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Women in IT

(58 Posts)
EBearhug Fri 22-Aug-14 22:21:25

I bet I'm not going to see male IT workers advertising underwear.

I might have sometimes have not been fully dressed when working from home (and definitely not when I've been on call at 3am), but it's not something I tend to share with my colleagues, and I definitely wouldn't be sharing photos of me like that.

I work in a techy area of IT, and I'm actively involved in promoting STEM to schools and so on, in the hope that one day, I won't be in such a minority, doing sys admin. I want women in IT to be normal, and not a nice adornment whom we can imagine in her knickers while making the diversity stats look nice.

I'm a bit torn (but not very) - there's part of me thinking, well, they've got women of all sizes, which should be good. And it's good they want to promote women in IT.

But I don't want the idea of women in IT to be women sitting round in their underwear. Jeans and t-shirt or a suit, like the normal work clothes for women working in IT, rather than the normal work clothes for strippers.

Yes, that's why I'm pissed off with it - couldn't quite put my finger on it when I started typing. It's because I know that there are still quite a lot of men who think women in IT are only really a good thing if they're there for their titillation, and they can imagine them sitting there in their knickers. Well, now they don't have to imagine. I bet they're not thinking about how good their java programming skills are or anything. I don't think this ad is really going to help, because the problem with women in IT is not women, it's men.

(And it's all my own fault for clicking links from other FWR threads - in this case, the one on the OK Cupid make up experiment.)

EBearhug Fri 22-Aug-14 22:26:25

On the other hand, by making me annoyed enough to start threads about it, it's effective advertising.

ElephantsNeverForgive Fri 22-Aug-14 22:32:00

Very odd and given the Fuck it sticker on the lap top, not very nice.

EBearhug Fri 22-Aug-14 22:50:22

Yes, I noticed that after posting. I was wondering about starting a conversation about it with the women's organisation at work next week, but the stick, the no bullshit zone poster and the semi-clad women suggest it's not actually safe for work.

Which is another reason it shouldn't be about women in IT, really.

(I am enough of a techy to have tried to work out what the code in the background images was doing...)

Amethyst24 Sat 23-Aug-14 00:50:33

EBear, although I'm not in IT, I agree with you that that campaign is a load of shit. But this is an area I'm interested in at the moment for other reasons (I'm researching start-up culture for another project). I chatted to a woman in a senior role in a tech company recently, and she said that there's a "gold rush" for talented women in the industry, which I took to be a really positive thing.

If women who are good at what they do are highly in demand, purely because they're bright, competent and female, and commanding big money as a result, that's surely going to get more women into the industry? It has to. I did also get the impression that the sort of environment we're talking about is less unpleasant and misogynistic than, say, construction, or even medicine - it's not aggressive and dick-swingy in the same way.

EBearhug Sat 23-Aug-14 01:07:57

It can be dick swingy. Most of my problems at work are because of my male manages willy waving, and I was recently having to restrain myself from suggesting to our director that he take them out to the carpark, find a suitable bit of wall, and just see which of them actually could piss highest. But I agree it's not as bad as construction.

It also depends on the company - I had an interview with one company last year and I really didn't get the impression that it was a women-friendly culture - not that they had page 3 posters up or anything, but I didn't like the company brochure in reception with photos from various offices round the world, including "the wives of..."

Some companies are making a lot of effort, my own employers included - I'd definitely recommend people apply to my company - but not to my department... Also, while senior management and HR are very much on board, it hasn't filtered down to everyone lower down, and there are still lots of men in IT who don't recognise a problem, or see that they're part of it. There's not so much overt sexism these days - though there's definitely some - but I think there are a lot of issues with unconscious bias and stereotype threat and so on.

And we need to keep the pipeline open - there just aren't as many women studying computer science at university, and you can't promote people if they're not coming into the industry at all. If I were just starting out, I don't think this sort of advert would be encouraging.

ezinma Sat 23-Aug-14 09:51:39

Not only are the products themselves great (everything looks so irresistibly comfortable), but the fact that they are modeled by women who are beautifully real, with bodies who look like yours and mine and careers that are successful and unique, is truly powerful. It makes you take a second look at the product and the women in them, and provides a bold, fun look into the female pioneers of the tech industry.

Oh barf. It's another marketing campaign that has women sitting around looking cheerful in their underwear.

DP is an IT consultant, and would second EBearhug's observations. The company she works for has, at the senior level, a real commitment to hiring and promoting women. Nevertheless there are no other women in the team she works for, and often in the customer teams she supports. The culture remains heavily blokeish: meetings are confrontational, days are long, and out of hours it's booze and spicy food and conversation about sport. There is a tiny niche in which a woman can be judged for her work rather than her appearance or her ability to 'play the quota system', and it requires letting a lot of the unconscious and low-level sexism pass.

