Clarisse, it sucks that women face so much discrimination in engineering. And after reading some of the idiot comments in this thread, they sound no different from other bigots.

Your scenarios sounded so similar to another big problem in society that I turned the first three scenarios into mad libs:

  • First years Ben and ______________ are both going for the same iOS job. Even though Ben has iOS experience and _______________ doesn’t (he/she has other experience), he/she gets the interview. Ben angrily tells him/her that the only reason he/she got the interview is because he/she’s a _____________, and he deserves the interview much more than _________________.
  • _____________________ is ecstatic that he/she got a <BigTechCompany> offer! He/she excitedly tells his/her friend Alex, who congratulates him/her, saying, “That’s amazing! Good for you! <BigTechCompany> is great at diversity hires!”
  • ________________ is walking with /hisher friends. Nick is talking about how he just attended a research conference, and was talking to a _______________________ who was “way too ___________________ to be in ________________”.

I hope it’s clear how easily this mindset can apply to any kind of “ism.”

Is it possible that less qualified engineers (not even necessarily their coding skills, but their ability to work in a team, interact well with marketing and customers, bring in other value, etc.) are playing out the same mind games as poor white trash in the South? Plantation society had to create racist myths so the lowest whites always felt they were not at the bottom of society. Is it possible that the tech industry CEOs need sexism as a means of keeping people focused on their differences instead of uniting and organizing to get better working conditions and compensation?

The difference is, most women use a less direct, non-confrontation style of communication, so most men read this as “no harm, no foul.” If you stand up for yourself and communicate forcefully, the majority of men who are well meaning but insensitive will make an effort to do better. You said it yourself, commenting that women have to get “ to a place where we’re comfortable being labelled as a bitch (which many people may never get to).”

Only real assholes continue to do cruel things after it’s been pointed out that they are causing pain to someone else.

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