“Look around the table. There’s only one woman here. And we all say we want more women in engineering. But who wants to be at this table if you’re all making jokes about how ‘all women are 10’s with the lights off’? We say we all want more women in engineering, and you’re just making the only woman here want to leave.”
Good for you for standing up for yourself. My experience is similar to yours. In general it doesn’t bother me that many of the people I work with are guys. I have spent the last 15 years of my life like that and I am used to it.
The moments, as you have described them, do happen. It isn’t fun when it does. Many women wouldn’t stand up for themselves the way you did!
In the workplace when things like that happen I joke that I will call HR in on their asses and laugh. That usually makes them laugh, but they can also hear the semi-seriousness in my voice and it gently lets them know it isn’t cool. Other times I just call it out and confront it head on. (Like the time one of my bosses told me to “Not worry my pretty little head about it.”)
We are not the norm however, not all women are that comfortable in a room of men. So if women who are already uncomfortable with the situation go through what you went through then they may choose to leave the profession entirely. This situation won’t really change until we hit a tipping point of the number of women in tech. When we are no longer the only women in the room the atmosphere will naturally change and improve.
It is important that we keep encouraging other women to join us so they see how much fun can be had in the world of tech. I wish many other women could see how much impact we have on society by working in technology. We can solve so many problems that you just can’t do to the same scale without technology.
So Clarisse Schneider keep being one of the guys, but never ever be afraid to let them know you aren’t one. They need to treat you with the same respect they treat their moms, sisters, girlfriends, or wives.