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Breaking Gender Cliques at Work? 806

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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  • Hahaha... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by remembertomorrow ( 959064 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @02:50PM (#16017876)
    I can already foresee the "Quit being nerds and actually try to talk to her" posts already.

    She won't bite. :o
  • lawyer (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tritonman ( 998572 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @02:51PM (#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...
  • Oh dear... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) * <{akaimbatman} {at} {gmail.com}> on Thursday August 31, 2006 @02:54PM (#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.)
  • be friendly? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nEoN nOoDlE ( 27594 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @02:56PM (#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.
  • Easy: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gentimjs ( 930934 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @02:57PM (#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 @02:58PM (#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 KermodeBear ( 738243 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @03:05PM (#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.
  • by logicnazi ( 169418 ) <<logicnazi> <at> <gmail.com>> on Thursday August 31, 2006 @03:07PM (#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.
  • IT Ettiquette (Score:5, Insightful)

    by audj ( 980103 ) <audj@morgantowngamers.com> on Thursday August 31, 2006 @03:09PM (#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.
  • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @03:32PM (#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 ari{Dal} ( 68669 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @03:34PM (#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.
  • Re:Hahaha... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @03:37PM (#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?

  • "one of the guys" (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cascadingstylesheet ( 140919 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @03:39PM (#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! ;)]
  • Re:Hahaha... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Schraegstrichpunkt ( 931443 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @03:42PM (#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:be friendly? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lawpoop ( 604919 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @03:46PM (#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.
  • Re:Hahaha... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ObjetDart ( 700355 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @03:54PM (#16018415)
    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 were given at their company's sexual harassment policy review meeting. Or maybe his company hasn't ever had such a meeting, which might explain their confusion on the matter.

  • Been There (Score:2, Insightful)

    by clang_jangle ( 975789 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @04:02PM (#16018484) Journal
    I've been that one woman in the office of men before and from what I've learned you are probably not nearly the outsider you imagine you are. Most geeks whether male or female share a lot of interests, so just be patient and be yourself. Probably the biggest thing they want is reassurance that if someone slips and says something "off-color" it won't result in some sort of "clamp down". If you can just be a geek among geeks everything will be fine, but it takes a little time to establish that.
  • Re:lawyer (Score:2, Insightful)

    by PrayingWolf ( 818869 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @04:04PM (#16018508) Homepage Journal
    I entirely agree with you.

    What I've found is that any relationship with a woman not belonging to your family will eroticize one way or another - sooner or later. The woman might actually have a desire for *that* kind of attention and will complain about harrasment only to fullfill her fantasy. All this is unspoken and unconscious and people tend to believe women are truthfull and so on...

    I have a female co-worker and she has been harrassing me for quite some time. I've told her to stay away from me and she has learned slowly to do that. Once she complained that I don't treat her like the other co-workers. The truth is: I can't, because she reacts COMPLETELY differently to everything I do or say.

    Quite frankly, I don't believe in men and women in the same workingplace. I think its a form of mental abuse to force people into that situation.

    I await better times, where there is (among other things) no feminism

  • Re:lawyer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gi-tux ( 309771 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @04:17PM (#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.

  • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @04:20PM (#16018706) Journal
    Have you ever seen an athelete and a non-athelete try to pick up golf? The athelete will probably have a handicap in the mid-teens by the end of the first summer of casual play, the non-athelete will take three years of casual golf to break 100, if they ever do.

    Playing golf is not atheletic like running triathalons requires, however it does require a certain amount of strength, flexibility, and body control to play well. At least, well enough not to make a fool of yourself in front of coworkers.
  • Re:lawyer (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AuMatar ( 183847 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @04:21PM (#16018721)
    IT sounds more like you have mental issues with women. I have female friends, both in the workplace and out. Many of them for years. And the vast majority of those have no eroticism or attraction on either side. If you don't, there's something deeply wrong with you.
  • Re:lawyer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by flithm ( 756019 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @04:28PM (#16018799) Homepage
    I'm really shocked by your sentiments. I mean, I understand where they come from. Eventually with every relationship you have to deal with a sexual counterpart. And I'm not just talking about male / female. Guys go through it too... you know, you're getting to become friends with someone and inevitably you both have to make sure each other isn't gay. Or in the event that one party is dealing with that is required.

