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I'm a software developer with about 10 years of experience. I am in a team of eight - myself, another female and the rest are male. The project we are working on are now at the 'handover to the BAU team' stage. I observed that the BAU team (all male!) would come and ask the guys questions, but not to me and the other female. I want to ask you, if you are a male developer, does it make you feel uncomfortable asking a female developer questions so you choose to ask a male developer instead? Or you have this impression that the males are more competent?

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  • what sort of questions? Are we talking "what is the password to the server?" or "does this code look ok to you?" or "how do you use this API anyway?" Feb 5 '18 at 3:29
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    Do they talk about things other than work too? It is easier to ask for help from someone you are already comfortable speaking with. If you've never spoken to them it may be difficult for them to ask for help from you. While gener roles may play a part in it, there could be other factors such as not appearing available, or not being very approachable in general. If you would like them to ask you questions too, you can make an effort to go out of your way to help them so that you become more approachable to them. Feb 5 '18 at 3:37
  • @KateGregory - "how do you use this API anyway" type. So questions like "Can you tell me how does component A work?" Feb 5 '18 at 3:42
  • @雰囲気読めない人 The fact is the BAU team know me very well. One of them was my mentor when I joined the company. Feb 5 '18 at 3:50
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    – Lilienthal
    Feb 5 '18 at 9:38
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Short answer: The simple answer is "You ask the person who is most able to answer your question."

I think you're looking at this the wrong way around. The gender of the person is completely irrelevant. What you need to be looking for is the person with the most capacity to understand what you are asking and answer it in a way you can understand.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Is this person competent in the technology/domain you need assistance in?
  • Is this person accessible (ie, are they buried in other work that they cannot be diverted from?)
  • If this person were to respond, would you be able to understand their answer?

Things to NOT consider:

  • The gender of the person
  • Anything else that doesn't pertain to their capability to answer you in a professional capability.

Gender is not a relevant considered factor in any way, either by you or your male colleagues.

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    But their perception of who best first bulletpoint 1, 2, and 3 are all influenced by biases related to gender, religion, form of dress, and so on. No one is without bias. Feb 5 '18 at 16:34
  • @Adonalsium No doubt. But if you are actively choosing gender as a criteria, then you need to re-examine your reasoning.
    – Jane S
    Feb 5 '18 at 20:54
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I'll answer the question as it is asked.

When I need to ask for help, I will usually go where I think I can get the answer the quickest. For example, if I don't know anyone, I will address either the manager or the whole department (such as the project channel in the company's slack) that is in charge of what I need information on. If someone answers me, I will continue going to said person as they have a history of answering me. If later someone adds on supplemental information that helped, I may go to that person instead when I need detailed information, but will continue going to go to the fast person when the detailed person cannot answer in a timely manner.

If I don't have a means of asking the whole department at once, then I will stick with asking the manager for who can help me, and allow them to assign someone for me. If the manager isn't available, and I can physically go over to the desks of the department, I will either ask the most available looking person (by themselves, doesn't look like they are in too deep concentration, isn't wearing headphones), or just state my question in the general vicinity and allow someone to volunteer themselves to answer the question.

I personally don't have a preference of the gender of the developer so long as I can get what I need in a timely manner, with the least amount of effort in asking from my part. I do not see gender as a factor of developer's competence. When asking questions, for me, it is mostly about getting a meaningful answer in a timely manner.

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