19 votes

Male dominated fields

Are you in a male dominated field or have you been in a male dominated field in the past? What was your experience like? Any funny/heartbreaking/etc. stories or interactions you would like to share? What do/did you like/dislike about it? What would you change? How would the field change if males were no longer the majority? What advice would you give to anyone coming into a male dominated field?

9 comments

  1. [2]
    soks_n_sandals
    Link
    I (a man) work at an engineering software company. Sort of a two-fer, there. In talking with my partner and a friend extensively about work, it's clear that as women, they have much less...

    I (a man) work at an engineering software company. Sort of a two-fer, there. In talking with my partner and a friend extensively about work, it's clear that as women, they have much less presumption to what they are entitled to as employees. For instance, my partner just submitted a request for a significant pay raise for her position. This effort was initiated by a man in the same role who was unsatisfied by the compensation and felt entitled to do something about it.

    Most of the women I've worked with in engineering went above and beyond in their academics, just to "prove" they belonged there. They far outshine 80% of their male colleagues for very little recognition. I've always admired their hard work. There's nothing to prove. Those women belonged to be in that program as much as, or more than, anyone else.

    My advice would be to ensure you're fairly compensated by talking to your male coworkers and try to embody some healthy entitlement and demand what you're worth.

    13 votes
    1. patience_limited
      Link Parent
      Agree 100% about the compensation discussions with male co-workers. I didn't learn (until I was working under a female IT vice president) that I'd been under-compensated by about 20% by comparison...

      Agree 100% about the compensation discussions with male co-workers.

      I didn't learn (until I was working under a female IT vice president) that I'd been under-compensated by about 20% by comparison with male colleagues with the same job title despite having greater responsibilities.

      In passing, I mentioned the situation to one of the other engineers I worked with. He (all blessings to him) blew his top and promptly threatened to quit unless I got a match with his salary. Legal got involved to expedite because it was a patent case of pay discrimination and the company was very litigation-averse. As a general rule, talk with co-workers about pay scales!

      7 votes
  2. [3]
    autumn
    Link
    I’ve been working on web development (agencies) for at least 7 years now. I’m a woman, but most developers are men. I’ve worked with a total of two other women who were developers over the course...

    I’ve been working on web development (agencies) for at least 7 years now. I’m a woman, but most developers are men. I’ve worked with a total of two other women who were developers over the course of my career, and both of those were at companies that were atrocious (I got out quick).

    I’ve had male coworkers who would constantly talk about other women in the office. I guess because I was on their team. This was when I was much younger, and I didn’t know how to respond, so I nervously laughed it off. Looking back, I should have reported them.

    Up until my current job, I’ve had to constantly fight for my salary and benefits. I actually gave a mini talk once to other women developers about how they should always ask for more than they think they’re worth. I often ask my coworkers what they’re making.

    At my current job, both of the designers are women, although at least one started out as a developer. They are excellent to work with, and I find they’ve been much less possessive about their work than all the male designers I’ve worked with. That could just be coincidence.

    The other women in web development I’ve met outside of my jobs have been excellent role models and I was even able to mentor one woman who now makes more money than me, hah! I’m not in it for the money, but it is a cushy job with excellent benefits, including unlimited PTO, paid healthcare, WFH option (even pre-pandemic), and just generally chill vibes. I went through a lot of places that did not have all that.

    12 votes
    1. [2]
      rogue_cricket
      Link Parent
      I am a woman in SWE in audio/video communication. I also have a job that's got a lot of those perks and it's great, but I also sometimes worry about whether my belief that I am being compensated...

      I am a woman in SWE in audio/video communication. I also have a job that's got a lot of those perks and it's great, but I also sometimes worry about whether my belief that I am being compensated fairly lines up with reality. I can definitely be reticent about salary stuff - even though I know intellectually it's better for employees collectively to know this stuff I struggle with the execution. The norm of not talking about it is really hard to get through.

      I think right now there is one other female developer in my office, although there are many on the documentation team and a couple project managers (who, holy crap, are tough as nails). It'd be nice to get together more and chat with each other.

      6 votes
      1. autumn
        Link Parent
        I agree that it’s hard to talk about salary. Even talking with people at different companies can help. I was a member of a (now-defunct) organization that focused on women in programming, and that...

        I agree that it’s hard to talk about salary. Even talking with people at different companies can help. I was a member of a (now-defunct) organization that focused on women in programming, and that helped me put things into perspective.

