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Breaking Gender Cliques at Work? 806

Posted by Cliff
from the be-nice-gentlemen dept.
An anonymous reader asks: "No-one likes finding themselves being the 'odd one out' of a clique, and gender barriers make them harder to break. The question is simple: what can a girl in IT do when she finds herself on the outside of those cliques of boy coworkers? Or inversely, what should groups of boys at work be doing to be more welcoming for that lone girl in the IT office?"
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Breaking Gender Cliques at Work?

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  • by GillBates0 (664202) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @01:49PM (#16017865) Homepage Journal
    ...nothing breaks down barriers like hearing someone from the opposite gender breaking wind.
  • Hahaha... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by remembertomorrow (959064) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @01:50PM (#16017876)
    I can already foresee the "Quit being nerds and actually try to talk to her" posts already.

    She won't bite. :o
    • Re:Hahaha... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Alex P Keaton in da (882660) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @02:14PM (#16018065) Homepage
      We had a new woman in my department. It was even worse b/c she was very attractive. We all wanted to invite her out with us after work, not because we were trying to score with her, but because we wanted her to be part of the team. We never invited her, because we were all worried about sexual harrassment. It is tough to ask a young woman out with us, because we are worried about her taking it the wrong way. She ended up leaving the job after a few months. My advice to a woman who wants to be in the clique, is to initiate friendships. Men in many workplaces are so worried about getting called down to HR (Who hasn't sat through sexual harrassment training) that we ignore women and avoid eye contact...
      • Re:Hahaha... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by TheRaven64 (641858) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @02:37PM (#16018268) Journal
        We all wanted to invite her out with us after work, not because we were trying to score with her, but because we wanted her to be part of the team. We never invited her, because we were all worried about sexual harrassment.

        I think I'm missing something here. How would 'Hi, we're all heading off to the pub now, do you want to join us?' be construed as sexual harassment?

        • Re:Hahaha... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @02:42PM (#16018321) Homepage
          He-said, she-said. That's how. Sexual harassment in the workplace is like child porn. It doesn't matter if the accusations are true, because once they're made, you're blacklisted.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by tomstdenis (446163)
            Hint: use your company email system. It's harder [or less plausible] to say "but he said $X" when the email records say you said $y.

            Failing that, ask her in public where others can here.

            Failing that, don't go alone anyways. Say "a few of us are hitting the pub, wanna join?" It's less likely to be construed as a date if you're bringing a few other male/female friends along.

            Oh what the fuck do I know, I only work with males :-(

            Tom
            • Re:Hahaha... (Score:4, Interesting)

              by sumdumass (711423) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @07:25PM (#16020620) Journal
              It doesn't matter if you have all your conversations recorded by company email or witnesses. The whole he said she said can be a bunch of lies designed to get her ahead or revenge on you for something. All she has to do is create/imagine a scenario were it is likley something could have happened or been said.

              Men in a work enviroment shouldn't do anything to invite the women in that enviroment into thier Click. All they should do is make sure she/they aren't automaticly excluded or made to feel too uncomfortable if they attempt to join in. By all means tear down the barriers but don't feel obligated to go any further then that.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ObjetDart (700355)
          I think I'm missing something here. How would 'Hi, we're all heading off to the pub now, do you want to join us?' be construed as sexual harassment?

          I totally agree. This is absurd. You cannot (legally) be accused of sexual harassment for asking a co-worker out, whether its with a group or for a private date. The Harassment doesn't begin until he/she says no and you keep asking anyway, or there is some other extenuating circumstance.

          I think the GP and his co-workers need to review the materials they w

          • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 31, 2006 @03:01PM (#16018483)
            You cannot (legally) be accused of sexual harassment for asking a co-worker out, whether its with a group or for a private date.

            Actually, asking co-workers out on dates is forbidden by many corporate anti-harrassment policies. Sometimes the policies specify that multiple requests for dates is an act of harassment; other places that I've worked just mentioned that liasons between co-workers are frowned upon as a matter of professionalism.

            So, you might not go to jail, but you might be fired for it. Adherance to HR's policies is usually a contractual obligation, after all; and they all frown upon dating co-workers.
          • Re:Hahaha... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by jnaujok (804613) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @03:36PM (#16018887) Homepage Journal
            Sorry, but according to the documents I've gotten from my HR department (and I work at a Fortune 100 company), all I have to do is insinuate something, or be felt by the harassee to be insinuating something and I can be called up on sexual harassment charges. And I don't even have to be saying it to the harassee directly. If they overhear a comment that I make, and feel that it "perpetuates a culture of hostility towards them" then I can be called up on harassment.

            There's a rather famous case from Milwaukee and Miller Beer, where a worker simply repeated the punch-line to a Seinfeld episode (Her name rhymes with a female body part -- Delores!) and was fired for sexual harrassment.

            Don't think for a second that a man is safe from this for any reason.

            However, I did work at a place where two of the female workers constantly made comments about the men's "physical attributes" and was told that, "there's nothing we can do about it." When one of the male workers said, "So if she can go around to the men and say 'Nice ass', does that mean I can go to her and say, 'Nice tits?'" He was immediately reprimanded and was forced to go to sensitivity training.

            There is a huge double-standard in the workplace today that shows no sign of going away. Until it's done away with, women will find themselves isolated in the workplace. In the end, if women want to be accepted as "one of the guys" then they can't go crying to management every time someone might notice they have bumps in different places.

            --------
            Seriously, I thought about posting this anonymously and re-read it three times to make sure I wouldn't endanger my job before sending it.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Anitra (99093)
              Yes, the double standard sucks. So what's a woman to do? Just resign herself to being on the outside? Look for a new job with an all-female IT department?

              I've seen suggestions about "being friendly", bringing cookies, organizing events - as a woman, I'd be nervous that some of these actions might be taken the wrong way. I've beaten off clueless geeks once or twice before, and I haven't found a good way to do it. I definitely wouldn't want that to happen with a co-worker. What do I do, bring cookies and say
              • Re:Hahaha... (Score:5, Insightful)

                by jnaujok (804613) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @04:46PM (#16019558) Homepage Journal
                In my opinion, it's simple. The woman has to grow a thick skin. Make it clear that she's not going to go "running to mommy" every time she hears a slightly-blue comment. This is an IT department, these aren't Alan Alda wannabes or handsome studly little brothers of Orlando Bloom (Except for me of course.) Don't expect them to act like that. They are socially juvenile misfits who are more comfortable with inanimate objects than other people. They're going to say things that aren't PC and they've had it repeatedly hammered into their brains that doing that around women is a career burner. Make it clear that you aren't going to berate them if they say something "wrong". If they do say something that offends you, let them know it bugs you in a bad way. Talk to *them* first, not your manager. 99 times out of a hundred, that's all you need to do. Make sure they understand this and they're going to be a lot more welcoming to you in the group.

                Now, I'm not a young geek, I'm an old geek, married for 14 years with two kids, so I'm a little more socially adjusted (at least I think so.) So I'll try to give a couple other pieces of advice.

