My new piece for Role/Reboot is about gender and the workplace. I work in tech, as you know, and there’s this phenomenon that I call the “treehouse mentality.” It’s basically like the old boy’s club, except replace brandy and cigars with video games and porn. It’s more juvenile, but it’s the same idea.
I kind of get it; for a while, tech has been this secret space of very smart, very nerdy dudes. Because they were so isolated, they were able to create a work environment that suited them perfectly. Now the treehouse is being invaded by girls (though not as fast as we might like) and they’re pointing at all the pictures of boobs on the wall and being all like, “Yo, guys, you’ve got to get rid of this shit.”
On one hand, I understand; their secret space is being invaded. On the other hand, well, it was all theirs for a while, now it’s time to grow up and open the gates.
I was inspired by a great Bob Martin essay on the software company 8th Light’s blog called “There Are Ladies Present.” He writes about trying, and at first failing, to welcome women to the tech industry. He errs on the side of treating them too daintily, which they don’t like, and this essay is his exploration of where the lines fall:
Have we created a locker room environment in the software industry? Has it been male dominated for so long that we’ve turned it into a place where men relax and tell fart and dick jokes amongst themselves to tickle their pre-pubescent personas? When we male programmers are together, do we feel like we’re in a private place where we can drop the rules, pretenses, and manners?
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