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Support thread for those of us who work in male dominated industries

(24 Posts)
TheDoctrineOfSnatch Wed 28-Nov-12 00:09:48

MoreTea that sounds great about the hashtag.

nelliesmum Tue 27-Nov-12 22:46:34

Having spent 20 years in a male dominated industry I am finding working with women really quite hard...I feel that they can "see through me", if you see what I mean!

MoreTeaPenguin Tue 27-Nov-12 22:34:15

OovoofWelcome - that's a very interesting point about age. I think men are also finding it tricky to age within the industry, but it's made harder for women because society is even less tolerant of us aging! More and more of our company are becoming fathers (and a few mothers), which means we're no longer up for coding til 9pm then quick pub visit before hometime. We're starting to become more "grown up" about planning, scheduling and overtime, but it's taking a while to settle into the new routines. I'm not sure how widespread this is within the industry, I still hear horror tales about overtime at an alarming frequency. I think I may just be very lucky in the company I work for.

There was a hashtag trending on Twitter last night #1reasonwhy. Lots of reasons why there aren't many women in game design jobs. At first I found it depressing reading, but then #1reasonmentors started popping up - women volunteering to mentor others in the industry. So, not only did we get a good place to vent (though of course not without the haters joining in), we also got a very positive support network emerging. I hope it coalesces into something useful smile

Portofino Thu 22-Nov-12 19:19:39

I was turned down for promotion this week - despite a glowing HR recommendation. I have sent a strongly worded email today to my boss and his boss. They had a meeting - not sure whether to discuss me or not - I am not sure if these Belgian's are used to people being uppity.

TiggyD Thu 22-Nov-12 17:42:02

The leader of the room I was in today said "Hello" to me when she met me in the staff room. I then went into the room itself and said hello to each of the members of staff. I got no replies from the 3 of them, and by replies I mean any acknowledgement that I was there such as eye contact. They may be like that to everybody, but it was a loooooong morning.

OovoofWelcome Tue 20-Nov-12 12:25:21

Waves at MoreTeaPenguin grin

I am hopeful too; I think the attitudes we are facing are ingrained and unapologetic in the guys in their late 30s and upwards, but a lot of the younger guys coming out of college seem more naturally egalitarian. The trouble is they will model themselves on their managers and bosses. Which is why women like us - just by being around, being involved - make such a positive impact.

Another issue I think about is my age. When I was in my 20s, being young and attractive and interested in socialising a lot made life easier; that version of a woman is easier to assimilate in a male stronghold (as long as there aren't too many of us I guess!). Not that I'm saying I don't think older women can be attractive and post DC I really don't care right now grin but I wonder how an older woman fits in. The games industry is pretty young. Older female role models are scarce to say the least.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Mon 19-Nov-12 23:45:42

Excellent link trib, thanks.

tribpot Mon 19-Nov-12 23:16:56

Although I think the article may have slightly misrepresented some of the comments (I think the point about 'where do you draw the line?' meant how far do you take quotas to make sure everyone is fairly represented - we are all individuals so everyone can only actually represent themselves if you take it far enough) one quote that really stood out was "equality is a non-issue for most of us in the Western world.". Er, says who? People who would never dream of making such a comment about race will happily 'explain' that sexism is a non-issue nowadays. Gee, thanks for telling me my oppression isn't real confused thank goodness the white man is around to explain this. (Not that there is evidence the person quoted actually is a white male).

MoreTeaPenguin Mon 19-Nov-12 23:02:54

Ooh yes, can I join in? I also work in games, and I completely get where you're coming from Oovoof. I read your post and was nodding along saying "yes, yes, exactly". I'll have to pop back when I'm not trying to type on my phone. I have a lot of anger, but also a lot of hope - I think things are improving and am very keen to give them a good shove in the right direction!

OovoofWelcome Mon 19-Nov-12 23:02:30

That's a fantastic (if depressing in part...) article tribpot.

