Only girl in the office… So what?
May 2016 · 5 minute read
Mentors, friends, work, interests, hobbies – all men. I just don’t think it’ll be a problem.
Growing up in a small town where my Dad went to work every day leaving my mother to take care of the house and kids, I was pretty used to being surrounding by females. There was a small age gap between my sister and I which resulted in the two of us often being forced into each others company, whether we wanted it or not.
Of course, I didn’t mind, being the shy awkward kid who didn’t particularly want to talk to anyone I knew let alone anyone I didn’t know. I wasn’t really bothered about making friends and was quite happy to just sit in the corner and play with puzzles or colouring books.
It turns out, though, that when you continually exclude yourself from group activities in preference of your own company people start to think there’s something wrong with you. There probably is something wrong with me to be fair, but being forced into group situations when you’re already awkward about first encounters with people you’ve never met before doesn’t actually do that much for self-esteem or make you better at dealing with it.
With no brothers around and never really having to converse with boys, it wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I realised I should have probably been hanging out with the boys all this time. I don’t particularly enjoy the company of most girls, with their catty nature, squeaking in a deafening tone about some boy they like or bitching about some girl they don’t like. Girls also aren’t really into video games, not that I can find time for them myself these days…
Of course, this doesn’t apply to all girls. Some girls are more interesting than that, the girls I do hang out with actually have lives worth talking about and they don’t squeak when they talk.
Now, without previously realising it I am pretty much surrounded by men significantly more than women. Working in hospitality and having spent a large amount of time in the late night scene, you quickly realise it’s not really the place where you find a lot of ladies. And if you find that you are one of the only ladies you really need to be sure that you can stand your ground. Out-drinking half of Courtenay place is one way to do it, again it’s not really lady-like but I could certainly hold my own. Although that industry may not be as male dominant as it once was, 4am’s last call for drinks certainly still is.
Not only my current career but my future career too. I want to be a software engineer and for the past two years, I have been studying away and working on small projects to learn enough so I can pursue my career. The tech industry is currently the most male dominant industry in the world, with a huge number of feminists out there trying to level up the playing field. Like with anything, it’s just going to take time and it’s certainly not going to be completely even in my career time. All of my mentors are men, the meet-ups I go to are virtually all filled with men, my interviews are with men, and every dev team I’ve met has been all men. I’m pretty much destined to work in a team of men. I have met one or two other female developers but they seem to be very few and far between and I guess, to an extent it’s dependant on which area of development you’re interested in.
And then there are my interests. Muay Thai and combat sports in NZ are starting to see more and more females step into the ring to compete but ultimately today, it is still very much a male dominant sport. The gym I train at has more women than men in a very clean training environment but when it comes to competing there are fewer women who actually take their training to the next level, which often means you spend more time training with the boys who are also competing. To be honest, I prefer to train with them anyway, they never bring emotion into sparring sessions and don’t take offense on the odd occasion you actually managed to land a hit.
I guess it’s a result of how life played out or just the interests that I have but it seems now that I have more guy friends than I do girlfriends and you know what? I generally prefer to hang out with them too. I have better chats with them, topics seem significantly more interesting, they’re less easily offended by many of the crass comments that come out of my mouth and they certainly have lower pitched voices. Oh, and they’re also not trying to have a relationship with every other man that glances in their direction.
Some of my friends even joke that I pretty much am a boy, in terms of mental capacity. My week apparently now ends with ‘productive’ lunches which are two hours long, talking about martial arts and how various fighting techniques compare, before busting out the occasional play fight manoeuvre. Swapping stories about who’s seen or done what in a strip club and what nightlife used to be like. I’m sure this isn’t how ladies are supposed to behave or what they’re supposed to chat about but that’s okay, I’ve come to accept that generally speaking, I’m the odd one out. And like I said before, boy talks can be far more exciting that girl talks anyway!