SevenZarkSeven Sat 23-Aug-14 14:20:22

What does ada lovelace have to do with pants?
What do women in IT have to do with pants (well apart from the fact that they wear them sometimes just like everybody else)

I don't understand this at all.

sausageeggbacon11 Sat 23-Aug-14 14:45:26

XH worked as IT Manager in a council and advertised a reasonably well paid job on the help desk including training with flexible hours and part time as an option (would require two people who wanted to job share but it was an option). 279 applications, I know this as it took over the lounge, not one applicant was female. The industry is going to be full of willy wavers simply because so few of us apply for IT jobs.

EBearhug Sat 23-Aug-14 16:02:16

The industry is going to be full of willy wavers simply because so few of us apply for IT jobs.

I agree, and it's something I've never fully understood - it can be well-paid, flexible, always something new to learn, there's actually a huge range of different roles - it can be very people-orientated, and is not just about coding and hardware. In many ways should be ideal for women. It is largely cultural, too - in lots of countries in Asia, former communist countries, Africa and the middle east, IT doesn't have such a gender bias. Part of this is because it's seen as a clean, respectable job, so it's got more cachet than farming or laundry or factory work, which may be the other options, and they're factors which won't be at play as much in the west, but there's plenty of evidence that sexism is still rife in IT in the west - there are articles every day about gender in Silicon Valley and so on.

Last time my department was recruiting, we didn't have many clearly female names applying at all, but there were also some where we weren't sure if they were male or female at all. Actually, I'd quite like it if HR handed over CVs to recruiting managers with names removed, and only provide the names when the manager goes back to say, please ask these 5 candidates for interview. Having said that, I think my CV is quite clear that I'm a woman even without my name, because of experience I've gained with projects through the women's organisation at work.

I do think we (school, universities, careers services, those of us in IT and so on) should make efforts to ensure children and young people consider IT as a valid career, and especially women. And I don't think adverts of women sat round in their knickers is the way to do it, because it's not normal work attire (not without something on top), so it's not a realistic image of women in IT.

I'd also say in my experience, public sector IT jobs tend not to be as well-paid as exactly the same role in the private sector, so along with another couple of reasons (money alone does not make a job good), I wouldn't go back to the public sector unless I were really desperate, i.e. unemployed.

SevenZarkSeven Sat 23-Aug-14 16:16:55

"Actually, I'd quite like it if HR handed over CVs to recruiting managers with names removed, "

I found out the other day that my company does this! Was very impressed.

EBearhug Sat 23-Aug-14 16:56:24

It's possible they do now - they have made lots of changes in the past few years, and it's a little longer than that since we recruited anyone in our department in the UK.

Spidergirl8 Tue 26-Aug-14 19:39:38

I worked in IT for a while- I was bullied out. There was a lot of misoginim and on more than one occasion a file was found rating how bed worthy female colleagues were. In addition one male colleague was removed from the office after it was discovered he was hosting a pornographic site off the office server. As a nice touch the images were stored in folders under female colleague names.
It isn't talked about enough but IT is really a tough environment for women. I'm shocked these women did this as it really isn't a professional move in my opinion and probably fulfills certain (incorrect) stereotypes male IT workers have of their 'token' female colleagues.

CatKisser Tue 26-Aug-14 19:46:23

One of my closest female mates worked for the ITS for a top UK university. Her life was made absolutely miserable by her male colleagues. She was denied the chance to go up pay grades, she was given shitty jobs, there was a bet running on whether she'd ever had sex; once the men in her office just wouldn't talk to her - as in, just pretended they couldn't even see or hear her. It sounds silly but how shit must that have felt?

One night while having dinner at hers with her and her boyfriend, it all just came pouring out and it was AWFUL hearing the way she was treated.

Luckily she found a new job and is now extremely happy but I've never forgotten how she as treated.

IrianofWay Tue 26-Aug-14 19:49:09

I'm in IT and I was stupid enough to think that people did IT because they liked solving problems and no-one gave a stuff what they looked like or how good they were at office politics. Ha! Fat chance. I am at the point of resigning because I feel utterly sidelined for not kissing the right arses and just getting on with my fucking job and not saying the right things. Oh and for having the cheek to take time off for 3 babies (minimum time only) and making use of the right to flexitime and working from home.

Spidergirl8 Tue 26-Aug-14 19:50:37

Unfortunately that doesn't surprise me at all catkisser. One of my male colleagues made it public ally quite clear that he thought I was a waste of space and would spend his time trying to prove me incapable and wouldn't speak with me and avoided meetings I was at. He was in his 40 s and still lived with his parents, i rest my case.....

ErrolTheDragon Tue 26-Aug-14 20:01:01

Bloody hell, that's appalling!