The section in it that made reference to how orchestras now choose musicians highlights that prejudice against otherness is mostly unconscious in those who are making the decisions. They may think a white man simply happens to be the best candidate, every single time, whereas actually the like-attracts-like factor is powerfully in play.

tribpot Mon 19-Nov-12 22:13:55

A contact on Twitter has just posted this. We have regular hack days in my sector and it is a constant problem finding female participants - holding them on consecutive, weekend days might play a part in that!

tribpot Mon 19-Nov-12 20:53:38

My industry is similar to StackOverflow. I'm one of two female technical architects out of a team of what was 90, now about 60.

I'm currently in a team with some of the more laddish but essentially harmless guys. (There are others who are less overtly laddish who are definitely more sexist and demeaning). One of them is close to retirement age and very much of the 'I won't be changing my ways any time soon' brigade.

I thought quite hard about how best to deal with them when I moved into the team. Frankly I am friggin sick of always using humour to deflect the behaviour. So now I don't bother, I am quite happy to be the humourless feminist. When they go too far I just say "stop now" (and they do). It helps that I don't give a toss about the management structure, the work is unbelievably demoralising (for other reasons) anyway and I have no promotion prospects to worry about. The latter is not strictly for reasons of sexism, but the management do not value a diversity of skills and so tend to recruit and promote in their own image (both literally and metaphorically). All minority groups (and women) are massively underrepresented, although I guess you have to factor in the pool of candidates that will have applied for the jobs over the years.

The very senior management, particularly in our 'parent company' is much more split between men and women. The women are definitely not holding a helping hand down to their sisters! Although this would only open the usual debates around quotas and so forth.

I'd definitely like to do some more networking with women in the industry - I follow @womenintech and @leedsgirlgeeks on Twitter but haven't made the leap yet. I've done a lot to help set up informal peer networks at work (the kind of 'girl' crap that no-one else would ever do in my directorate) but not surprisingly, no-one's ever done the same for me.

Portofino Mon 19-Nov-12 20:32:54

I have worked 10 years in a Pharmaceutical Manufacturing plant and the last 6 years in ICT for a Telecoms company. Apart from one creepy boss, I have never had any issues. My current Belgian employer is actually pretty fantastic with regards to WorkLife balance and has an active Diversity policy. I was asked to do some work with the team managing this - but because I am English, not because I am female. Prior to this - back in the early 90, yes I had some problems.

StackOverflow Mon 19-Nov-12 20:26:53

My industry is definitely male dominated: I'm a software developer specialising in large scale enterprise applications.

On the whole, my experience so far has been decidedly mixed. I can't say anything bad about my employers - at least not in this regard. They are making an active effort to recruit more women into technical roles and have been nothing but supportive.

I think that it makes a massive difference that I work for a major corporation. They basically have policies and initiatives for everything and there is a great deal of corporate brainwashing going on. Luckily for me, diversity and inclusiveness seems to be part of that - presumably because it looks good on the monthly newsletter. grin That's not to say that I'm not a rarity - just that it isn't such an issue where I currently work and that they are trying to address it.

My experience of colleagues elsewhere, i.e. clients and industry workers at other firms, has not always been so positive. I have heard a lot of gender essentialism (e.g. "women are great with clients but suck at coding"). What unnerves me the most is the sexualisation thing, though.

I find it hard to have a technical conversation with some of the men in my field - even (especially) when I'm really interested in their work. At times I feel as though we're not quite in the same conversation: I'm trying to find out what they think about technical architecture XYZ, and they're trying to find out whether I'll shag them.

It's one of the major reasons why I avoid certain industry events like the plague.

Sometimes I point out stuff which is unacceptable but often I just ignore it, because to constantly try to educate a group about gender issues when I am completely on my own is - tiring, reinforces my sense of alienation and makes me feel vulnerable.

How does management feel about this kind of thing? Do you have some kind of a career advisor in your firm? I realize telling on people makes a lot of folk feel bad - but it does work where I am. One of the trainers at some technical specialty seminar was dropped after I complained to my supervisor that he was bragging about getting away with sexual harassment all the time.

OovoofWelcome Mon 19-Nov-12 20:18:10

Thanks for the sympathetic lurking Doctrine grin And I'm glad your workplace is trying to improve things, that's great.