    Same goes for male / female. You eventually have to deal with attraction issues. Maybe one party is maybe both are, and even if neither are you still have to mutually define your relationship boundaries.

    Suggesting that having to work with the opposite sex is a form of abuse is nothing short of absurd. In fact I'd go as far as to say working in a totally male or totally female environment is more akin to abuse. The workplace, just like the world at large, needs both male and female perspectives on order to function at its optimum.

    As for the rampant fear of harassment suits... this must be an american thing. The legal system is still a joke here in Canada, and we do take sexual harassment seriously, but it's not like people are afraid to ask co-workers to lunch. How is that harassment? It's not.

    If the system is that fucked up then you shouldn't just be afraid of women, you should be afraid of everyone. Your same-sex co-worker could easily do the same thing to you and it would be even more damaging to you since you'd have to deal with your friends and family questioning your sexuality.

    I personally don't believe it's as messed up as you (and others) say. But even if it is, take a stand people! Avoiding women will not fix the issue. That's like sticking your head in the sand and hoping the lion can't see you.
  • by cavemanf16 ( 303184 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @04:28PM (#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.
  • Re:lawyer (Score:3, Insightful)

    by griffjon ( 14945 ) <GriffJon @ g m a il.com> on Thursday August 31, 2006 @04:30PM (#16018831) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • by Ynsats ( 922697 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @04:35PM (#16018872)
    ...what is even more interesting is that the question was posed to slashdot users who are the very people that are seemingly incapable of having valid "normal" relationships. I mean, after all, most of the people here work in the IT/Computer Sciences industries and therefore would be the exact demographic the poster is referring to when questioning the social motivation of similar personalities in a group.

    Anyway, irony aside, the problem is not limited souly to gender differences. People are intimidated and fearful of what they don't understand. If you are new to a group/department, you are not understood by existing members of said group. Therefore, it is not unreasonable at all to expect to be met with a certain level of trepidation towards interaction on a non-professional/work related level.

    That being said, there are certain stigmas related to sexual harrassment in the work place and many guys have either experienced the short end of that stick first hand or known someone who had that luxury. The stigma comes from many of those incidents being unjustified or unfairly accusatory. The bigger problem lies in the fact that many, many guys out there have no confidence in HR or managements ability to decipher the clues as to what really happened and treat those involved fairly. What ends up happening is some poor schlub gets shafted because some girl turned on the waters works and put the fear of lawyers into management. So they do what they think they need to do to avoid an embarrassing public display which could affect the bottom line. Said guy goes down in flames and his co-workers hold a vigil for him at a local bar and one more chapter of G.R.O.S.S. forms and the stigma of girls in the workplace expands.

    Is it fair? No, not necessarily but you can't blame people who are often pegged as being "annoying" or "socially inept" or "misunderstood" for being gun-shy in the face of such a situation. I have seen it happen and unfortunatly the good, talented and skilled girls pay for the poor behavior of the less desireable co-workers.

    What can you do to get past that stigma? No need to be crude and discuss genitalia of either gender. You're defintly not a guy so don't act, dress, talk or behave like one. Don't even have any silly ideals, crusades or over-bearing group building efforts.

    Simply be yourself. You want to be part of "the guys" then understand this. The only thing "the guys" are is a group of friends with common interests. The comfort zone doesn't come from those common interests but rather from the fact that they have been working together longer and have probably had some high stress situations where they had to put out a "fire" so to speak or meet an impossible deadline that required long hours. Those periods of high stress really show who's worth what and create bonding experiences because they all know they can rely on each other. It's got nothing to do with whether you have twigs and berries or not so don't make it about that.

