10 things women in tech are sick of hearing

Holly Brockwell
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Never ask a woman if she's the PA. Source: WOCinTech.com
Image:

Never ask a woman if she's the PA. Source: WOCinTech.com

If we had a penny for each of these, there'd be no gender pay gap, writes Holly Brockwell

When you're at the checkout and something doesn't scan properly, it's tempting to say "It must be free!" and have a good old chuckle, right? Well, if you've ever worked in a shop yourself, you'll know exactly how many times a sales assistant hears that joke: it's roughly equivalent to the number of times she's envisioned throwing a tomato at the customer's face.

For women in tech, there's a similar phenomenon, only less harmless and more insidious. In our case, we get the same damn pointed comments again and again: ones that undermine our expertise, suggest we don't deserve our jobs, and generally drive us up the wall.

We asked the women in tech of Twitter to tell us the phrases they'd gladly never hear again, and it was like a group therapy session of eye-rolls and solidarity. Here are some of the top contenders.

1. "You're good… for a woman"

Oh hell no.

2. "Is there a man in the house?"

This one came up a lot. Don't think we don't know what you mean when you ask for "someone else," Sexist McGee. We see you.

3. "Justify yourself"

Again, often dressed up in sneakier words, but we know exactly what you're saying, and we don't hear you saying it to the men in the office.

4. "All women want baybeez"

Legally, you can't ask us about our family plans in interviews. But that doesn't stop certain humans making comments their own mothers would be ashamed of.

5. "Don't be offended"

Whether it's lamenting that you can't make that off-colour joke because there's a woman in the room or making it anyway and eyeballing us for our response, all of this can get in the bin of eternal hellfire.

6. "It's a bit technical"

Oh, well I guess we'll just go back to online shopping then. Rather than, you know, our technical goddamn jobs.

7. "You're so emotional"

Funny how that dude who always loses his rag in meetings never gets this one. Anger is an emotion too, you know.

8. "Lady and gentlemen"

There are many gender-neutral ways to address a group. These examples are not among them.

9. "But you're so GOOD at the admin tasks!"

Ask us to fetch lunch at your peril.

10. "Surely you're the PA"

This is the big one.

The women in tech of Twitter have been called every job title under the sun, except of course anything in the technical realm. How we haven't banded together and set the world on fire yet is anyone's guess.

And a bonus…

11. "We tried to find a woman, but there weren't any."

You didn't try very hard then, did you?

If you're as tired as we are of conferences with nothing but manels (yep, the male-and-pale conference panel has a portmanteau now), grab a ticket to the Women In Tech Festival UK 2019. It's going to have about the same gender balance as most tech events, but in the other direction.

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