Skip to main content
19 answers
18
Asked 1871 views Translate

How is it working as a female in a predominantly male environment?

Studying computer science, 95% of the students are male and it isn't rare to be talked down to by male students on the occasion. I was wondering how it is in the workplace if it is mainly a male environment? #computer-science #career #technology #job #graduate #female #workplace

+25 Karma if successful
From: You
To: Friend
Subject: Career question for you

18

19 answers


3
Updated Translate

Eric’s Answer

I'm sorry to be the one voice speaking differently, but, from what I have seen, yes, there can be pretty noticeable effects from being a woman in mostly-male-dominated technology companies.


This has nothing to do with being a woman intrinsically; women can obviously be just as good programmers as men (don't forget that the person generally considered the first programmer was Ada Lovelace, the inventor of the first compiler was Grace Hopper, and women have continued to make major contributions to the field ever since!). Unfortunately, that effect that you have mentioned, being sometimes talked down do, does continue in a lot of places, along with other difficulties.


There are a variety of systems coming into place to try and give support to women who are programmers. Two that I have heard spoken of highly are Systers (http://systers.org/mailman/listinfo/systers) and the Women in Technology chat group (http://witchat.github.io/). They can help you feel less isolated, if that happens, and offer suggestions if you need them for particular approaches.


Please do not take any of this to mean that you don't belong. You absolutely do. The fact that you chose to study computer science alone proves that!


If you have questions I can try to expand more, but since I am only getting this through (frequent) hearsay, I know that my answers will be limited.

3
2
Updated Translate

Lisa’s Answer

When I first started in Technology in the 80's, I was often the only woman on a team or in a meeting. I didn't mind it, I found the guys to be easy to work with. They were interested in technology, doing a good job, and having a good time. I generally carried myself in a somewhat serious fashion at work, and when I proved I could do the job, and showed that I would consistently follow through on my commitments, and as such, I was respected. It's not to say I didn't also have fun, but I was definitely careful about crossing any lines, because I wanted to be taken seriously.


I wouldn't stand for being talked down to. You can put them in their place if that happens, and most likely they won't know how to respond. If they are putting you down, it's only due to their own insecurities. Select a company that has a strong diversity agenda, and I'm sure this won't be a problem, especially if you're serious about your work.

2
2
Updated Translate

Candace’s Answer

Always remember that the cream rises to the top.  I've been in tech for 20+ years and it's been heavily male, but that's changing.  I have always done my best  and when I know more than someone else, I share my knowledge.  When I know less, I ask for help.  I'm always honest and forthright.  All of us have strengths and weakness, regardless of gender.  Make sure your strengths shine and those around you recognize your skills.  Building and maintaining respect is huge!  Don't play on the gender card, you are a teammate, plain and simple.  When someone does speak down to you, stand your ground and don't allow the disrespect.  Don't mistake being spoken down to with being corrected.  Take your corrections, own your mistakes, but never allow others to be disrespectful.  Good luck!

2
1
Updated Translate

Nancy’s Answer

I'm sorry to hear that you are experiencing this type of treatment very early in your life. I can assure you that overall the way you are treated in an organization is very well dependent on the culture established by the company itself. I have been fortunate to have been in organizations that foster a work life where diversity and equal opportunity are a staple in the day to day. I encourage you to create a tough skin and not worry how others are treating you. This is a reflection of them , not you. Also, when thinking of working for a company, do your research. Make sure that it is an organization that you can see yourself working for. Keep strong and continue building your skill. Reach for the stars!

1
0
Updated Translate

Kristina’s Answer

For the majority of my life I have been one of the only females in the room. As a child I was surrounded by my boy cousins, and my three younger brothers. As a child I didn't think anything of it to be the only girl. It was just the way that things were. So maybe thats why when I started working in corporate america, where I was more often than not the only female in the room, I didn't think anything of that either. When someone doubted one of my ideas, I would think nothing of pointing out the facts around why I believe that my idea had merit.

I've had great managers that were men and great managers that were females. I've also had bad managers that were men and bad managers that were females. Honestly, I've treated all of them the same. I'm always professional and I'm a hard worker and do my research. I find that those two things give me the confidence to speak my mind and stand up for things that I believe in. I'm not going to say that it isn't frustrating to have someone talk down to you, or put down your ideas. But just know that if you do the work, that you deserve to have a voice and a seat at the table too.

Not everyone is comfortable with confrontation. (I'm pretty outspoken and even I don't like it.) But I think it's almost inevitable that you'll have to deal with it at some point, because even the most diverse and inclusive work places still have issues. So here are some suggestions for how you can address the situation or try to minimize having to deal with it.

Kristina recommends the following next steps:

Do your research on the company and their culture. Understand how they rank diversity and inclusion. If it's part of their core values, this is a good sign that they will be making an effort towards equality.
Do your homework, know the facts behind your argument. Understand both the pros and cons for why you believe something. This will help give you the confidence to speak up in front of a group or a detractor.
Build your network up. I find it helpful to be part of a community. Almost every vertical and every city has a Women in Tech group. You can see others succeeding and you can get advice on how they themselves overcame challenges. I find that it's just a great way to meet people too.
0
0
Updated Translate

Gillian’s Answer

Hi Georgia!