    Do what they all did. Be yourself, behave the way you would with your female friends. Certainly don't go with the gender specific stuff but when you are all talking about a song you like or a car you like or a restaurant you like, you are doing what the guys are doing. They just use different words and mannerism. Also, being yourself is important. Don't blend in, group dynamics thrive on diversity, not similarities. You bring something to the table that no one else can, YOU! So be you, you're the best one at being you. If you try to be someone else, you will never be as good at that.

    Lastly, step up, learn your job and do it the best you can. If they ask for people to stay late to help with a project, volunteer. If they have a difficult project that no one wants to do, volunteer. If you see a problem that you have experience with fixing, get with someone, share your ideas and make it work. If you make yourself part of the professional team you will become part of the non-professional team...whether you like it or not.

    Above all, HA
  • Re:Hahaha... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jnaujok ( 804613 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @04:36PM (#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.
  • by Kris_B_04 ( 883011 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @04:40PM (#16018921) Homepage Journal
    It's those damn jealous wives at home that wouldn't understand...

    They make our lives as female techies at the work level "lonely" because the guys get into trouble if they talk to us.. and *gasp* if we happened to go to lunch with the lot of them, we MUST be sleeping with them.

    We, the female IT Personnel, are forbidden territory.
    ESPECIALLY since we understand what the guys do and their wives have NO clue.

    I mean, what guy wouldn't want to be able to talk about their job and be understood for once!! ;)

    We are just plain dangerous to all the females in their lives...

    Even if we are married or have a SO.

    (bitterly aware of this issue from numerous experiences)

  • Re:Hahaha... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ObjetDart ( 700355 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @04:43PM (#16018952)
    Companies, especially in America, are overly concerned with sexual harassment.

    I don't know about overly, but they are definitely concerned about it. And for good reason: the punitive legal damages for allowing an abusive situation to persist are huge and getting huger, and rightly so. It is a case where the legal system is actually working, IMO. This situation only exists in the first place, not because of some irrational paranoia fueled by crazy, vindictive women, but because the history of unbelievably appalling behavior (typically by male supervisors) in the work place is long and disgraceful.

    I guess you all work for different companies than I do. Every company I ever worked for had a clear, no-nonsense policy on sexual harassment. Despite being a typically male dominated work environment, the male employees and female employees got along fine, socialized after work, even dated. Everyone respected each other as professionals. No one was running off to HR at the slightest glance or getting "blacklisted" by false accusations.

  • Re:lawyer (Score:4, Insightful)

    by NeutronCowboy ( 896098 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @04:43PM (#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:Hahaha... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tomstdenis ( 446163 ) <tomstdenis.gmail@com> on Thursday August 31, 2006 @04:44PM (#16018961) Homepage
    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 :-(

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 31, 2006 @04:48PM (#16019021)
    Which is that all that has to happen is the person has to "feel uncomfortable" -- that's it. It doesn't matter why they felt uncomfortable, whether misunderstood something they overheard, or even if their reaction makes any sense. When you set the bar that low (and we're approaching the Orwellian "thought crime"-level here in the States) a guy has every reason to avoid any interaction with women in the workplace.

    I myself go out of my way to avoid eye contact with female employees when walking down the hallway. I do not attend group social events where women will be present, nor will I sit at a table in the breakroom where women are sitting.

    They may feel ostracized or unwanted, but that's their bad luck. I have a family to support and a life to live.
  • Re:Hahaha... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MarcoAtWork ( 28889 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @04:50PM (#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.
  • Simple (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @05:07PM (#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.
  • Re:Hahaha... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anitra ( 99093 ) <slashdot@anitra.fastm a i l .fm> on Thursday August 31, 2006 @05:11PM (#16019272) Homepage Journal
    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 "my husband made them" to keep guys from having the wrong idea?

    (I don't have this problem at my current job, but we have a good mix of men and women.)
  • by Fallon ( 33975 ) <Devin DOT Noel AT Gmail DOT com> on Thursday August 31, 2006 @05:17PM (#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 Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 31, 2006 @05:26PM (#16019402)
    There are some people that are afraid of sexual harassment, and I suppose that some people are deathly afraid of it. (Like the friend of mine who is convinced that any woman on the street will accuse him of being her baby-daddy to get child support.) These people are afraid of everything and you don't want to hang out with them anyway...

