back to article IT blokes: would you say that lewd comment to a man? Then don't say it to a woman

It’s not news that, being a male dominated industry, women face a lot of challenges working in IT. We have to overcome sexism, stereotypes and sometimes outright harassment. I am no stranger to tech shows, particularly the mega events that draw thousands of men from all over the world, and know first-hand what it can be like …

  1. Andy Tunnah


    I thought this was going to be an article about how it sucks to be "a woman in a male dominated field" and focused on the alpha male traits you normally see in the likes of the banking and hedge fund world, but this was

    I don't think I've ever had enough drinks at any event to tell any random girl, mid conversation, that you've gotten my er...attention. That's just vile. It sounds like the stuff you overhear from spotty 18 year olds at the local Wetherspoons. The fact that this is a professional atmosphere is crazy. Maybe it's different circles but if me or one of my colleagues heard a stranger say that to one of the lasses we were with they'd probably end up with a knee to reduce that attention span

    1. Cliff

      Re: Surprised..

      Bloody hell, I can certainly see why you're pissed off about it and rightly so. I expect one arsehole to turn up every now and again, but it really sounds like you've had way way way too many creepy encounters. I'm gobsmacked this article even needed to be written. Shame on my other tech guys.

      Guys, it's not just 'PC' not to creep women out, it's how adult humans interact. Grow up!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Surprised..

      Could I second this?

      Maybe it's an American thing but if we overheard anything like that coming from a guy with us, if they worked for me, they wouldn't for much longer.

      No company needs that kinds of publicity or have that kind of impression created at a conference.

      In my entire career working with many women, I have never seen this kind of thing and I hope never to have to witness it.

      1. Vic

        Re: Surprised..

        In my entire career working with many women, I have never seen this kind of thing and I hope never to have to witness it.

        I was thinking much the same.

        Perhaps it's a Left-pondian thing, because if that sort of thing happened over here, I'd expect someone to get a proper slap...


        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Surprised..

          > Perhaps it's a Left-pondian thing,

          No, it's not just a left-pondian thing, sadly.

          An old boxing trainer of mine put it very succinctly: "Fear no one. Respect all."

          While I cannot always help falling short on the former, I do my best to uphold the latter.

        2. foxyshadis

          Re: Surprised..

          Less an American thing, more a case of a self-styled big shot getting away from the corporate oversight and consequences, around a bunch of strangers with a few drinks in hand. As someone said, it's also a reflection of their general character, writ larger with alcohol; they're probably giant assholes to most of the men they encounter too, not just the women, even if the harassment isn't sexual.

          Unfortunately, this is one of the most common characters you meet at conventions. Fortunately, there are lots of others and there are ways to report them, too.

    3. Grifter

      Don't be surprised, it happens all the time.

      There was an interesting article on jezebel recently where the comments lit up with women chiming in on exactly this, be sure to read the comments if you want to be truly 'surprised'. And these guys aren't even drunk.

    4. Zog_but_not_the_first

      Re: Surprised..

      I too was prepared to read an account of an overreaction to some childish but basically harmless banter (Vulturespeak standard, in fact). What you describe is astonishing and unacceptable. You have every right to complain. To the perpetrators - grow up

    5. sisk

      Re: Surprised..

      I don't think I've ever had enough drinks at any event to tell any random girl, mid conversation, that you've gotten my er...attention. That's just vile. It sounds like the stuff you overhear from spotty 18 year olds at the local Wetherspoons

      I disagree with that last bit. Most guys I know had figured out mid-way through junior high that you don't say things like that in the presence of a lady, and a good chunk had abandoned such juvenile topics even in the locker room by the time they were 18. That's more what I'd expect from a 12 or 13 year old.

      1. h4rm0ny

        Re: Surprised..

        >>" and a good chunk had abandoned such juvenile topics even in the locker room by the time they were 18. That's more what I'd expect from a 12 or 13 year old."

        IT / Software, is a field where someone can work effectively limited contact with other human beings / general populace. Not will, but sometimes can. Combine that with the fact that a lot of the people they do work with are also males who might tolerate anti-female behaviour (again, might, not will), the sector can become a bit of a haven for the minority of males who didn't learn their lessons at 12 or 13 years old. That's one of the reasons I think IT is slightly more prone to it than some other fields.

        So if you're a guy and you work with someone who comes out with such shit or behaves in such a way, please don't smile and laugh just to be polite. Let them know it's not actually pleasant, because I'm certain that many guys don't find such behaviour any more stimulating then women do.

      2. Lamont Cranston

        Re: "That's more what I'd expect from a 12 or 13 year old."

        Like the man said: "in the local Weatherspoons".

    6. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: Surprised..

      "I thought this was going to be an article about how it sucks to be "a woman in a male dominated field" and focused on the alpha male traits you normally see in the likes of the banking and hedge fund world, but this was"

      I had exactly the same initial thought, and the exact same reaction when reading the article...

      Wow.... I suppose alcohol is the underlying theme, but being drunk just stops you being able to control your natural urges, effectively making you show your true colours.

      Someone who's an arsehole when drunk, but appears ok sober is simply an arsehole that covers it up.

      It seems that a lot of techie blokes are even worse than the stereotypical builder :-(

    7. gotes

      Re: Surprised..

      I'd never even considered having an alcoholic drink at a conference or trade show - I'm at work FFS. As others have said, it's not professional and completely out of order.

      1. The First Dave

        Re: Surprised..

        It's also nothing to do with IT, merely a facet of under-representation of the female gender.

    8. Jim 59

      Re: Surprised..

      This is only one side of the story. I am not convinced it happened quite as told. Without hearing from the other side too, it is difficult to comment. Most skilled IT guys wouldn't dare say "good morning" to a strange woman, let alone touch one, even after many beers. This account of the author's suffering such repeated and disgraceful conduct doesn't really make sense unless you allow the other side to answer and defend themselves.

      In some people's eyes however, the fact that these men have no right of reply or anyone to speak for them, just proves they are guilty.

      1. qwertyuiop

        Re: Surprised..

        I read and re-read and re-re-read your comment to make sure I'd seen it properly. Are you calling the author a liar? To me it sounds like you are because there can be _no_ "other side" to this which justifies it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Surprised..

          How absurd. There is always another side to every disagreement. You don't ignore the other side just because of the severity of the crime. If someone is accused of murder, you don't say "oh, he's accused of murder, this is so terrible, we don't even need to hear his defence". Maybe it was accidental manslaughter? Maybe it wasn't him and he was falsely accused?

          Just because a woman is involved, don't discard your logic Mr White Knight.

          By the way, I think the things this article claims men have said are terrible and I'm not defending them. I'm replying specifically to your comment.

        2. Jim 59

          Re: Surprised..

          @qwertyuiop don't be absurd. The story is an account written by one side. The other side might have disputed these events had they been asked. I have no way of knowing exactly what happened because I wasn't there, and I do not know the author or any of the people involved. The author has my polite sympathy. But don't automatically believe that a person is vile just because stranger tells me they are.

          1. Grifter

            Re: Surprised..

            If you find the story difficult to believe because you haven't heard the men's version of events, then maybe you should talk to more women, because bullshit like this happens all the time. We don't live in a world where if you hear someone was groped/assaulted/sexually harassed we wonder "Hmm, was it a man or a woman this time?". There's a reason for that.

            This is what women have to deal with:


      2. MKMXM

        Re: Surprised..

        So victims of abuse should not be allowed to come forward unless the perpetrators have a right to reply? By the way, if any of them want to reply then there's a comments section! It's not as if people have been named and there's a risk a bunch of IT feminists are going to set fire to these guys houses and jab them with pitchforks.

        Lastly, if you're not an asshat then I'm not quite sure why you need to defend asshats *scratches head*.

    9. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Surprised..

      these are presumably american men then? middle class, well educated , privlidged - sense of entiltement?

  2. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    Out the b*****ds

    You're right, you shouldn't have to endure that kind of abuse. Salesmen in company outfit should be publicly shamed.

    I didn't think this type of behaviour still existed.

    1. Ian 62

      Re: Out the b*****ds

      Hit them in the wallet.. Its one of the 'other' place that hurts.

      If you've been offended, insulted, harassed by someone wearing their company shirt.

      Go right up to that sales booth and tell them.

      "I would have been interested in your product but one of your sales men was a total ass, so I won't be buying from you ever again"

      Word WILL get around the company in question, even if its not in official channels, the talk over the water cooler will cause embarrassment.

      1. Keith Langmead

        Re: Out the b*****ds

        "Go right up to that sales booth and tell them.

        "I would have been interested in your product but one of your sales men was a total ass, so I won't be buying from you ever again"

        Word WILL get around the company in question, even if its not in official channels, the talk over the water cooler will cause embarrassment."

        Completely agree.

        Stories like this make me ashamed of my gender at times, and it's not just IT world, I've heard similar (and worse) tales from female friends who're seriously into the sci-fi / cosplay world, with the minority (I hope) seriously letting the side down.

        Reporting the bad behaviour to the relevant companies, especially when they're on hand at the conference, sounds like the best option. Far better than simply ignoring their stand, which does nothing to make the company aware of what their staff are doing or give them a chance to resolve the issue.

    2. h4rm0ny

      Re: Out the b*****ds

      There's often no need for public shaming, and sometimes you can overreact such as Adria Richards astonishing overreaction at that Python Conference and that backfires horribly, not just on the individual but by causing many men to adopt the mindset of it being women's fault for 'not being able to

      take a joke'. So sticking it on Facebook may be a bad idea (except in extreme circumstances).

      But telling other people around you at the conference so they know how badly behaved someone is, is probably a good idea. Particularly as it will reflect on their company then and there. Also, and this I think really is a good idea, is to report them to their company. It's very easy when something like this happens, to feel like everyone is against you, that it's a conspiracy of men. (The other reason it's good to have male friends standing up for you - not just to dissuade the behaviour but to stop you feeling isolated). But that's not actually true. You might think reporting them wont do any good, that their boss is probably just like them and they'll laugh over it. However, that very often isn't true. Their boss is probably a better human being than they are and it might get them the lesson they need to learn.

  3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Booth babes

    At most US shows the booth babes are actually more use.

    They are usually hard working actors/models/waitresses who will explain that they don't work there and will try and find somebody who does. The actual employees, even if sober and not hungover, have been sent to a show in Vegas/SF as a reward for selling the most units that month in Podunk.

    Even if they could give a damn about your question they are slightly less qualified to answer it than the half naked women body-painted with the corporate logo.

    1. phil dude
      IT Angle

      Re: Booth babes

      Even at military tech meetings, draped over hardware for sale....

      And I'm not even kidding....


      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: Booth babes (Lord of War)

        Have I seen you at Rosboronexpo 2014 next to Steven Seagal?

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Booth babes

      But isn't this part of the issue?

      Why even bother to employ the booth babes in the 1st place? Surely it's just pandering to the "girls are to look good, boys are the ones you need to talk to" mentality.

      Seriously if you can't sell your product without a 6ft blonde in hot pants, then look at your product.

      1. MyffyW Silver badge

        Re: Booth babes

        Exactly. Employing "Eye Candy" of either gender is an admission your product lacks punch. And probably does little to demonstrate you understand the modern market place.

