General discussions => IT career women => Topic started by: Webmaster on July 25, 2004, 10:38:25 AM

Title: Why so quiet in here?
Post by: Webmaster on July 25, 2004, 10:38:25 AM
Do your part!

Title: Why so quiet in here?
Post by: sandy7000 on July 27, 2004, 02:30:01 AM
So...a glass bubble now instead of a glass ceiling.  We've come up (about 12 inches) in the world.

Title: Why so quiet in here?
Post by: sandy7000 on July 27, 2004, 04:20:40 AM
Okay, I'm bored & lonely studying for cert. exams & waiting for school to start again.  I suppose I could add a controversy to fulfill your request, Webmaster.

Scenario:  You are working as an IT pro.  You come to work in blue jeans & t-shirts & tennis shoes.  Doing your own work, a coworker comes up & forces sexual contact on you.  What do you do?  

(Definition of sexual contact:  touches you clearly in a sexual manner in sexual areas through clothing.)

Working in a mostly male environment, would you
a)  keep quiet to prevent loss of respect among male coworkers.


b)  report it & deal w/ high levels of anxiety/conflict daily..i.e. being considered a liar, retaliation, loss of coworkers respect.  

I tried to do

c)  Confront the individual privately so I could clearly warn him this was inappropriate.  I didn't talk about this with anyone except my instructor & without naming this guy's name.  The instructor was NOT sympathetic.

This scenario took place in a classroom so the dynamics are different.  Either way, I didn't want his career destroyed before it began if this was a one time stupid thing.  My college career, though, has taken a beating.  That's how I ended up here.  I'm bypassing the teacher using cert exams.  I also experienced (mild) stalking & intimidation from the guy which ended when I left the class.  

Here, I will probably get picked on by the women more than men because I tried a street smart approach over involving the law.  I figured it was going to be ugly no matter what, so I responded in a way I could live with later.  Anything legal usually destroys the woman in the process.  I wanted to come out of this w/ a halfway respectable work rep.

No matter what, in this forum, it's turned out to be an excellent tool to feeling out what this field will truly be like for a woman.  I've been treated as an equal which I've appreciated.  

In conclusion, it sounds weird because of the beating Lex has taken all over the place, but I feel more comfortable posting around him & Freak because they create great boundaries in their forums.  Firm leadership is very important to prevent all forms of harassment whether on men or women.

  Although, I don't feel ashamed, this is still sore.  I would appreciate it if you didn't poke too hard at me on this thread.  I just want to give the guys who come here a real look into our world beyond the equality quota controversies & such.

Title: Why so quiet in here?
Post by: jennie313 on July 27, 2004, 03:35:45 PM
Hi Sandy,

Don't worry.  You wont get a beating from me here.  Actually, I admire you for doing something about it.  I had a similar experience a few years back at a previous company and I was too shocked to say or do anything about it.  Every day I came into work, this particular individual made me feel uncomfortable, but I used to be a waitress at a bar so I was used to being harrassed.  It wasn't until I looked back on it later that I realized how inappropriate it was and how angry I was with myself for not saying or doing anything about it.  Frightened or not, I should at least have confronted him as you did.

I had a friend (at the same company) who experienced the same thing and actually filed a formal grievance.  She was fired a month later.  I know that sounds cliche but I don't think things have changed all that much on the harrassment front.  It's a sad reality and one I hope most people don't have to deal with.

I'm truly sorry about what happened to you, for whatever that's worth.

Title: Why so quiet in here?
Post by: sandy7000 on July 27, 2004, 11:26:05 PM
Yeah, I was hoping I could skate the line between options a & b.  

Some time later I was walking by a lake near my city.  I found a stone worn to a pebble by water.  I realized there that I have to be water.  I have to be persistent & just grind away at this stuff.  Success isn't in the sprint.  It's in the endurance.

On the positive, it really makes one soul-search as to whether one's really meant to be in IT.  I came up with a big, fat YES.  Also positive was this gent, Steve. (http://instructor.mstc.edu/instructor/shunt/) His wife makes twice what he does as she is a programmer analyst manager.  He's really supportive of her & us.  It seems normally that men in IT are more used to working with women as equals than in many other fields (because it started out strongly w/ women).  

I know that sounds cliche but I don't think things have changed all that much on the harrassment front.

Yeah, the laws almost require the offender to ask to be punished in order for something to be done.  I can understand wanting to make sure you don't harm someone's career w/ a false claim, but it makes a real one next to impossible to act on.  That's why I didn't want to use the system.  It's just not worth the heartache.

About the only effective thing is to privately tell the guy off.  It makes you the authority.  When I confronted the offender, he denied it at first (of course).  I said "if you do something like that in a workplace, it could be misconstrued...just so you know."  Pretty mild, but he flipped & denied it.  I stated that "well then, you have nothing to worry about" and walked away.  About 10 minutes later, he blurted out a confession & an apology to me stating the instructor made him nervous...but it's still not good enough for the system as I have no proof.

ANYway, thanks for the support..guess I just needed to talk about it a little.  The guys here are good.  They don't give you a hard time because you're female.  Some just like to give EVERYone a hard time.

Title: Why so quiet in here?
Post by: onoski on November 24, 2004, 02:09:47 PM
Hi Sandy, I read your post with great anticipation and quite liked the way the you handled the situation. Unfortunately, most men are walking sex pest and view a lady as just having sex with. I have a lot of respect for women and I have not done something like this or contemplate or condole it.

Don't worry just let the pest men know where you stand and they would back off. In otherwords don't allow any sexual contact or gestures without your liking or consent. Enjoy the forum and keep well and motivated in your IT career path.

Title: Why so quiet in here?
Post by: yanqui on November 24, 2004, 03:39:58 PM
One sentence says a mouthful here:  Firm leadership makes all the difference.  That's true everywhere.

I've been in lots of situations where I could have been sexually harassed and sometimes I was and sometimes I wasn't, and here's the difference and what I did about it.

I'm not saying you did anything to "welcome" the advance, in fact I'm sure you didn't.  But that's the first thing to make sure of--that you DON'T welcome it in any way, because if a guy can say, "Well, her skirts are short and her blouses are always unbuttoned," while it doesn't excuse bad behavior, it undermines your position of the high ground.  DO NOT take part in locker room talk, and if it happens in the space designated as YOUR work area, ask the conversants to move along.  Be professional, be cordial, but do not be overfriendly at first.  You thus establish your professionalism before you establish your friendliness and you will get more backing if it does happen.  The people you have to have the backing of will most likely be men, so early on you have to establish that you are not after an affair or anything other than to do your job.

If it happens, yes, confront the person first.  Let them know you're not going to tolerate it.  And also, if you don't tolerate it from one, you can't tolerate it from another as well.  In other words, if you let the cute guy get away with it, you won't have a leg to stand on if you try to stop the ugly one.  One standard at work--hands off.  ANd document it.  Write it down and keep it private.  If it happens again, talk to--NOT THE SUPERVISOR--Human Resources!  If it happens at school, talk to the head of the department.  The job boards always say to go the supervisor first, but if you go to HR first, HR will go to the supervisor and tell them, "Look, we're on shaky legal ground if you don't handle this because this person has documented it.  Do something or you'll find yourself on the witness stand trying to tell a jury of her peers why you didn't."  And in court, it's not you against the offender, it's you against the organization that didn't stop it, so the HR people will do their best to make sure your supervisor or the instructor stops it.

NEVER EVER EVER let it go.  And NEVER spread tales, even if they're true.  And NEVER threaten a lawsuit, even if you're considering it.  don't even mention it.  you'll get downsized very quickly.