    Most likely though, you've just got to learn that male bonding is different from female bonding...

    At my office, my goal for the day is to get as much work done with the least amount of communication with others as I can get away with. Unless the interaction is about something cool they found. Even then, tell the story and then get the hell out of my office - I got stuff to do.

    When my wife started a new job last week, she complained that she now had an office (as opposed to the cube farm) and didn't have anyone to talk to anymore. So now she comes home and talks to me ... about how she felt about the day, about how so-and-so would look better in nicer clothes, etc.

    We are both engineers, and both like similar things (she is a big SciFi fan) - we just talk about different things. I talk about things (which bores her to tears), and she talks about people (which bores me to tears).

    I would simply assume that they aviod you because they avoid everyone not immediately needed for their current task. If they aren't talking about work, my bet is they are telling stories about getting too trashed at a LAN party. My suggestion is to simply understand these differences and play off of them.

    #1 - Don't be offended by their stories.
    #2 - Don't interrupt them when they are busy
    #3 - They don't even know what feelings are, much less how to talk about them
    #4 - Realize that 99% of non-informational conversation between men are dick size conversations... ie. this new Video Card makes my dick [n] larger than yours - my car has 50 more HP than yours - etc. Ok, not technically comparing dick size (I wouldn't recommend that conversation) but just male posturing to see how much cooler you are than he is.
    #5 - The other 1% of male conversation is about Greedo shooting first. So know your Star Wars trivia. Wikipedia means you don't even have to watch it...
  • by @madeus ( 24818 ) <slashdot_24818@mac.com> on Thursday August 31, 2006 @05:29PM (#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.
  • Re:Hahaha... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jnaujok ( 804613 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @05:46PM (#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:Hahaha... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kithraya ( 34530 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @05:50PM (#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:Hahaha... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HBI ( 604924 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @05:55PM (#16019634) Journal
    How is it working if women are leaving jobs due to the china doll treatment (and ensuing failure to integrate) they get?

    I've seen it happen before and i am watching it happen now.
  • Re:lawyer (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Breakfast Pants ( 323698 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @05:59PM (#16019665) Journal
    "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.
  • by grislyterror ( 995923 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @06:11PM (#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.
  • Re:Hahaha... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 31, 2006 @06:13PM (#16019792)
    "Every single one of them is impartially investigated" ... And every non-complaint is not investigated. A non-investigation carries a 100% chance of being found innocent. It's an easy choice to make.

    Would you gamble your career on your HR department's judgement? Me neither.
  • Re:Hahaha... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by soft_guy ( 534437 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @06:15PM (#16019806)
    Not taking the initiative to include her could be interpreted as sexual harassment. This is because sexual harassment is defined as anything that makes someone feel harassed.

    Really, the only safe thing to do is not hire women in the first place.
  • Re:Hahaha... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by EvilIdler ( 21087 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @06:21PM (#16019853)
    >They could out letch out perv and out grope the younger single guys without the slightest bit of problem.

    Experience wins every time!

    Meanwhile, here in Europe, people are not insane and actually go to
    a pub after work with their co-workers, even if there is a mix of
  • Re:Hahaha... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dravik ( 699631 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @06:25PM (#16019888)
    But you forget that harassment is in the eyes of the accuser. What you meant means nothing. If she says no and percieves that you stop talking to her, avoid her, or do anything she wants to construe that way she has a legitimate claim to a hostil environment.
  • Re:Hahaha... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kidbro ( 80868 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @06:38PM (#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 billstewart ( 78916 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @06:39PM (#16019986) Journal
    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 to emailing the group announcing a lunch or beer run. (Local conventions will influence whether beer's an option or whether there's anywhere nearby for lunch.)

