My friend recently shared an article with me titled “Ways Men In Tech Are Unintentionally Sexist.”
I was pretty busy at work when I got it, so I only skimmed the title and initially misread it as “Ways Men In Tech Are Unintentionally The Sexiest.”
And I was all “bummer! I was totally gonna write that article!” Because I was.
But a few minutes later, when I had a chance to actually read it, I realized what it actually said and my disappointment turned to… uh, whatisword? Combination of “a.) continual boredom with the ‘sexist’ conversation and… b.) renewed interest in having the ‘sexiest’ one.” Something like that.
Regarding part a.) I recently wrote that I am “so bored of the ‘gender’ conversation.” Afterwards, a friend (who’s a rah-eal kickass woman in tech) told me that the conversation is actually not boring. That we as women are not set. And that we are not ready to drop it. So I want to talk to her more and will suspend further judgment and until I hear her take.
But regarding part b.) Oh, it is on.
I am so going to write that article.
First, a disclaimer:
I realize that it will do very little whatsoever to reconcile the original one. On sexism. At worst, in fact, my article is hypocritical and doesn’t play by the rules. (Men can’t get away with this anymore, right?)
But whatever. Because two things:
1.) Let’s call it: taking back the word “sexy.”
Our original article author claimed that the word “sexy” was… sexist.
In her esteem, “describing software or algorithms as ‘sexy,’ ‘hot,’ etc.,” is an issue. Because “by sexualizing something that does not need to be sexualized, you’re creating a college-frat-boy type environment, as well as implicitly conflating quality with sexual attractiveness. If I work with you, I want to know that you’re enough of an adult to be able to appreciate something (or someone) without wanting to fornicate with it.”
Wait, did I miss something? We can’t use “sexy” now? It’s “sexist?” Even for objects?
I find things sexy. I think other women do, too. And sometimes I even say that inanimate objects are sexy and I mean it, I think, in exactly the same way that these guys do – not because I want to “fornicate” with it (I doubt they do, either), but because “sexy” has become a euphemism for attractive; desirable.
And Google backs me by the way, recognizing the informal definition of “sexy” as synonymous with “exciting, appealing, stimulating, interesting, intriguing, slick, red-hot.” You gonna take it up with them, too, article-writer??
Let’s keep “sexy.”
I do know that we are talking about people here. Not objects. And I’m saying people are sexy which, if it’s bad to say about things, it’s probably a definite no-no when it comes to people. So again, this isn’t playing by the rules. But whatever, because cue the second thing:
2.) Does saying it do harm? It’s hypocritical, sure, so I guess it might harm the argument over there on the other side (again, men can’t write this about women, so my doing so “isn’t fair.”) But am I harming the men? I’m no expert, but Imma go out on a limb here and say: I doubt it. I don’t think these guys in tech lead lives of constant objectification, so I don’t think my saying this demeans them as either individuals or a demographic. (But dear male tech community: if I have offended you, please write me. I’d be very interested to hear your take.)
Second, a heartfelt clarification:
When I say “tech,” I mean software and I mean hardware. I mean both engineers and developers. Of all kinds. And I also mean other professions who work in tech – bankers, investors, managers, suppliers, etc. Because they’re all amazing. And I got enough love for them all.
Aiight. Let’s hit it.
Here we go!
1. They make things happen.
They are creators. Inventors. Things manifest by their very hands. They bring things to life.
Any of these read “sexy” to you? If they don’t do it for you, don’t worry. There are plenty of organizers and guardians and “protectors of process” out there for you. And I guess that can be sexy too. In its own way.
2. They are “definite optimists.”
Peter Thiel, in his book Zero to One, calls out four types of perspectives. The “definite optimist has a concrete plan for the future and strongly believes in that future being better than today.” Partner material? I’d say so.
Their work is rooted in reality. But they believe in creating good.
(In contrast, “the indefinite optimist is bullish on the future but lacks any design and plan for how to make such a future possible. The definite pessimist has a specific vision for the future but believes that future to be bleak. The indefinite pessimist has a bearish view on the future but no idea what to do about it.”)
3. And if they’re creating change, that also means they’re okay with change.
They don’t hold on to things, don’t try to contain and prevent things from evolving, don’t pride themselves on best practices long expired from previous decades, and don’t spend their lives reliving old things.
Which, most importantly, means they don’t panic or break down when change inevitably happens.
Panicking or coming unhinged is never, ever sexy. Anybody who suggests otherwise has no idea what they’re saying.
4. They’re smart.
Given the first three, this may go without saying. But still.
I’d like to imagine this one’s objective. I’m not really into unintelligent people. I don’t think most people are. Maybe some people are, but for the rest of us, this one’s pretty clear.
5. They’re honest.
If engineers or developers lie, people find out. People might even die as a result. So the ones I know have minimal tolerance for lies – being lied to or lying to others. These aren’t people to even fabricate, exaggerate, or flower.
They dislike the very concept of misrepresenting or wasting anything, from what they’re doing to how long it might take.
6. They’re humble.
It’s pretty much a by-law. Dudes in tech are, as a lot, a bit self-deprecating. They mostly downplay or underestimate their own competence, often erring on the side of speaking confidently about less than they really know.
There’s a reason, after all, that the title of both articles – the original, and mine here – specify that these dudes are doing all of the things we’re accusing them of only “unintentionally.”
7. This also means that they play well with others.
They like collaboration, leveraging what others have done before them, and communicating closely to build it “right” rather than simply “their way.”
Two extra-special considerations:
1. Of course. We gotta talk money. We can’t talk about guys being sexy without talking about money. Amirite?
This one comes as a special delivery, straight from me to my oh-so-beloved female peers out there who – in a totally un-sexist and modern, feminist way – actually still evaluate potential husbands, on date like 1 or 2, by their earning power.
These super un-sexist and modern women want a guy who earns a lot – at least six digits, usually, though sometimes I’ve heard the magic number is something like “$115K,” I guess just to make sure he clears it. To get there, they go for those cliched job titles and dismiss the – what “unsexy” (?) – ones. Like engineers, who apparently don’t stack up.
But apparently these super modern women don’t do their research, even on these metrics they care so much about. Otherwise they would likely know that 9 of the 10 highest paid degrees are – guess what! – all in engineering.
2. But aren’t they all dweeby?
You don’t get out much, do you?
That’s really too bad, because many men in tech do.
That’s it, really.
In closing: they’re pretty much the best.