I was raised to believe that women could be “just as smart as men” if they really applied themselves. I was raised to believe that high maintenance women were not attractive, so I made sure never to ask for what I needed if I thought it might ruffle feathers. When yelled at, I cowered, when ignored or mistreated, I blamed myself, I tried to entice when I should have been walking away. I appeased angry men when I should have fought back.
When we were about 18, a good friend of mine made a book with his best friend. It was called “Wigger Chick.” It illustrated all the ways their ex-girlfriends were wigger chicks. I thought it was brilliant and hilarious. I didn’t want to be a wigger chick, so I rarely called men on their bullshit. I kept my mouth shut. I laughed at their jokes.
I worked in the software industry at a very young age. I was self taught. I stayed up all night studying, learning, making my own projects. I got great jobs. I believe that I was lucky to be allowed into the boy’s (software dev) sandbox. Since I was lucky enough to have gained access, I had better not make any waves for fear of getting kicked out. I believed I was a “tomboy” because I liked to do things boys liked to do. Why was I, and everyone around me, lead to believe these were boy things?
I dressed the part. I tried to go for a look that was both cute and smart, but not too sexy. I was raised to believe women who show off their bodies are sluts. I acted the part of the tomboy. Always in on the joke, crude when I needed to be, I was rambunctious but contained.
I competed against the very few other women I worked with when we should have been allies. I was mysogenistic. After all I was raised to believe that men were intellectually superior and that I was lucky enough and worked hard enough to “jump ranks.”
I once had a boss who called me kiddo, he was seven years younger than me.
I had a friend tell me that he was responsible for getting me hired. His boss didn’t want to hire me because I was a girl and I was too young. This man had a crush on me. He convinced his boss to hire me. How lucky am I. Cynicism and sarcasm have also served me well. I came off as a smart-alec, which gave me a air of mystery and made people believe I was smart. I knew I was smart but I knew I had to have gimmicks.
I loved what I did, the work, not so much the work environment. But I got angry. I got tired of working for entitled men. I tried on a new life. I chose art. The same types of sexism happen here, not as much, but there’s more conversation about it. Things aren’t great here, they are better. Mysogeny is pervasive.
I feel like it’s time to go back and try again. I’m older, wiser and more confident now. I see through prejudices and I understand most of their parts when I see them. I want to bring more women into engineering jobs. I want to support women. I feel I owe a debt to the men and women who try so hard to bring women to the conversation. I’d like to join forces.
I don’t know what the next months or years have in store for me, but I have a direction to head in. That’s good enough.
Articles to Read:
NPR: When Women Stopped Coding