1

I have worked in several other companies before and never really encountered this. I don’t really know if this is actually sexism, but it’s really frustrating and I don’t know what else to call it? I know I am the only one on the team having this problem because I see they treat others differently. I’m also the only female on the team

  1. Mansplaining: for example:
    • me: how do you include this in git (I am actually asking about a special case in which you need an obscure command)
    • him: oh just “git add” (walks away)
    • me: ... (that is not what I asked about)

For sake of anonymity I won’t share the exact question here, and I am definitely also at fault here because I didn’t phrase the question well enough, but why would he think that my answer would be so basic?

  1. On the other side of this is general unfriendliness. If they really think I am so helpless that I don’t know a basic question, why would they be so unhelpful?

Complicated, company-specific processes are not explained at all. They just show me once very quickly, and expect me to memorize it. Emails asking for help are not replied to, I just gave up asking them unless I absolutely have to, and I ask in person.

How can I cope with this? I feel like I need to find an another job.

  • 3
    Welcome to Workplace. With respect, your question could carry a few more details. Please consider editing. Is it just one person treating you that certain way? Are you the pioneer woman in a shop that's been all male for a while? I'm a male software engineer. Sometimes I'm impatient and obtuse socially. Is that a factor here? Is the disrespect you're experiencing more about them than about you? – O. Jones Feb 20 at 22:51
  • 2
    So when you say "they treat others differently" are you saying that other new devs get detailed explanations of company specific processes, but you don't? The reason I'm asking is that I'm a man and this sounds a lot like what I went thru a few years back as a new dev. No one bothered to explain processes that I couldn't possibly know, and were often rather dismissive or curt in answers. So it may not be a sexism thing, just an arrogant dev thing. – DaveG Feb 26 at 22:28
  • "how do you include this in git" ... "git add"... that's perfectly reasonable as it is presented.... Don't just accept responses. Ask for more detail. That's how to get information. Are people supposed to sit down and cozy up, offer a tea and present information to other people on a projector with a full order of Dougnuts? Yes, absolutely. But that never happens. Use your voice. – chrips Feb 28 at 1:15
18

By your own admission, you've asked a question which you haven't phrased in the best way, they've given a simple answer (probably because they didn't understand what you're asking). However, they should assume you wouldn't ever ask such a simple question, so this means it's sexism?

There may of course be more context that's missing here. But from the information you've provided, I struggle to see how this boils down to sexism.

I have brain farts and forget simple things all the time. I ask my colleagues in passing sometimes, if I'm not disturbing them. I get a 2 second answer and go "Ah of course, thanks!" (This works both ways - I was actually asked what, I quote, "that Git command is to clean stuff up after switching branches" the other day. git clean -fd was the 2 second answer.)

However, I can certainly sympathise with this as an issue:

Complicated, company-specific processes are not explained at all. They just show me once very quickly, and expect me to memorize it. Emails asking for help are not replied to

The correct thing to do here is to go to your manager and ask. Explain you're having difficulties finding the answers to company-specific processes, ask what the best way to find this information is, and then as soon as someone tells you anything that's helpful write it down so you don't forget. Heck, even treat it as a mini project to write up some internal documentation for new hires, and that's likely to go down very well - you almost certainly won't be the first or last to have this issue.

| improve this answer | |
10

It sounds like first: We need to define the problem.

me: how do you include this in git (I am actually asking about a special case in which you need an obscure command)

The problem you wanted described, vs what you asked are very different.

him: oh just “git add” (walks away)

This seems like a decent literal answer to the stated question.

This is not sexism! Ok, maybe it's a leaf on the sexist tree you work at. We can't know but lets try and look at what it might be. Maybe some variation of Hanlon's Razor:

Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by [ ___________ ]

It may be you have a tendency to ask question easily answerable. Maybe the team is just not the helping type. Perhaps they have worked together much longer, have a deeper rapport and expect any question from another more senior team member to be of what they would consider a challenge.

Complicated, company-specific processes are not explained at all.

I think most of us have been in this position at least once. In my experience it has usually been some combination of:

  1. Everyone is very busy, plates full
  2. Training is "not in the job description"
  3. Rapport hasn't been built yet
  4. Personalities don't mesh well

Ask yourself, who would you help more: The new person or someone you've worked with for years and consider a friend? Especially if your time is in short supply and your behind schedule?

How To Proceed

Try to formulate your thoughts and questions ahead of time:

I have this weird situation where git add is not working, I'm getting this message.

Give questions that request action, and do not allow deflection

Can you look at this, and tell me what I'm missing?

Maybe give it some time for you to become familiar with the team, and vice-versa.

Ask for help, and set or allow a specific time to be set:

Can you stop by at 3:00?

And finally: Look for what the other team-members interaction look like.

Mimic those forms of interaction. Maybe it will let the team loosen up a little with their comfort towards you.

| improve this answer | |
6

You may have a genuine problem there, but it's not one of sexism.

That there isn't enough information to go on, that, I quote you, "Complicated, company-specific processes are not explained at all." is definitely a problem.

