True Confessions of a Woman in Tech

The real problems no one talks about.

Let me give you a little backstory before I come clean… I’ve been working in tech for the past four years, enjoying the fruits of my labor in the form of unlimited vacation time, great health benefits (even for my lady bits!) and lots of free snacks. You’d think that with all these cool job perks my company must be trying to offset my meager salary with free Sun Chips and tampons. But no, I haven’t had to survive off office snacks or cheap sacks of rice because it turns out my paycheck is enough to comfortably support a family of four. Needless to say, it’s a miracle I’m not a ball of fat stuffed into a Chanel pantsuit.

But if we look beyond the superficial layer, there are also those less tangible factors of the job which affect work satisfaction. Things like, workplace culture, respect of your peers, and easy access to coffee cups when you’re the size of an average 12 yr old. Working as the only women on an engineering team has its challenges. There are times when life just doesn’t feel fair and you don’t want to jump to conclusions but you’re pretty sure it’s a “gender thing”. I know it’s been talked about a lot but here me out. I’d like to use a couple of my own personal experiences to provide a women’s insight into this crazy world of adult daycare that they call the tech industry.

  1. The Bathroom
     Since I started working at my company we’ve moved offices in order to accommodate our voracious growth rate. In fact, we’ve been gobbling up new employees left and right (mostly men) and it’s been a great year so far in terms of revenue and expansion. At the old office space we occupied separate floors of the building with engineering taking up one floor on it’s own. This meant, being 1 of 2 female software engineers in a horde of guys, I basically had the ladies room to myself. It was my own private sanctuary, a glorious room separated off in its own corner, always clean and stocked with toilet paper. It was a temple of meditation where I would leave refreshed and ready for another snack.
    But times have changed. I haven’t been able to take a proper shit at work for months ever since engineering started sharing the bathroom with sales and HR and those front desk people. It’s been tough to stay regular now that I have to deal with other women in the bathroom. There’s all this etiquette around pretending you’re not pooping or throwing up your lunch in the toilet. Women are very funny about their bodies and especially things that come out of them. And don’t get me started about all the small talk that happens in the bathroom. No, I don’t care that you had to go to five weddings this summer.
  2. Ladies Lunch
    There’s nothing more annoying than being forced to participate in “women” things in the office. At any tech company there’s inevitably the suggestion for a “ladies chat” on HipSlack and “ladies lunch” which ultimately happens because women take solidarity stuff seriously. And by “forced” I mean intimidated through the power of indirect hostility via repeated invites and notifications and passive aggressive comments in the lunch line. The nature of these chat and lunch things is to fly your feminism flag and remark on the offending actions or words of your male coworkers behind their backs to create justice. I guess it’s suppose to be like the equivalent of our private engineering team chats, except instead of having a safe place to talk shit about JavaScript you talk shit about people with penises. I’ve found a way to win at my gender by using the chat integration features to automatically post news articles containing a high percentage of certain words like “wage gap”. In order to make my bot seem more like a human women, it also posts pictures of corgis and kittens occasionally.
  3. Field Theory
    You may have heard of the “Steve Jobs Reality Distortion Field” but I wanted to talk about another related phenomenon known as the “Vagina Reality Distortion Field”. This phenomenon typically occurs when women converge into groups though it’s been shown to generate weak fields even in the presence of only two individuals. The effects of this field include but are not limited to: raising the pitch of your voice so you sound the like the 12 year old you resemble, pretending you understand what barre is, trying to unsuccessfully empathize over the lack of stylish diaper bags in the world and convince yourself that there’s a viable startup idea in that thought, complaining about the temperature of the office with the intention of doing nothing about it, complaining about how the beer fridge doesn’t stock Prosecco even though you never drink Prosecco, wishing you had a lesbian friend story to contribute to the LGBT discussion, laughing at a Friends reference which apparently what a big deal back in the day but you missed that train, commenting on the how the humidity wrecks your hair because that’s a thing girls say, feeling strangely competitive about your summer wedding number which was only 1, then remembering you don’t care.

Thanks for reading! And, if you’re also a women in tech, be sure to share this in your ladies chat ;)