I am a young woman fresh out of college in a department filled with older men. I'm afraid if my situation isn't corrected soon I'll be dealing with it long term.

My coworkers make the sort of jokes and comments that are mostly related to me being the new guy. When I can't answer a question, I usually take the "I don't know, but I'll find out" approach, but they apparently expect me to have caught up on their (average) 15 years experience in the 8 months I've been here. They often admit to not knowing things, but of course don't make the same comments about being incompetent or paid too much to each other.

Long term, it's unlikely my group will hire anyone new for a couple years. I'm sick and tired of these worn out "jokes" at my expense. I also know I'm risking being the fun wrecker of the boys' club. Their inclusion of vague jokes about how women are difficult/emotional/unpredictable leads me to believe my novelty isn't going to wear off.

Do I get down to their level of insults and point out their every flaw to attempt to earn respect? How can I handle this without making myself even more of an outsider?

Edit Thank you for all your ideas and comments everyone. I plan to try quite a few of them out. I think I'm going to start making notes for myself whenever a coworker says something disrespectful or stupid: that way I'll have a better record of how often or how bad some of these things are and will be able to review them after I've cooled down. I will not have a tantrum, but I will try better to communicate that what they're saying is not acceptable to me nor is it professional.

I hope to coexist in peace with these guys, but if I find that they're willing to use me as a source of entertainment or mockery for much longer I will keep my resume updated.

Thanks again!

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    "Their inclusion of vague jokes about how women" leads me to believe you're working with a group of misogynists, just what society needs! This could be tricky without knowing those individuals personally to come up with a good answer
    – Joe
    Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 16:10
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    Yeah, based on a couple comments it sounds like I need to start showing that it is starting to bother me and set up some boundaries, and if they fail go to HR. Does anyone have tips for communicating in a nice (at first) way that something is too far? At college I didn't have to be professional about it..
    – user18298
    Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 19:01
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    My manager is in on it. He's one of the more harmless of them all - but he's obviously in it for entertaining the crowd. They've all been working a long time together, so the order seems established. But I'll try to make an ally or two in particular.
    – user18298
    Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 19:55
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    @user18298 Could you please tell me in what country this is happening ? Thanks. Commented Apr 2, 2014 at 10:53
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    I can't post an answer because I don't have enough reputation, but one question: how do you react to their jokes? Because behaviours like this are often reinforced because people find the other party's reaction amusing, but don't realize that it's gotten tiresome/annoying/borderline offensive. If this is indeed the case, one thing you could start doing straight away is not reacting at all or acting like nothing's happened. If they were, in fact, doing this out of good humour, they will likely pick up on it eventually and stop, because it's no longer 'fun[ny]'. Commented Apr 2, 2014 at 18:54

13 Answers 13


Sexist jokes are not okay (and a problem in the IT industry in general). You should have no problem ending that with a discussion with your manager.

Newbie jokes are part of the gentle hazing that is to be expected for someone new on a job straight out of college. You'll only have to put up with it once. While it annoys you, it's really the team's attempt to keep you on your toes. It's also showing you that you have to work and earn their respect via your actions and results, not your degree.

Once you start putting out quality work, you'll start earning their respect. I still stay in touch with most of my first team, and they still crack jokes about my newbie mistakes. Take it in stride. They like you, that's why you're being razzed.

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    I do think a decent amount of it is lighthearted, and its why I've let it slide this long. But when I'm the only "newbie" around to be the butt of the jokes its exhausting. Not to mention that they do derail my legitimate work meetings and serious complaints with these comments and sometimes do it in front of people from outside the department. Edit: I also fear that I'll get the reputation of being someone anyone is free to razz. I already risk that as a woman in a male dominated field. :\
    – user18298
    Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 16:20
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    I don't wish to be in your shoes. As a woman in IT, you definitely have a much tougher time. I've had the pleasure of working with two (among a few) really good women in the workplace who knew how to make/take jokes but also get stuff done. I think that's the image you have to cultivate. Roll with the punches, get your jabs in where you can, and deliver when it's important. Until you get more experience under your belt, it'll be an uphill battle. But you have the world open to you, because IT depts. are clamoring to beef up their diversity numbers with women developers. Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 16:48
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    @user18298 It might well be intended in a light-hearted manner but even the toughest rock can be worn down by the gentlest trickle of water over a period of time, and you need to make sure it doesn't get to that point. I don't experience of your situation so I don't feel confident to try and give you proper advice, except to tack on to Garrison's answer. Maybe you need to make a point of setting boundaries if its coming into meetings and see what the response is to that.
    – Rob Moir
    Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 17:30
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    I still get noobie jokes after two years (I'm 20-30 years younger than all the other employees). Doesn't bother me a bit!
    – Mansfield
    Commented Apr 2, 2014 at 12:25

