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I work at a relatively small startup with, not more than, 10 developers. The guys either eat out for lunch or eat lunch two hours later than me, because they have a late breakfast, and I get my own lunch (health issues with eating restaurant food) and have lunch with two female junior developers of my team (I'm not their boss though). Conversations with them are mostly one-sided, as they are introverted and choose not to start conversation. They don't have much exposure to city knowledge, movies etc. and have less to speak on topics, I initiate (very decent and intellectual topics). Basically, boring people who just like to talk about each others cooking and daily-life trivialities (although they have come to accept me as a lunch partner).

It's been 3 months having lunch with them, and I also feel a bit awkward having lunch everyday with women. Would've been less awkward if there was at least one other guy in the lunch group.

Questions:

  1. Not considering any specific culture, how would management and colleagues perceive a straight male who has lunch with girls/women and also how they'd perceive the person later choosing to not have lunch with them? Would it be considered weird?

  2. Not having lunch with the guys obviously makes me miss out on networking and bonding (although I do have a chat with them over coffee occasionally). Would it be more advisable to shift lunch timings to match the timing of the guys (at the expense of stomach acids eating up my stomach lining during the 2 hour wait)?

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    In addition to what Joe said, I'm also concerned that you are hanging out with people who you do not have full respect for. If you find them boring, then this is doing both you and them a disservice and is not an optimal use of your time. – Brad Thomas Jul 17 '16 at 13:22
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    I think as Joe says you are over thinking this. If it bothers you, break the cycle by bringing a sandwich and going to the park for a few days, the 3 women will probably have a better discussion without you hanging around, then you can come back and sit on your own, they won't be bothered. – The Wandering Dev Manager Jul 17 '16 at 23:05
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    Gender is a red herring here. As @BradThomas said the bigger issue may be that you're forcing your company on people you don't even particularly like. – Lilienthal Jul 18 '16 at 10:04
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    "spending time with the opposite gender for lunch" As a woman in the tech industry, let me just remind you that this is what we do every day... – Jessica Oct 7 '16 at 17:58
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    There are different things about this question that make me uncomfortable : 1 - You don't like eating with womans, 2- You think you are too smart to eat with them, 3 - You think talking about daily life is boring, 4 - You still want to make friends after that ? I guess the problem is not about lunch time but more about how you see people in general without wanting to sound mean. Maybe you should just try to mingle with other people. – MopMop Oct 10 '16 at 13:25
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No one would think a straight man having lunch with a colleague who happens to be a woman is weird. You work together, your gender isn't really relevant. Sure SOME people might gossip or think that something else might be going on, but no one thinks that seriously.

Additionally, you're not missing out on networking opportunities entirely. You're networking with the junior developers.

In summary: Eat with whoever you want to, don't overthink it. Network when you want to/with whom you think you'd enjoy spending time with.

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    Amen. You are eating lunch with a co-worker and, presumably, a friend. The fact that they happen to be of a different gender is irrelevant in the workplace. You don't have to hang out with the guys to prove anything or disprove anything; you're already hanging out with some of "the guys" in the gender-neutral sense of that phrase. – keshlam Jul 17 '16 at 7:26
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OK first , I assume you are talking about women who are full-time employees. None of them are girls, they are adult women. If you were hanging out with underage females, yes people would find that concerning.

Virtually all places where I have worked have had both men and women who eat lunch together. No one thinks anything at all about it unless they appear to be exhibiting sexual behavior towards each other.

Frankly it seems that you don't want to be stuck in the girl ghetto and are afraid the girl cooties might rub off on you. There are some workplaces where that might be possible, but none of them are places where any sane person wants to work. Places that routinely dismiss women as people are toxic not just to women but to people of color and to anyone that seems the slightest bit different. Once they run the women out (and what sane woman would stay in such an environment when there are so many better places), they start on anyone else that they perceive as not popular because the people in these types of workplaces are bullies and will always find someone to bully.

The real question is that if they find you silly for having lunch with women, is this the type of co-worker you want to be around?

  • girl ghetto? I've never heard that term before. – WorkerDrone Oct 10 '16 at 16:24
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    @WorkerDrone I've never heard the term itself, but from context it seems clear enough. It's referring to what happens in a testosterone poisoned cesspit where the appropriate role for women is seen as boring support tasks like answering the phone, making coffee, and taking meeting minutes; while all the decisions and work that's seen as being important is done by men. – Dan Neely Oct 10 '16 at 22:46

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