        Good project managers are worth their weight in gold. Dealing with clients is no joke. I had to do some project management at my first job, and I quickly got out of that role.

        5 votes
  3. [2]
    Micycle_the_Bichael
    Link
    As many others, I'm a software dev. All my experiences and thoughts come from the perspective of a man, so take the experiences of women as more representative than what I have to say. That said,...

    As many others, I'm a software dev. All my experiences and thoughts come from the perspective of a man, so take the experiences of women as more representative than what I have to say. That said, my closest friend from college was a girl (let's call her D for the sake of the story) in a comp sci course my freshman year and us and one other guy designed our schedules to take every CS course together, and all three of us would go on to get jobs at the same tech company. None of what I'm about to say is going to be overly-shocking and nothing that hasn't been well-documented before.

    The biggest thing I noticed is that people in tech (in my own personal experience) don't really respect women in tech. They might claim they do, they might be "friends" with the women in the company, but when push comes to shove they'll trust the opinion of nearly any man over that of a woman. We worked at a small tech company where it was common for people to wear many hats and engineers to get pulled into customer support calls. D wore two main hats. She was our head UI designer who led overhauls of all our products with extremely positive results from customers, as well as headed up customer support (she also used her UI and customer support experience to help diagnose bug reports and suggest new features). No one outside of me and my PM ever listened to her. People would look past D when they had customer support questions or UI questions and come to me or one of the other customer support people. This could have been a coincidence if there weren't only 3 customer support people and we worked there for 3.5 years. Her opinion was never taken seriously, when men would make the same suggestions as her they'd be adopted nearly immediately, people would regularly question her UI suggestions despite a long track record of improved customer feedback after her overhauls. The worst were customers though. As soon as they saw a woman's name in the signature for the response to their customer support email they treated her like she was an idiot. People would regularly ignore her suggestions for fixing bugs and insist she didn't know what she was talking about until it would escalate to the CIO who would hop on a support call with them, suggest exactly what D suggested, it would work, and the CIO would go 'hey, looking at this email thread, D suggested this a week and 4 emails ago and you blew it off. Maybe next time listen to our support people since they are good at their jobs and please stop wasting my time.' The president of the company would regularly hit on her over company com channels (he was eventually let go for being incredibly useless at his job, not for harassing women). I eventually left that company for a lot of reasons, but D is still there because the constant criticism has ingrained a fear that she's not smart enough to get any other job in tech and she's stuck there until she can go back to school part time and get a new degree and move into a different industry (she could get a new job easily. She's incredibly smart and talented but won't listen to any of her friends about it. Which I understand, I'm just frustrated she doesn't see what we see in her).

    My new role its way harder to tell. I went from a small 50-something employee company located in 2 cities to a 1000+ global company. Here I have a very different problem which is the operations teams are uhhhhhhhhh very white dude. We've had a couple of women, all of whom were either let go or left the company for various reasons (it is.... not a great time to be working in the travel industry). So its hard for me to say how women are treated in the new company because honestly I rarely work with any. The company wins lots of awards for being the best place to work for <insert multiple marginalized communities here>, and there is a big focus on diversity and treating people well. And on the engineering side of the fence there is certainly much more diversity. But on the Ops side of things its very male, very white, and very strange given how diverse every other group is. As this is my first ops role and second job I'm still trying to figure out if there is a reason why the difference is so big, but I haven't come up with anything concrete yet. Mostly its just "Ops people (again, at least in this company and the meetups I've gone to) tend to be IT or SysAdmins, who have been (in my experience) one of the most condescending specialties in tech toward women, so less women get involved in ops".

    How would the field change if males were no longer the majority?

    I think this is a really interesting question, and especially so if you deepen it a bit by asking the followup question: "How did the field become non-male dominated?" Its a hard question because I think you really have to then also question social norms and stereotypes and how those are perpetuated. A lot of the women in tech I know personally also studied humanities in addition to CS. They've been the people I have had the easiest time discussing ethics in tech with because they've often times been marginalized but also because of their humanities backgrounds. If the field became dominated because women started majoring only in CS more often, does that loose association to morals go away? If not, then it would make sense to me that the CS field changes dramatically, because lots of tech companies rely on exploitation and not questioning the implications of the things they build and/or how they could be used for wrong reasons. But the basis for that is a (probably-to-certainly) sexist stereotype of women being more in touch with their emotions and being more empathetic. Is that true in this new world we've created? Hell, is it even true in this current world? Maybe? If it is it would be more based on nurture and societal expectations than nature (based on my reading and what women in my life have told me at least).