Despite the many answers, I feel the need to add my own, as I'm also a young woman in IT -- though not fresh out of college.

  1. Stay calm. Getting hysterical or any such "acts" probably won't help your situation. You need a way to let them know that you don't appreciate their humor without resorting to "woman" tactics. Others' advise of observing how they interact with each other is very good. How do they diffuse situations? How do they let it know that they don't like something?

  2. For the female jokes, YES, let them know that their humor is not appreciated. Try to be calm when doing this. Do NOT make it sound joking when you say this, since then it's part of the game. A simple, "I know you guys are having fun, but I really don't appreciate that sort of humor" should be enough -- you'll probably have to remind them a couple times. If they continue, you can mention that you really don't want to get HR involved -- that lets them know you're serious. I would not to go straight HR without first trying to address it since that will just make you more of an outcast. Do NOT make any male jokes.

  3. Stop thinking it terms of "I" and "them". It's easy to do this in an internal dialog, but remember that you're a team. Act like a team. Be a part of the team. They'll see this and start treating you as such.

It sounds like most of your complaints really stem from being new (sorry, 8 months is still "new" -- even after you have a couple years, you'll still be viewed as "junior" by most of the industry. It is what it is.) One of the bright sides of this is they DON'T expect you to know everything. Take advantage of it and ask for advise and learn from their years of experience. You probably won't be able to end the "youth/newbie/etc" jokes, but as you become "one of them" I can guarantee they'll decrease in number. Also, as I said in a comment, there are a number of light-hearted jokes you can make in turn at the expense of their age, with appropriate timing, of course.

Keep your head up and remember that you have a lot to offer towards common goal as part of the team.

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    I appreciate you taking the time to answer - hearing from a few women who are familiar with being in this position is really refreshing. Ive never been too pleased with the idea of companies hiring women over men just to diversify.. but I could actually benefit from some diversity at work. I'll keep your advice in mind. Its tempting to join them in the joke making, but I've been pretty strong this far avoiding it so I'm hoping I can hold out.
    – user18298
    Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 22:25
  • You sound very mature and I know you can pull through. Sometimes it helps me to think of our parents' generation and the women before us -- yikes did they have it hard!
    – emragins
    Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 22:29

I've been a woman in engineering for 10+ years and I started by working in a group where the age gap was similar. Luckily, I had a very different office dynamic, but I'll put a few thoughts out there:

1 - Don't stoop to their level. If you respond with a joke or a teasing tone, then anything you say can be discounted as "just in fun". If you mock them back, when you are secretly bothered by the joking, you set the tone that "mocking is OK" and you may even up the anti provoking more mocking.

2 - When something is not OK, make it clear. It's generally best to bring it up right then. "I don't think that's funny" is a fine response. Say it earnestly and not defensively, and don't equivocate. Leaving a possibly uncomfortable gap of silence puts the onus on the other people in the room to figure out a polite way to respond.

3 - Do join in and support behavior that you are in favor of - for example, I had a team join together in mocking something that wasn't a part of us (it happened to be a particularly horrible tool, that was necessary but awful). Taking out our snarky engineering-ness on a hapless tool was a team effort that brought us closer together and left no one out. Offering a place where the team can join in something fun is a good outlet and says "hey, this sort of joking is fine - I'm not unfun".