                Don't bring cookies. That just screams desperate. We have a divorce' here who always brings (high-end) candies and chocolates, and (at least to me) that screams, "I want attention and I'm willing to buy it with candy." True, it seems to work...

                However, the geeks are smart. If you don't want "romantic entaglements" then say it outright, right at the beginning. "I'm not looking for romantic entanglements. I know you guys are all great, but don't ask me out. Not going to happen. That said, if you want to go out for lunch and talk about the latest WoW mod pack or garbage collection schemas in Java, then let's go."

              • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

                by Tackhead (54550)
                > I've seen suggestions about "being friendly", bringing cookies, organizing events - as a woman, I'd be nervous that some of these actions might be taken the wrong way. I've beaten off clueless geeks once or twice before, and I haven't found a good way to do it.

                Lawsuit-inspiring tip: If you're using cookies, you're doing it all wrong. Crumbs chafe.

              • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

                by ZB Mowrey (756269)
                I've beaten off clueless geeks once or twice before, and I haven't found a good way to do it. Plenty of lube and a solid pair of safety glasses might be a good start.* *You asked for it, and damn am I glad we don't work together. That would surely have gotten me reprimanded.
            • Re:Hahaha... (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Kithraya (34530) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @04:50PM (#16019597)
              There is a huge double-standard in the workplace today that shows no sign of going away. Until it's done away with, women will find themselves isolated in the workplace. In the end, if women want to be accepted as "one of the guys" then they can't go crying to management every time someone might notice they have bumps in different places.

              Exactly. If a woman wants to be included in something at work (chat at the water cooler, lunch, beers after work), she has to take the first step. It's way too dangerous for men to be open and friendly right now. The company-mandated sexual harassment training that most of us have to endure makes it very clear that there doesn't even have to be any truth behind an accusation. If a complaint is filed, odds are that the poor guy is losing his job. No man with a family is willing to risk that, no matter how much it would make the team mesh better, or how much he feels bad for being a jerk, or how much he's just a friendly person. The workplace (in the USA, anyway) is dangerous right now.
            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by drsquare (530038)
              He was immediately reprimanded and was forced to go to sensitivity training.

              Sensitivity training = being paid to do nothing. You don't need to force someone to do that.
            • Re:Hahaha... (Score:5, Interesting)

              by ndykman (659315) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @10:01PM (#16021420)

              However, I did work at a place where two of the female workers constantly made comments about the men's "physical attributes" and was told that, "there's nothing we can do about it." When one of the male workers said, "So if she can go around to the men and say 'Nice ass', does that mean I can go to her and say, 'Nice tits?'" He was immediately reprimanded and was forced to go to sensitivity training.

              Wow. Too bad you aren't still there. I'd get a lawyer. There wouldn't be a lawyer that wouldn't just jump up and shout at that case. The publicity, the novelty, the huge potential for settlement, big money.

              With just a touch of documentation, it'd be huge. You'd make a huge point about double standards, how such policies can be nothing more than reverse discrimination, and so on. Oh, and if the company was big, hello payday.

              Of course, you forever would be known as that guy.
      • by onion2k (203094) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @02:44PM (#16018334) Homepage
        Who hasn't sat through sexual harrassment training

        I haven't. But I'm getting better with practise.
      • by Bamafan77 (565893) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @03:12PM (#16018611)
        "We all wanted to invite her out with us after work, not JUST because we were trying to score with her, but because we wanted her to be part of the team."
        Fixed that. :)
        "We never invited her, because we were all worried about sexual harrassment."
        Sounds a lot better than "none of us had any balls". :)
      • Re:Hahaha... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MarcoAtWork (28889) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @03:50PM (#16019040)
        We all wanted to invite her out with us after work, not because we were trying to score with her, but because we wanted her to be part of the team. We never invited her, because we were all worried about sexual harrassment.


        why would you invite her 1-on-1? Send out a mass email to the team (her included) along the lines of "we're meeting tonight after work at establishment xyz, if you feel like unwinding with us look for us playing pool/chilling/playing darts/...", if she wants to partecipate she will, if not she won't, in any case no skin off your nose: not to mention that you're not putting her on the spot via peer pressure, which is the nice thing to do anyways, whether your coworker is male or female.

        Singling out people where there is potential for misunderstanding (which is a lot more common than you might think, read your company's harassment policy for more info) is just asking for trouble.
        • Treat her as another person and you'll be fine. Treating her as either a scary alien or a potential future date because she's a woman will not help anything. That's not to say that potentially dating her in the future, after you know her, is out of the question, or that you're not going to have some coworkers of either sex who *are* scary aliens, but it usually takes a while to figure out either one. Also, if you're nervous about the social interaction, rather than chickening out, you can always resort t
      • Re:Hahaha... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Kidbro (80868) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @05:38PM (#16019974)
        Who hasn't sat through sexual harrassment training
        Men in many workplaces are so worried [...] that we ignore women and avoid eye contact.


        OK, I'm gonna get modded to hell for this, but... WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU GOD DAMNED AMERICANS?
        Except from the mouth of that president of yours, I don't think I've ever heard words more stupid.
        In saner regions, where things aren't judged by their potential value in court, people actually do have polite conversations - even with "minorities", and people are not afraid of being sued to hell just because they give someone a compliment or, by the Gods, invite them to a relation that spans outside of normal working hours.
        Get your damned act together and start acting like normal people, for Christ's sake!

    • by queenb**ch (446380) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @04:54PM (#16019630) Homepage Journal
      If you're a woman in an all guy enviroment, just be the first one to tell an off-color joke. That usually breaks the tension enough that it's pretty easy from there on out.

      My biggest complaint with my female co-workers has been a total unwillingness to put in any overtime, work on any extra projects, etc. The usual excuse always has something to do with their kids - picking them up, taking them to practice, etc. Seriously, is it going to kill your husband if he has to be the one to take Suzie to band practice one night out of how many months? Since they don't really carry their share, they are seen as second string contributors by most of my male colleagues. I have to admit that in many ways I seem them in the same light.

      Then when they get passed over for promotions, plum assignments, etc. they get bitter and resentful. Since I've always been willing to do what needs doing to get the job done, I get a lot of respect from my male counterparts and superiors. If something's broken, I'm staying until it's fixed. I work pretty hard to make sure that nothing's going to be broken, but hey, stuff happens. Patches don't always perform as expected. Maybe the router needs to be rebooted. It doesn't really matter what the problem is, but if it's genuinely mission critical, I'm not going home until it's back on line.

      Because of this, I'm a frequent recipient of bonuses, very positive performance appraisals, interesting projects, etc. I've had to deal with some female colleagues who were unhappy because they got passed over and I didn't. They would have liked to be able to file a complaint with HR that they were being discriminated against because of gender, but since so many of the things they wanted went to me, they could not. I actually got into a shouting match with one of them because I got an assignement she wanted. She made some accusations about favoritism and had no idea that her turning into a pumpkin promptly at 3pm, no matter what else was happening, was costing her. She thought that it was because I went outside and smoked with all the guys. That had very little to do with it. I got invited to go out and smoke with the guys precisely because I was "one of the team" and not "one of the candya$$&$". I tried to explain to her that if she'd just stick around or work an overtime assignment once in a while, it would go a long way toward smoothing things over for her, but she didn't want to hear it.