    Any time you're the newbie in the group, it takes a while to figure out the social situation and build relationships with people, and while we should have gotten over this as a society, I suppose that's still harder if you're female. Sigh. Working with more mature people usually helps, and working with geeks can be ok if you're the type that shares geeky interests. Fortunately, as a newbie in an organization, there are *lots* of things to initiate conversations with people about if you need an excuse to do that, ranging from what's going on with your projects to where the staplers are to how the bureaucracies work to where people go out for lunch.

  • Re:Hahaha... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Vancorps ( 746090 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @06:41PM (#16019997)

    I agree, I tend to think everyone has gotten too sensitive over the issue. I work with a lot of women some attractive some not. We all go out drinking together during our free time because the job eats up so much of our social lives. As a result we're a really strong team willing to do what it takes to help out where we can. We are drastically undestaffed so this is a very good thing when midnight starts rolling around and you haven't even eaten breakfast yet.

    I will admit however that it is sometimes a little weird when I go to lunch and realized I'm the only guy in a group of 8 people. Funny how conversations change when it's mostly girls at a table. I'm also the only geek of the group but hey, we can all still have a good time and that's what matters. I think in general this fear of asking a girl out is just stupid and the odds are everyone was just afraid to talk to the hot girl. It's quite common and I see it all the time. There's also the bonus that hot girls tend to hang out with other hot girls so inviting them out for a casual drink with several others is a great idea. She'll probably introduce you to some of her friends later on and that is where excellence becomes well... excellent!

    I think the line that needs to remain drawn is that you shouldn't date a coworker as that opens up a whole lot of problems if things go south. Still, I don't think it's near as complicated as a lot of people make it out to be.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 31, 2006 @06:54PM (#16020076)
    Q.) How many feminists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

    As many as want to; provided the light-bulb is big enough.

    Dude, he said feminists not lesbians!!1

    p.s. I was going to say either "none" (citing lack of oxygen) or "Get your mind out of the gutter." :-)
  • Troll troll troll (Score:2, Insightful)

    by snowwrestler ( 896305 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @07:12PM (#16020186)
    How is this modded "informative"?? Where is the information? I see an AC story with no names, places, or otherwise informative content--just a bullshit yarn that anyone with training in HR, management, or the law can see is exagerrated or made up entirely.
  • by Moofie ( 22272 ) <`lee' `at' `ringofsaturn.com'> on Thursday August 31, 2006 @07:25PM (#16020278) Homepage
    I find that to be 100% false in my life.
  • For Starters (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nom du Keyboard ( 633989 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @07:45PM (#16020391)
    For starters, referring to them as girls and boys is not a good start. Shows an unprofessional bias on the part of the submitter.
  • Re:Hahaha... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Moofie ( 22272 ) <`lee' `at' `ringofsaturn.com'> on Thursday August 31, 2006 @07:51PM (#16020436) Homepage
    "Men are still brought up to be sexist, with an attitude of superiority."

    OK, maybe I'm stupid (I am male), but how can you fail to understand that this is a bigoted statement? Bigoted, and highly offensive to those of us who are NOT sexist. You know, the ones that you ought to be encouraging?

    Your attitude is the problem. Not mine.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 31, 2006 @08:04PM (#16020511)
    "Guys usually interact with others they feel comfortable with rather than explicitly ostracising others. "

    That's how the worst high-school Heathers usually describe their own ostracism of others; they just aren't comfortable with the losers. Hell, it's how the British Raj and the East Coast WASP establishment usually described their chokehold on power: they just chose to interact with those "like us" rather than "not like us". Having this view of one's group doesn't prove anything about the group.

    It does suggest that the group has enough power to not have to think about how power is divided, though. It's comfy to be the default case, like being IBM when "no-one was ever fired for buying IBM."


    Incidentally, note that three of your four social topics (which I agree would work in most places) have not just techie content but I'm-aggressive content: they're useful for showing that the speaker is masculine-by-our-current-standards. If the social flow was just about proving how techie one was, pure science would be just as useful as a 'geek marker'. It isn't (we apparently think of scientists as asexual). Medical tech is pretty amazing, too, but doesn't have that locker-room flava.