4 - Mockery that is consistent for everyone (like new person jokes) is OK... to a point. When it's become so repetitive that it's abrasive, it's OK to say "hey, I get it. I'm new... but I'm also learning, and if you have a serious problem with my pace of learning, talk to me seriously about it, but don't leave me guessing on whether you are just kidding."

5 - There are different communication paths between men and women. I think more managers are more aware of this these days, but there is no perfect, and there is a difference. I've noticed that men (in US engineering culture), tend to be pretty forthright - joking is joking, it's (generally) not an attempt to be passive aggressive. Women, OTOH, are willing to infer more from joking and subtle cues. Sometimes we're right. :) But in all cases, it's OK to be clear and state the problem and to hold people accountable to considering your opinion and feelings when you have stated them in a clear way.

6 - In most HR worlds, you need to give direct communication a first shot. If you are ignored when you give a clear statement about your concern, you have every right to engage help - generally your direct supervisor is the next channel. But if that vehicle for a solution doesn't work out, do take it to HR and ask for help. Be willing to do your part, and communicate with others as is suggested, if it sounds reasonable. For example, it may be reasonable for your manager to ask you to put your issue in writing, or it may be reasonable for him to ask to be included (so he can be a witness) the next time you ask the team to stop the behavior. But it's not reasonable to ask you to bow down to being joked at in a way that makes you uncomfortable.

7 - There is a discrepancy in pay grades in some markets. I happened to get a quote today on salary rates for a certain skill set that astounded me. It's not unusual for there to be cases where those who have been working at a company for 15 years are getting WORSE pay than the new college grad. It sucks, but it's what's happening in the market. In these cases, if I was the new guy making more money, I'd probably avoid touching the issue, as it raises the difference between market rates and inter-team pay fairness that are really hard to handle when you are the person benefiting the most.

8 - IMO - it's OK (even if you are of the female gender) to be a "guy", a "dude" and "man up" when it comes to being an engineer. When the words are meant inclusively, I see no harm. But it's also OK to "act like a lady", "use female intuition", and be geek girl if you so choose.

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    RE: #7 - Many companies limit raises to a set % a year. But new hires come in at market rate. In the last 10 years market rates for many positions have far out paced the standard 3-5% that many companies offer. Some of these long time employees may also be grandfathered in on the company pension plan. If they were to leave they would have to surrender that. Part of the reason salaries have increased so much is that the employee is now often responsible for their own retirement planning via 401k. Commented Apr 2, 2014 at 0:12
  • Totally agree, I didn't put any of that here, because I didn't see it as germane to the actual question. I just wanted to point out that jibes from colleagues about value can be both justified and dangerous territory. Commented Apr 2, 2014 at 3:56

I'm a woman in IT, and I've worked in a variety of companies over the past 30 years. I think that the best solution to problems like this depends a lot on your personal style, and the personalities of the group you're dealing with, and how serious the problem is. So I'm going to just give you a random selection of ideas, and you can pick and choose any that might help.

  • Tell the team nicely but firmly that you've put up with the jokes about women up til now because you wanted to be a good sport, but you're getting tired of it and you want it to stop now. Some young women (and many old ones!) find it awkward to be assertive enough. You may need to aim for sounding furious in order to come across as just assertive.

  • Look at what the guys on the team do when they are fed up with someone else's behavior, and consider doing the same.

  • The jokes about being the new guy sound like the kind of thing they would inflict on anyone, regardless of gender. But it sounds like you've already put up with it for a decent interval, so you can insist that it stop.

  • If there's one guy in the group who does treat you with respect, you might ask him for advice. He may be considering taking your side (e.g., by joking back at their expense), but isn't sure if you are bothered by the behavior.

  • Tell some anti-male jokes.

  • If the problem persists, you can throw a "mini-tantrum". Raise your voice (but don't shout), and look stern. (I really dislike this technique, because it's not in my nature, but I had to do this annually at one company I worked for years ago in order to get any respect. I'm very slow to anger, so I had to really psych myself up for "tantrum day". I'm glad I no longer work there!)