      Instead of her own bad behvior, she made a bunch of accusations that ended up with her getting fired. She complained that I was getting favorable treatment when she was just a competent (which she wasn't - she made a lot of high profile mistakes including knocking out our external connection), doing the same work (which she wasn't - system operator vs. network administrator), and doing just as good a job (which she wasn't - HR said that the performance reviews were "no comparision"). After a few interviews with our co-workers, HR decided that she was the one with the problem and asked me if I'd like to file a complaint about her creating a hostile work environment (the whole incident where she cornered me in the women's bathroom and screamed at me - so loudly and so long that several other employees came into the restroom to find out what was going on). After consulting with my boss, I decided that it was probably best that I file the complaint. You cannot imagine how surprised she was when she was the one that got fired. Sadly, it only got worse from there because I started getting threatening phone calls from her husband. I called the police, filed a complaint, and they got arrested.

      Frankly, a lot of the women I work with really make me angry because they give the rest of us a bad name. They want all the gravy, but they don't want to pay the dues to get it.

      2 cents,

      QueenB
  • lawyer (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tritonman (998572) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @01:51PM (#16017886)
    I would suggest getting a lawyer because you should be able to have several sexual harrassment suits on your hands, you won't need to work there much longer.

    All kidding aside, I have worked several times where there was one girl who joined the crew. It never really made a difference to me, I didn't sit there with my other male co-workers and talk about how she didn't deserve to be here and had to prove herself worthy or anything crazy like that. I never did anything special to make her feel welcome, nor should I have had to.

    I have been on the other side of it though, when I was hired as the only in-house developer for a company and I was pretty much the only guy in an office environment with about 10 ladies. I never really felt out of place, but I had to put on headphones to get any work done because all they did was yak and gossip all day...
    • Re:lawyer (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 31, 2006 @02:10PM (#16018025)
      I would suggest getting a lawyer because you should be able to have several sexual harrassment suits on your hands, you won't need to work there much longer.
      This is exactly why I refuse to have anything to do with any of my female coworkers. It is *far* too easy to get slapped with a sexual harassment complaint these days. I've never been hit with one myself (and I think my refuse-to-deal-with-them policy is why I've been safe), but I've seen coworkers hit and fired for it. Simple stuff, like asking if your female coworker would like to go to lunch has been enough to get coworkers written up at companies I've worked for. No guy would hesitate to ask another guy what his lunch plans were, but ask a female and you're heading for trouble.

      Is this extreme? Yes, it is. But I like having income. So I simple refuse to have anything to do with female coworkers that isn't directly job related. No friendliness, no joking around, no post-work activities, no weekend/holiday party invitations. Seriously, this is how guys feel comfortable keeping their jobs because the sexual harassment system is completely screwed up.

      So to the women asking how they can "fit in", the answer is that you can't. Some group of ultra-feminists with get-em-fired happy lawyers have ruined it for the rest of you. In an office full of men, we're scared to death of you, because even a wrong look can take away our ability to support our families. So please, for everyone's sake, just leave us alone.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ChrisFedak (611386)

        I'm not questioning your anecdotes, but chances are good that there were factors in the SH suits that resulted in firings that you weren't privy to. The guidelines for Harassment at my office are quite clear, and it doesn't take 1337 social skills to be able to follow them, and demonstrate that you followed them. The kind of people crazy enough to file a SH suit over being asked to go for lunch with "the guys" are something of a rarity. People don't deserve to be ostracised because of something someone e

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          "chances are good that there were factors in the SH suits that resulted in firings that you weren't privy to"

          The fact that you boldly assumed there was even a suit shows how little you know about this. Most firings are not the result of suits. They are the results of claims, even if it never would go to court. "He asked me to lunch one time and I felt uncomfortable." That wouldn't qualify as sexual harrassment in court but that can, and has, gotten people fired.
      • Re:lawyer (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 31, 2006 @03:17PM (#16018665)
        My last company I contracted with, when I came on the job, I was taken aside by the senior lead to be walked thru the policies. As we went over the sexual harassment, He said, "If you see a female in our area, ask "Do you need any help here?" Don't refer the her as a HER. If she says no, they go back to work and ignore her. Don't engage in any conversation, it only opens you to a sexual harassment suit." I thought he was kidding, but said ok. 3 months later I was called into a 5 person panel investigating the sexual harassment in our area. There where 2 females, 2 males and a lawyer. I stated I had not talked to any females in the building. I was asked whether I had seen anyone talking, and that my job was riding on this. I said no. I had to sign a paper about it. Two weeks later I saw one of the guys talk to a female contractor, Talking to him afterwards - he said he was polite refusing to open the door to our security area. 2 days later I was called in to vouch for what I had seen. I was the only reason he didn't lose his job. He has 2 kids, just like I do. I won't talk to a female that is not in view of people I trust and about work.
        • Re:lawyer (Score:4, Insightful)

          by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @03:43PM (#16018959)
          Holy fucking batman, batman... don't tell me you still work for that company? How the hell does anything get done there when about half the population cannot interact with the other half? My old department has gone from an all-engineer department to about half male, half female, and everyone gets invited to lunches, dinners and barmeets. If that wouldn't be the case, it would be impossible to get any work done.

          It might be true that there are some places that have a work policy as insane as that, but I don't think they'll last very long. Since you're posting already anonymously, would you mind posting the name of the company? I want to stay as far away as possible from it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by griffjon (14945)
        Guys, relax. If you're working in such a horrible environment, you seriously need to put your resume back on the market. But before that, check to make sure that it's not you who are creating the environment through your presumptions that you'll get hit with some HR silliness for being nice. Your posts sound pretty incredibly misogynistic to start with.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by donscarletti (569232)

        Generally it should be easy enough to tell if a woman is going to likely to sue you. Some people like to have victim mentalities, they love to think that some attribute in their life makes what they do more difficult, they love to think that they are being mistreated, they have low self esteems and love to blame their failings on whatever they can. Thats the sort of person who would falsely accuse someone of sexual harrasment.

        Women like that may end up in male dominated fields, often because they are ostri

    • Re:lawyer (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Bonker (243350) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @02:50PM (#16018385)
      The lawyer thing is actually a pretty serious detriment to male-female interactions at work.

      Most IT houses these days have pretty strict sexual harassment rules. Even small computer centers have "Harassment Awareness" training of some kind. The idea that sexual harassment == being sued and/or fired is hammered in to IT workers to the extreme.

      Worse, there are no end of horror stories about an innocent comment or action being construted as harassment by overzealous HR departments. How many times have we all heard the old saw about an unscrupulous woman pressing sexual harassment charges? It's mostly urban legend and closet sexism, but the idea is still there.