        Having free booze might just persuade me to stop at your stand. Having smart folks who know what they are talking about (no matter how many X chromosomes they have) is likely to keep me there.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Booth babes

          But at US shows the booth babes are dressed in exactly the same way as the staff (Las Vegas gets very prudish about exposed flesh).

          So unless you make the assumption that none of the smiling attractive women (or hair producted men_) could possibly be engineers - your only guide is that the smiling ones are models and the ones sulking at the back of the stand chatting to their colleagues work there.

        2. h4rm0ny

          Re: Booth babes

          >>"Exactly. Employing "Eye Candy" of either gender is an admission your product lacks punch. And probably does little to demonstrate you understand the modern market place."

          I can see why marketing people do it at car shows. They're trying to sell this lifestyle image with their latest super-expensive sportscar. They want to tell you that if you buy this Ferrari you will find sexy women draping themselves across it.

          But what sort of idiot thinks "if I buy this VoIP solution, I'm going to look so hot" ?

          1. Munchausen's proxy

            Re: Booth babes

            But what sort of idiot thinks "if I buy this VoIP solution, I'm going to look so hot" ?

            The ones with the power to actually make that purchasing decision.

      2. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Booth babes

        Hah! Indeed. There are never herculean dudes in posing pouches...

  4. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    could result in some sort of HR violation…

    Sexual harassment is a criminal offence. Sod the HR department: get down to the cops with the name and address – I assume the fuckers are only to happy to provide them.

  5. Christopher E. Stith

    Unfortunately there's some bad advice here.

    I often find there are things two men who consider one another friends or pals will say to one another that would be vastly inappropriate to say to anyone else. So the standard of "would you say it to another man?" may be the wrong standard to recommend.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Turn it around

      The title explicitly states that it's okay to be lewd and offensive toward women, as long as you're okay being lewd and offensive toward men too.

      Please don't be lewd and offensive, mmkay?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Turn it around

        "The title explicitly states that it's okay to be lewd and offensive toward women, as long as you're okay being lewd and offensive toward men too."

        What he's saying is that men ROUTINELY talk rude and lewd toward each other and take them as compliments. You ever two buds go, "Where've you been, you pot-belied pervert?!" in terms of pure friendship?

        1. h4rm0ny

          Re: Turn it around

          >>"You ever two buds go, "Where've you been, you pot-belied pervert?!" in terms of pure friendship?"

          Quite honestly, no.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Turn it around

            Perhaps not in those specific terms, but I have routinely seen two men greet each other (shake hands, slap backs) while calling each other names I certainly wouldn't want associated with myself. It even employs that social phenomenon that certain words are considered gravely insulting except when used within a specific group of people.

            1. A K Stiles

              Re: Turn it around

              But again, that is (hopefully) only to be seen between people that know each other really well and understand that the sentiment is not implied by the statement - it might disturb or confuse potential onlookers but if those involved aren't upset or offended, then why should anyone else? (Though adult sensibilities would hopefully limit the potential for using 'unacceptable' language.) You certainly shouldn't see that kind of behaviour or interaction between people who are effectively, or actually, complete strangers, and absolutely not in a professional capacity where the reputations of the individual and the company they represent are at stake.

              It keeps coming back to the Adam Hills philosophy:

              1. Don't be a dick!

  6. Corinne

    I've read a lot lately about the steps F&SF Fan cons have taken in recent years to stamp out this kind of behaviour. That is the kind of environment where you DO get stereotypical spotty 18 year olds, often the basement dwelling nerd types, all over the place, and at the same time women dressed in costumes which can be erm "interesting" - yet they seem to manage to be getting better behaviour there the last few years than at these supposedly "professional" work conferences!

    I probably wouldn't have avoided those companies booths, rather I would have gone there specifically to give a formal complaint followed up by a letter to the company HR. As said above, sexual harassment is a criminal offence and there's likely to be plenty of witnesses at an event of that kind.

  7. The Dude
    IT Angle


    It isn't only IT. Most conference settings are "out of town" away from the watchful eye of wives and girlfriends, and some guys treat it as freedom time. I think it's a sad comment on the generally repressive nature of our society that so many people lose their sense of decorum and civility at these sorts of events .

  8. Richard Jones 1

    No Excuse

    It is 30 years since I used to attend global conferences and I still miss them. Fortunately I never saw anyone acting like those in this unforgivable display. For me coming from a rather more restricted environment the shear joy was meeting minds, not bodies that could extend my understanding of the business and improve my knowledge. I am glad that some still think that is what conferences should be about. Though I shall never again get the chance to travel and enjoy such meetings I am violently concerned that a few think they are simply an extension of 'Sleazy Joes night club and catch what you can emporium'.

    As someone else said, sod HR go for the police jugular those creeps ruin conference experiences for everyone.

  9. Zoopy

    Another solution

    I'm sure I'll be down-voted into oblivion for this, but if people wouldn't drink they would get into alcohol-related trouble, full stop.

    Seriously, it's a rather... uncontroversial belief that drinking alcohol lowers inhibitions. We count on these inhibitions to filter out stupid / unkind / bad actions such as groping people who aren't our spouses.

    I don't see why it's so hard for people to just NOT drink at these events.

    1. Ben Tasker

      Re: Another solution

      Not that alcohol can't/doesn't have an impact, but IME the assholes are assholes whether they've had a drink or not.

      Blaming the booze is easy and doesn't address the actual issue. I can happily drink at events and not wander around groping anyone, so it's quite unlikely the booze is solely to blame.

      "if people wouldn't drink they would get into alcohol-related trouble, full stop"

      Well, yeah, obviously but the cunts will still be cunts. The only thing it would mean is they couldn't try and explain it away by blaming it on the alcohol.

      Drink or not, groping a complete stranger is never acceptable.

      1. Charles Manning

        Booze is often a trigger

        Note I said trigger, not CAUSE.

        Often the booze coming out shifts the gear from "work mode" to "club/social mode".

        The biggest hassle is that the people at the conferences have been drawn together by a mutual interest in IT, or whatever, and are now thrown together in a completely different mode of operation. They would never normally socialise together.

        The dickheads that would grope someone probably tend to socialise in an environment (eg. clubs) where it is common for people to grope eachother etc. They make the association that booze & music ==> singles club party.

        Then there are the people who enjoy a drink, a few laughs and intelligent conversation with zero groping etc.

        Mix the two and you have problems.

        1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

          Re: Booze is often a trigger

          OK, in the Soviet Army they used to put bromide into tea. Makes you concentrate more on the guns and marching and forget about women for a while. Maybe that's what they should do at these IT events?

          1. AceRimmer

            Re: Booze is often a trigger

            "OK, in the Soviet Army they used to put bromide into tea. Makes you concentrate more on the guns and marching and forget about women for a while. Maybe that's what they should do at these IT events?"

            I think you'll find that instead of interfering with women they'll start interfering with other sovereign nations.

            1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

              Re: Booze is often a trigger

              "instead of interfering with women they'll start interfering with other sovereign nations."

              But not anywhere near as much as the non-brominated US. See? The benefits of bromide for the prospects of a peace on Earth are clear.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Booze is often a trigger

              > I think you'll find that instead of interfering with women they'll start interfering with other sovereign nations.

              I hope you are a national from Lichtenstein.

              Otherwise, those who live in glass houses...

      2. Munchausen's proxy

        Re: Another solution

        Not that alcohol can't/doesn't have an impact, but IME the assholes are assholes whether they've had a drink or not.

        True, but also true is that it isn't a person being an asshole that makes this behavior inappropriate, it's a person acting like an asshole. Thoughtcrime shouldn't exist, even if we really are sure we are the ones competent to judge it. Actions, however, can be judged.

    2. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

      Re: Another solution

      If people would stay in hermetically-sealed boxes, they wouldn't get into touch-related trouble, full stop.

      Zoopy obviously sees no value in alcohol as a "social lubricant". Equally obviously, he's wrong: alcohol has value, sometimes a LOT of value in helping to promote interaction between people who might otherwise not have communicated.

      So what Zoopy probably meant to convey instead of the simplistic and extremist position given was that (in Zoopy's opinion) the value of having alcohol is outweighed by the poor behavior exhibited by some people who have it. Which is a fine, if trite, observation, even if it is one that most adults seem to reject: some sales people drive company cars poorly, so by Zoopy's thinking, we should discourage the use of company cars...

      Focus, Zoopy: the problem is poor behavior.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Another solution

      > if people wouldn't drink they would get into alcohol-related trouble, full stop

      I'm tee total, but I must disagree with your statement, in which you partly contradict yourself.

      As you have said, alcohol may well *lower* inhibitions, but the initial inclination to behave like a cunt still has to be there.

      In a way, I'm all for alcohol: it makes those who you do not want to mingle with / buy from a lot easier to spot.

    4. ElReg!comments!Pierre

      Re: Another solution

      > if people wouldn't drink they would get into alcohol-related trouble, full stop.

      That's stupid. If groping is the problem, just cut them hands off, problem solved, shirley.

      These are not alcohol-related problems: although alcohol may act as a magnifier in some cases, the real trigger is the informal setting. The event where alcohol is served are always voluntarily "friendly" touchy-feely gatherings intended to make people feel like they're not at work. In these occasions jerks will tend to act as jerks, alcohol or not.

      It's definitely not only men, either. In my line of work there are more galz than doodz, and the ones behaving in an inappropriate manner are more often women (although the men who do behave in an inappropriate way still do it in a more spectacular way usually, perhaps because they think they're not making a fool of themselves)

      1. Ben Tasker

        Re: Another solution

        It's definitely not only men, either.

        Nope, I've had my arse groped quite a few times without invitation, or even prior social interaction. Not recently though, must be getting old.....

        In an environment dominated by women, they show a lot of the attitudes that men are criticised for, although the actual physical actions might be slightly different. IMO the reason it seems to be blokes misbehaving more often is probably more to do with the fact that there are still more male-dominated environments than the other way round, plus given social attitudes, a lot of blokes probably wouldn't say anything for fear of being seen as a whiner (see Matt Bryant's "well I would" comment above)

      2. Erik4872

        Re: Another solution

        "It's definitely not only men, either. In my line of work there are more galz than doodz, and the ones behaving in an inappropriate manner are more often women "

        OK, I know women aren't perfect little snowflakes, but I'm assuming you've never seen something like that the article describes in the workplace. I would assume women are much less overt about it. Unless I'm mistaken, of course...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Another solution

          I have never seen the behaviour described from men. I have (it was a long time ago) often seen the behaviour complained about from women in an environment were sexial harassment of men by women was just accpeted as the norm.

          I think the real difference is society has a stereotype of men as behaving badly and of women as behaving well. Stories which align with the sterotypes are accepted those against the steroetype are not.

  10. PastyFace

    Call them out?

    "I will be honest. After those guys treated me the way they did, while proudly wearing their company shirt, I did everything I could to avoid their booth on the expo floor. Based on their behavior, I punished their company and any potential business they may have got from me, even though the company wasn't to blame."

    Or go further, note the names and send a few emails? Also, I wouldn't let the company off so lightly. In all likelihood a number of these pathetic excuses for human beings will be known to behave badly under such circumstances, yet still get sent...

