a real woman in technology using technology in 2009 whoa grrrl

What To Expect When Working With a Woman in Technology

It’s time for folks to learn what it’s really like to work with us

There will always be debates on Twitter and Hacker News about sexism in the tech industry, and it will always lead to some folks making assumptions on what to expect when you’re working with one of us gals. Some think we can’t “take a joke” and are “too sensitive,” leading to a fun-free work environment.

It’s time for this nonsense to stop. I wrote this short, simple–yet thoroughly researched–guide to help you prepare yourself in case you end up having to work with one of us.

1. When a woman has root access to your company’s main server, you should expect her not to murder people.

Women in technology are not allowed to murder people. It’s goes against ethics in computer science, and you have a right to feel secure in that you won’t be murdered. If she does murder someone, call the police immediately. If she murders you, tell human resources.

2. When a woman has completed a round of unit testing and is sharing her results with the rest of the dev team, you should expect her not to replace all of the pens in your desk with poisonous snakes.

We know women in technology should not murder, and the same goes for women in technology using animals to potentially harm coworkers. If you feel comfortable locking your desk drawers, that’s your prerogative, but you should be okay otherwise. If she does pull this stunt, notify human resources–or animal control, if both departments are not the same in your company.

3. While going over requirements analysis for a new piece of software which you’ll be developing with a woman, you should expect her not to projectile vomit confetti into the refrigerator of the company kitchen.

A woman in technology who knows the process of software engineering is likely to not do something so rude, regardless of how fun-looking the results. You should expect her to use the garbage or toilet like anyone else projectile vomiting confetti. Consider your lunch safe and party-free. In the case she does this, though, break the glass to release the emergency DustBuster and kindly clean up her mess.

4. When watching a woman speak at a web developer conference, you should expect her not to point a laser right at your eye until you’ve gone partially blind.

The woman speaking on stage will be distracted by the task of speaking on stage and will mostly like point the laser at her slides and not your eye. If you suspect a potential laser blinding incident, notify the conference organizers. They are there to prevent situations like this.

5. When you and a woman are collaborating on an open source JavaScript application, you should expect her to not shave your head and glue the hair to your work laptop screen.

Vandalizing corporate machines and basically assaulting a coworker with a buzzer are two violations that have nothing to do with programming and, therefore, are unlikely to be acted by a woman on your dev team. Just like with snakes in the desk, contacting human resources is the best course of action if this were to happen. I guess IT should know about the laptop, too.


These are just a handful of things you should expect from women in technology. Of course we are all different, and sometimes we do go against all expectations and assumptions made about us–even if said expectations and assumptions are made by one of our own.

Godspeed and good luck.

Like what you read? Give Jenn Schiffer a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.