    In my kindly, forgiving moments, I assume that this sekret boyz club is due to pallid desk workers' worry over their own health and masculinity. When aggressive, I suspect that it's there exactly to make women "not like us", just as talk about polo and yachting can be used to shut newcomers out of the upper class.
  • by jafiwam ( 310805 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @08:13PM (#16020566) Homepage Journal
    Yes, because what YOUR HUSBAND does is the OP's friggin fault.

    Unless you are here slamming your own brother or father or husband, how the fuck does your rant have anything to do with OP?

    Fix your own shit. Don't bring your problems to work, and and deal with the job like everybody else. If you let your personal life interfere just (like booze, coke, meth, weed, or KIDS) it will cause problems. OP made sacrifices in their personal life for his job, as is their choice to do. I make sacrifices in my personal life for my job, as is my choice. If you make a different choice, don't expect to get handed the golden path to vice-President. Just be happy you could balance your life the way you wanted and you could spend time with your kids and STFU. Cuz that's the choice you made.

    For fucks sake you are getting angry cuz the chocolate cake you ordered wasn't bannana.
  • by Sasha bee ( 999303 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @09:34PM (#16020934)
    My tip? If you're a guy working in a group with all guys and one female, DON'T use your meeting time to show your groupmates some porn you thought was "really awesome." I wish I could say I was joking, but this actually happened to me (the only saving grace is that this happened when I was still in school, not at work, but still).

    Fitting in when you're a girl in an all-male environment can be tougher than a lot of guys would think, especially if you're not used to being "one of the guys." In my experience, it's easier to be "one of the group" if you eat lunch with your co-workers or go to happy hour with them. If they don't invite you directly but you hear them talking about it, then fish for an invitation. Be friendly and social.

    The bonus is that there usually are other girls present at happy hour unless it's just your group going, so you don't get that weird "I'm the only girl here and they're all acting weird because of me" feeling. Be prepared that you may have to subtly move the topic of conversation away from sports.

    Guys: be friendly to the new hires, whether they be female or male. Despite what you may think, you can say "hi" to your female co-workers without quaking in fear of a sexual harassment lawsuit. Just stay away from the porn, and you're good.
  • Then again maybe some men need to move the center of their attention from their groin to their brain.
    It's funny how much I hear this from women who have no idea what it's like to be men. Did you know that, unlike you who become sex-craving (to be frank but polite about it) during a biological cycle or due to emotional stimuli, men's hormones flow all the time. Many of us would really prefer our eyes not be drawn away by the sight of a woman's torso, but that's the way our biology works. We're programmed to seek out and recognize possible mates. We only view women as sex objects if they appear to want us to view them that way, or if we truly are unusually chauvinistic.

    Now however, I shall turn the onus back upon you. Dress to work, not to arouse! If you don't, you have no excuse with which to blame us for our captivity to biology. How can you dress for work? I have a simple heuristic definition for you: if the average male can look at you without losing his concentration to your body or becoming sexually aroused, you're decent. No need for ankle-length dresses or burquas.

    I've heard women say that showing cleavage is just what makes them comfortable. I for one call that feminine wankage and won't put up with it. I shouldn't be looking at your body, because it shouldn't be exposed.
  • by SueAnnSueAnn ( 998877 ) on Thursday August 31, 2006 @11:36PM (#16021583)
    There are men out there who have mastery over their biology.
    Maybe for some it is easier then for others i wouldn't know but it seems like a cop-out to me.

    As for manner of dress, I never knew slacks and a loose fitting blouse or a knee length skirt, blazer and shell could be erotic.

    I respectfully submit, that is passing the blame off on women when it is not our fault.
    It's like blaming the rape victim for being raped.

    Sorry if I offended you.