  11. This post has been deleted by its author

  12. John H Woods Silver badge

    The Vagenda ...

    ... my favourite feminist blog, contained this pearl recently:

    "if IT engineers had to do their work in the middle of the pavement, where we could all see their screens and hear their conversations, we’d quickly stop thinking of builders as the worst misogynists in the village"

    1. The Dude

      Re: The Vagenda ...

      Oh for goodness sake... you should know better than to read feminist blogs. Chock full of man-hating lies and slander, usually. And yes, I do have the court transcripts to prove it.

      1. John H Woods Silver badge

        Re: The Vagenda ...

        The Vagenda isn't man-hating - it's one of the reasons I love it. It's acerbic sometimes, funny and generally inclusive. Even this quote isn't from one of the authors - it's a quote from her (male) friend, whilst the article in which it appears "Running with Wolf Whistles" is actually very positive about the men the author has encountered whilst pounding the pavement.

  13. Fuh Quit

    This article's about the minority

    1. Men can be pigs

    2. Not all men are pigs

    I'm in IT and don't make lewd comments to anyone. Should I be offended by this article?

    1. Ben Tasker

      Re: This article's about the minority

      I think it's a case of being tarred with the same brush, because the only faces you remember out of the sea of faces at a big conference are those of the twats.

      It's still not right though, it's often characterised as being 'male IT workers' when really it's "a minority of IT works who'd likely behave just as badly if they worked at McDonalds"

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: This article's about the minority

        Male IT workers are the last crowd you can be bigotted about.

        You can even make a prime time TV series about how nerdy and unsocial they are. Imagine if you were to try and make a TV show about how catholic priests were all misogynistic drunken perverts.

        1. joeW

          Re: This article's about the minority

          "You can even make a prime time TV series about how nerdy and unsocial they are"

          Ah, you're referring to Graham Linehan's "The IT Crowd"?

          . Imagine if you were to try and make a TV show about how catholic priests were all misogynistic drunken perverts."

          Funny that, as we're speaking of Graham Linehan...

        2. Wilseus

          Re: This article's about the minority

          "Imagine if you were to try and make a TV show about how catholic priests were all misogynistic drunken perverts."

          You mean like this one?

        3. This post has been deleted by its author

        4. <shakes head>

          Re: This article's about the minority

          Father Ted

        5. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: This article's about the minority

          Very clever point and well made -- wish I'd thought of it!

    2. Steve Knox

      Re: This article's about the minority

      No, you should be offended by those people (men and women) who are pigs. As the article says:

      This isn't about gender wars: it’s not about men vs women, this is about acting like a grown up at a professional conference.

      The author's examples are of being harassed by men, because she's been harassed by men. But her point is that such behavior is unprofessional regardless of source or target.

    3. BasicChimpTheory

      Re: This article's about the minority

      "I'm in IT and don't make lewd comments to anyone. Should I be offended by this article?"

      Only if you didn't read it. Phoummala has gone to great lengths to point out that this behviour is exhibited only by a minority of event attendants.

      Perhaps you should direct your indignation to those who behave in this manner, not towards the recipients of such bastardry?

    4. Scott Earle

      Re: This article's about the minority

      You should not be offended, because she's not talking about you.

      I also don't feel offended, as she was not talking about me.

    5. Zane

      Re: This article's about the minority

      Yep, you are right. It's a minority - and a damn stupid one... does any of this ever work on any girl?

      While, besides, you might like to read this:


      1. Bakana

        Re: This article's about the minority

        Zane, sad but True: Yes, it does work occasionally.

        That's why these jerks continue to BE Jerks.

        Because, 9 times out of ten, they get a slap in the face.

        The 10th time is the payoff: they meet the woman who thinks they are Funny and she says Yes.

        I first learned that sad fact years ago in the Navy.

        One of the guys in our division was in the habit of walking up to women who were Total Strangers and saying: "Hi Honey, Wanna F@ck?" He got slapped a LOT.

        But he also found a totally Amazing number of women who would say Yes and that was all he cared about.

        Sad but true, most women who Slap don't hit Nearly Hard Enough.

        And, it's not like the guy was anyone's vision of good looking.

        He was short, fat, stupid and smelly.

        Yet, some amazingly attractive women took him on for some weird reason.

        1. dan1980

          Re: This article's about the minority


          "Because, 9 times out of ten, they get a slap in the face . . . Sad but true, most women who slap don't hit nearly hard enough."

          Advocating physical violence as a suitable response to an unwelcome - but purely verbal - advance?

          That's right - it's only abuse and assault when a man hits a woman. This is somewhat off topic but, as all the anti-violence campaigns implore us, you have to speak up and say something to challenge the acceptance of violence.

          It is not okay to hit someone just because you don't like something they say or do. And it is not okay to accept it, much less encourage it. Self defence is one thing but physically striking someone just because they asked you a question you felt was inappropriate or too forward is assault, plain and simple, and we - as a society - have to make sure this kind of casual acceptance of abuse is not tolerated or swept under the rug.

          No, the sad thing here is that most men who get slapped don't press assault charges.

          That aside, the other take-away is that the person you are talking about was going out and being upfront and self-confident. He was being himself and stating his offer plainly, if crudely. So nine of of ten women didn't appreciate that. So what? He ended up attracting those women who were evidently compatible with his way of thinking, which is hardly a bad thing.

          I am pretty sure less than one in ten potential partners are compatible with me!

          In some ways, your appraisal of this anecdote is sexist towards women; the idea that women can't appreciate a forthright offer of sex is a bit backwards. It's always been part of the repression of women that their sexuality was denied. Women are supposed to be passive and demur and hard to court. This forced 50s stereotype is continued in its more modern counterpart - calling women who do embrace their sexual side 'sluts', where no such label is applied to men.

          I am not accusing you of that - not at all - just pointing out that there should be no reason to be surprised that a not-insignificant percentage of women were open to the idea of just having sex. We readily accept that many men would agree so why do we feel that women should respond differently?

          What notion of the female sex underlies the assumption that 10/10 women should reject your friend's offer?

          1. GrizzlyCoder

            Re: This article's about the minority

            Absolutely spot on....though this is not really the forum for your forthright and (by many folk considered) radical opinion

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: This article's about the minority

          "Because, 9 times out of ten, they get a slap in the face."

          And even then, three times out of four such a man would take the slap as a challenge, going, "Ooh, you like to play rough." You can't win with these men. They won't take no for an answer, take physicality as a challenge, and probably have friends in the Force meaning any charges get dropped (or worse, reversed).

          The fourth time, the guy is savvy and threatens an assault charge.

  14. Paul 87

    Don't know what's worse, that you had to put up with people acting like jerks, or that none of their colleagues slapped them down for acting that way. There's a world of difference between crude jokes and innuendo to shoving a picture of your anatomy in someone's face.

    Working in a gender balanced IT team, sure, we all have a laugh and at times, there's sexual humour, but on the rare occasions where someone makes another person feel uncomfortable, the rest of the team makes sure that it's put a stop to.

    To me, that's where you draw the line, if you make someone else feel uncomfortable, upset or hurt their feelings, then it's stopped being a joke.

    Shame more people don't know that really...

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You seem to have taken "some people sometimes do stupid things at events I have been to" and turned it into "all men need my advice".

    We don't.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > We don't.

      You do, so please pay attention.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm a guy, but

    I'd avoid the booths/products of companies that had people "representing" them in such a manner if I was a bystander to the things the author endured. If I worked with someone who did that, I'd rat them out to HR. No place for that kind of behavior amongst professionals. Or adults, for that matter.

    I imagine it has less to do with IT being "male dominated" as it does with a certain minority of men thinking women only exist for their pleasure/amusement. I wouldn't be surprised if happens even at teacher's conferences where the females would outnumber the males.

    Too bad she's forced to travel around with a posse of men to deflect such behavior. If only it was socially acceptable for women to use mace or a Tazer on guys who did that, the problem would quickly resolve itself!

  17. The Axe

    What about a man in a female dominated environment

    I've known a few women who worked in a primarily female dominated environment and the tales they told me of the innuendo they threw at the odd male would shock many. In any environment what ever group dominates will always pick on the weak or odd one out. If it's male dominated IT, women will be picked on. In a female dominated production line in textiles, the male will be picked on. In manual workforce with low education requirements, the brainy one will be picked on. In an environment full of scientists, the low paid techs will be picked on. Not nice in any environment, but if you think that you can get rid of it easily you don't know human psychology.

    1. Old Handle

      What about it?

      How about "Don't do that either". Does any more really need to be said.

    2. cordwainer 1

      Re: What about a man in a female dominated environment

      Yes, this. And I'm female. It's no more acceptable when women behave like assholes to men than vice versa, and I'm increasingly embarrassed by members of my gender who try to defend this kind of double standard.

      In fact, that's exactly what the title of this article points out: you don't treat another human being any differently simply because of their gender. You don't make offensive, unprofessional, inappropriate, or abusive comments to anyone. Perioed.

      Sadly, I am seeing not only more male-bashing in the workplace by women....I'm seeing more women treating other women like dirt, as if success in the corporate world requires one to be hard-nosed to the point of rudeness or out-and-out abuse.

      I've alway been perplexed and depressed by women and men who treat the opposite sex as if they were non or lesser human beings. Thank heavens, it really is a minority of people who do this, but it's frightening that society manages to go on perpetuating stereotypes so obliviously.

      And last: there is unfortunately some truth in what a few commenters have asked. In my experience, this actually is more common with American males. There is nothing to be said in their defense, however, American television constantly portrays workplaces and social situations - in both fictional and "reality" shows - where exactly this sort of outrageous behavior occurs on a regular basis, and is often encouraged. This applies to males and females alike, as characters of both genders are too often really objectionable, nasty people.

      When enough viewers allow themselves to be bombarded daily by horrible examples, the poison will inevitably begin to affect at least some of them.

      I've actually seen one colleague begin behaving increasingly badly while he was hooked on a particular reality show. When several of us sat him down one day to ask him if he was OK - thinking something might be wrong - he was genuinely shocked at some of the examples of his own behavior we relayed to him.

      I agree wholeheartedly with the article and many other commenters: that kind of behavior is totally beyond acceptable. Had I experienced it, I would, yes, have walked right over to the company's booth, and relayed the experience to them, word for word, then asked for the President/CEO's name and address so I could send a follow-up letter.

      Great article, thanks!

    3. dan1980

      Re: What about a man in a female dominated environment

      @The Axe,

      I don't think that it's the dominant group will 'pick on' the weaker group so much as that, when one group - of whatever stripe* - is dominant, some percentage of the members of that group will act without due consideration for the feelings of those in the less-powerful group, which can manifest as a lack of respect for them as well as other, less subtle, behaviours.

      Thus, in a male-dominated environment, it is not uncommon that some of the males will behave in ways that, while acceptable to other males, might not be acceptable to the females. The exact same mechanic operates in the reverse situation.

      All I am saying is that I wouldn't classify it as 'picking-on' people, though that can be one of the end results. The core problem is that the people in the dominant group are not considering the wants and needs of the less-powerful group or, if they are considering them, they rate then as a lower importance than the wants and needs of the dominant group.