    I think where I would land on that question is: Things might be slightly better if the field switched to mostly women, based on my definition of better. There might be better treatment of women in tech and more questions about ethics and harm products do, but I don't think it would be a large cultural revolution. Women can still be biased and prejudiced just like men, women can still be shitty people and exploit workers, women can still be bad bosses just like men can be. And I would be (maybe correctly) called out for not also pointing out that there are plenty of men who are great people in the field. I have worked for 2 great bosses who are care more about their employees health and happiness than anything else, and it wouldn't be fair for me to pretend like all men are bad and men are the only reason that the industry can feel so cold and shitty and make me want to run away from it. Based on my experiences working with Girls Who Code and volunteering/contracting with companies that have all-to-nearly-all women C-levels and talking with my partner who does a lot of work with similar companies, I think work cultures would be better on average with more women in leadership positions, while plenty of things would remain unchanged. There's still that brand of #GirlBoss that pushes traditionally-masculine-but-I-want-to-stop-gendering-traits-so-lets-think-about-doing-that-sometime traits that I find incredibly unhealthy for the workplace and those aren't going to magically go away and those women are still women so it would be bad to pretend like they wouldn't still exist in a female-majority field. I would say though that the higher % of women who are that girlboss type, the less of a difference you'd see in the field. At the end of the day I think diverse viewpoints, empathy, and willingness to listen are the main factors that would cause the industry to change, and currently society treats some of those as more "feminine" traits and so women are more likely to have them. My final parting statement would be: "please diversify the economic backgrounds, sexual orientation, gender-identification, racial, and religious make-up of industries and listen to the opinions and experiences of people from those backgrounds because they'll make your company, product, and workforce better". Thank you for coming to my Strattera-induced fixation rant.

    5 votes
    1. beanie
      Link Parent
      Thank you. I really needed to hear this and I'm so thankful that their are others out there that understand the struggle. I feel crazy when my male counter-parts don't understand and out-rightly...

      constant criticism has ingrained a fear that she's not smart enough to get any other job in tech and she's stuck there until she can go back to school part time and get a new degree and move into a different industry (she could get a new job easily. She's incredibly smart and talented but won't listen to any of her friends about it. Which I understand, I'm just frustrated she doesn't see what we see in her).

      because lots of tech companies rely on exploitation and not questioning the implications of the things they build and/or how they could be used for wrong reasons.

      "please diversify the economic backgrounds, sexual orientation, gender-identification, racial, and religious make-up of industries and listen to the opinions and experiences of people from those backgrounds because they'll make your company, product, and workforce better".

      Thank you. I really needed to hear this and I'm so thankful that their are others out there that understand the struggle. I feel crazy when my male counter-parts don't understand and out-rightly dismiss how clients or contractors interact with me.

      4 votes
  4. Grendel
    Link
    I could talk about my time as a software dev, but it feels like that's been covered here. Before I finished school I worked mostly in warehouses. That field of work is male dominated and highly...

    I could talk about my time as a software dev, but it feels like that's been covered here.

    Before I finished school I worked mostly in warehouses. That field of work is male dominated and highly misogynistic.

    Something interesting I've noticed (and this is only from my own personal experience), is that while I've always been in male dominated jobs, the misogyny seems to get less severe the (I'm not sure how to put this) "higher up" the job is. It was worst in the no-skill blue collar jobs. Then It was a little less bad at the low-level white collar jobs. Now that I'm in a high-skill (4 year degree) job it's almost gone completely. Almost.

    Again, this is purely anecdotal and likely does not reflect reality for others. Also, as a male, it's very possible that the misogyny is simple more subtle instead of outright and harder for me to see.

    2 votes
  5. Staross
    Link
    I'm in biology, which is usually pretty balanced but I've seen from like 5% to 50%. I think there's a threshold (like 25%) where it doesn't really make a difference, but bellow that you really...

    I'm in biology, which is usually pretty balanced but I've seen from like 5% to 50%. I think there's a threshold (like 25%) where it doesn't really make a difference, but bellow that you really start to notice the lack of woman and it changes people behavior a bit, it feels like something is not quite right.

    1 vote