A Woman in Tech’s Open Letter to My “Sexist” Colleagues
Gretchen Hellman

Great post. I can see you’re speaking from the heart.

I’m new in the tech field, I’ve worked as a software developer for almost half a year now, and I’m fortunate enough that at least the sexism I sometimes face isn’t conscious. I’m surrounded by young men in their mid twenties to mid forties, who I know don’t ever mean to treat me differently. They’re the greatest.

But it’s the little things. Unconscious things, sometimes actually seemingly ingrained in my own thoughts. While I’m not the workplace’s junior anymore, there are already 3 people newer than me, it feels like people assume I need to be explained things in a simpler way. I also sometimes have a hard time hearing things, so I have to ask people to repeat themselves, which probably perpetuates the feeling that I don’t get what they’re saying. On top of that, I have (or had) very little knowledge about server stuff, ads, most commercial things really. I’m a very fast learner when it comes to actually coding and solving problems, but sometimes I feel like the dumbest person in the room for not knowing where to start when one of our clients’ website is down for no reason. There was some wrong setting on, but I wouldn’t have realized without help. And don’t misunderstand; I know I have less experience than most other coders at our company, so I can be humble and admit it when I need advice or help.

Whenever I get those feelings of discouragement, I remind myself that I was hired, not because I had a fancy degree or loads of work experience behind me, but because they saw my skills, at my best and my worst, and still employed me. The culturally ingrained sexism is still a big deal, for sure, and needs to be addressed by us at large, not just on an individual level. but in my personal life, I’m so fortunate about the opportunity I have.

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