  • by AriaStar ( 964558 ) on Friday September 01, 2006 @03:17AM (#16022376) Journal
    I initiate conversations, take a no-shit stance when meeting someone I haven't met before, and have no problem calling department meeting. I can talk sports when the topic's not work, and throw out bitingly sarcastic remarks with the best of 'em. In other words, I don't act like a meek little girl standing in a corner with my toes pointed inward all shy and waiting to be noticed. I basically act like a more feminine version of one of the guys without sacrificing my femininity. I dress very girly and am a lady in manners, though more masculine in mannerisms. It's a balancing act all but perfected by years of growing up in dresses while spending a lot of time with a dad who coached sports and played baseball himself and a brother who played sports, as well as studying martial arts with a group of guys. I am not afraid of guys (unless I'm attracted to him, in which case I'm the biggest wuss in the world). Simply being timid is probably the best way to become the one overlooked. Confidence gets you in the club.
  • by Jaruzel ( 804522 ) on Friday September 01, 2006 @04:00AM (#16022490) Homepage Journal
    ... They're coworkers. I involve myself in the dynamics of the job and the personalities of my coworkers. Anything less is ... well, not doing your job. ...

    Suddenly I thought I was reading a comment from an altogether different Slashdot. How did this post get through Slashdots lame-posts-only filter?

    Fordiman, your view is truely insightful, <cliché> had I mod points I would mod you up </cliché>.

    My office has a 60/40 male to female ratio. Not that anyone is counting; as you say, we're all co-workers, and as is right in this elightened millienium, gender is irrelevent. We all get on with each other, and even socially it's a complete mix of genders (and orientation).

    Maybe this gender divide thing is only prevalent in US offices?

  • Re:Hahaha... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by IckySplat ( 218140 ) on Friday September 01, 2006 @05:52AM (#16022817)
    What utter paranoid bullshit.
    If you are a lone female in the group all you need to do is to say
    "I'm off to the pub, who is going to join me?"

    If you are the lone male in the group, all you need to do is to say
    "I'm off to the pub, who is going to join me?"

    I've worked in many an IT department, most with a reasonably good male:female mix
    I've never seen a friendly offer of a few pints rejected, even when the person being
    invited didn't drink alcohol.

    The only thing to remember is not to try and hump their legs once you've had a few pints
    That will probably land you in trouble, or worse matrimony :)

    Just make sure it's a group thing.

    One IT shop I worked in, A female co-worker of mine was always instigating Friday night
    out at the pub. She always got a good crowd together, helped by the fact she was very attractive.
    Since she left Friday nights at the pub have never been the same :(

    Remember people on the whole are social animals and like to included in the group.
    Just try not to drool to much when making the invite :)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 01, 2006 @08:11AM (#16023182)
    I have been the only woman many times in an IT department. You learn to talk sports (guy talk) and not take offense at things that are not sexual harassment.

    But quite a few of these answers show why there is sexual harrasment rules.

    Treating any co-worker like a person is a good start. You don't have to be a jerk.
    An easy way to think about what you are saying is would you say this to your Mother or Grandmother and not get your mouth washed out with soap? Or how would you feel if someone said that to your girlfriend or boyfriend or your mother?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 01, 2006 @09:26AM (#16023482)

    OMFG! Do you guys ever bother to listen to yourselves?

    Some of the comments in this thread have been helpful and interesting, but the level of misogyny is shocking.

    I am probably more introverted than most of the people around here, and that is really saying something. As such, I have zero prospects for getting a date. I will live, grow old, and die alone. I would like nothing more to have a wife and kids but that does not appear to be an option. Those aspects of life which other people seemingly take for granted are read-only for me.

    That said, I do not fear, loathe or hate women the way some of you guys seem to. Women are indeed different from men. However they are not an alien species, nor are they infected with cooties. All this talk of feminazis and suggestions that all women are manipulative and would not hestitate to use bogus sexual harassment claims to get ahead is truly offensive.

    We are all adults here (biologically, if not emotionally) and some of you guys need to start acting like ones. (Queue obligatory you must be new here comments). We have all got mothers , grandmothers, sisters, aunts and cousins who are female. Unless your family is truly dysfunctional, I doubt that you would claim that all of your female relatives are scheming, manipulative feminazis. As such, I find it hard to understand how you can generalize the behaviour of a few individuals to an entire group.