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    I'd be very careful with "tantrums." Those are easy enough to backfire for men who don't have to worry about stereotypes of emotional volatility. Professional passion is a positive trait, but it has to be about the work first and you second. Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 19:50
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    That would also essentially give the men the go-ahead for making more anti-female jokes.
    – Brian
    Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 19:56
  • Haha - the anti-male joke idea really made me laugh. I mean, they won't be entertained, but at least the surprise on their faces might be nice for me. I can't seem to do the carriage return on mobile, but as far as the tantrum - I've really thought about it, and came to @JohnNeuhaus's conclusion. I don't want them to think I'm blowing up over what I'm sure they'll see as a single joke instead of a pattern of months of them.
    – user18298
    Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 19:58
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    Also, be cautious about the "sound furious to be seen as assertive" in point one, as often it works exactly the opposite way - a woman who is slightly assertive can be seen as a complete bitch. So ramp it up slowly, rather than jumping in boots'n'all. Good luck and let us know how you go!
    – Móż
    Commented Apr 2, 2014 at 4:39
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    Tell some anti-male jokes NO NO NO, this won't work and it will only make things worse. @user18298 Trust me, I'm a guy, I know how guys think and there's no way, given your situation, that this will end well. Otherwise, great answer, +1 :) . Commented Apr 2, 2014 at 10:59

I think first I you should attempt to stand up for yourself and make it clear that the jokes about women have grown really stale and it is time for them to grow up. It is also time for the passive aggressive belittling to end. You know that you have only been doing this for 8 months, but you would expect that people with the experience that this group has to be able to be a bit more professional.

You are past the expected hazing period, not that I find any of it acceptable, but it happens pretty much everywhere. I suspect there are probably a few people in the group that feel that way too, but are unwilling to rock the boat since you seem to be taking it in stride.

If after you say something the situation does not improve than I agree it is time to say something to HR. These things could be construed as creating a hostile work environment. Your HR should be willing to address the issue. If HR does not take the issue seriously, and/or especially if there is any blow back on you for reporting it, I would consider consulting a lawyer. There is a reason these behaviors are prohibited.


I'll try to add something by taking into account your comments to the other answers.

Do I get down to their level of insults and point out their every flaw to attempt to earn respect?

Definitely don't do this. It is still somewhat uncertain to what extent they are being friendly but rude versus outright disrespectful. If they are just being buttheads, you will immediately set a combative tone. If they are truly being misogynist, you are attacking their professional weaknesses, which will likely backfire. Besides them becoming defensive and putting you further on the outside, they have 15 years of experience to throw back at you.

Not to mention that they do derail my legitimate work meetings and serious complaints with these comments and sometimes do it in front of people from outside the department.

What are the nature of the meetings and complaints, and who are the outsiders? Sometimes newbies can be overzealous, and a team "casualizing" these events is just a reflection of the importance of the issue to the company. That said, they could also be heavily disrespecting you and actively parking the bus on top of you. It really depends on the specifics, but they're really begging for a lawsuit like that.

How can I handle this without making myself even more of an outsider?

First, decide if you really want to be an insider. Are these generally likeable people with whom you want to work? Assuming they aren't rampant sexists, a likely explanation is that they are just trying to vet you. They want to know who they're working with and whether they fit in. The fact that you're a woman and relatively inexperienced are what make you different. Noticeable differences are the most obvious candidates for why someone may not fit in with a certain social group, and naturally the first things to be scrutinized.

From mhwombat's answer:

  • Look at what the guys on the team do when they are fed up with someone else's behaviour, and consider doing the same.
  • Tell some anti-male jokes.

Emulate your colleagues' approaches to interpersonal conflict and matters of professional respect. This is a universal thing, not tied strictly to gender, race, or even humans. Try to map out the escalation of conflicts with regards to volume, directness, negativity (or lack thereof), and sarcasm/humor used in communications, then try to see where you fit.

If they engage in back-and-forth razzing with each other, match the tempo and duration. For example, if it's "Poke," "Zing," chuckle chuckle, follow suit. If you zing someone back and they try to keep at you, admonish or deflect based on the social norms. Enforcing the social rules correctly and appropriately shows you understand them and care about them, making you more welcome.

