Sometimes men in tech and women outside of tech ask me what it’s like as a woman engineer. It’s hard to say – I’ve been in industry since before I was an adult, so I really don’t have a lot to compare it to. However, I saw this video a few months ago and it was a revelation. “Hello m’lady” illustrates what it’s like as a woman when a seemingly nice guy refuses to get a clue that you don’t want to be in a relationship. And not in a physically threatening way – just in an annoying pathetic way. THAT IS WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE A WOMAN IN TECH. I mean, it’s not ALL of what it’s like, but it’s SO common and relentless. Throughout my twenties, before I had an obvious partner-now-husband (who worked in my office, btw), I dealt with this stuff every day. Every woman I’ve met in tech has had to deal with this at some point.
Why is it like this for women in tech? Put relatively few women in a room with many socially awkward men. Presto! Hello m’ladies abound. I wish I had known this was a common thing and not just me. I really did feel guilty all the time for the relentless unwanted attention, even though in retrospect it was completely not my fault. Given that Amy Schumer made this, it looks like plenty of non-tech women deal with this too, so it’s at least heartening to know we’re not alone.
I’m not unsympathetic to the perpetrators – they think they’re being nice and can’t understand why women don’t respond to their passive aggressive overtures. But they fail to recognize, whatever their intentions, that their behaviour is unwanted. To presume the right to behave this way is straight up entitlement. These gentlemen would be better served to take no for an answer and move on.