      * - Not just male/female but in religious or ethnic as well as socio-economic groupings. The 'dominant' and 'weaker' groups also are not necessarily defined by just the number of members.

      1. The Axe

        Re: What about a man in a female dominated environment

        Yep, it is usually more nuanced than I put in my first comment.

      2. h4rm0ny

        Re: What about a man in a female dominated environment

        >>" some percentage of the members of that group will act without due consideration for the feelings of those in the less-powerful group, which can manifest as a lack of respect for them as well as other, less subtle, behaviours."

        Primarily, in my experience, it is the low-status members of the group that are behind such behaviour as well. They're near the bottom of their feeding order and the only ones they can pick on are the outsiders. Pretty pathetic.

        Of course you get lecherous senior people too, but that's a different motivation I think. A lot of the bottom feeders are just out to be mean because they lack respect from others.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What about a man in a female dominated environment

      As a 17 year old I had a job for a short while in a card (birthday, anniversary, valentine etc...) making factory. The few other men that worked there were forklift drivers & warehouse staff.

      I worked on the production line though which was roughly 30 - 40 women, a couple of them were teenagers, most were around 30 - 50 (ish) and me.

      I think I spent every second of every shift totally red with embarrassment. I was the subject of constant lewd comments (the dirtiest sort of language I have only ever heard in porn) and laughter directed at me, but even when they weren't talking, almost all of them would sing these amazingly dirty songs, all derogatory to men. I have no idea where they got them. It perhaps there is some secret folk genre of working women songs or something? Maybe there is a book you can buy?

      Even the female supervisor would threaten to spank me (don't worry she never actually did) in front of everyone if I was behind on my quota. At which all the women would bay and jeer.

      Interestingly the ones that didn't get involved in any of it were the two teenage girls my own age. They were very supportive, but not demonstratively in front of the others.

      It was excruciatingly embarrassing, and I certainly never looked forward to going to work, but I didn't come to any harm. To be honest it was a lot scarier working in all male factory environments, which I did a few times afterwards.

      Fortunately it was a temporary job and I only had to endure it for two months.

      That was all thirty years ago.

      The article was good & well balanced though. Those guys are arseholes

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wait - Did some guy named Colon Camper just pick on someone's name?

  19. ecofeco Silver badge

    Men AND women

    Most of the people I've worked with in IT, both men and women, really have to clue how to spell "discretion". Thinking before they speaking seems to be considered a weakness.

    As Alastair Dabbs put it in an article from 2 weeks ago:

    "With this comes the realisation that IT people are like couch-potato sports fans: no matter what the pros are doing, they are absolutely convinced that they could do it better and aren’t shy in letting everyone else know. "

    1. Erik4872

      Re: Men AND women

      "Thinking before they speaking seems to be considered a weakness."

      I think a lot of it is the kind of environment you work in. If you work IT in an investment bank, I'm sure a lot of the arrogant asshole banker culture rubs off on people. If you work for a startup, well, that's where the brogrammer meme came from. If you work for a more traditional employer, you still might wind up in a department full of stereotypical basement dwellers.

      That said, any of the stuff in this article would have probably gotten the offenders fired for fear of an harassment suit if it occurred in the workplace. Interesting how conferences are considered out-of-office when they're really not.

      1. Squander Two

        Re: Men AND women

        > If you work IT in an investment bank, I'm sure a lot of the arrogant asshole banker culture rubs off on people.

        I've worked IT in lots of different types of corporate environments, and have to say that investment banking has consistently been the one with the least amount of the attitude described in this article. In my experience, the treating-women-as-sex-objects attitude comes from the Net and from gaming (any woman who plays online multiplayer games can tell you how routine it is for the other players to tell her they're going to rape her), and both these things become more prevalent in workplaces with a lot of downtime, such as some IT support departments which have enough staff to handle major disasters but where major disasters don't happen most days.

        I can't be bothered getting into theories as to why so many of the geeks who spent their school years being downtrodden and bullied and having zero success with women have turned into such mysogynists, but, frankly, who cares? I was one of them, and I don't do it.

    2. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Men AND women

      Damn distractions.

      " clue..."

      My bad.

      Oh crap. Saw another typo.

      ------------------------------------------------------------------>> me on this post. did not sleep well last night and my local weather temps are setting records this week.

  20. Erik4872

    This is why people treat IT like a bunch of kids.

    Obviously, not everyone acts like this. But the ones who do really set a bad precedent for those who wouldn't even think about it.

    I think one of the things to remember about conferences is that everyone who isn't an attendee or a technical presenter is connected with sales in some way. Salesmen can be some of the sleaziest people in the world...I've worked with a bunch that fit the descriptions in the article. Conferences used to be the only way a company could advertise their new products with reasonable success, so they deploy their best salesmen to try to reel in unsuspecting attendees. And while it's not 100% accurate, the best salesmen also tend to be the most likely to engage in behavior like this. Think about it -- an introverted techie isn't going to be attracted to a sales career. The entire job is acting like your mark is your best buddy in the entire world, and doing anything it takes to get them to buy something from you. Ex-fraternity guys make good salespeople because of that outgoing personality. Unfortunately, "outgoing" can often end up "offensive" given the wrong set of circumstances.

    I'm a guy and wouldn't even think about engaging in some of what the author describes. It is surprising that a "professional" conference turns out like this. Something tells me physicians' conferences or scientific symposia don't have nearly the same problems.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: This is why people treat IT like a bunch of kids.

      This is EXACTLY why.

    2. Monkeyman

      Re: This is why people treat IT like a bunch of kids.

      @Erik - "Something tells me physicians' conferences or scientific symposia don't have nearly the same problems."

      I take it you don't hang out with any Doctors then....

  21. Chris G

    Re-enforced Learning

    It is surprising just how effective a swift kick in the goolies can elicit a rapid change in behaviour, pain associated with having done something wrong is one of nature's oldest reinforced learning tricks, it's why mothers in the animal world nip their young when they are being naughty.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Re-enforced Learning

      The trouble is, we've reached the point where something like that can have the opposite effect. Ever hear a guy like that respond, "Ooh, you like to play rough, don't you?" and be turned on?

  22. sisk

    A sad state of affairs

    I don't care how drunk you are you treat people with respect. Drunk is not an excuse. When I was in college I could drink everyone I knew under the table and would still hold the door for a lady (and for balance too by that point, but I digress) and tell her to call me when we were both sober. If I can keep my manners about me when I'm piss drunk I find it hard to give anyone else a pass just because they're drunk.

    I'll say it like I always say it when I see these sorts of stories: Guys, grow up. There's just no excuse for that sort of behavior. If you have that much trouble controlling your libido then you probably shouldn't be allowed in public.

  23. JustNiz

    As a male, I find it highly depressing that other males feel its OK to act this way. Or even want to.

    I'm guessing from my own long time experience as a geek in the industry that you're either overdramatising this A WHOLE LOT, or you are VERY attractive. If its the former, shame on you.

    Assuming then its the latter, you're probably also used to being approached innaropriately by men in every situation, not just at geeky trade shows or whatever, so again shame on you for singling geeks out for public discreditation when in fact its more than likely that geeks aren't really any worse than anyone else.

    If indeed you are very attractive, You proably think its tough being you, but I can guarantee it actually has more upsides than downsides. You know, all the extra help and consideration you get from guys when you want/need it? Or the fact that going out for an evening doesn't necessarily mean you need to drive, buy tickets, food, drinks or even take any money? You probably just think they're just "being nice" and would do that for anyone, even other guys, right?

    The reality is that society is unfortunately still such that guys are the ones who are expected to work hard and put ourselves, our hearts and the fruits of our hard work out there to find/establish relationships, as most women who normally claim they want equality still conveniently rationalise ways that equality stops at having to actually pay their own way, especially on dates, or even just asking guys out. So, until that gets fixed by equality-driven women actually stepping up and taking on a truly equal role, your gender, especially the more attractive ones, are going to have to deal with all the down sides of (admittedly sometimes clumsily implemented) approaches and all the other benefits you actually get.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      We've heard all that "it's your fault for being a woman who doesn't look like a pig" stuff before.

      "The reality is that " it's bollocks. Offensive bollocks. You've put up a load of ancient stereotypes to "justify" the behaviour of some pretty unpleasant men.

      If you aren't meeting the many egalitarian feminists out there, there might be a reason. Perhaps you should find out what it is?

    2. Corinne


      Next you'll be saying that women are asking to be raped because they are wearing high heels & short skirts (sigh).

      Sexual harassment cannot be dismissed as "clumsily implemented" approaches! It is highly offensive, illegal in some cases, and often frightening for the victim. We aren't just talking about men who think "how about it then?" after a few drinks is a good chat up line, we're talking about obscene and crude comments to total strangers and in many cases physical assault - yes groping the body of a stranger does class as assault.

    3. cordwainer 1

      OK, female here again: If I could I'd downvote this particular portion repeatedly:

      "I'm guessing from my own long time experience as a geek in the industry that you're either overdramatising this A WHOLE LOT, or you are VERY attractive. If its the former, shame on you."

      What a, sad, misogynistic statement.

      HOWEVER: I'm going to support you on one thing, and one thing only: Yes, oh yes, there are WAY too many women out there who still think it's the guy's responsibility to ask them out, pay for dinner, etc. Who are mentally stuck in some childish, fantasy world of handsome princes and poor princesses who need to be rescued and taken care of ever after.

      If those same women demand "equality" at the same time they demand Prince Charming, they should be called out for the hypocrites they are.

      But that's it. Because, as to the rest of your commment, you can't know too many women if you think MOST of those demanding equality are unwilling to "step up" and take a truly equal role.

      I pay my own way. Even 30 years ago, I asked guys out to dinner, or some other event, took the initiative. Often, because I invited them, I told them it was my treat, and picked up the check.

      Like everyone else, I've gotten rejected and shot down sometimes. But I frankly don't know too many women who would hesitate to ask a guy out, and I can't even remember the last time I met another woman who thought it was the man's responsibility to "find/establish" a relationship.

      Your comment may speak to your own personal experiences and disappointments...but it doesn't recognize the larger reality of modern life as a whole.

      The author got it right, sadly. Every woman I know has heard some comment like that in her life, most multiple times, in work and social situations. We just don't tend to share the stories publicly because, I'll admit, we don't want to open ourselves up to more nastiness.

      But the author has the courage I lacked. She thought it was important enough, she knowingly made herself a target for the kind of cheap shot you just took.

      So, no, not shame on her. Shame on YOU.

  24. Novatone

    Just take their picture and send it to the company with a short description of the incident, anonymously if possible. Not asking for any action, just letting the management know what happened.

    If reporting becomes common the problem will solve itself eventually, a few disciplinary actions will be taken and companies will create policies.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I would think you'd need a plan for further action, in case the company takes it differently from you: ignoring it or worse.

  25. 27escape

    ask for them business cards

    Then a polite email to their HR dept & the various heads (CIO/CTO/COO etc) as to why you will never do business with their company due to the ignorance of their staff

  26. Don Jefe

    You'll Get The Respect You Deserve

    The problem with the issues covered in articles like this is that they always come from someone who has already been run over. Yes, there are some real asses out there, but bitching about that is like bitching about the position of Sol relative to Uranus: Completely pointless.