Two final points:

This is advice on how to fit in. Remember, you don't have to fit in. You will do your best work and be happiest in a place already aligned with most of your values, where you can be yourself, and where who you are is accepted and valued. Find that place and worry about fitting in there; everything else is a temporary solution at best.

Women are better at emotional communication than men. Women in general are better at detecting and transmitting emotional content. Men, being less sensitive to emotions, can be unaware of the emotional subtext they are sending. Women are likely to hear it, even though it can be unintentional, misconstrued, or outright false. Women are capable of expressing a linguistic and emotional message at the same time, while men will only perceive the linguistic message and any overlap.

For you, this means that despite 8 months of torture, they might genuinely still think it's playful ribbing that you are graciously accepting. Many groups have a "Milhouse," a submissive member who is the butt of many jokes, teased relentlessly, but a beloved and (secretly) respected member nonetheless.

You don't have to be a "Milhouse," and you have a social and personal imperative to not be a "skirt." Stand up for yourself, command respect, but keep in mind that your gender and experience may simply be topics and not the cause.

  • Helpful stuff, thanks :). I've thought long and hard about if I want to fit in with these guys... I spent 4 years I'm college surrounded by guys and I've found its easier to just conform.. but I've found its hard to value my work or myself when Im in the roll as the "Milhouse"
    – user18298
    Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 21:49
  • Don't take the easy road! I made that mistake out of college, too for other reasons. Find out who you are and passionately pursue it while you have the chance; anything else is just a slow death. I guarantee you there are people out there where you fit in naturally and can be yourself! Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 22:08

This has been my basic strategy, and I believe it has served me very well.

Take the high road.

Don't respond like for like. I think the advice to give as good as you get is short-sighted. You want to be treated professionally, so treat them professionally, and don't give them an excuse to behave unprofessionally around you. Keep small talk to a minimum. Find out what your boss wants and give it to him/her. Focus on learning the best practices for your job, do them to the best of your ability, and call out your co-workers (in a professional and unemotional way) when they don't.

That last part is hard to get right. I didn't talk to a certain co-worker for a week when he did something I strongly disapproved of. They say it's not personal, it's just business, but business is personal.

I strongly believe that if you do this, you'll earn the respect of both your managers and your co-workers.


First, read Chad's link. Note the "Making disparaging remarks about an individual’s gender that are not sexual in nature" as one of the definitions of a hostile work environment. Then, do the following:

  1. Tell the individuals involved that you do not find the comments to be appropriate.
  2. If the behavior continues, talk to your boss.
  3. If the behavior continues, talk to HR.
  4. If the behavior continues, consult a lawyer.

So, I would reword Chad's first step a bit. Just tell everyone that you have put up with all of the jokes about women's supposed inferiority as long as you are willing to, and you would like it to stop. Don't criticize, don't tell people to grow up (you look juvenile when you do that), don't mention passive-agressive behavior (people who are guilty of that do it because they can plausibly deny anything of the sort), and don't call them unprofessional (they'll give you some version of "Am not. You are.").


I'm sorry to hear you're in a situation where you have to deal with this. I think you're right that it's not going away on its own, and so far, you've demonstrated to them that they can carry on with this sort of behaviour.

To add to other suggestions, I would recommend doing some joking in self-defense yourself, but not anti-male jokes, not anti-age, just gently anti-sexism and/or anti-ageism or whatever -isms they are using. The idea is to keep everything lighthearted and not make them annoyed, but your words are little prods to just make them think a little bit, evaluate what they are doing, and hopefully they will soften what they are doing. If they don't, you may have to use slightly sharper prods.

This is a tactic I've been using in my workplace, where my colleagues are nice and don't mean harm by their joking around, but there is sometimes a sexist undertone to their remarks.

Some examples:

  1. Once I cycled into work and came into the office wearing cycling shorts (I was about to change into office clothing). Upon spotting the cycling shorts, one colleague exclaimed "Good God, woman, what are you wearing? Get out!". So I turned round slowly to him, and in a puzzled/jokey tone, said "You object to me cycling to the office in cycling attire???" He said "Good point" and shut up. If he tries anything further along those lines, he will get a joke made at him along the lines of women receiving more appearance-related comments than men so how about he picks on one of the blokes in the office instead, to even up the balance?

