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Discussion on: Why I wear purple lipstick and code skirts

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that__anna profile image
Anna

The way you dress or whether or not you choose to wear makeup or anything else should not affect the way others perceive your abilities. With that said, I don't understand why anyone would feel weird being the only woman in the room or in the conference. It's not like being a woman is equal to being an alien. To me it sounds just as weird as somebody saying "it was weird being the only blue-eyed person in the conference when everybody else had brown eyes." The way I'd react to such a statement would be "um, okay... so what? Who cares about your eye color?"

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thejessleigh profile image
jess unrein

I mean, I agree that the way you dress should not affect the way others perceive your abilities, but it does.

Have you ever been the only woman or nonbinary person in a conference? Or in a meeting where all the guys in the room suddenly start making jokes about women and domestic labor? It's not fun. I love that Jenn is making an intentional choice to change the feel of the room.

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that__anna profile image
Anna

I have actually not ever been in a conference to be honest. But I'm often the only female-bodied person at work or amongst a group of friends. I rarely notice unless somebody points it out. If the others are being assholes about it (e.g. cracking jokes about domestic labor) then I don't think it's an issue of "being the only woman in the room" but rather of "being the only sensible persoon amongst assholes". It could be women that are the assholes so gender is not very relevant.

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thejessleigh profile image
jess unrein

I am so glad for you that that has been your experience. However, the “both sides”ing here isn’t super accurate. If women are assholes, they are statistically less likely to be in positions of power to enact their bad opinions against you, and in my experience, groups of men, even who are well meaning non-assholes, can get thoughtless and downright mean in their rhetoric when they don’t realize they’re perpetuating a sexist belief or harmful joke.

I’ve generally found it helpful in my life not to view people as assholes, or think that cruelty is an immutable fact of their person. It’s usually because they’re unaware of a power differential, or an unquestioned belief. Increasing the visibility of underrepresented groups in tech helps counteract those unquestioned beliefs and make the space more liveable for everyone.

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ferricoxide profile image
Thomas H Jones II

You can live your life on "shoulds" ...but the outcomes are likely to not be great if you don't also acknowledge reality.

First impressions will always be a thing. That said, assuming your first-impression isn't so off-putting that you don't get the opportunity to perform, you can leave an indelible mark. Sometimes, such a mark can make it easier for those who come later to not have to worry so much about "can I present myself as myself and still feel comfortable".

Overall, it just depends on the price you're willing to pay or even just risk.

Especially in my 20s, I played it close to the edge of acceptability. Fortunately, while some customers owned up to being skeptical of the big, inked, technocolor-haired dude in the cenobite-painted motorcycle jacket walking into their building, they also took it as a statement of self-confidence. One customer at a large financial-services firm even told me, "I figure that, looking like that, you either reeeeeally knew your stuff or I'd be kicking you off-site at the end of the day".

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that__anna profile image
Anna

Haha that's a nice way of presenting yourself then. I hadn't given it much thought.