    If you're not getting the respect you believe you deserve then that needs to be dealt with internally, inside your head, using whatever mechanisms you use to define yourself. The question that needs answering is how people knew they could run over you. You get that answered and the rest sorts itself out automatically.

    If you don't think you're broadcasting weakness, but you're still getting run over, then your concept of strength is faulty. That's got fuck all to do with ones reproductive system, that fact is the same in all Humans. It's easy to see the poor attempts people make to increase their own valuations of themselves. Guys tend to do it with attitude, booze and flash, womenfolk tend to do it with bitchy attitudes and sluttiness. But those things amount to a person plotting to fool themselves without being noticed by themselves, and if that works then the problem is far, far deeper than self respect issues.

    Make no mistake about it, this is 100% an issue of self respect, or lack thereof. Lack of self respect is a tangible thing and people are drawn to it. It's Human nature to assert oneself over the weaker Humans and everybody does it. There are no exceptions. So why are you coming off as the weak person? It sure as fuck isn't any of your lady parts, because at the table right next to you some guy is getting run over because he is being perceived as weak. Women tend to put too much emphasis on the value of their fun bits, and it blinds them to the truth of the matter. That truth being you are presenting yourself as the easiest to dominate.

    What's worse, is that a conference/tradeshow in any industry is packed to overflowing with people highly adept at recognizing weakness and pouncing on it. You've got public facing operations people, you've got Salesdroids and marketing types as well as professional management at nearly all levels and their livelihoods depend on knowing how to identify their targets and knowing how to get to them before they've even spoken. Those people aren't trained social anthropologists, those people are natural born predators. They can't help it, but you can stop them. Hell, you'll know you're doing it right because they won't even start. They'll know, innately, to look for easier prey.

    I can't give you instructions on how to do it, but commanding respect (not demanding it) is something that comes from inside you. It is just as palatable as weakness and requires no show of strength or display of power (well, maybe a few displays, early on, but word spreads quickly among the weak).

    I'll finish with this. You can't, really, control the behavior of others. You can manage it, to some degree, but truly control it? Never. You can control your behavior though, so start there and start by respecting yourself. Which you clearly don't. Plenty of others aren't going to respect you either, and why should they if you don't respect yourself.

    That's a general truism, and doubly so as a professional. As a professional one of the easiest was to work people is to identify the weak one and feign respect so as to manipulate them into whatever it is you need them to do. That's not being cynical, that's being still mostly sane after playing this game, successfully, for quite some time. Bullshit self respect tactics always fail, and the fallout is always worse, and more embarrassing, that it has to be. Be you. Be proud of who you are and unwavering in your belief in yourself. That's the only way you're going to get what you want out of your career, and your life in general.

    Ending here, promise. You seem to be making the same mistake as so very many others with your idea of what constitutes professional behavior. Here's a hard won nugget for you to stick in your shoes (so as not to forget it). The further you go in your career the more important a robust, and true, level of self respect becomes. That corner office is a bastion of bent ethics and broken moral compasses. You will be absolutely destroyed, to the very core of your soul and being, by the people who work in those offices if you don't believe in yourself absolutely and unwaveringly. It won't be anything personal, but the entirety of getting that corner office and obscene salary is based on your success rate in battles of will disguised as respect with some platitudes on top and the first one to blink loses. I used to take everything from the loser, but I've mellowed. Some won't though, and tits or no tits, they will put your severed head on a pike by the gate as a warning.

    Practice with the drunk asshats at the conferences and you'll know you're heading in the right direction when you can yuck it up with the drunken Proles, but nary a single one would even consider uttering an untoward comment, much less lay a hand on you. Wordlessly commanding respect from drunken predators through projection of sheer, indomitable will is a good entry level test for those who have lofty professional goals. Junior Executives and Clients come after that. It's a long road ahead of you, you don't believe in yourself, but you should, even though it will be difficult. Work on it and get back to us after the VMware event a year from now.

    1. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

      Re: You'll Get The Respect You Deserve

      "Don Jefe",

      Based on your comment, I suspect you get little respect, because you sure as stit don't deserve any.

      What you've done is turn the tables on the victims: don't want to be raped? Learn self defense and carry a machine pistol! Woot! Simples!

      That is pretty vile.

      1. Don Jefe

        Re: You'll Get The Respect You Deserve

        No, you completely miss the point. Raping people is an entirely different thing and even making the comparison is outrageously childish as well as indicative of the fact you aren't ready for commenting on the issue.

        In a professional capacity ones will, as projected in their confidence and demeanor, is the only thing you have that might trump anything else in the room. Somebody is always going to have more money, more power, more everything than you, that simply can't be avoided. But will and self respect neutralize all that other stuff, if you actually have will and self respect.

        It never ceases to amaze me that so many adults have no idea how the world around them works. They get sidetracked and think it takes money or special connections or fame or other such nonsense to get respect. That's just bullshit coming from people with, at best, no self respect and at worst absolutely no idea of what respect actually is. Which makes a lot of sense. If they knew what respect actual was they would have some for themselves. How can you possibly respect others if you don't know what respect is?

        The answer is you can't. There's always a respect fire brigade running around to come claiming to be protecting the respect of others, but the fact of the matter is they're most often seeking their own self respect by pandering to the public. The opinions of others goes right up there with arrogance, boozing and sluttiness as a facade of self respect.

        Long before I was anybody there was approximately zero chance of someone not respecting me. They fucking knew better. Even then I didn't have to say anything nor did I have a reputation for violence or confrontation. People know how to behave, even if they are extremely drunk, and they are going to behave in a manner befitting the most willful person involved in the situation. If that person turns out to be the kind of jackass to say inappropriate things and/or get grabby then you really shouldn't expect much.

        The trick then, is to be the most willful. You don't even have to deal with the bullshit behavior of others. They're not going to fuck with you. You should be able to walk right into the center of the rudest, most disrespectful group of people you can find and have them instantly treating you as you deserve without saying a fucking word. If they don't do that then you're going to need a mirror to see the problem.

        Christ, take my wife for example. Outside of her field the only people who know her know her as my wife, not who she is. People who have no idea who she is still give her tremendous respect. She's super tiny, extremely bashful and has such a small voice that she's hard to hear in the car, and she doesn't get harassed. If she does choose to speak people automatically stop talking. Nobody would even carry on a conversation of which the subject matter might embarrass her, even if they are complete strangers. Why do you think that is? Why would strangers alter their behavior just because she shows up? If you need a hint, it sure as fuck isn't because she's threatening.

        If you don't understand all this then I feel sorry for you. You'll obviously have lost so many opportunities simply because you've got no presence. That's sad.

    2. Johan Bastiaansen

      Re: You'll Get The Respect You Deserve

      Just when I nearly convinced myself, it can't be that nasty, I read this reaction and omg (this is one of the few times you can use omg), it IS ! ! !

      Thanks Don Jefe, we needed that look in the mirror. Not a pleasant sight though.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You'll Get The Respect You Deserve

      DJ, I see where you're coming from and understand your point.

      However, you are completely wrong on this one.

      The reason you are wrong is that you have focused solely on the behavioural and psychological aspects of interpersonal interactions, and have totally missed the cultural aspect which in this as in many other instances, has a very strong bearing.

      From your posts here you seem like an intelligent and learned man, so I won't offend you by going into more detail than that.

    4. Alfred

      Re: You'll Get The Respect You Deserve

      "If you're not getting the respect you believe you deserve then that needs to be dealt with internally, inside your head"

      "this is 100% an issue of self respect, or lack thereof."

      "you coming off as the weak person"

      "you are presenting yourself as the easiest to dominate"

      "start by respecting yourself. Which you clearly don't. "

      " tits or no tits, they will put your severed head on a pike by the gate as a warning"

      You forgot to finish by saying that it's a woman's own fault if she gets raped. That's what you're building to. Quite clearly, you believe that to be the case. I doubt you'll say it that clearly, and you might even deny it, but secretly, deep inside, you really believe it's true.

      Which conferences will you be going to?

    5. Splatcat

      Re: You'll Get The Respect You Deserve

      Wow, you should go and work in a country where people are starving, obviously you couldn't feed them but you could sure convince them that feeling bad about it was heir own fault.

    6. cordwainer 1

      Re: You'll Get The Respect You Deserve

      Good grief, did you really write these things? Were you sober?

      "If you're not getting the respect you believe you deserve then that needs to be dealt with internally, inside your head"

      "this is 100% an issue of self respect, or lack thereof."

      "you coming off as the weak person"

      "you are presenting yourself as the easiest to dominate"

      "start by respecting yourself. Which you clearly don't. "

      LOL. No. Stop blaming the victim. It's the oldest trick in the book. It's what criminals and abusers always do. "It's his fault I'm in jail, because he called the cops." "I had to shoot him; he wouldn't give me his money like I told him too."

      Your comment does, however, beautifully exemplify the real problem: those in the wrong trying to justify their behavior by any means possible.

      Well, it doesn't matter how clever a justification they construct. They're still in the wrong. And you, sir, may be an intelligent man, but you mindlessly parrot the language of abuse.

      Those of us with genuine self respect recognize it for what it is: one more assault, one more little sadist enjoying the hell out of making people upset or angry, then trying to claim it's the target who is too thin-skinned. One of those who defends or, possibly, even gets off on hurting others, especially the part where you try to bully them into taking the blame.

      Because what you wrote is about the same as saying, "So he got pissed off and broke your nose. So what? If you can't deal with belligerent drunks, find another job."

      Too funny. Thankfully, truly intelligent people in that situation take the intelligent route: We file charges for assault, let the experts deal with it, and get on with things.

      We know who is at fault. And it isn't us.

      1. dan1980

        Re: You'll Get The Respect You Deserve

        @Don Jefe

        "If you don't think you're broadcasting weakness, but you're still getting run over, then your concept of strength is faulty."

        And here I was thinking that the whole point of civilisation was to rid ourselves of the idea that 'might makes right', which is what your whole post is saying - that you only deserve respect if you earn it.

        Human rights is saying that just as a person, you have an innate right to be respected - to not be trodden on or debased or abused just because you can't defend yourself (however that might be). Saying that "that's the way the world works" may well be true but carries the message that you can't change the world so you must change yourself to fit it.

        In some ways, that is honest, sound, advice. In other ways, it is perpetuating the problem that needs to be fixed.

        Don, you are constantly saying that you need to go out and take what you want (for want of a more succinct way to put it) and that it is a hallmark of successful people that they don't make excuses and go out and rely on themselves to achieve their goals.

        It is also, sadly, a hallmark of successful people that they seldom realise just how many factors outside their control went into that success. And no, I am not talking about being born into money (though that can obviously help). The makeup of who we are can be attributed to a large degree to our upbringing and any attempt to explain how someone 'succeeded' that ignores that aspect is bound to miss many of the factors.

        So you commanded respect long before you were successful? Great. How did you learn to do that when others haven't? When you say that you are the most willful person in the room, the unavoidable implication is that EVERYONE ELSE in that room has not learned the skill you have.

        So how did you get to that point?