      The net effect is that even very well-adjusted male IT personell are wary of offending a woman, should it result in loss of employment. They'll avoid conversations with women at work, not out of sexism, but out of a sense of personal safety.

      The unfortuneate not-so-well-adjusted IT guys are TERRIFIED. The guys who had trouble talking to females in highschool and college suddenly find themselves under threat of legal action when they enter the workplace, as well as ordinary crushing rejection.

      If a woman wants to interact with these guys, she's going to have to make the first move.

      No, a woman shouldn't have to prove anything upon entering the workplace. Unfortuneately, the climate that's been created by an oversensitivity to sexual harassment means that a woman has a lot to prove. Sad, but true.

      She's got to prove that she won't sue someone for a social mistake.

    • Re:lawyer (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gi-tux (309771) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @03:17PM (#16018669) Homepage
      Some guys often feel that they are in a no win situation. Many guys have been burned or know someone who has been burned by the "Sexual Harassment" talk in HR. This makes them a bit uneasy about becoming too close (friends) to ladies in the work place. It is especially true if there is only one lady in the group and it gets even worse if she is young and good looking. The other side of that is that if they don't accept her into their personal life (friends) then they get the "women are just as good as men" speech.

      I certainly don't try to leave a lady co-worker out of work. However, I am careful of becoming too close to lady co-workers. I am also careful of what male co-workers become friends as well. Becoming a member of a group of friends is not guaranteed just because you work with the group. You usually have to earn that privilege in some way. You need to show the group that you have somethings in common with them. Some of those things are interests and values. I have many friends that are ladies, but it is because of common interests and values, not because they work with me. One of those values is a knowledge that we won't go running off to HR or management when we get our feelings hurt. We will go to each other and work out the problem. Once that value is recognized, a person (male or female) stands a better chance of getting into my circle of friends. I think that most people feel that way in life as well.

  • nudge nudge (Score:5, Funny)

    by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @01:52PM (#16017893)
    I'd suggest throwing out random Monty Python quotes. The best one for this would be walking up to the guys and saying, "Nudge nudge, wink wink, know what I mean, know what I mean, say no more..."
  • Oh dear... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) * <.akaimbatman. .at. .gmail.com.> on Thursday August 31, 2006 @01:54PM (#16017908) Homepage Journal
    The question is simple: what can a girl in IT do when she finds herself on the outside of those cliques of boy coworkers?
    *sigh* It's probably not a "clique". It looks like a clique because you're applying female social interactions to a male environment. Guys don't work that way. Guys usually interact with others they feel comfortable with rather than explicitly ostracising others. They're probably giving you a wide berth because they don't know how to interact with you. Being far from "people persons" in the first place, your gender is just making it that much harder for them to become comfortable with you.

    If you want to be social with the guys, talk about cool technology, fun video games, military hardware, or the latest in high horsepower vehicles. (Come on, if you're in technology, you should be interested in at least some of those topics?) That should allow the guys to relax a bit and forget that you're female. Worst case, stay on the job long enough and they'll get to know you. :)

    from the be-nice-gentlemen dept.
    What? I wasn't going to say anything. (AKAImBatman tries to look innocent.)
    • Perfect summary (Score:3, Informative)

      by siberian (14177)
      Men and Woman just don't realize how differently we view the world sometimes.

      Well, ok, Woman don't understand how Men view the world sometimes. Men on the other hand do have a vague instinctual understanding of how to not piss a woman off and number one on that list is "Keep your distance until you get a signal."

    • by Overzeetop (214511) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @02:32PM (#16018214) Journal
      ...to add to this comment. You should rarely attribute malice to a lack of male interaction. It typically only occurs in those groups which are "girlie" men - those particularly proud of their looks or physical prowess (ie - those which act more like females in their social interactions). As Batman said, find some common interests with your coworkers. Look for an excuse to go out to lunch with the group, even if you don't say much. Personal connection is all you need to make to be accepted most of the time. If you must, bring in some "trinket" that you feel might be a common interest - novel, magazine without "orgasm" or a photograph of any hollywood star printed on the cover, electronic item with "geek" quality. iPods don't count.

      A word of warning, though - do not go outside your comfort zone. If you're not a Monty Python fan, don't quote them. If you don't get jazzed over hot rods, don't discuss 'em. Don't take up golf just to get in the mix if you're not an athelete.
  • by argStyopa (232550) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @01:56PM (#16017917) Journal
    The question is simple: what can a girl in IT do when she finds herself on the outside of those cliques of boy coworkers?

    Your male coworkers know that "shag the boss" (double points if she's a woman too), or "occasionally go topless" would actually be good tips, but their value is probably lost in the blazing glare of stereotype-validation. (shrug)
  • be friendly? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nEoN nOoDlE (27594) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @01:56PM (#16017923) Homepage
    there's only 1 thing anyone can really do to break through cliques no matter what the gender boundries... be friendly. If you want to incorporate yourself into a boys only group, just be friendly and courteous. Try to find opportunities to make conversation and joke around. IT and computer people are usually introverted and aren't used to conversing with people of the opposite gender (and lots of times with people of the same gender) so it will be usually up to you to break that barrier.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CastrTroy (595695)
      IT and computer people are usually introverted and aren't used to conversing with people of the opposite gender (and lots of times with people of the same gender)

      I strongly disagree with that. When I was in university, I found that the "IT and computer people" were often way less introverted, and will to talk to others than people pursuing other careers. When you go into the engineering building, you see people huddled around the table, discussing the latest assignments and test. You go to the liberal
      • Re:be friendly? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by lawpoop (604919) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @02:46PM (#16018354) Homepage Journal
        You know what? I agree with this. I have a liberal arts degree, and it's virtually impossible to have a conversation with anyone who is serious about it. They *always* have to best you with some more obscure ethnic group, societal problem, or scholar, and they have a more esoteric, subtle, and nuanced understanding of whatever subject. Your part of the conversation is to say "tsk, tsk". And it is a personal, moral failing on your part that you're not crying every night over whatever issue they just proved themself more nuanced that you.

        Now, of course, I believe there are a lot of problems all around the world, but jeese, I like to feel good about something once in a while. And I like to go out and do something entertaining every so often. Now there are a lot of 'regular people' who are studying liberal arts, but the 'alpha geeks' or liberal arts are seriously mororse and dystopic.