  2. Another time, a colleague was making jokes about his wife being at home that morning and ordering things on Amazon, the ordering notifications for which were arriving in his email account (cue jokes about stereotypes of women shopping). If I'd managed to think of it at the time, I would have pointed out in a teasing tone that it sounded like he was the shopper, not his wife, if he was the one set up to get the notifications.

Some more ideas:

If they do sexist comments, you could try the joking tactic used by Steve Martin in Roxanne, where he evaluates their joking about his big nose and rates it poorly, giving them much better examples. For example, if they make some joke about women being unpredictable, trying saying something like "Women? Unpredictable? Oh come on, guys, that's one of the oldest stereotypes in the book! If you must be sexist, at least be a little original about it!".

Here's a sharp one: "Are you trying to be sexist, or just doing it by accident?"

A softer one with added buttering up: "Awww, are you jealous of me being young? You'll just have to console yourself with your salary, which I'm sure is much greater than mine, you being so experienced an' all."

You'll have to judge what level to pitch your comments at, depending on whether they are sensitive or robust. You don't want something that is too sharp that is going to make them bristle and feel like you are making the atmosphere in the office bad; you want very gentle prods that don't make anyone lose face, but make them think so that they don't say it again next time, or tone it down, and little by little, you make progress and reach a state where the office is more respectful.


Typically it goes away when they hire someone else and they're the 'new guy', for lack of a better term. That being said, when you're tired of it, then get right back with them: memorize their shortcomings, lack of skills in certain areas, and don't be afraid to take a jab when the opportunity presents itself. THIS IS WAR! Not really, keep it lighthearted but mean business, but the point being is to remind them that they aren't perfect either. This will also keep you from becoming someone anyone can razz, as people only prefer easy targets.

You're going to get kid jokes, it's the nature of the biz when working with old people. I like the movie 'Unstoppable' where the guy comes in and the old guys grim him (Paraphrase):

Young Guy: What's the problem?

Old Guy: I didn't come to work at no day care

Young Guy: Well I didn't come to work at a nursing home

Point being you can call them out on being old just like they call you out on being young.

Also, when (and you will) one up them on a certain problem, don't rub it in, just put it in your back pocket for later. It goes a long way.


Smells like a mobbing

Even if it's not intended. Often people aren't aware what they are doing to other folks, I mean, they think that are fully normal pranks, while in reality they aren't.

  • it happens for the long time
  • you're the single target for many people (the fact you're the only newbie there doesn't justify them)
  • they're noticing your reaction, but attribute it to your nature ("Their inclusion of vague jokes about how women are difficult/emotional/unpredictable leads me to believe my novelty isn't going to wear of") and not their behavior. The fact that they are picking your "woman" nature probably doesn't mean as much, if you were a guy, they'd find another pretext)

Talk to the management

They should know how to handle such things in the best way. From my personal experience, they can handle such things much better as you'd do that yourself. That's why they are managers, that's why they are payed more (or at least, it should be expected to be a key competence of them). I've experienced a few cases, where assumed mobbing was in fact a mismatch of working cultures. In some cases they could be dealt with within a team, in other some team members must be moved to other teams.

Is it OK to tease newbies?

In my first job, I was assigned a task that was beyond my abilities, and I've bean compromised by doing it. After it I was told a story of baker's apprentices told to open the oven with wet towel to prevent burns, which in fact resulted in heavy burns to hands because water is such a good conductor for heat. It should justify such teasing of newbies as a way to make them to learn respect and convict them their incompetence.

I don't think it's a mature behavior. You can show newbies that their knowledge is limited in a way that doesn't hurt their body or their dignity. I've noticed, the people who tend to tease/mob newbies have low self-esteem themselves. However, if someone was treated like that when he/she was newbie, and have nothing experienced other model, may tend to believe it's the only right way.

Long term, it's unlikely my group will hire anyone new for a couple years.