OovoofWelcome Mon 19-Nov-12 19:25:33

I didn't think you sounded uncaring Jammy, I appreciated your feedback and I'm glad you don't have to deal with it! But some of us do and it annoys me; there is a real pressure to 'not make a fuss' iykwim.

They get grumpy/cold when I mention something. It passes but its tricky at the time.

Tiggy, yes....isolation is the right word. However tough and sensible and no-nonsense I try to be, that gets to me sometimes. And I am not looking forward to the first time I feel I have to explain why I don't agree with lap dancing clubs confused

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Mon 19-Nov-12 19:24:33

My industry has a majority of men -I'm the only non-admin woman in my office but the company as a whole has a reasonably high proportion of women compared to the industry.

I think my industry is reasonably cognisant of past sexism and there are various initiatives to improve things, so I am not having the problems you and Tiggy are day to day, but I will lurk sympathetically.

TiggyD Mon 19-Nov-12 17:31:14

"Sometimes I point out stuff which is unacceptable but often I just ignore it, because to constantly try to educate a group about gender issues when I am completely on my own is - tiring, reinforces my sense of alienation and makes me feel vulnerable." Yup.
I get that. Being on your own is tricky sometimes. When the others organise a night out but don't think of inviting you because they don't think you'll like it, or it's only for one sex. There was a study in my profession recently showing that once you get a few of the minority gender in my workplace people are less likely to leave due to the isolation. Obvious really.
And when people have an argument with their partners it's never "My partner is so...". It's usually "Why are they ALL so..."

JammySplodger Mon 19-Nov-12 15:44:56

Sorry, didn't mean to sound uncaring. Are there specific things you feel excluded from? Are they ok if you pull them up on something?

OovoofWelcome Mon 19-Nov-12 14:52:01

Terraria Heh grin

Thanks for the links!

There are a lot of cool guys here. Sometimes they can be a bit crap though. I think it's just being the only woman - that can make me feel alienated sometimes.

Nice to have a place to air my occasional frustrations smile

TerrariaMum Mon 19-Nov-12 14:46:43

I think the gaming industry is in a bit of a flux atm. Women are becoming more visible and it is a little scary. Change can be unnerving.

I would try having a look at the following sites:

Geek Feminism
Gaming as Women
The Mary Sue

I'm not in the industry, I'm a SAHM. But I am a definite gamer. So, I have to ask, when you say you feel like an outsider, do you mean a planar outsider? wink

OovoofWelcome Mon 19-Nov-12 14:34:30

Hey, it's great you've never experienced this smile

Of course I don't expect to get on with all my workmates - I'm talking about a specific situation really, where women (like me) might get frustrated with their workplace due to sexist attitudes creeping in.

It's tolerable yes - but I thought I would start a support thread for anyone else who would like to offload a bit. Obviously you aren't in that position!

JammySplodger Mon 19-Nov-12 13:07:56

Um, no never had that problem, including in engineering and on construction sites.

You're never going to get on with all your workmates, in any profession there are always people who are annoying for various reasons (as it happens the all the annoying sexist ones I can think of were all women).

Do you get on with enough of your workmates for it to be tolerable?

OovoofWelcome Mon 19-Nov-12 11:40:52


Anyone out there who works for a male dominated industry and wants a place to rant/share? smile

I work for the games industry. There are lots of things I like about my job but being (yet again) the only woman in the company can grind me down and make me feel so alienated.

It has a cumulative effect. And some days I feel less sensitive to it than others. But casual comments about women's bodies and that general sense that they are a group of men talking amongst themselves, and I am an aberration, an outsider, leaves me feeling alone and upset sometimes.

Sometimes I point out stuff which is unacceptable but often I just ignore it, because to constantly try to educate a group about gender issues when I am completely on my own is - tiring, reinforces my sense of alienation and makes me feel vulnerable.

A lot of the men I work with are great. A lot of the time there is no problem. And I do think it has got better during the decade I have been working as a 3D artist. But it ALWAYS comes back to this, for me.

I suppose someone could say, well, why do you work in that industry then? But I am not going to back away from my career, and something I am very good at, because of entrenched chauvinism.

Anyone else?

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