        On the other hand, college-age computer geeks are unabashedly enthusiastic about their nerdy interests. It's nice to see this group blossom ;)

        I guess the engineers cordon off because their study load is so difficult, they have to have study groups all the time.
  • Easy: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gentimjs (930934) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @01:57PM (#16017932) Journal
    For the gals: Just show up. Us guys in IT will be more than happy to have some women around.
    For the guys: Dont try and hit on the women, and they will hang around more often and for longer.
    This all seems pretty obvious.
  • There is no clique (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CastrTroy (595695) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @01:58PM (#16017935) Homepage
    Perhaps there really is no clique. I mean, are they telling you they don't want to talk to you? Do they completely ignore you whenever you try to talk to them? Or is it just that they have completely different interests, and don't talk about the same things as you. If all the guys at work talk about the previous night's baseball game every day, then try to watch it, or at least the highlights, or at least figure out who played and what the score was. They're not going to stop talking about the game, or start watching Star Trek instead, just because one employee doesn't like baseball. Where I work, most of us have kids, and talk about them. However there's people who don't have kids, and probably feel left out of the conversations, but that doesn't mean the rest of us are going to change our conversations just to suit them. However, if they start up an interesting topic, there's no reason we won't join in.
  • by AK Marc (707885) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @02:00PM (#16017948)
    Geek guys are intimidated by women. The really odd thing about it is that geek guys are more intimidated by women they are attracted to, but that their attraction does not match the general population. In other words, the women that geeks are most intimidated by are the ones that "normal" guys would be less intimidated by.

    But as for the fix, be human. You won't be able to pull that one off without work. Find what they play, practice it, then invite everyone to a LAN party. If you don't want it at your house, it's perfectly acceptable (socially, check with your boss for employer rules) to have the LAN party at work after hours. If you host a LAN party of the game that everyone likes best with delivered pizza, you will go a long way towards being "one of the guys." And, I don't know how to say this, try, but don't look like you are trying. And yes, it is hard to integrate into any existing group, especially if there is something that identifies you as different.
  • Family games! (Score:4, Informative)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @02:00PM (#16017953) Homepage
    At our workplace, we have a small-but-dedicated group of lunchtime gamers.

    Over time, some of our female co-workers have joined us from time to time to play the games. They're usually nice and simple table-top games with straightforward game play and the like. The girls frequently enjoy themselves, as the games are not overly geeky, so even the non-tech females join in and play. We've had a few who could win some of the games fairly often.

    Every game seems to develop it's own slang and silly sayings which correspond to some of the game events, which adds to the overall fun of the game for all involved.

    We game because it's more interesting than having to actually have conversations which go much beyond the superficial. =)

    I would definitely say table-top gaming can be a good way to include people -- though it kind of depends on having at least one board-game-geek to be the provider of the games. One of our member is constantly finding new games to play, and finding ones which fit well into a lunch-hour and have good game mechanics. I suggest Board Game Geek [boardgamegeek.com] as a good starting point as it has a lot of resources and reviews. Some of the non-geek female co-workers have actually gone out and bought some of the games, and other gamers have started buying copies of them to play with their families on the evenings and weekends.

    As far as how a guy breaks into a mostly female clique, I suspect most Slashdotters would desperately love to know that one. So if anyone has more insight into that general conundrum, tey should post it. ;-)

    Cheers
  • by Spazntwich (208070) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @02:01PM (#16017964)
    Cut off your hair and tape down your boobs. For supplemental camoflage, try quoting the simpsons, family guy, and various slashdot cliches.

    They'll mistake you for one of their own and no longer be incapable of making eye contact or simple conversation with you.
  • empower yourself (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 31, 2006 @02:03PM (#16017970)
    Ugh, there's no need to focus on "gender issues". There are all kinds of "cliques" in this world and they aren't necessarily gender-based. (PS: why "boys" and "girl", is this kindergarden? How about "men" and "women").

    Maybe you're just new, or you're smarter than them, or you're a different race, or you speak with an accent, or you have different skills, or maybe, you're just shy. Conversely, they might be scared of you! Sometimes guys in IT just have pretty bad social skills.

    The first thing to keep in mind is that YOU are responsible for everything that happens to you. I know, this is kind of a foreign concept in our society, but bear with me here. If you want to be friends with your co-workers, you can. If you don't like your co-workers and you want a different job, you can make that happen too. If you want to change the culture in your office, become the CEO, or anything else, you are capable of it. Once you have this kind of confidence, making friends is easy. No need to blame something outside yourself ("gender clique") when you're perfectly capable of achieving whatever you desire.

    I know that's a "big" answer to a "small" question, but there was a point in my life when I had a revelation along those lines and these kinds of "problems" just stopped happening to me.

    For a specific answer, the best way to make friends with someone (or a group) is to to treat them like they are your friends and have been for a long time. Pretty easy!

    So, let's assume these folks are your best friends. What do you do when you see them, say, together at lunch? You join them. You sit down and act as if it's totally appropriate to sit down and say hello, and you've been doing it for years. You have genuine interest in what they say, and you're eager to learn from them and appreciate whatever differences they have from you. You don't care what gender they are, and if they're cold or unreceptive, it's because you need to be a little more patient or try a little harder.

    If for some reason they won't accept you as part of their social group, then that's fine too. You can just do your job the best you can, or better yet, leave and get a better job.

    Think of some ideas along these lines, ways you can connect with your co-workers. Write them down, and then tomorrow, put them into action.

    As for them, well, if they want advice they can Ask Slashdot themselves. You are the one asking the question.
  • by KermodeBear (738243) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @02:05PM (#16017986) Homepage
    This is the important question. A group of friends shouldn't have to change to accomodate someone - if someone wants to be a member, that person has to be the one to change.

    I have found that girls mesh very easily with the boys, provided:
    1) The girl isn't ditzy or an airhead. Now, a girl in IT is highly unlikely to be this way, but smart guys tend to like to be around other smart people.
    2) A lot of guys don't like the girls around because they feel really uncomfortable that they might say "the wrong thing", and the next minute they are having a "sensitivity training" session with Human Resources. Don't be emo. Please. Take a joke for what it is - a joke - instead of taking it personally. Bonus points for telling a few yourself, it will help us relax.
    3) Give it some time. Like anyone new to a group, there is going to be some discomfort while everyone figures out what kind of person you are.
    4) Feminism is okay - Feminazi-ism is not.
    5) If someone does something totally inappropriate - you know what I mean - feel free to follow the chain of command and get the other person in trouble. Don't go overboard though. There is nothing worse than someone who takes every little thing out of context in an attempt to be the victim.

    At the last company I worked, there were two females hired in an otherwise all male IT department. One was something of a tomboy and she was instantly accepted as part of the group. GREAT sense of humor. The other was one of those types that would whine to HR the minute she thought something "inappropriate" was going on (and, honestly, it never was - we were pretty well behaved there). She ended up being the one noone talked to unless it was necessary - but, somehow, it was OUR fault.

    That said, boys and girls ARE different. I don't see anything inherently wrong with single-gender groups. It's natural.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Fastolfe (1470)
      2) A lot of guys don't like the girls around because they feel really uncomfortable that they might say "the wrong thing", and the next minute they are having a "sensitivity training" session with Human Resources. Don't be emo. Please. Take a joke for what it is - a joke - instead of taking it personally. Bonus points for telling a few yourself, it will help us relax.

