, so (against my better judgement) I’m going to reiterate.

    Sexual harassment is one thing, and I’ll totally support any female (or male) who is being sexually harrassed when they push back against it, especially reporting it to any department or authority figure charged with addressing it. I’ve encouraged my own offspring to do so.

    But when someone of any sex interacts with someone else of opposite or the same sex in a non-harassing way, I am completely indifferent to that.

    A guy asks you out, you say no and that’s the end of it? A guy asks you for a smile and that’s the end of it? Some potential customer who knows nothing about you prefers to talk techie to your male co-workers and that’s the end of it? Some guy’s attitude completely changes when interacting with you compared to interacting with a male co-workerand that’s the end of it? A co-worker doesn’t respect your technical expertise and that’s the end of it?

    Those are not instances of sexual harassment. I don’t support you complaining about them.

    Sexual harassment should not happen. Ever. Regardless of the chromosomal make-up of the harrasser and harrassee.

    But if it’s not bona fide actual real-life malicious sexual harassment, that’s just life.

    You’ve benefited no one, especially not yourself, by complaining about benign, normal human interactions in the same post as complaining about sexual harassment.

    1. grussgott

      Well Fred, I’ll reply:

      (1.) Unless I missed it somewhere, OP didn’t say “sexual harassment”

      (2.) That said, most women I know get unwanted groping at some point in their lives, if not often … going to conventions is a great way to up the % so OP is justified there – that sucks

      (3.) That’s an adjacent issue to “assumption sexism”, a point many posters (like Jason Paul) are missing. OP is *NOT* annoyed because she’s not technical – she’s annoyed because men ASSUME she’s not technical simply because she’s a woman.

      My 2 cents is most of those assumption-sexists are due to rarely seeing technical women rather than feeling women CAN’T be technical … and in that sense I would tell the OP that it sucks, but it’s also the math.

  77. Pingback: “People like her should kill themselves”: What happens when we talk about sexism in tech | Leah Weitz

  78. Lynn Fredricks

    All people judge other people, and people will judge every aspect of your appearance and manners. This even happens if you happen to look like a “frat boy” or a “bro”.

    We have two major problems we face in our industry, and as Americans.

    American culture is low context, and low formality. Sharing what we think is true is considered a virtue – straight, honest talk. Plus, we try to establish a low level formality to make people comfortable with each other – how often do you address your peers as Mr —, Ms — or Mrs —? American business culture used to address this by way of mutual agreement (“ie please call me Lynn”), rather than assumption “Im Lynn, nice to meet you Leah.”)

    The tech industry also attracts young, ambitious, creative and intelligent people – all features that breed a special kind of narcissism that in combination with low context / low formality and not having a lot of experience dealing with hard consequences results in this kind of behavior. It is better than the entertainment industry but not by much. My impression is that its gotten progressively worse – not that people entering the market are more sexist or bigoted but that the special kind of narcissism is getting worse.

    There is no easy solution, but there is a good way to respond. Deal with it gracefully. Do not self indulge in low sorts of behavior like public shaming or sarcasm. You see, there are a lot of industry people who simply avoid those Peter Pan, narcissistic types. They are the ones that want to work with you.

  79. kevin

    I’m not in tech but I see the same stuff happen in my male-dominated field all the time. Bros can’t get out of their own way sometimes, and it is not just the older guys. Glad to see males taking notice and speaking up. I try to when possible but, sadly, more often than not speaking up means alienating oneself from the good old boy’s club I operate within. So i’m glad to see people within tech challenge the status quo.

  80. Pingback: How my male coworkers have been effective allies against tech industry misogyny | Leah Weitz

  81. Pingback: How my male coworkers have been effective allies against tech industry misogyny | SkyNet Chronicles

Comments are closed.