Mixed STEM Snafus

Zut! Ice Cream day. And courtesy of the weather beavers – execute the messenger! – too low in air temperature for SCP to execute constitutional in the park. So the week out exercise culminated by a session of stationary bicycle and a finish, but not completion, to that episode of “The Pen Addict”. Rather a better episode than others recently. Less nattering about wee notebooks that I find useful but not worshipful. This episode did a bit more nattering about pens and I picked up a few nuggets.

On which azimuth I ran across an article [Link] on Lifehacker entitled “Things You Should Never Say to Women Working in Tech or Science”. This article gather my attention span. Now I should comment that Lifehacker obeys Sturgeon’s Rule. It is about 0.9 crap in article count. I haven’t tried to see if the rule holds for ASCII count. A lot of what they have is crap by context, that is, irrelevant or orthogonal to my existence. That’s not surprising given its demographic is less than half my age. But even taking that out a surprising amount is just plain stercus. 

But I have worked with women STEMs and I do recognize that there are some things that are ‘here be dragons”. This is not to say that there aren’t also such with men STEMs but for some reason these are obvious to both men and women. So, in effect, there is a women’s arcana.

The examples of forbidden questions are:

  1. “How did you learn to do all this?!” 
  2. “No, when I complain about ‘geek girls,’ I don’t mean you. You’re a real geek.” 
  3. “Let me know when you want to do that so I can help you. No offense, but you just don’t know enough about it to try it on your own.” 
  4. “You’re a girl, but you’re not, like, a girl-girl, y’know?” 

which I am numbering for convenience of dissection.

Question number one doesn’t have to be a put down. It depends on delivery. It may be honest interest in the individual or it may be admiration of some capability that the questioner covets. If the latter can’t be distinguished from the former then the organization has serious problems and might best be liquidated, starting with the manager.

Question number two is so inappropriate that the questioner should be given notice that any repetition will be answered with dismissal. This sort of question is  a EEO/Sexual Harassment litigation festering. But it is instructive of something. Note the use of the term ‘geek”. This is critical. It indicates this is not a nerd environment. Caveat Emptor. 

Question 3 is nekulturny. Big Time! Given what we inferred from the previous we would like to pronounce that this is clearly a geek environment with all the toe smashing that implies. Sadly, however, nerds have social skills that are as bad, if not worse, than geeks albeit often different. This is one of those unpleasant situations where both individuals need to be counseled on developing their social skills if they ever expect to get off latrine police duty. The sad thing is that the woman will almost certainly adapt – if you caught it early enough – and the man will molder and have to be discharged or quarantined. 

Question 4 is like 2. 

The sad thing about these is that they get past the manager too **** often. Mostly due to manager incompetence. Which also obeys Sturgeon’s Rule. So occasionally it is necessary to dispose of a manager and perhaps his entire sub-organization. Which is a waste of good STEMs that the manager has ruined by incompetence.