      I completely agree with this point. A group of guys will talk like a group of guys. When even a single woman enters the picture, the group c
  • by logicnazi (169418) <logicnazi@gmailEULER.com minus math_god> on Thursday August 31, 2006 @02:07PM (#16018002) Homepage
    Though I'm not a computer scientist I am a mathematician, another field inhabited by nerds with a large ratio of men to women. While there are definatly tensions created by this ratio I have never seen the men try to exclude girls or form a clique and not let them in. However, often shyness or lack of social skills will be interpreted by a more socially competent girl as a form of exclusion.

    So if you are a girl I sugest just going up to them and being friendly. Likely what seems like exclusion is really just fear of talking to a girl or fear of looking like they are trying to pick you up. Often the prettier the girl the more she will intimidate the guys and the less likely they are to initiate conversation. Also remember that many nerds dispense with conversational niceities and tend to just launch directly into subjects they are comfortable with in conversation.

    Going the other direction the big thing to avoid doing is glooming the girl, that is making yourself overly friendly and following her around in the hope that she will like you and start dating you. It won't work and it will make her uncomfortable around her. If you want to pick up a girl in this sort of situation be friendly but do so in reasonable doses and don't push yourself on her. Leave when the conversation naturally dies and if she seems to be recipricating your interest you can ask her out but don't follow her around just because she is nice to you.

    In other words treat the girl as just another one of the guys. Don't worship her and don't ignore her.

    Unfortunatly the biggest reason for gender tension I have seen is the catch-22 many tech girls find themselves in of wanting to be polite to nice but clueless nerds and fending off advances. Often this can make girls feel like they are under seige and make spending time with their male colleagues feel like walking through a mine field. Most nerd girls just want to be one of the guys (figuratively) and not have to worry about akward advances.
    • by forkazoo (138186) <wrosecrans@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Thursday August 31, 2006 @02:24PM (#16018150) Homepage
      Though I'm not a computer scientist I am a mathematician, another field inhabited by nerds with a large ratio of men to women. While there are definatly tensions created by this ratio I have never seen the men try to exclude girls or form a clique and not let them in. However, often shyness or lack of social skills will be interpreted by a more socially competent girl as a form of exclusion.


      Yes, I think this is the key point. If a bunch of IT/math/whatever geek guys are all keeping their heads down, not talking, and avoiding eye contact, then they are doing everything in their power to make the girl feel welcome. Seriously. In the limited geek-understanding of social skills, one of the few key points that the smart ones manage to figure out is usually, "Don't stare at her boobs, don't hit on her. If I do that, I'll scare her away and she won't talk to me anymore." Personally, I'm still working on getting my social skills *up to* that level.

      I have pretty much never seen a group of guys actively try to exclude a girl. Sure, it happens occasionally. But, it is pretty rare. Girls just seem to have different expectations of socialising from male geeks.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        Personally, I'm still working on getting my social skills *up to* that level.

        oh, man! you mean there are levels?

        what was the part about boobs, again, though?
    • by eaddict (148006) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @03:15PM (#16018643)
      This reminded me of a comment when I first started working where I work ow. I would almost always do lunch with the same woman (let's call her Anne). Finally, a co-worker worked up the nerve in the elevator and said "People are starting to talk about you and Anne. You guys are always doing lunch out of the building together." Without missing a beat I said "And I already have a key to her place!" Thier jaw dropped but after the awkward pause I said "She is my sister-in-law." We just happened to work on the same floor of the same building.
  • IT Ettiquette (Score:5, Insightful)

    by audj (980103) <audj@morgantowngamers.com> on Thursday August 31, 2006 @02:09PM (#16018019)
    There are certain No-Nos when it comes to IT guys.
    1. Don't dress like a skank. It will remind them of girls they've seen in pornos, and they will be unable to speak (let alone think) in your presence. They also won't take you seriously or want to be your friend because you have presented yourself as out of their self-esteem league.
    2. Don't talk about their interests if you don't want to hear their opinion. Don't start a conversation about Dungeons & Dragons unless you've brought your dice and have your character already started. Don't bring up William Shatner unless you want to talk about the differences between Star Trek III vs. Generations.
    3. Don't pretend to know something you don't. If you try to debate the pros and cons of Linux when you've never even used it, these guys will know. These guys are the ultimate IT-lie detectors. It only takes one question to discover you know nothing about something you claimed to.
    4. Don't take on the nerdiest guy and try to "break his shell." That shell has taken years to build up: years of bullying and swirlies, years of pirating software and music, and years of being pushed and locked in lockers. Puberty has destroyed their self-esteem, and you pushing to get to know them is going to make them crazy.

    The big yes's:
    1. Be yourself. The age-old adage rings true once again. The more exposure they get to a normal girl the better they will be with other girls.
    2. Be approachable. Put a nice sign on your door reminiscent of the websites they frequent. "Come in and get to know me." "Send me an email if you want to chat." "Hi, I'm Audj."
    3. Bring food. Cookies, pizza, and caffinated soda will make instant friends.
    4. Be nice. If they're annoying, take a deep breath and say kindly, "Oh really?" Continue the conversation and remember that you're doing women around the world a favor by introducing them to the female gender.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by strider44 (650833)
      What on earth are you on about? *Most* IT departments "in the real world" are staffed by either incompetants and/or people who know little about star trek or dungeons and dragons. On that matter, most guys in IT departments never got bullied, and actually have talked to a girl before.

      Not everyone's a stereotype mate.

      (I probably shouldn't have used the words stereotype and mate together, I'm sure it's bad form or something)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 31, 2006 @02:12PM (#16018042)
    hmm ... ok, i'm a female in programming and, as such, generally the only female programmer where i work. i've occasionally worked places where there's been one other female. anyway, i've never noticed any discomfort or "clique-ishness" in getting along, really. just the normal "i'm the new 'guy' and we're all a little shy" thing. since we're all geeks, we all tend to have at least some interests in common and so have things to talk about/bond over. now, when i worked game dev it was less comfortable being the girl, for some reason, but maybe it's just harder being the new guy there and not a gender thing at all. generally (in 'normal' software dev) i've never felt any issues from my coworkers. places where we're likely to not hit it off tend to be around politics and stuff like that, not gender differences.

    i will say, though, the one annoying thing i've encountered is management. for some reason every place i've worked where there's been another female programmer, management seems to think the two of us would just LOVE to sit next to each other. every. single. time. "let's put the girls together!!" sheesh. like we'd automagically be bff and braid each other's hair or something. i usually don't even get along all that well with other girls (we don't seem to have much in common), so this chafes.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 31, 2006 @02:16PM (#16018077)
    and boys should bathe once a week, even if they don't need it, to welcome the IT chick.
  • Lunch... (Score:4, Funny)

    by creimer (824291) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @02:31PM (#16018207) Homepage
    I had woman co-worker who insisted everyone goes out to lunch and sit together at the same time. That was cool. After she left for a job closer to home, everyone went back to their old ways.
  • by ari{Dal} (68669) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @02:34PM (#16018235)
    I'm the only girl (and the team lead) in an all-male IT department. I've honestly never had any issues; it really does tend to be the women who are more cliquish than the men. In my experience, the best bets are:

    1) Never flirt. It's just bad news all around,and encourages the office males to view you as a sexual being instead of a coworker. Not good.
    2) Be friendly and just hang out. Go for coffee if they ask, invite everyone out for after-work beers. Ask if anyone's going out for lunch so you can all go somewhere together.
    3) Be good at what you do. Do your work with care and deliver what you promise. Nothing helps break down barriers in the office like proving your worth.
    4) Don't try to bullshit your way past someone who knows more about a given area than you do. One of my team members runs circles around me when it comes to java, I kick his ass at perl; it's all give and take, and we both know it. I give him the respect he deserves for that and don't try to pretend to know more than he does about java, and he does the same for me. Though, I think this goes regardless of gender.