    Gents, the office is not a locker room. We are supposed to be professionals and pr0n, inappropriate comments and behaviour have no place in a professional environment. The server room is not a private tree-house with a "no girls allowed" sign on the front door either.

    I have found that if you treat people with the same degree of politeness and respect that you would like to be shown, they will respond accordingly. As a very shy person, it takes a long time for me to get to know and trust strangers to the point that I can be friendly with them, but I can always be polite. Good manners cost me nothing at all, and people tend to respond in kind.

    Some of the misogynist comments are certainly attempts a humour or overt flamebait, but I get the impression that some of you are serious. You are giving fellow nerds a bad reputation.

    I cannot get a date because I am socially inept, but I can take some solace that I am in better shape than those of you who fear and hate women.

    (BTW - I posted this anonymously because I moderated some comments in this thread)

  • by eepok ( 545733 ) on Friday September 01, 2006 @09:48AM (#16023595) Homepage
    Also, -1 Flamebait to this article for assuming that being the 'only one' is a girl-only problem. Any new job comes with that feeling. It's just amplified when you're outside of your gender pool. Get over it, and get to work.

    Indeed! Try being a male in education. Or in child care! Guys may think the new girl is hot, but I'd rather be gawked at than feared as an potential molestor or rapist!!
  • by kitty531 ( 999463 ) on Friday September 01, 2006 @05:19PM (#16027020)
    You're right. The girl techie can add panache to the department, bring that mod-squad-csi hip and mysterious thing to the server-room inner circle. The guys will like you if you're smart, if you contribute in substantive ways, if you're not reluctant to admit when you're wrong, or afraid to get your hands dirty running cable, if you are loyal, relate well with others, if you make the dept. look good to the suits--and--sorry--if you care about your appearance at least once every other week. Of course there are the occasional dix who will try to put you down, humiliate you in public, leave you out of the loop, discredit you, take credit for your work, etc., just because you're a girl. You need to play your cards carefully with these folks, strategize, be patient, don't be too quick to rise to the bait, don't seem defensive, but definitely be assertive and demand respect.
  • by Pchelka ( 805036 ) on Friday September 01, 2006 @07:10PM (#16027562)
    I don't know if you will ever see this response because you posted anonymously, but thank you for posting your message. I wish I had some mod points right now! I think a lot of the men who post on /. act like this web site is their own private tree house with a "no girls allowed" sign on the door. They would probably be surprised to learn how many women actually visit /. frequently and post in the discussions.

    I probably shouldn't even bother reading /. because the huge numbers of misogynist posts in discussions like this are really depressing. Some of those posts are probably lame attempts at humor or flamebait, as you mentioned. Those posts are pretty easy for me to ignore. I may be female, but I'm not so up-tight and emotional that I can't recognize those posts for what they are.

    On the other hand, there are some incredibly misogynist posts that actually sound sincere. Those posts truly frighten me. Those posts make me wonder why I went into a male-dominated field, when I could have chosen a career where my gender was not an issue. Those posts also make me worry about how I will be treated by men outside of work, because they seem to express a genuine disrespect of women that borders on a pure hatred of the opposite sex.

    I realize that /. is just a silly web site, and people will post garbage just to see if they can get a reaction. However, the degree of misogynism present is just disgusting and it scares me because some of the men posting those comments could have girlfriends, wives, and daughters. Nearly every woman I know has had at least one relationship with a man who subjected her to verbal abuse on a regular basis. We often hear rumors about other women who are being physically abused by their partners or see reports of domestic abuse on television. Women need to be careful in our relationships with men to avoid becoming a victim - not just of sexual harassment at work, but also of rape or physical abuse. I can't help wondering how the men posting the misogynist comments on /. about working with women treat their own female relatives away from work. I don't see how the men who say such horrible things about working with women on this web site could possibly treat their wives or daughters with kindness and respect. Either you respect women as human beings, or you don't.

    I'm really glad that I saw your post. You are obviously a lot more mature than some of the people here.

"I shall expect a chemical cure for psychopathic behavior by 10 A.M. tomorrow, or I'll have your guts for spaghetti." -- a comic panel by Cotham