Being Only Woman In Men Company

Over 20 years of work experience in IT only in few companies there where gender balanced teams. In two startups I was the only woman in whole company (size of company 20 & 50 heads). Even secretary was a man. So you can imagine what I felt when I read this thread of Patricia.

I hope somebody would tell me this 20 years ago. I had to put this together that it does not disappear into information space. 1-20 is from Patricia (see the thread in tweet) with some my comments, 21+22 are my own 50 ct.

  1. Don’t try to be “one of the guys” you’ll never be able to bring your full self to work.
    • not the cloth, not the way you move or talk, even not a swearing will make you happy. one day you will wake up and realise you were fooling yourself.
  2. Document all your work. It’s hard to steal credit for public work.
    • make your work visible and label it distinctively
  3. HR is not your friend
    • HR works in interests of company only.
  4. Avoid everyone who is really enthusiastic about you being a woman.
  5. Leave functions before your colleagues are drunk. Neither you nor them want you to know their inner thoughts
    • do not get drunk yourself (drink less or lighter drinks)
  6. Try to convince yourself when you begin to doubt yourself; “it’s not me, it’s them”
  7. On Bad Days try to loose yourself in the work, try to remind yourself why you’re in this business
  8. Find good people and bake them cakes just for being great people. Great people should get cake.
    • in one company I was baking and bringing a lot cakes, but the reason was, I wanted that they accept me as a part of the team. they never did.
  9. Make lunch dates with other women in tech.
    • search for your community, support each other
  10. If you have a great idea, call a meeting and send out your slides in advance (See Hard To Steal Public Work)
  11. If you have a great idea, make a demo. Hard To Argue With Running Code
  12. Never participate in any “team building” activity that involves you dressing differently
  13. Don’t be afraid to quit. Don’t sacrifice your mental health for Bad People
    • or bad culture
  14. Introduce Rules for Communication, like praise in public, criticize in private
  15. Try to make it possible to choose who does your code review
    • or any other reviews. get feedback regularly.
  16. Learn. Learn. Learn. Knowledge is power
    • create your own skill map. add each year new skill or new level of a skill.
  17. Try to make the team more diverse in any direction. That changes the tone. But get more women devs, if not in the team then at least in adjacent teams. It is hard being alone.
  18. Walk out at any Locker Room Talk. It’s easier than discussing it. And they’ll get the message.
    • if you cannot walk out, make non-verbal statement. I placed poster with a man in seducing pose close to posters with mini bikini women models.
  19. Get a Powerful Ally and plot (literally plot) to compensate for social power being unequal when it really matters. Like having them back you up in important meetings.
    • was not possible in my startups
  20. Don’t waste time catering to people that won’t give you the time of day.
  21. Learn about emotional labour. If you are doing it, stop immediately. No one is appreciating it and it makes you feel empty.
  22. Do not tolerate. If you tolerate, you worry.