    Having said that, there are still areas of discrimination out there. The most telling comment I got was from the HR rep that hired me for my current contract. Her comment was something along the lines of "When I ask the guys if you're any good, they just say 'Yes, she really knows her stuff. She's good at what she does.' I knew that meant you were exceptional, because they didn't qualify it with 'Yes, she's good, for a girl.'"

    The fact that there's still that kind of mentality in some places is just disheartening.
    • ... they didn't qualify it with 'Yes, she's good, for a girl.'"

      The fact that there's still that kind of mentality in some places is just disheartening.

      Yes, and it's exactly the kind of mentality that's promoted by sexist ("affirmative action") hiring practices. I mean, the entire basis for affirmative action is that certain identifiable groups are inherently disadvantaged when it comes to performing certain jobs, and that those groups require "help" from society.

      To support affirmative action while

      • by @madeus (24818) <slashdot_24818@mac.com> on Thursday August 31, 2006 @04:29PM (#16019432)
        I mean, the entire basis for affirmative action is that certain identifiable groups are inherently disadvantaged when it comes to performing certain jobs

        That is incorrect, in fact you've got it spetacularly backwards.

        The basis for 'affirmative action' is that one group has historically been descrimated against (due to race, visible physical disability, gender, sexual preference, religion, etc.) despite not being any less able to do the job than other groups, not because they are disadvantaged in some way that makes them less able to perform certain jobs.
  • "one of the guys" (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cascadingstylesheet (140919) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @02:39PM (#16018293)
    I think I must break something to women readers (I know, all two of them ...):

    You will *never* be "one of the guys".

    The men may find you attractive. They may not find you attractive. They may or may not do anything with either reaction (other than mentally note it) but a reaction *will* be there.

    There will be potential awkwardness and problems (and, of course, potential joys) that simply don't exist between coworkers of the same gender. That's just how it is.

    None of this, of course, means that you can't be great friends and coworkers, have a great working relationship, etc. But that phrase ("one of the guys") always worries me. If the guys at work are telling dirty jokes to you / with you (and you are going along with because you want to be "one of the guys") they aren't experiencing it the same way as when they tell dirty jokes with the guys. They're getting an extra thrill out of talking dirty with a woman. Bonus points because she doesn't even realize it. Extra bonus points if you are unavailable or married.

    Of course, the ones who seem the least uncomfortable or awkward, *by the "one of the guys" standard*, are the ones smoothest at fooling you ... complicated, isn't it?

    But what do I know, I'm just an old-fashioned fossil who thinks that women should be treated with extra decency and respect. It's precisely because of that that I am not going to pretend that they are "one of the guys".

    [Now a bunch of guys are going to post that this is bunk, it's just me, that *they* can see you as just one of the guys. Take careful note - they're the ones you need to watch out for! ;)]
  • by cavemanf16 (303184) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @03:28PM (#16018802) Homepage Journal
    I don't think there's any one particular difference between men and women in the workplace just because it's "IT", and the department is all guys and one girl, or vice versa. I've been in both situations, and in both situations it only matters whether you can suck it up and be a person and get over your own machoism or feminism enough to just relate to other *people*.

    So, if you're the only girl in a group of guys at work, stop whining and worrying about what they must think of you. You're a girl, and as such you need to realize that most dudes really don't overanalyze every word, smirk, and tone of voice used in conversation. You girls tend to do that, generally, but us guys don't tend to do that, so stop worrying so much about it!

    If you're the only dude in a group of females at work, don't try to worry about who said what like your female coworkers will tend to do. Don't be a flaming a--hole with your machoism, but instead realize that you're gonna have to be a bit more empathetic, a bit more caring, and a bit more nurturing than you would around your buddies while playing poker.

    And to all the others that say "be friendly", I agree, but take it one step further - be-friend others. Don't just act nicey-nice to others to "break in" to their group. Actually be their friend.
  • Simple (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Locke2005 (849178) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @04:07PM (#16019226)
    Want to get along with "the boys", then act just like one of the boys. I've seen this work for my old girlfriend, who was fairly outgoing and not too attractive. It might not work if you are overly attractive, as geeks tend to be nervous around really good-looking members of the appropriate gender. I also worked with a very attractive software engineer at Intel (Hi Stacy!) who made a point of mentioning her boyfriend whenever we got into non-technical discussions; it helps to put others at ease if they know you're already spoken for. Other than that, if you're not fitting in, it's probably because you're holding yourself apart from others, not because they don't want to be your friend.
  • by Fallon (33975) <Devin.Noel@GmaBLUEil.com minus berry> on Thursday August 31, 2006 @04:17PM (#16019335) Homepage Journal
    A lot of posts have mentioned thing about worries due to sexual harassment problems. The 2 most well adjusted females in our IT department have managed to fit in pretty well pretty quickly. Whether intentionally or more likely just because of their nature they made it very obvious where they stood on sexual harassment issues. Some dirty jokes, lots of hanging out and BSing and it became pretty evident what you could or couldn't do.

    Make it obvious, or even flat out state it. I will be annoyed and speak with you first if you do ??? and if you don't stop, I'll bring it up with management. If you do ??? It's going to management right away. Draw your line in the sand on what you will and won't accept. Some people think boundaries were made to be broken, but most of us are pretty content as long as we know where we stand and what we can get away with safely.

    On a similar note, never date a co-worker, especially in the same department. I've seen it happen many times, and only once it didn't end very badly for everybody involved. It can hurt your career.

    On a more general note, just be yourself. Find out what the cliques are, I'm probably in the gamer, geek, jetskiier & IT guys who have been around a long time cliques (each one has at least 1 female that I'd include as part of the clique). In each of the cliques, I have something in common with the other members, and more often than not we end up talking about stuff relating to the clique.

    You may or may not end up having anything in common with the cliques, and it's probably best to not force yourself into them. If people are a gearhead clique, and your not at all into automotive stuff, trying to hang out with them will just end up making you feel like a 3rd wheel to both sides.