It's really bad, because it would make you a potential target for that years. Don't accept that. Talk with management, let them talk with your coworkers, and then talk with them (with the support of the management, if you think you need that, you have right to demand their help with such difficult talks). Hopefully your collegues would understand they are doing wrong. If not, you can, maybe, be moved to another team, and they will boil in their own sauce. In worst case, consider changing company. Your health is the most valuable thing you have. It applies to both physical and mental health.


Do I get down to their level of insults and point out their every flaw to attempt to earn respect? How can I handle this without making myself even more of an outsider?

To amplify what Neuhaus wrote, earlier: Consider your question. Do you realize that gaining their respect necessarily makes you to some extent an outsider, as a father would be an 'outsider' to his own child when he demands the child respect him? Love is different, but respect entails separateness.

One must be competent and self-possessed to do well and gain success. One must promote one's integrity, which includes not allowing oneself to be demeaned. Yet, if one is abstemious, holds oneself high or away, one fosters resentment. It's a balance that must be struck between competing goods, respect on the one hand and being part of the crowd on the other.

It doesn't sound to me like these guys are willing to respect you or welcome you into their clique. How did you navigate high school cliques? Same thing here.

  1. First you need to figure out if they are just having fun or being hurtful. Just because it is hurtful to you doesn't mean they mean to hurt you. Try to figure this out with an open mind. I bet they are a bit intimidated of working with a fresh grad and a woman.

  2. If you have come to the conclusion that they are being mean then you need to convey your disapproval in an adult manner. Joking it off isn't right. Also on the other side going nuts or crying isn't going to help either - they will just tell the jokes behind your back. Nothing you mentioned in your question warrants visiting HR. (Maybe with specific examples of jokes there would be)

  3. If these are just some guys joking around because they bored and haven't had a new topic to joke about... let it be a bit. You have to understand that a guy that just graduated may be getting MORE jokes. It is a hazing process that happens in almost any group. I am not saying it is right but in the long run you will get a lot more respect by handling this yourself.

The short-term tactic that you should have is to try to befriend one of the guys. You are never going to be able to say something to the group without seeming whiny and enduring possibly more jokes. Get to be friends with one of the guys - pick the one that sits by you or the one you have most in common with. Try to talk to that person and become friends. After a couple weeks mention that some of the jokes bother you to HIM. Guys are very hard to handle as a group, but very easily swayed by a woman one-on-one. You get one guy as your friend and the others will fall in line.

  • 2
    Downvoting. Giving someone a bit of a rough time about being young and inexperienced is one thing. Speaking disparagingly about an immutable trait (gender / race / religion / culture, etc.) is completely out of line. It always has been, and always will be. No one needs to tolerate that under any circumstances. Acting as though it is something that needs overcome is a bad plan. This is a fight that has already been won, and someone needs to clue the graybeards in pronto! Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 21:10
  • @WesleyLong - I am not disagreeing with you but nothing in the question makes me think that anything is THAT serious. She has no examples so I am not going to jump out and think its the worst situation in the world.
    – blankip
    Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 21:16
  • 5
    @blankip - please re-read the OP. "Their inclusion of vague jokes about how women are difficult/emotional/unpredictable ... " - If you wouldn't be comfortable with someone speaking about your mother / wife / sister / daughter that way, it's probably over the line. Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 21:20
  • 1
    I've let comments slide because they are never specific enough to be too personally offensive. Only two examples from the past couple days: "You don't even know [a specific technical spec of a system that has been at the company for a long time, but I haven't had the chance to work with]? Maybe we're paying you too much." Or a coworker asked to borrow notes I had taken in a meeting and then said "I can barely understand these!" (Referencing my shorthand abbreviations) and another said "I've found its almost impossible to understand women EVER." These are said with straight, serious tones.
    – user18298
    Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 21:26
  • 1
    ****comments removed****: Please avoid using comments for extended discussion. Instead, please use The Workplace Chat. On Workplace SE, comments are intended to help improve a post. Please see What "comments" are not... for more details.
    – jmort253
    Commented Apr 4, 2014 at 0:11

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