I currently work in Software Tech and chose it purposefully after transitioning from a different career, knowing that it is male dominated.

I have found that in every career, being a woman has its frustrations. Tech is no different and gender can absolutely have an impact on your career, much like other aspects.

But don't let that stop you! You can still seriously kick butt.

Culture is key! Find a company that already has women at all levels, from C-suite to entry level. Talk to women at potential companies you want to work for and understand their experiences, and why they chose their current company. You'll be surprised how many people are happy to talk to you and help out! If you start somewhere and it isn't what you expect, look for a better fit.

I've had to move a couple of times to different companies before finding the right spot. I'm happy to have found a place where my contributions are welcomed and appreciated in an industry I enjoy.

Be persistent, work hard, and don't be afraid to look for what you need in a company.

0
0
Updated Translate

Kajal’s Answer

Hi Georgia,


First of all, good for you in choosing to be in an industry that is male dominated. When i went to engineering school 7 years ago, i was in a similar situation wherein the men:women ratio was 11:1. i was very hopeful that that would change when i would start working but my first job had 100 men and 1 woman(me). It was a little weird since i felt i had to really try hard to get my point cross or to be taken seriously. But what that job really taught me was to be persistent and to not give up when things are hard or not as you expect. I feel grateful for the opportunity i had to success in a male dominated industry and the opportunity to very early on in my career deal with challenging issues.


At the end of the day, you work will always count and yes its all about building credibility and once you do, the success feels very rewarding. Please don't let such a situation dishearten you, rather take control and show them what you got!

0
0
Updated Translate

Prerna’s Answer

I totally understand the thought process behind asking this question and hence I am answering accordingly. Yes, STEM has lesser number of women compared to other fields . That's the more the reason to encourage women to join STEM fields. My favourite thing is get to do what I love. I work as Technical Consulting Engineer and I solve Customer's problems everyday , interact with them and help them through different processes. 

Having said that , every job has its fair share of prejudices and cons. Be rational and practical.

There's nothing to get scared about , often times you will find yourself being more productive in around a healthy mix of both genders.

If you are passionate about learning and working in any field , don't let your gender be a roadblock. Decide exactly which vertical you want to join and how you want to progress in your career then focus on that and go about it.

As long as you keep learning and excel at your job , anyone else's prejudice shouldn't be a cause of concern.

0
0
Updated Translate

Shu’s Answer

Yes it often happens I am the only female in a roomful of IT professionals. That could be a little intimidating, however I don't think that feeling is something you or I cannot get used to or overcome. Instead, focus on the subject topic at discussion, providing valuable work, and contributing to the team. Generally good work will get recognized whether you're a male or female. :)

0
0
Updated Translate

Paulina’s Answer

Confidence is key! As a woman in a male dominated industry, its important to remember that you are just as capable as anyone else there and you deserve to be there just as much as everyone else. There are women who have been offered the same opportunities that don't take the chance you did because of the stigma of male dominance in the workplace, and that puts you at an advantage in your field already. If you are confident in your abilities and hold yourself highly, others will do the same and it will make it less taboo for women to be in that field in the future.
0
0
Updated Translate

Samantha’s Answer

Working for a large financial organisation I can tell you that there are some really positive initiatives to put women front and centre of our organisation. We have a female CEO, we have a working groups such as Women in Technology, our interview panels must include women. There are some positive changes happening in Tech to promote females into top positions.

Take a look at potential employers and their approach to diversity within their ranks. Think about who you want to work for.

If you have a passion for a certain area of technology then go for it, regardless of how many men are in post. If you don't put yourself up for opportunities then things won't change.

In our experience the trend is towards a better balance of the genders. There has never been a better time to join a technology company.

0
0
Updated Translate

Joanne’s Answer

i went from an all-girls high school, to a really huge diverse college, and straight into the workforce, so focusing on gender wasn't (isn't) even a factor.


The goal is to use your smarts .... dot your i's, cross your t's .. be really good at what you do and you'll bubble up to the where you want to be.


one of the secrets of any employment is to learn to work as a team - gender doesn't have anything to do with it.

0
0
Updated Translate

Shu’s Answer

Yes it often happens I am the only female in a roomful of IT professionals. That could be a little intimidating, however I don't think that feeling is something you or I cannot get used to or overcome. Instead, focus on the subject topic at discussion, providing valuable work, and contributing to the team. Generally good work will get recognized whether you're a male or female. :)

0
0
Updated Translate

Ken’s Answer

Hi Georgia!


From my experience in business (from 70's - to current) I have not seen any adverse effect due to gender. Companies measure performance against established standards, and, as long as a person meet those standards, all is ok.

0
0
Updated Translate

Michelle’s Answer

I have been in Tech for the past 27 years. It helps that companies these days are recognizing the importance of women in STEM and are actively encouraging students to pursue STEM careers. Thankfully, I have not experienced pushbacks being a woman in a male-dominated world. I think the key is to be a reliable contributor yourself and speak out when you have great ideas. Get involved in groups that encourage women participation. For example, in our company, we have a very active group called Women in Technology. It helps to network with people who are like you and may be able to help you navigate through your struggles.