        How many times have we seen an interview with someone successful and they have recounted the story of how they started with nothing and so were determined to build a better life for themselves. That's a great human story. But there are plenty of people born with nothing who do not become multi-millionaires so no direct causality there. What then is the difference between someone who starts with nothing and gets everything and someone who starts with nothing and doesn't get that much further?

        Is it something innate? If so, you can hardly blame any given person for not possessing whatever quality it is. Or is it something learned? If so, what were the circumstances that taught the lesson or provided the correct impetus to act a particular way? And can you blame someone else for not being subject to those same circumstances?

        It's a very deep subject - why people have the personalities they do - and the answer is very likely that we are a complex mixture of genetics, upbringing and luck. It has been explored enough times in fiction where in some kind of parallel universe/alternate reality, one small change can end up leading us down vastly different paths. A chance meeting that did or did not happen, a missed phone call, the tragic death of a friend, an influential teacher in school, a compassionate or absent or abusive parent.

        The list of things that might tip us one way or another is endless and to attempt to distill that into "[it] is something that comes from inside you" in unhelpful. You say that you have to believe in yourself. True enough - that is a key skill. But how does one start believing in oneself? Is it something you can just wake up and choose to do? Many people have tried to believe in themselves and failed so what is the secret? What allows one person to believe in themselves in the face of anything, where another becomes dismayed with setbacks? Superficially they might be in the same circumstance now but what in the past instilled in the 'successful' person the qualites that would lead them to refuse to be deterred and instead redouble their efforts?

        Your post, whatever else its merits or otherwise, is akin to saying that the way to get more will power is to have the will power to go out be more willful. In other words, it's circular logic or a tautology: you will have respect when you command respect. Great, except the only way to judge whether someone 'commands respect' or not is to see if that person receives it.

        The whole concept of the 'self-made-man' implies that anyone can succeed despite their start in life. This is an attractive proposition and a cursory look at various 'successful' people would confirm that they come from rich and poor, educated and uneducated, good homes and bad homes, etc...

        The further implication is that whatever the circumstances you come from, there is some resource that any person can draw upon that will, once properly harnessed, allow them to reach their goals and succeed. What is never explained, however, is where this resource comes from and how to access it. It is just assumed to be there for everyone and so anyone not making something of themselves must be lazy or too busy blaming other people for their failures.

        Maybe they are but the deeper question is why do those people blame others? What personality trait prompts that response rather than the more helpful 'pick yourself up and go again'?

        So, circling back to respect, I might not respect someone's views or opinions on a topic until they have proven their knowledge of it but I do respect someone's right to live relatively unmolested unless they prove otherwise. Your post is nothing more than the denial of that right - saying that, as a human, you have no innate right to be respected but must instead prove that you should be respected first.

        With great respect, bullshit.

    7. h4rm0ny

      Re: You'll Get The Respect You Deserve

      Don Jefe: I nearly always agree with your posts. This is the first time I recall outright rejecting what you say. I am very confident. Hassle still happens. Some people see "woman" and that is enough for them - confidence of the woman makes no difference to them. Believe me, most women have PLENTY of practice at what you describe. Doesn't stop this happening. Quite honestly, your lack of experience of being in this situation has led you to error - what you have deduced to be the case is not matched by reality.

      1. Squander Two

        Re: You'll Get The Respect You Deserve


        I usually agree with your posts, so can't for the life of me think why you'd usually agree with Don Jefe but disagree with him on this occasion. This post of his is a simple rewording of what he always says, with "Not being harrassed" substituted for his usual "Having oodles and oodles of money and being terribly successful and important".

  27. Get the puck outa here

    How about

    Don't make stale Lindsay Lohan jokes over and over and over again.

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: How about

      Those Paris Hilton digs were never funny either

    2. Spleen

      Re: How about

      Why, because women are precious porcelain dolls and it's not gentlemanly to make running jokes about the thick ones?

      Should we stop making "series of tubes" jokes about stupid men because it's misandrist?

  28. Paul

    I'm very sad

    I'm very sad that this article was written this side of 2010, or even this side of 2000.

    I've worked with many very talented female engineer colleagues and would feel very angry if they were alienated from the team or company by the stupidity of someone's drunken/sexist behaviours.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I read the headline and thought, oh gawd, what PC crap is this going to be (no pun on PC) and then read the article and you're totally right, this is disgraceful behaviour. I think you might have met some of my workmates.

  30. Long John Brass

    Some people are dicks

    > so as he could shove a photo of a penis in front of my face

    It even says so on their business cards

  31. dan1980

    "We have to overcome sexism, stereotypes . . ."

    With the disclaimer that sexual harassment is not excusable, the take away from this article, beyond the obvious, is that males in IT are particularly sexist/creepy/touchy/inappropriate.

    Males in IT already have to overcome the stereotypes of being vindictive and petty at work and awkward and socially-inept outside of it - of being little 'Napoleons' or 'Nazis', ruling our little empire and deriding all those we consider beneath us professionally to make up for being so low on the pecking order socially. We have bad dress sense and nerdy humour (often combined) and are scruffy and spend our free time reading sci-fi/fantasy novels, dressing up like elves/mutants/knights and reinstalling overnight builds of linux distributions while playing online games in dark rooms littered with cola cans.

    So why not add "sexist" to the mix? We're all indifferent to criticism and don't pay attention to what other people think so another stereotype won't make much difference.

    Now, the author is simply speaking from her own experience but one can't help feeling she is, herself, applying this stereotype to men in the IT industry.

    After all, if her point was that all similar groupings - where there is a massive imbalance between men and women (in EITHER direction) - are subject to a percentage of individuals in the dominant group behaving without due consideration or respect for the minority group, then I think we could all agree that this is lamentably typical but would have to question why IT comes up for special note.

    Again, the author is speaking from personal experience so I am not in any way doubting those experiences. Of course not.

    However, negative experiences and proximity to them (whether they happen personally or to close friends/family) tend to have a far stronger effect than positive or neutral ones. Just think, after all, how many thousands of male IT workers were utterly decent? How many bad eggs does it take to warrant singling out one industry as abnormally populated with 'asses'?

    The author does make a point that her experiences have been positive "for the most part". But I am not sure how to take that statement. Why then the article? In some ways, this statement has the ring of "some of my best friends are Muslims . . ." in that the author is making a negative generalisation about a group of people but disclaiming that with a fairly hollow throw-away line.

    I suppose the headline: "Vast majority of IT bods are decent, normal folks who treat others with respect and civility" isn't really a very interesting one.

    We know that some people are jerks. It's sad but true. We also know that some otherwise agreeable people become less some under the influence of alcohol. We also know that some people are IT workers. So guess what? Some IT workers turn into jerks when they've had a few drinks and some wake up as jerks. Is it the author's contention that IT is disproportionately populated with such people?

    She certainly implies that it is a male phenomenon. If so, the higher the proportion of men in an industry or profession, the higher the proportion of such people. What that means is that, should our assertion prove correct, there is nothing specifically in IT that engenders this behavior and jerks are not not overrepresented in this profession.

    "I make it a habit of going to conference parties with a group of men that I trust because I don’t want to go alone to a party full of inebriated, touchy-feely male strangers."

    I believe that to be a fine strategy but hardly specific to IT. If you were in sales or recruitment (maybe you have been) then you would see similar same behavior. Hell, I've been volunteered for that service when some friends go out to clubs.

    I would also ask the author to consider her headline:

    "IT blokes: would you say that LEWD comment to a man? Then don't say it to a woman."

    First, I very much have heard a male IT worker say that a technical presentation has aroused him. It's a rather crude way to convey excitement but there it is. I get it that it's not the same thing as telling a woman she is giving you a 'hard on' by talking tech but that is just a crude way of conveying the message that what is enticing is not your looks but your knowledge.

    And anyway, are we to condemn flirting? Yes it can be unwelcome and yes, again, the example given was particularly unsubtle and confronting but I met a previous partner through an industry event and my parents met at a (non-IT) conference. I would not be here if they hadn't flirted* (inappropriately for all I know) at just such an event as you are describing. Likewise a cousin of mine and a friend, who met their partners after flirting at an 'after-party'. (One in insurance, another in events.)

    Leaving that aside and getting back to the title of the article, I would ask the author if she would make similar generalisations about, say, a racial/ethnic/religious group? If not, then don't make it about an industry and don't make it about a gender group.

    You're also making the serious mistake of lumping non-heterosexual IT males in here. And no, I am not being facetious. Actually, you're also making the mistake of thinking that everyone at an IT event is in 'IT'. Many of them - depending on the event - are in sales or are managers. Indeed, one reason I attend fewer events than I used to is that I found the technical content just wasn't there and very few presenters could answer direct, to-the-point, technical questions.

    * - Talking about "creepy" guys eying you, one thing I have found is that the creepiness of someone ogling a woman tends to be inversely proportional the the attractiveness of the one doing the ogling.

    1. cordwainer 1

      In fairness....

      The title was probably not written by the author, particularly the IT blokes part, which is pure Reg. And the article clearly speaks to such behavior being unacceptable in any industry.


      1) There is an IT angle here, as required on the Reg...we're presumably smart enough to recognize the author isn't saying the problem is confined to IT.

      2) IT is still overwhelmingly male-dominated. I'm not complaining. It's simply a statistic.

      3) A "minority" - including a situational minority such as 10 women at a 100-person event - is statistically more likely to have an unpleasant encounter with a majority member than vice versa.

      4) Those who engage in inappropriate behavior usually attempt to hide the behavior. The obvious attempt at secrecy is part of the creep factor.

      5) Your last paragraph is scarily ignorant. Being "ogled" (which is NOT what the writer described, by the way) is not automatically pleasant simply because the ogler is physically "attractive".

      Any more than being robbed at gunpoint by a really, really beautiful woman gets you your money back...

      Any more than being shot by an incredibly attractive murderer makes you any less dead.

      It's not just women, by the way: I've heard male colleagues make similar complaints over the years: attractive women at business events acting like the herd of males is theirs to hunt; presuming intimacy, making sexual comments; touching them constantly while talking to them; standing too close, or obviously showing off their tits. They talked to me about it, because it made them uncomfortable and creeped out too.

      "Handsome is as handsome does." As true today as it ever was.

      Forcing something unwanted on another human being is the problem we are describing here. No one gives a damn if the one doing the forcing is a fashion model or Gollum. It's creepy, repulsive, and nauseating. That it's also unprofessional is just one more nail in the coffin.

      1. dan1980

        Re: In fairness....

        Scarily ignorant? Harsh.

        I accept your criticism and it was probably worded inelegantly. Regardless, your counter argument is specious.

        I sincerely hope I shall never be robbed and, it should go without saying, I certainly would very much prefer not to be murdered, should I be able to avoid it at all.

        I do not, however, share a similar aversion to being flirted with. Maybe you, personally, hate being flirted with. Ever. That's fine - I am not telling you (or the author) that you have to react the way I do or enjoy the things I do. I would wager, however, that most adults flirt and enjoy being flirted with. That some of that flirting is misplaced, inappropriate, unwelcome, or 'creepy' is unfortunate but unavoidable.

        Perhaps I am out-of-touch (I'm really not that old . . .) but these events are very much social situations. There is little in them that can't be learned through reading press releases or news/blog sites or white papers. One of the main reasons to go is to 'network' or, if you are less concerned with that, simply to meet people who are of common interests and to 'talk shop'. That is why alcohol is served - it's understood that it is a social event.