And it's a fairly common problem in many companies. I'm a male and I have met the same problem in many places, as did many others.

And you're right that it shouldn't be like that.

But that problem would be the same whether you were male or female. It has nothing to do with your gender (or theirs).

So, step 1, decouple the consideration of the problem from the consideration of genders.

| improve this answer | |
  • But I can see that my teammates are patient with each other except with me. Could it be that because I am the only female, they don’t build rapport as quickly with me? My interests are very different from theirs, so they don’t really see me as a friend. I’m not saying it’s sexism, but maybe “gender differences causing me to become an outsider”? – Katie Feb 20 at 22:02
  • Imagine you were working with people 20 years younger than you. You all have the same job but you are the only older person on the team. They hang out without you, brush you off when you ask a question. I admit “sexism” may not be the correct word, but the problem is stemming from different genders? – Katie Feb 20 at 22:07
  • If the company does not provide sufficient info and documentation, that's an error of the management. Now, if the problem is that all the employees help each other, but none of them will help you, then there might be something else, but you did not state it like that originally. – Dragan Juric Feb 21 at 19:04
4

Not debating if it’s sexism or not, simply believing what you’re experiencing is true and offering empathy.

As reaching out to management has already been suggested, chiming in with the job hunting and coping advice.

In regard to finding a new job, the unfortunate truth is a big part of the industry is like this. Don’t want to share articles nor prove it as it has the potential to spiral into nitpicking, whataboutism, denial and victim blaming and might discourage you.

There are still nice workplaces out there, as your previous experience proves. To find them you can:

  • do background checks of the companies before applying (Glassdoor and similar or social media)
  • ask questions about diversity during interviewing (there will be awkward pauses when answering if it was never even considered)
  • ask the employees, if any, that are minority in tech what it’s like working there (they don’t necessarily need to be programmers)

If you decide to stay, for coping I'd recommend the excellent Survival Tips For Women In Tech.

Would also recommend to read up on workplace bullying tactics, such as isolation, as it can be both very subtle and very damaging.

| improve this answer | |
  • That's definitely the best reply. – BigMadAndy Feb 27 at 11:57
1

If you want your coworkers to treat you better, it is often helpful to treat them better. For one, this means examining your own sexism (and yes, assuming malicious intent from your coworkers merely because of their gender is sexism), which may be subtly (or not-so-subtly) altering how you interact with them. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy when they pick up on that negativity and mirror it back.

This also means respecting their time. Rather than approaching them as soon as a question occurs to you, spend some time of your own working your question into an answerable state. In fact, there's a lot of overlap between asking a question of a busy coworker and asking a question on SO, so it could be beneficial to check out the SO help center (particularly How do I ask a good question?).

It also means avoiding putting your coworkers in no-win situations. If you get angry with them for treating you as less-than-perfectly competent (e.g. by assuming questions you ask are as simple as they seem at face value) and also for treating you as competent (e.g. by assuming that showing you how to do something once is sufficient for you to be able to do it on your own the next time), then they're likely to assume you'll be angry no matter what they do.

The antidote to this negative behavior is positive behavior. If you make a conscious effort to be kind, courteous, and respectful towards your coworkers, they are likely to reflect the same back to you. Don't be afraid to ask follow-up questions when necessary; if you're doing your homework it'll show, and both you and your coworkers will have a better experience. Ultimately, it boils down to the same important bits as any other interaction: be nice, and assume good intent.

| improve this answer | |
1

The first issue reads less like sexism to me and more of a lack of clear communication. The easy commands are often also the most common scenarios, so without a clear explanation of why your case is different, they're going to assume your case is the default case and therefore give you the default answer. That's not mansplaining. Even by the definition of mansplaining, which, for those who don't know, is to inappropriately dumb down explanations given to a woman like they're talking to a child, I can't see it in the answer provided; there is clearly an assumption in his answer that you know how the git command syntax works, which clearly means he does think you're competent.

Your third issue (I'll get to the second one in a bit):

Complicated, company-specific processes are not explained at all

This is a really common thing across tech roles for all genders. Not ideal, sure, but common. A lot of companies tend to underestimate proper procedure documentation (the proper, long-term solution to this problem) on the basis that it doesn't have a tangible return. You can boost yourself here career-wise by spotting this as a problem and offering to rectify it for future recruits. Again, this isn't sexism, just bad management (and also an opportunity for you)

Now, getting onto your second issue:

On the other side of this is general unfriendliness. If they really think I am so helpless that I don’t know a basic question, why would they be so unhelpful?

DISCLAIMER: I don't know what's been said between you and your co-workers and such, and I certainly do not know of any other circumstances that may or may not be sexism-induced so take this next bit with that in mind.

If you've been remotely playing the 'sexism' card as fast-and-loose in the office as what you have displayed here, people are going to be afraid of interacting with you. The consequences of such accusations can be permanent, even if they are based on misunderstandings, of which I can see you've already made one. If it were me in your co-workers scenario, I would do my utmost to stay out of your sight.

| improve this answer | |

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .