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"This is a bit of a delicate topic. Quite often I am the only female person in the team and have to be careful not to take advantage of the perks that come with it. Guys are fascinated and scared by girls who roll up their sleeves and take on a job that society labels as “men’s work”. If you’ve ever drilled a hole, skinned a rabbit, or changed a tyre you know what I mean.

As I mentioned earlier, guys will definitely put you to the test and as a girl it will be hard to get their respect. On the other hand, you can get away with a lot of things just by fluttering your eyelashes and being a bit cheeky, which is a habit that is so easy to get into. I have to confess I’ve done it myself because if you are surrounded by guys all day you quickly feel powerful. However, with great power comes great responsibility so don’t take (too much, hehe) advantage of the nerds treating you like a princess just because they finally get to work with a girl."

Never experienced this. Sounds like an alternate reality. All the so called nerds I worked with had girlfriends or wives and didn't wear pocket protectors and stutter around females when talking to them.

> Sounds like an alternate reality.

I have a hunch that part of this is related to the fact that nerdess is German. Or at least, she's based in Germany per the site.

I'm from Denmark (and a guy), and I can say from firsthand experience that attitudes towards women in Europe are still very old-school. Not everywhere, certainly, and Europeans are open-minded liberal socialists etc, but behind the scenes the old attitude of "women and technology don't mix" is very much alive.

For example, many guys in Europe I've spoken to will make jokes about girls not really being fit to work on cars, working with computers, or doing anything "technically hard".

Even some years ago, there was an advertising campaign for a lotto (or something similar) with the tagline "so simple even a woman could understand it". The advertisement featured a pretty blond woman standing in her kitchen, listening to the boys hoot and holler about their winnings next door with a vacant expression on her face. This was plastered all over the main train station in Copenhagen.

So, while I agree it probably seems like an alternate reality in the US (assuming that's where you're from), it's not so far-fetched in other parts of the world. Just my $0.02.

Maybe you think of this campaign?


The tag line is "there is a lot of stuff women don't understand", and the format is a womans literal visualization of a sport metaphor. In this case, "giving away a goal". The campaign is still running, and considered one of the most successful advertising campaigns in Denmark.

The company behind it is 80% state owned. and 20% owned by the non-profit sport organizations. It used to have a monopoly on gambling. The profit goes to charity.

I would not generalize the Danish peculiar brand of humor to all of Europe. One of the advices to Danes going abroad is "stay away from humor, foreigners don't understand our brand of humor". Same for visitors, they are told "the Danish jokes are not meant as insulting as they sound".

In our own self image, we are so liberal and open minded that we can safely joke about all kind of stereotypes. E.g. Danish state owned children tv has a running gag about how lazy and incompetent Polish workers (our "Mexicans") are. It is probably also no accident that the Mohammed cartoons were made in Denmark. Although that particular incident taught Danes something about how different humor can be viewed in the rest of the world.

Edit: Two more details. 1) Most high profile ad campaigns in Denmark are based on humor. 2) This is the only one I can think of where women are shown as stupid. The common pattern is that the man is being goofy while the sensible woman is buying the advertisers product.

Interesting - I hadn't known that about Danish humor.

It is probably also no accident that the Mohammed cartoons were made in Denmark.

The thing is, those weren't even offensive or derogatory. The rest of the world overreacted and rolled over because of overblown threats from the Islamic world.

You don't think an image of Muhammad where he's wearing a bomb for a turban is derogatory?


It's controversial political speech; I wouldn't personally call it derogatory.

If I understand correctly, the reaction was to the mere fact of Mohammed being rendered in drawing, not about the content of those drawings.

It was both. The view on depictions of Mohammed differ within Islam. Insulting Mohammed on the other hand, it pretty much universally condemned.

Yes, that was the one! I'm surprised it's still running.

> In our own self image, we are so liberal and open minded that we can safely joke about all kind of stereotypes.

So true - I'd say Danes are pretty blind to their own prejudices and backwards attitudes. I'm sure you remember "Perkerspillet" from some years ago?

"Perkerspillet", which roughly translates to "The Nigger Game", was an online flash game where the player was a stereotypical "gangsta" Turkish immigrant. You drove around the city in a souped-up BMW, trying to pick up Danish women and make money to further enhance your ride. They had to rename it to "The Mujaffa Game" after people stirred up controversy.

IMHO, I feel like the Danes often act like they're entitled to say whatever they want in the name of free speech, as if there'll be no consequences. That's why the Muhammad cartoon incident was such a wake-up call.

The new politically correct name is "the mujaffa game". You can play it here:


The old name is still referred in the title page.

That same attitude exists in the states too.

Just wanted to echo this. 99% of the hackers/programmers/whatever I've met, whether in industry or at university have been pretty normal. In fact, the cleverest and most productive ones have tended to be more socially successful, not less. Tech people I've met actually tend to have more enlightened views on women/gender than the population at large.

Where it does start to get weird, in my experience, is when it starts to cross over into the gaming/anime/fandom area, particularly gaming. Some of those people are really maladjusted, but I suppose that's to be expected from a subculture based around endlessly celebrating childrens toys.

There must be some generational/geographical divide here somewhere. For reference I'm in the UK.

Some of those people are really maladjusted, but I suppose that's to be expected from a subculture based around endlessly celebrating childrens toys.

I guess there always has to be a group of people for others to look down upon.

They were not saying that all people who collect figures and display them are manchildren.

No. Just a lot of them.

In fact, the cleverest and most productive ones have tended to be more socially successful, not less.

Sure. Lacking social skills certainly doesn't help you in tech; it just hurts you less than in most other fields.

Honestly the whole nerd thing is a completely western (mostly American) thing. I have a very different background and we don't even have a word for "nerd". The absolute closest synonym you can find is "really smart" which is positive, and a negative one would be "bookworm".

And these western stereotypes are absolutely non-existent. If you ask people in the streets to tell you general traits about 'the nerds' they wont be able to tell you a thing. But try that in America, they'll write a book about it.

But even in the western culture we are seeing these stereotypes fading away more and more every day because hey everybody is a nerd these days with their iPhones and iPads and Kindles etc...

All it takes is for computer programming to be brought into the standard school curriculum. Give that a couple of years and every teenager will also be a computer programmer, some better than the other but nonetheless.

By then, being able to program a computer will be too normal for these stereotypes to live.

I don't buy that it's completely western. I was born and raised in Turkey, and the term for nerd there is "inek" which translates to "cow". The idea is that the person spends most of their time with their head buried in books, much like cows spend a lot of time with their heads buried in grass. Definitely not a positive term.

I'd say that "inek" firmly lies within what others would call "bookworm", having been called that. Maybe even implies a lot about schoolwork but not about much else. It implies that you don't have a personal life, because it is spent with schoolwork.

Nerd, on the other hand, conjures up a whole subculture that is quite different. The nerd not only is naturally good at schoolwork, but also has a personal life, but chooses to fill it with abnormal curiosa: Sci-fi, larping, reading, learning, etc.

Who is "we", btw?

This sounds alien to me as well. I've been a member of a lot of diverse teams, and led some of them, over the years. While it's true that female tech people are always outnumbered by male ones, what that actually means probably depends a lot on culture. My experiences are almost exclusively in Northern Europe and Asia and generally I didn't perceive that female devs got any special treatment at all (negative or positive).

If Nerdess extracts some sort of empowerment out of this that's great for her, but I imagine crossing the line into a territory where your team mates perceive you as a shallow and malicious manipulator is a real danger here. Any person who bases their work persona exclusively on being a precious snowflake (of any kind) is not someone I'd like to have on my team.

Maybe we have worked in different environments than nerdess. I've had quite a few jobs (at software companies in the US) where most of my colleagues are calm, mature, and act like professionals without regard to gender. I've also encountered the occasional colleague (a bit more often in startup/freelance culture) who acts like females are a new and unfamiliar technology, and doesn't know how to relate in appropriate ways. But I've never felt particularly "powerful" in my workplace, until I started doing most of my work from my home office.

More than once I was the only female in a team (including a 20 people team). I think that the initial reaction of most of the team members is not about 'hey, look, it's a girl! what are we suppose to do with it?' like it sounds on the article. When there's a tight knit team and someone a bit different joins there's always worry that it's going to affect the existing culture, it doesn't matter if it's a girl, someone older, someone very young or someone from a different country. Once you play the 'girl' card, you remain different. I'm not saying that you have to start drinking beer all day long and tell StarWars jokes, just be yourself and align with the team (same advice for men as well). You might be liked more when you play the 'girl' card but that's not the right way for a promotion (been there, done that). Other than that, great article, useful and I like the images.

I've never experienced it either, but maybe it's regional influence.

I've worked on a lot of teams over the years, often as the only female on a project. Only once have I felt in any way "different" from anyone else on the team, be it in a positive or negative way, and I don't think that was intentional. It was a startup ran by young, single guys, and I was a mid 30's mom. We just had different priorities and interests and the culture wasn't a good fit. But there wasn't anything negative or sexist about it, just differences.

>Never experienced this

Privilege blindness doesn't just apply to straight white men. The relationship status of the people has nothing to do with it. Men are instinctively predisposed to helping women. Women can and do take advantage of this, and generally don't recognize or acknowledge that they are doing so. You don't see it, because you've lived it your entire life and it is normal.

How many times has a woman put a new water bottle in the water cooler here? I know the exact number, because it is zero. All of the women here are fully capable of doing it, yet they ask men to do it. And how often do men say no? This is very obvious when looking at tasks that are considered stereotypically "men's work" like lifting something, but it applies just as much to anything else.

I've watched my wife get men to do her work for her several times. She simply asks them to do it, and they say yes. When I point it out to her, she insists that they would have done the same for a man, and that had she asked a woman they would have done it for her too. Yet, she never asks another woman to do it, and I know I sure wouldn't do it if a man were asking me. She is taking advantage of being female, and it is so deeply ingrained that it comes naturally and she doesn't recognize that she's doing it.

This is why women often wonder why the world has become less 'nice' as they grow older.

In fact, the world hasn't changed. It's just that the extra consideration they got because of their looks goes away as they grow old.

In contrast men often spend their early years not being taken very seriously. They often have to fight to get noticed.

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