        Of course, none of that makes it acceptable to be crude and disrespectful to others - you are at a social event with strangers and should behave as such, which is to say to be friendly, be yourself and act with courtesy and decency.

        Based on your reply, perhaps we have a difference in our wording. When I said 'ogling', I was referring to the author's phrase: "creepily stare at me head-to-toe", not about touching someone or showing pictures of genitalia or telling people they are turned-on, which I agree is "It's creepy, repulsive, and nauseating", or at least it can be - I don't presume to dictate how others must respond but I'd rather not be subject to that behavior either.

        I was picking up on the wording (perhaps I shouldn't have) that having your appearance appraised is creepy. Perhaps to some people it is - all the time and without exception. Fair enough. To many people, though, being appreciated for your looks can be flattering. It tends to cross into being classified as creepy when it is unwelcome and - as a generalisation (and I freely admit it is no more than that) - the more attractive the person doing the looking, the more welcome the look is.

        I have seen it myself. I dare say we all have. I had a partner whose best friend was a rather attractive young lady. My partner served as support and so I was often along for the ride. My experience is subjective and relatively limited but to presume that people don't view flirting from attractive people more favourably than flirting from unattractive people for the sake of making a point is a bit silly.

        I agree that "forcing something unwanted on another human being is the problem" but I was not describing anyone forcing anything on anyone else. The footnote I wrote (it was not worth elevating above that) said nothing of the sort.

        To compare being looked at or flirted with to being murdered - as both equally unmitigated by the attractiveness of the other person - is ridiculous in the extreme

  32. david 12 Silver badge

    Don't bother being polite in response

    Unacceptable men have nothing to loose by behaving different to the norm, their only chance is to try something different, given that they've got zero chance anyway. Because (a) being polite is what all the other blokes are doing, and (b) women at conference are not there to form a social releationship.

    It follows that any kind of personal response (other than submission) is irrelevant: they still aren't any worse off than they were before.

    If you want to have an effect on this kind of behaviour, you have to change the equation. Name names. Get somebody fired.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well I agree it's wrong. I think it's a bit harsh for people to be saying that these guys need to be fired when clearly they just don't know how to pick up "some" women. Like another guy said here, what works for one does not work for another, but it would be wrong to presume that some women don't like dirty talk (even office women) or don't do sexual activity in the workplace. There are many office flings and affairs going on and I assure you they didn't all start out when after the working day had ended. It would be wrong to presume that all women would not respond positively to it.

    Sure they are asses in my estimation but I'd have to admit if some particularly hot women wanted to drape themselves all over me in that fashion I'm sure every once in a while I'd be tempted, though not most of the time since I'd probably want to factor classiness into the picture. But not always...

    1. Corinne

      " I think it's a bit harsh for people to be saying that these guys need to be fired when clearly they just don't know how to pick up "some" women."

      These guys haven't just been clumsy in how they flirt, in some cases they have committed an offence (assault) while representing their company. That tends to be an instant dismissal offence in any company, and they are lucky not to have the police called and criminal charges laid.

      I'm not a prissy prudish woman, I have been known to flirt in the office, I can out-swear half the men I know, and I fully accept that different people have different tolerance levels for this kind of thing. So what I and the vast majority of people do is start from the basis that everyone else IS someone who will take offence, then very slowly test the water to see what the tolerance levels are there. What I don't do is walk straight into a new environment & start swearing & making suggestive comments on day 1.

      These men have crossed a line in both socially acceptable behaviour and the law.

  34. Yukkuri

    As a man I never cease to be appalled at how men behave toward women. How did any of these dudes think this kind of thing is okay?

  35. Richard 1


    I, like a number of people that have put a comment on here, have never seen this kind of behaviour at a conference or, in fact, anywhere else in the IT industry. What kind of conferences is she attending?! The only way I can imagine a normal IT person acting even remotely like this is if they were totally smashed, but who drinks like that at a conference (or workplace?)

    I know plenty of men that can be idiots. However, blurting "I've got a hard on" to a random woman in a semi-professional environment. Sorry, I'm sceptical.

    Of course, I've only working the UK so maybe things are a bit different elsewhere, where men don't have a sense of decency or self-control?

    1. Corinne

      Re: Sceptical.

      Richard I'm assuming from your name that you're a man, so would never have experienced this first hand. Another thing to consider is that predatory men will choose their moment to carry out their bad behaviours - the groping and bum pinching when no-one is looking, the obscene comments during a one on one conversation, knowing full well that many women won't make a loud and obvious fuss as they've learned that they will be accused of over-reacting, or told they should take it as a compliment.

    2. Vic

      Re: Sceptical.

      The only way I can imagine a normal IT person acting even remotely like this is if they were totally smashed, but who drinks like that at a conference (or workplace?)

      I agree - as geeks, we may be socially inept, but we tend towards the introverted.

      But conferences are different - a large percentage of the people there are not geeks; they have but a passing interest in IT at all. They're sales people,

      I've spent quite a bit of time with sales teams over the years - a lot of them have strange ideas about acceptable behaviour, with or without alcohol...


      1. dan1980

        Re: Sceptical.

        @Richard 1, @ Corrine & @Vic

        Massive generalisations all around and I am not going to help the situation.

        It is my experience that many of these events lean towards the social side of things. You just don't serve alcohol anywhere you want people to actually learn some important technical detail.

        Social situations attract more extroverted people, as a rule, so while there may be quite a few stereotypically-introverted IT bods who are genuinely interested in the tech and are there to learn as much as they can, those people are less likely to be downing the free drinks or attending the more social parts of the days/nights.

        Remember that some of these conferences will have package deals with hotels an attendees may well be attending from interstate or even overseas so there will often be social events planned for the evenings so people new in town aren't just left to their own devices.

        Another point, assuming the classic extrovert, is that such folk generally open up in the presence of like-minded people and where better than a conference full of them! But of course, real, boots on the ground, IT bods are not the only attendees at these things and there are plenty of mid-level management types as well as the omnipresent sales folk.

        Personally, I enjoy these types of events and almost invariably find that I learn more useful information talking with the other attendees than by paying much attention to the speakers. It's good to really drill-down when there are serious techs manning the booths as well, of course!

        If I am saying anything in this rambling piece (I am a bit under the weather today so not thinking too coherently) it is that these types of events are often more social by design and so the social parts of them, attract the more social people.

        I doubt the author was suggesting that introverted, trouble-talking-to-girls, 'nerds' are the ones pinching her behind, showing her pictures of genitals or proposing group-sex. I know a few of those stereotypical awkward IT guys and they are far more likely to bore girls who aren't interested in the IT details than they are to tell a girl who is interested that she has given him a 'hard on'.

        It sounds so ridiculously contrived because it fits the stereotype so well but I worked with a chap who once got to talking to a young lady who was clearly interested in him but he was oblivious because he was so engrossed in talking about his pet subject.

        Wait - what was I talking about?

  36. Crisp

    This article doesn't represent me or anyone I've worked with.

    Phoummala Schmitt doesn't have a problem with IT Blokes, she has a problem with arseholes. This should be properly reflected in the title of the article.

  37. codejunky Silver badge


    I am a bloke and while I have never been to such a tech event I have had similar proposals/comments through my life from women. If its in odd humour I match them, if they say it in a general sense of conversation I discuss and if they are 'coming on to me' I politely turn them down. I am aware I have a high threshold for what I am willing to tolerate but I can see why it would bother some/most people male or female receiving comments from male/female. I do note a difference that men tend to keep these things to themselves while women like to brag/complain about it (in general) but we dont all handle things the same way. I mention that because such LEWD comments are dished out to men and women, by men and women. Its not a contest.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "I'll be honest."

    I *love* honesty!! It gives me a h...

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I can only apologize for my half of the species and hand on heart say that I would never commit any of the crimes against decency you've mentioned and if anyone working for me behaved in this manner I'd show them the door.

    I've had the misfortune to be stuck in a group with bell ends like this a few times and all they do is embarrass everyone around them. I don't remember them ever pulling either, they invariably seem to be the sad drunk propping up the bar at the end of the night. I really don't think this is an IT problem in particular though, the wife experiences this sort of idiotic behaviour and she works in a female dominated area, it's mostly from the sales guys when she's reviewing equipment.

  40. Yugguy

    It's quite simple

    Saying "Hello darling, would you like to take down MY particulars?" to a male policeman is not as funny.

  41. Squander Two

    Denial and progress

    I remember on a previous thread on this subject (months ago) that the comments filled up with the usual "Why don't women have a sense of humour?" "It's just a bit of banter." "Women do it too." I pointed out at the time that not only was the very first comment in the thread a reference to placing an object into the author's vagina but that you can guarantee that one of the first comments to any such article in IT circles will always be a reference to placing an object into the author's vagina, and that this is not true in other industries. I didn't see the first comment to this article before it was moderated away, but I'm guessing I may have been proven right again, even if only approximately. Still, the rest of the comments are way better than last time, so, you know, maybe we're progressing.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Denial and progress

      I'm pretty sure it wasn't about that, I was some kind of grumpy remark though.

  42. Martin Walker


    Never seen this type of behavior in the UK. It's still lamentable the lack of women in the industry though. In 30 odd years I don't think the numbers have gone forward at all.

  43. Jim 59


    The article throws out many accusations with no right of reply, which is a major weakness. It is impossible to make a sensible comment, because we weren't there. In response to a one-sided presentation of events, all we can do is politely assume it is completely true, and sympathise with the author.

    The final part of the article warns us strongly against a career in sex crime, in enumerated, super bold text. Well durrr. This does not endear the reader, and seems to wash a political sheen over what has gone before. Perhaps this bit of the article was written first ? But again, there really is no telling.

  44. SeanEllis


    I'm sad to see another annoying trope turning up in the comments here - "mansplaining".

    This is the phenomenon where a third party (usually a man) will dismiss the direct experience of the receiver of the abuse (usually, and in this case, a woman) and "explain" what was "really" going on, who was "really" to blame, and so forth, in direct contradiction of the reported life experience of the abusee.

    To most people, I'm glad to say, this makes the poster look like an idiot.

    While this may seem rare to us men (I haven't directly seen it either) we cannot and must not dismiss it - the Petrie multiplier makes the female experience considerably more difficult than it should be. And to agree with other posters, this isn't confined to IT conferences. I have heard reports (from people I trust) of the same kind of thing happening at scientific meetings, skeptical conferences, and SF conventions.

    What I would like to know is what the friends and colleagues of the idiots at the conference were doing at the time. Let's hope that the more widespread awareness of this problem is, the more friends will help to speed its elimination, via the same peer pressure that made drunk driving socially as well as legally unacceptable.

    1. dan1980

      Re: 'Splaining


      Re: "The Petrie Multiplier"

      The interesting thing about that notion is that it actually disproves (if you accept the reasoning) not just that it is a problem with men in IT but that it is a problem with IT at all!

      The theory, applied to IT (as it was), basically says that there is no inherent sexism in tech and the apparent sexism that we see/hear/experience/read is simply the result of a large difference in the numbers of men and women in IT - nothing more.