I don't work in IT - I write scientific software, and I'm not aware of this terrible misogyny in the company as a whole ... but I can't remember any female IT techs all the many years I've been here. Curious why it's not attractive to more women - maybe the stereotype of the IT nerd? This sort of crapulous ad is hardly going to help matters - its on a par with that awful EU video supposedly aimed at encouraging girls into science <wheres the barf emoticon when you need it?>

HauntedNoddyCar Tue 26-Aug-14 20:06:27

That's grim in so many ways. The article tells you nothing and the word 'fun' is setting my teeth on edge. Plus I no more want my male colleagues to have to think about me in fun underwear than I wish to think about them in pants. Barf.

I agree with everything Ebear has said. I would add though that I have seen a lot of female colleagues leave to have dc and never make it back into tech roles. It moves on and pt jobs are like hen's teeth.
I will be encouraging my aspie dd to keep up with her coding but her 8 yr old class mates aren't keen.

Spidergirl8 Tue 26-Aug-14 20:09:20

I actually worked for one of the top 5 financial firms and there could have been many legal action cases taken, if anyone had the nerve. Women were refused bonuses if they had mat leave but returned part way through a bonus year- being told, they hadn't met objectives because they had a baby. During the 4 years I as there, I knew of 4 miscarriages that female colleagues had- all of whom were working 60+ hours per week. My office was located in an area that became a prostitute pick up area at night. During my interview I was asked whether I would have someone to collect me for the late nights I WOULD be working. It wasn't clear whether that comment was meant about the job I was applying for, or a cheap joke at my expense.
I could go on, but I fear I have said enough.....

CatKisser Tue 26-Aug-14 20:30:27

He was in his 40 s and still lived with his parents, i rest my case.....
That's exactly it, Spidergirl. From the impression I got from my friend, none of the men in her office were exactly "social winners" either.

SevenZarkSeven Tue 26-Aug-14 22:18:48

I was thinking about this the other night.

Can you imagine them calling a men's line of underwear after a really famous male scientist?

I can't. Thinking about it, I thought, that would come across as disrespectful, really. To name a line of underpants for Bohr or Einstein or whoever. And additionally everyone would say, I don't get it.

Why have they named this underwear line after one of the most famous female scientists? Is it because her name is Lovelace which sounds kind of lingerie-ish?

Am I missing something?

It kind of feels like they're taking the piss. I don't think they would name some y-fronts for Schroedinger.

<Waits for someone to come and post that that has happened>
<Has last minute thought about schrodinger - pants - jeremy paxman and his gusset uncertainty>
<Thinks better of it>

EssexMummy123 Tue 26-Aug-14 22:32:38

mmmm - so am a freelance IT consultant/contractor, in the last 12 years i've only come across one or two female programmers, neither of whom were British, one was french and one was Indian. I can only work in London with my specialism - seems in Essex you need to be a male. Oh no, i was actually offered a role when the guy they had hired over me turned out to be useless except they offered to pay me 3k less.

I think it goes back to schools, charities like code school are picking up the government's slack on this, why aren't we doing a better job of teaching IT/design/dev/UX/testing/dev ops etc etc etc

That advert is patronising and stupid.

scallopsrgreat Tue 26-Aug-14 22:34:36

I'm in IT. In my office I've got one bloke who has decked two other blokes (not at the same time!) and is still on the same grade as me. Another bloke who pinched the bottom of one of the women in the office when she walked past him carrying a PC and is still on the same grade as me. Another bloke who had a woman up against a wall by her neck. He got moved to another department though. And she was a bit annoying. So that's alright. And all the senior managers are men. And the willy waving was extraordinary.

Remind me again why women don't go into IT?

Thankfully we have now have a woman at the top. And she takes a dim view of pretty much all this. She has stopped the willy waving, started a reshuffle in the senior management and promoted two women since being in place (less than a year).

scallopsrgreat Tue 26-Aug-14 22:37:22

And needless to say the advert is awful. Yes I think you are right Seven. They are taking the piss.

EBearhug Tue 26-Aug-14 22:45:25

I will be encouraging my aspie dd to keep up with her coding but her 8 yr old class mates aren't keen.

Do you know why they aren't keen?

I haven't done coding as a career, because I find it quite frustrating, it doesn't work because of one tiny missing semi colon or something (and I can be very pedantic about punctuation and so on in actual writing.) But I'm glad I've done enough that I can write simple scripts and follow those written by others.

In any case, there are so many more roles than just programming. And almost everything these days uses IT one way or another, so it's absolutely vital that women are part of that. It's too important to leave in the hands of blokes who never leave home. Or underwear salespeople.

(Yr 8 is age 12-13, isn't it? What we used to call the 2nd year of secondary.)

I am loving the idea of Schroedinger Y-fronts. Are the contents alive or dead, and does it make a difference if you're observing them or not? For Einstein ones, they could be marketed with the slogan, "It's all relative."

I had a quick google. Geeky sloganed clothing is big in the IT world... <sigh>
There are Ada Lovelace T-shirts too -

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