Your Guide To Undermining Women Whilst Being “Nice”

Credit: Flickr Pete Bellis

With the rise of political correctness, it’s become so much harder to undermine women. One can no longer tell her to get back in the kitchen, or express appreciation for her physical attributions through unsolicited touching. These things have – bizarrely – become frowned upon. Why does no-one have a sense of humour any more?

This list of 14 strategies (try one every day for two weeks should you be so inclined!) will take the most reasonable, well balanced woman and have her questioning her own abilities. And, if she ever complains, just point out the pure intentions and the very niceness of the act.

  1. It’s important that people hear her ideas in meetings, so if she says something make sure to repeat it.
  2. If she doesn’t agree with you, she probably doesn’t understand. Make sure to explain. As many times as is necessary.
  3. When she asks a question, be sure to really understand what the question is. For example, if she wants X’s email, make sure to understand exactly why, and what, she needs to email X.
  4. If you can write code for her, do that. Ideally do this whilst she is sleeping. There is probably a biological reason for her needing more sleep, and you would hate for her to feel bad about that.
  5. If she hasn’t done something the way you would have done it, encourage her to do it again. It’s a learning opportunity!
  6. Make time to be extra thorough with her code reviews. Be sure that she fixes style issues in that file, and even the most tangentially related existing issues. This is how we learn!
  7. When you are impressed with something she has accomplished, also express surprise. This will make her feel extra good about herself.
  8. Remember, all effort is a team effort. Especially her effort. Everyone wants to be a team player!
  9. Make sure you tell her how hard you are trying to help her. It is especially important to talk about this after you have done something that negatively impacts her.
  10. It’s important to be transparent, but be considerate by telling her after everything is decided. Otherwise she will just worry!
  11. Take care to point out if she seems at all emotional. After all, feedback is a gift.
  12. Be sure to let her know what other people think of her, or might think of her. This will help her manage how other people perceive her. This can only help her career.
  13. Constructive criticism of tone is so helpful! No-one wants to seem like a bitch.
  14. Don’t let her push herself too much, or take on projects that might be a stretch. You’d hate to see her fail.

Thanks to Nat, Kelly and Dennie for their suggestions.

Obviously, this is satire. These strategies should not actually be used.

28 thoughts on “Your Guide To Undermining Women Whilst Being “Nice”

  1. Great post Cate.

    I’ve always wondered about the issue of gender differences when doing code reviews. A female friend of mine once got a “this is the worst code I’ve ever seen” on a code review and it was very hurtful to her and really shook her confidence. She was just learning a new project and initially took the wrong approach. (They guy who commented on it also is known to be rude and lack empathy for people who are learning). I’ve found in my experience that some people give helpful code reviews and some people suggest different implementations that are completely over engineered and/or actually don’t work in practice. So I stick to the helpful people when asking for code reviews. I’ve often wondered if some developers who are men are extra hard on women asking for review but of course this is difficult to quantify.

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    1. Thanks 🙂

      Yeah whenever I hear that kind of story I think “would that happen to a dude? really?” And anyone who would ever say that has clearly never looked on StackOverflow.

      I think sometimes people use code reviews as a way to assert dominance and show off their knowledge. I think they are more likely to do this to women, and also women are less likely to have someone assume that they have thought about what they are doing.

      I’m a thorough code reviewer. Some people have complained about it. But when I’m being particularly thorough to another woman I 1) try and take a step back and make sure I’m being fair, and 2) leave a broader positive comment about something and try to be encouraging.

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      1. I refuse to contribute to GitHub under my own name for the very reason that I have a definite female given name. I have seen so many talented women shoved out of IT in lieu of “Business Analyst”, etc., positions. We’re expected to be assertive, and then not in the same damned meetings.

        I’ve been in IT for going on 19 years. In one meeting, the guys in the room kept referring to me as “her” or “she” until I almost lost my temper. They even rejected my design recommendations, though my male counterpart backed me up every single time. I pulled him out to the hallway and suggested that the men in that room could show respect for me or I’d be on the next plane home, leaving them with yet another Systems Architect (also a woman) or on their own. Then I went for a walk around the block to calm down (and keep from crying).

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  2. For whatever reason, I don’t believe women should be undermined. I do wonder what the world would have been like with no women. No doubt they’re a part of what it is today.

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  3. I think you have missed the strategy where in a meeting you ignore everything she says — absolutely everything so it’s like she’s not even present…

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    1. I don’t think that can be disguised as niceness, but of course this isn’t an exhaustive list.

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  4. It’s important that people hear her ideas in meetings, so if she says something make sure to repeat it.

    Out of sheer curiosity, what would you recommend a guy do when she has a good idea, and the sexist @$$#@!&$ in the room decide to ignore her?

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