    Find people who have something in common with you, often just being a fellow IT person can be enough. Be yourself, and let people know who you are and where you stand.
  • by radux (776711) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @04:23PM (#16019375)
    I become a stay at home dad and am now surrounded by mom's everywhere I go. I find that "Jane Goodall" is the ultimate source of how to break into a clique
    1. If they are interacting in a group, stay away, they will be more worried about their social status then you.
    2. Be patient, they might be waiting to see if you are a threat. Let them get comfortable with your presence.
    3. Your in *their* turf, so let them start the interaction. More often then not they will, if you make no sudden movements. They are as curious about you as you are about them.
  • by grislyterror (995923) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @05:11PM (#16019774)
    "The question is simple: what can a girl in IT do when she finds herself on the outside of those cliques of boy coworkers? Or inversely, what should groups of boys at work be doing to be more welcoming for that lone girl in the IT office?"

    I am one of those IT rarities - a female. And from my experience, this is my attempt to answer the question.

    If you are a woman on the outside of the clique you are there for one of two reasons: Either these are men that don't believe a women can't perform in this field or they simply don't know how to respond to women, seeing as they are so frequently (sarcasm) working with them. If you are on the outside for the first reason, chances are you won't win them over at all, but if you do, it will be by showing them you know what you are doing and that you are not a bumbling, ditzy 'girl' hired to fill a quota. In this day and age though, I would hope it is the latter. Don't try to join the clique just to join the clique; do it because you have common interests and could actually have conversations with these guys on the same level. If you are trying to get in, maybe you should approach the group about doing lunch. If you feel isolated, then try to do something about it. If it fails, well at least you tried. You can't rely on them to approach you.

    To the men - if she is an IT 'girl,' chances are she is not like most women anyways. I have actually found that I share more opinions with men than I do women. I myself tend to see many women as annoying, and ditzy and overtly obsessed with shopping and with whom I have nothing in common. However, the women I have met in my field, tend to be different. They are less petty and easier to talk with and who actually know their s***. If you get any impression she is like me, she should be easily approachable and easy to include in the group. Despite many previous posts to the contrary, chances are she wants to be treated as "one of the guys". And you may be suprised to find out, that its not that hard to do.

    On the other hand though, being women in a male-dominated field does put some on the defensive (as the lawsuits would imply). I would have to agree with most of the previous posts about approaching her as a group or sending out the e-mail to do lunch. Lunch is a great ice breaker. If I was worried about being hit on, I would feel less intimidated by this approach. And to women in this position - calm down. Not every guy who approaches you is trying to get in your pants. Even though I am sure the thought may have crossed their mind at least once. ;)

    People on both sides of this gender thing just need to lighten up. Learn to relax. Thats probably a key thing to trying to include yourself/'the girl' in the group.
  • by nick_davison (217681) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @06:26PM (#16020284)
    I have a wonderful and, thus far, apparently foolproof system: I'm from another culture.

    Them: "We think you interacted inappropriately with that female."

    Me: "In my culture, that's entirely appropriate. Is this a race thing? Are you singling out my very respectful 'English' behavior as inappropriate in your American workplace?"

    Them: "Oh, shit. We could get sued for that, couldn't we? Pretend we said nothing."

    It's much like patent law. Companies patent stupid crap they don't really need to patent simply so that when the next company sues them, they have something they could counter sue over and they know they'll both agree to back off in exchange for shared patents.

    As I am of a different race, so long as I'm basically polite, cases where fear-of-getting-sued prompts people to freak out over my being male and talking to females can be just as quickly quashed by their equally over inflated fear of an English employee suing over cultural insensitivity and racism.

    99% of sexual harassment stupidity isn't motivated by actual lawsuits so much as fear of lawsuits. If I genuinely commit sexual harassment, I expect to get disciplined for it. On the other hand, if people want to freak out about possibilities, I'll give them other possibilities that are just as scary to push them back the other way.
  • by madou (888303) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @06:39PM (#16020352) Homepage
    As a woman in IT, i can't say I've had any trouble with male "cliques". I'm also surprised by those stories about sexual harassment accusations which is something I've never encountered or even heard of over here in Europe.

    One thing that is true is that guys usually view their female co-workers as less competent. They go to great lengths to explain simple things to you over and over again as if they doubted your ability to comprehend basic technical matters. In general, males also tend to be over-helpful, trying to do things for you they assume to be too complicated for a woman. "This part is tricky, it needs to be written in assembley language, we'll give it to someone else" combined with a knowing smile isn't something most male programmers would hear very often.

    My usual reaction to this is to turn down the entire contract offer.

    On a positive note though, once you've worked together for some time, respect for your abilities does eventually turn in. However, it is rarely shown in public. It's more like <whisper>hey, you're good</whisper>. I'm a long time regular on various technical IRC channels, and while guys on those channels do seek my help with tricky problems, they mainly use private /msgs to do so as opposed to suffering the humiliation of having a girl tell them how to debug their C progams in public. Approximately the same thing happens in the workplace. The main problem with people not talking about your skills publicly is that, this way, you're getting little public credit for your achievements.
  • Here's How You Do It (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mandi Walls (6721) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @09:17PM (#16021210) Homepage Journal
    You make it not a big deal.

    Because it shouldn't be. Do your thing, be yourself. Computer nerditry is predominantly male, but being a geek is a gender-neutral lifestyle. There will always be some work environments that are better able to handle the "not like us" members of the team, whether gender-wise, or age-wise, or race-wise. What i've seen, though, is that teams that treat women poorly treat almost everyone poorly, and it's usually a sign to get the hell out.

    It's not like there is some magic bullet for female geeks. A woman in IT may just as likely be a fish out of water with the Cosmo-reading stereotype that is outlined by our esteemed cohorts here, and totally able to relate to the dorkiness of whatever band of computer misfits might be around. It's not like every woman born onto this planet is replete with all of the social graces just because she's female. So, be a dork. Or dorque.

    If you're looking for other women in computer-related fields to chat with, try Systers, Linuxchix, search meetup, whatever. Practice talking to other tech people like colleagues, regardless of gender, and it will become easier to interact with your coworkers. And there are thousands of conversation topics for IT people that have nothing to do with ribaldry or innuendo. Don't become the office cruise director, the instigator of dumb things like "let's celebrate birthdays each month", or crochet cozies for the headsets (unless they're amigurumi). I'm guessing those sorts of things don't come naturally to you anyway. I'd want to punch someone who wanted to make a thing out of celebrating birthdays and it showed up on my calendar. Spontaneous confectionary combustion is another matter.

    For the posters here who complain about being afraid of being hauled to HR for naughty jokes, you should be. It's a workplace, not a locker room. Remember the locker room? Where the football player peed on you and laughed? Yeah. Keep your lame jokes for some other time.

    So, essentially, meet them halfway. Be friendly, start conversations, don't judge their social shortcomings. Don't act like a victim, and don't take any crap either. It's a big world out there, there are a lot of jobs, there are a lot of assholes, and there are a lot of good people. The good ones will make you want to stay at a job that essentially sucks and the assholes will drive you out of your dream job. The trick is to know which is which, and not lose sight of what got you into IT in the first place. One batch of self-involved coworkers does not a career make.

    Good luck

    --mandi

    my birthday is in october. i put it on your calendar

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