The Programmiss (from Willem B)
We were hiring and it was our lucky day: a female candidate had applied for the job! As a team of three male programmers who would likely get alarming results on the autism test, we knew that she would be a very welcome addition to our team.
Her name was Natalie and without even knowing what she looked like, we all had a crush on her. Over lunch, we nicknamed her the "programmiss" and convinced ourselves that she was a hot brunette who would write emoticon-commented code and lighten up the office with her charming aura and some fresh ideas.
That afternoon, we tried our hardest to catch a glimpse of the programmis. We weren’t sure when she was scheduled for an interview, so we’d strategically walk to the coffee machine or aimlessly wander through the hall as if going to some important meeting. After what seemed like an eternity of taking turns wasting time, one of my colleagues finally made a sighting – she wasn’t a brunette, and that’s all he saw. It was disappointing, but we vowed to continue our stake out until the interview ended.
And then something very exciting happened – I got the call. The call. The HR manager asked if I had a few minutes to ask Natalie some technical questions to. Of course, the answer was “of course”, and I hastily made my way to the meeting room.
When I finally met Natalie, I was half-surprised to see that she was more on the “average” side of the hotness scale, but that was okay. Being a supermodel was clearly no requirement for the job – after all, she’d probably still write fun code and be a great member of our team.
The technical portion always starts with a simple test: create a function that calculates the average of a random amount of integer parameters in your favorite programming language. As I started to explain the assignment, I noticed a few bewildering looks.
“I’m sorry,” the not-so-hot programmiss interrupted me, “I have no idea what you're talking about. You want me to program something?”
As it turned out, there was an HR mix up and a female candidate did not actually apply for the job. We still don't have a hot programiss on the team... which is probably for the better.
Male Services (from Laura)
As one of the few females in the software development field, I’ve grown accustomed to a certain “awkwardness” with my male peers. Actually, maybe “creepiness” is a better word. Several people – many of whom were guys I’ve shared all but a few words worth – have told me that, not only is it “hot” that I’m a female programmer, but that my Eastern European accent “really adds some points.” While I’ve mostly heard that at conferences and networking events, the sentiment is definitely there in the day-to-day. It’s certainly flattering, but it can get annoying when I’m just trying to do my job.
Anyway, I was at a job interview one time and things were going great. I made it all the way to the panel-style interview, which consisted of me and six other would-be team members. All males, of course, but my interviewer half-jokingly told me that the group promised to “behave”, as they weren’t used to seeing any females around the office.
Everyone on the team seemed to have all sorts of different technical questions and I was able to answer them without hesitation. I was on fire! And then, someone threw me off.
“Laura,” one of the guys asked, “are you familiar with male services?”
“Errr,” I didn’t know how to answer, “uhhh, male? Services?”
An uncomfortable air of silence filled the room, and some of the guys shot awkward glances at each other, wondering why a teammate would ask such a strange question.
“Male services,” someone quickly offered up, “you know... postfix, exchange, and SMTP!”
“Ooooh,” my face went pale as two homophonic words immediately flipped in my mind, “mail services.”
They room burst into laughter, and thankfully I didn’t have to explain the horrible confusion my dirty mind had caused. But it all worked out in the end – I was hired shortly after that, and it’s been one of the least awkward places to work in my entire IT career.