Michelle recommends the following next steps:

Read Lean In for Graduates by Sheryl Sandberg
0
0
Updated Translate

Rani’s Answer

Hello .. As per my idea there is no Male or female domination .Only domination is the person who knows stuff to handle the situations.Kindly try to remove the thought and be proud to be a girl and show your power in all situations and all fields.thank you :)

0
0
Updated Translate

Jeni’s Answer

Hi, Georgia! I am so excited to share my experience with you and I hope that it gives you some perspective and context:

I have been in software engineering since the late 1990's. I have been lucky enough to serve clients in many different industries and work in organizations of different sizes. I have found, most often, I am either "the only girl in the room" or one of a few. At one point, I was the only female engineer on a team of engineers that served an online store for bodybuilding related products. It truly felt as though I was working in a locker room some days. There have been many times when I have felt frustrated and marginalized. Rarely, but it has happened, I have been directly insulted. The direct comments have actually felt less offensive - for the most part - than the uphill battle to be taken seriously as a technical expert.

It is my hope that these events are not as frequent or common at this point and going forward. We have entered a time where people seem to value inclusion, embracing differences, and learning from those of us who may have a different perspective.

Even when I have been in environments where bias was evident, the fact is that I found I still loved the people. It was really the attitudes or ignorance that I found distasteful. It does take time to cultivate good ways to communicate feedback so that your voice is informative and supportive of mutual growth. In my experience, when someone has offended me, if I let them know that I was harmed by the comment/action (and how) and let them know how I prefer to be treated in the future, MOST OF THE TIME, I am greeted with gratitude for the information. I am mindful to address the behavior and not attribute the behavior to any character traits or flaws of the individual.

If you want support in thinking about how to give feedback effectively, I suggest: https://www.manager-tools.com/2005/07/giving-effective-feedback . I use that feedback model in many contexts and I find that it is highly effective.

If you feel like you don't want to confront individuals who may not listen, simply know that this choice is valid for you as well. Mostly, know this: while we may not be the majority, we are out here. We are trying to help improve the atmosphere. And, we are so excited to watch you come into this creative, technical world and build great things!


0
0
Updated Translate

Sucharitha’s Answer

Hi,

I have been in a team consisting of all men except me. It was initially intimidating to be the only woman in the team of men. But thanks to the team, they always included me and gave importance to my opinions and suggestions given the fact that I was new to the Job Role.

A few days later, I also was a part of a team where there were 2 men among 24 women. Here I could see more hierarchies and less transparency. The previous role was in a startup and since this one is an MNC, this was probably expected.

Today, I work for an MNC in a team which has almost equal number of men and women. From all these days, I learnt women face biggest barriers from themselves when they start worrying too much about the future and forget to put in more effort on a daily basis for a fruitful career. Also, men are becoming more sensitive to the issues that women face in a workplace.

Be it men or women, it is essential to put in efforts and get great work done. The difference between the ones going higher on the ladder and the others still in the same level is their lacking communication skill to create a visibility of their talents and competencies.

Riding on this wave of women inclusion in tech, more ladies are expected to jump into work and contribute for a better world while the men and other ladies should be welcoming the new talent with unbiased treatment.

Sucharitha recommends the following next steps:

Read : Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead Book by Nell Scovell and Sheryl Sandberg
0
0
Updated Translate

Kristina’s Answer

For the majority of my life I have been one of the only females in the room. As a child I was surrounded by my boy cousins, and my three younger brothers. As a child I didn't think anything of it to be the only girl. It was just the way that things were. So maybe thats why when I started working in corporate america, where I was more often than not the only female in the room, I didn't think anything of that either. When someone doubted one of my ideas, I would think nothing of pointing out the facts around why I believe that my idea had merit.

I've had great managers that were men and great managers that were females. I've also had bad managers that were men and bad managers that were females. Honestly, I've treated all of them the same. I'm always professional and I'm a hard worker and do my research. I find that those two things give me the confidence to speak my mind and stand up for things that I believe in. I'm not going to say that it isn't frustrating to have someone talk down to you, or put down your ideas. But just know that if you do the work, that you deserve to have a voice and a seat at the table too.

Not everyone is comfortable with confrontation. (I'm pretty outspoken and even I don't like it.) But I think it's almost inevitable that you'll have to deal with it at some point, because even the most diverse and inclusive work places still have issues. So here are some suggestions for how you can address the situation or try to minimize having to deal with it.

Kristina recommends the following next steps:

Do your research on the company and their culture. Understand how they rank diversity and inclusion. If it's part of their core values, this is a good sign that they will be making an effort towards equality.
Do your homework, know the facts behind your argument. Understand both the pros and cons for why you believe something. This will help give you the confidence to speak up in front of a group or a detractor.
Build your network up. I find it helpful to be part of a community. Almost every vertical and every city has a Women in Tech group. You can see others succeeding and you can get advice on how they themselves overcame challenges. I find that it's just a great way to meet people too.
0