      By that reasoning, there is no particular problem with men in IT - it is pure maths - and similar results will occur anywhere there is a big disparity in the genders.

      So, if one adheres to Ian's reasoning, one should take that reasoning to its logical conclusion, which is that there is no specific problem with sexism in tech and we, as techies, should not feel unduly burdened by the reports of IT being a particularly notable sector for sexist behaviour any more than we should feel a responsibility that IT is male-dominated.

      As a tech, I just don't care about gender numbers any more than I care about how many of so-and-so race there are. What I care about is that the people I have to deal with and/or rely on are competent and are able to communicate intelligently and efficiently with me achieve whatever goal it is we are working towards.

      I have nothing against female techs and, were the industry numbers reversed, I would be just as fine with the situation. I have worked in strongly female-dominated workplaces and industries before and it bothered me not one bit. So long as everyone does their job and does it well, I can get on with my own job.

      None of this excuses sexual harassment - it is simply my comment on the mentioned 'Petrie Multiplier'.

      1. SeanEllis

        Re: 'Splaining

        Dan, I don't think it disproves anything.

        My view on the Petrie multiplier is not that it explains away the reported bad behaviour, but that it exacerbates a real problem and makes it worse.

        This makes it even more important that this kind of thing is made socially unacceptable, not just by pressure from the victims, but from the perpetrators' friends and colleagues too.

        A previous poster said that people have a go because they have nothing to lose; if everyone called them out on it, not just the victims, then perhaps they would perceive that they do indeed have something to lose.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 'Splaining

          "A previous poster said that people have a go because they have nothing to lose; if everyone called them out on it, not just the victims, then perhaps they would perceive that they do indeed have something to lose."

          I think the counter is that they wouldn't be doing this if their colleagues didn't approve or tacitly allow it, meaning they KNOW they have nothing to lose they know their peers have their backs. The idea being if ONE of them is implicated, they risk ALL being tarred with the same brush.

  45. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Not to minimize this..

    I heartily agree with this article BTW.

    Not to minimize the inappropriateness of this type of behavior, but I do know a person or two who, once they are drunk, if nobody sets them off on a different topic, they'll talk about who they've banged, want to bang, exes and who they are banging, if some TV show or movie's on they'll try to turn every line into a double entendre and like "Oh what I'd like to do with her..." for 2/3rds of the female actresses that come on the screen. When it's that over the top, it's pretty embarassing among men too. I'm sure if they went to conferences, after a few drinks they'd be a real horses ass to any women at the conference while they're at it.

    1. Jim 59

      Re: Not to minimize this..

      ...I do know a person or two who, once they are drunk, if nobody sets them off on a different topic, they'll talk about who they've banged, want to bang, exes and who they are banging...

      Lol. Rest assured of this person's virginity.

      ...I'm sure if they went to conferences, after a few drinks they'd be a real horses ass to any women at the conference while they're at it.

      Well you know them and I don't, but confiding your lust to a male drinking buddy and actually chatting to a strange woman are two very different things. He might be a dick at the conference, or he might meet a woman, be tongue-tied, super-polite and awkward.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    People are dicks - especially when away from home - I don't think it's particularly an IT problem. It is however a problem, don't know how you fix it beyond chemical castration though and the removal of alcohol.

  47. juski

    This isn't isolated to the IT industry or trade conferences & whatnot. There are a hell of a lot of idiots around in all walks of life. I've seen plenty of evidence first hand (being paid to be sober in bars & clubs where I played music). Lots of women keep quiet about being harassed because they think it's just something they have to put up with. It wasn't very long ago that my wife told me about what typically happens to at least one of her peer group on a 'girls night out'. There was I thinking you generally had to have consent before leaning in, tongue out to snog somebody when you've not even said 'hello' yet.. and worse besides.

    Anybody who is subject to this kind of abuse would be well within their rights to lash out as hard as they feel necessary IMHO. I'm not going to say anybody who meekly tolerates it is an enabler but it'd surely help if everybody helped put a stop to this kind of behaviour & change attitudes.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    often two sides...

    I recall at an evening out meeting the girlfriend of a colleague. I knew they were not getting on well from little things he had said. At drinks she happened to be wearing a very low cut top. She spent an hour or more bending my ear about their problems and his failings, with me failing to sidle away, not wanting to spend my evening listening to something my colleague would probably not want me to know. I spent most of that time looking down and saying little hoping my lack of eye contact would lead (as it does with most normal people) to a gentle ending of the conversation.

    I found out the next day she complained to him I spent half the evening trying to look at her breasts.

    To say I was pissed off is putting it mildly, having had to waste my evening listen to her, then have her boyfriend relate her complaint without being able to tell him what his girlfriend was doing all that time. Did she consider other interpretations than the one she took?

    Im not saying there arent dumb blokes out there, but it also happens that people get totally the wrong message from what they see or hear.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    After 30 years in computing

    I can say that I only ever met two females who were the equal of their male counterparts, this out of hundreds more who got in purely because of their sex.

    I can also say that being sexually suggestive to your peers during work time was always frowned upon except where is was done by a female. There was a bloke who had suffered a nervous breakdown after his wife died that used to make comments upon a lady who came in the office back when I started working and even still he got stick for it from his peers. There have been a number of females who acted in a similar inappropriate manner in my career that were not certified mentally damaged and who's partner had not died

    Computing has changed a lot in this period but even still there has always been a lot of "working in computing is hard because I am a woman" type articles, basically IMHO because you don't need any technical expertise to write them.

    My sister is a Chartered Chemical Engineer and she deals with her peers as would a man, why does the work environment have to change for a sex that from my experience are not as dedicated to the subject as their opposite number

    1. h4rm0ny

      Re: After 30 years in computing

      >>"My sister is a Chartered Chemical Engineer and she deals with her peers as would a man, why does the work environment have to change for a sex that from my experience are not as dedicated to the subject as their opposite number"

      I suggest you show your sister this article and your comment and see if she agrees with you.

  50. tekHedd

    Oh, so that explains it.

    Reading this, my entire reaction is "what? That's outrageous and unbelievable!" But of course it's not, which I suppose is the point.

    Of course the kind of people who do this crap already know it's unacceptable, and of course they won't change because you told them to stop. I can't help by expressing disapproval because I don't associate with that kind of person and therefore my opinion carries no weight with them. So, er, sorry?

  51. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    Longest feminist push ever

    Miss Sadlooks with the Dr. Dre shit has been on the front page for 3 days now.


    Practically reaching MH17 levels right there.

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    'Women do it too, blah blah'

    Yes. You are all right.

    Any of us that have worked in support for any reasonable length of time will have been subjected to it, walking into areas in which there are more women than men; indeed, even when the opposite is true.

    Sure, I've lost count of suggestive comments as I've crawled under desks. Had my backside slapped, squeezed, grabbed, analysed.

    However. <---- Big word, because there's a staggering difference.

    This is not the same as male> female harassment, for a simple reason. Women are significantly more oppressed in our society. The *context* is entirely different. It's 2014 and women can't walk past building sites. Can't walk home after the pub in the dark. Can't walk home after the pub during the day. Can't wear what they want without unwanted assumptions and comments. Can't call out sexist attitudes for fear of 'misandry'. Still get paid less.

    Indeed, tragic rape figures are stacked enormously toward male on female violence, and not the other way around. To suggest women are 'just as bad' is to ignore stark and obvious truths that women are still physically and emotionally abused by an androgenic culture.

    Unfortunately, latent sexist attitudes are still woven deep, and the scales in this regard are tipped heavily in favour of men.

    There's an ominous tone to the experiences of the author. For me, this is entirely different from the experiences I have had receiving 'attention' from women.

  53. hmv

    I hate reading this sort of thing - because I'd prefer to live in a world where it doesn't happen, but of course it does.

    Two points come to mind on this ...

    Firstly it's not men that are the problem, but self-entitled arseholes with poor impulse control. And yes there are women who are members of that sleazy set too. Are women more or less likely to be self-entitled arseholes with poor impulse control? Don't know, and don't really care. Whoever is being the arsehole, the rest of us need to be more willing about slapping down that arsehole.

    And not just their targets.

    Secondly the IT world is bigger than the stereo-typical ultra geeks living in a humming basement and this sounds like more of a sales junket than a technical conference. I usually 'attend' such things virtually these days, but don't recall such behaviour at technical conferences. Admittedly I wouldn't have been the target, but it's usually not totally invisible.

    On the other hand, I do remember one opening speech at a technical conference (CCC or Shmoocon) where they went out of their way to indicate they wanted to hear about problems - including harassment.

    It would be good if other conferences went out of their way to say that harassment of any kind would not be accepted.

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    From another point of view

    Women aren't the only ones who can be sexually harassed at the workplace or at professional events. I have been made uncomfortable by women in these sorts of situations a number of times.

    I will agree that it's uncomfortable to have coworkers and/or strangers "accidentally" rubbing up against your genitals, or rubbing themselves on you, shaking your hand while doing that finger motion to indicate availability, etc. While the problem of men doing this to women might be more common or worse, it does happen the other way too. Seems to be part of the human condition and I suppose the only way to take it is as a compliment that some people find you attractive enough to attempt this behavior. (Unfortunately it seems they're rarely the people you also find attractive. But then, nobody would complain about that...)

  55. Daggersedge

    Another feminist ranting about a non-problem.

    Oh just go away you feminist idiot! I'm a woman and I know you're speaking utter nonsense.

    Although you don't say it, your whole rant is aimed at white men. Otherwise, you would say something, wouldn't you about all the violent lyrics of blacks. You know, the ones advocating rape and murder. Otherwise, you would say something about Muslim men in the UK gang-raping 11-year olds in Rotherham. Real stuff, in other words, not the non-problems that you are trying to use to explain why more women aren't programmers.

    But no, you reserve your rants for white men who might look at you funny, if they ever have. Who might have said something a bit off-colour in your hearing. Wow! It's so very odd, isn't it that you can be so traumatised given that you feminists say that women are so very strong. One might think you were living in Victorian times or something.

    As for why more women aren't programmers, it's simple. They've found that they can make more money writing articles whining about how more women aren't programmers. The industry of victimhood is such a lucrative one, isn't it?

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I am a man and I have been in situations involving alcohol and groups of women groping and making just as obscene suggestions. This is not a man thing, it is not an IT thing, it is a horny drunken idiot thing.

  57. Truth4u


    I just wanted to say that I've never made a lewd comment to a woman or grabbed her ass even when drunk. I am for the most part polite and respectful to everyone which is why women ignore the shit out of me.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hard to believe it's the 21st century sometimes.

    Gotta say though, I find it equally creepy and just as offensive to be targeted by surgically enhanced booth babes trying to use various appendages to get my attention in the hope I'll buy something off them. I hate the approach, the cosy arm around the shoulder and the tacit suggestion that my buying skills are somehow linked to her pheromones.

  59. DeepStorage

    We can stop this. Gentlemen say "I think you need to apologize to the lady"

    I do occasionally, I promise my self, the women in my life, and our industry to say "I think you need to apologize to the lady" more often.

    BTW: In a small step forward the ladies working the Bluecat booth weren't in their previous scanty costumes. but real clothes.

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