Wednesday, November 22, 2006

On Being a Girl in the Big Bad World of Software

A few years ago when I was still living in San Francisco and still billing myself as a programmer I went on the best interview ever. I have chosen not to name the company in this post because I love nerds and have no desire to embarrass them on this very popular blog but I am not so nice as to refuse to identify them verbally – so if you really care, ask me.

I was only at the interview for 10 minutes before it became clear that the decision to interview me went something like this:

Dork #1 (making announcement over office intercom): Dudes! CODE PINK!!! I just got a resume for that open programmer position and I think it might be from a girl!

(Dorks 2-6 rush to the desk of Dork #1)

Dork #1 (pointing to computer screen): See? “Brianna” that ends in an “A” and in our culture ending a name in an “A” almost always indicates that the person totally will have boobs someday OR might already have boobs right this very moment!

Dork #4 (in a badly affected English accent): By George I think he’s right!

Dork #5 (in an electronic voice): female programmer… does not compute.

Dork #1: Dudes. I don’t want to get over excited here but…. she might have other friends who are also girls.

Dork #2: CALL HER!

I do not recall noticing heavy breath during my brief phone screen for this job so I commend the boys for learning how to mute their phones.

Dressing for programmer interviews on the west coast as a girl is a challenge – if you’re a boy you can wear khakis and a dress shirt but there is really no flattering equivalent for females. You cannot wear a suit because the people who interview you will be wearing flip flops and that kind of huge disparity between the dress level of interviewer and interviewee can only lead to bad things. For this interview I choose to wear a burgundy tank dress with a white button down underneath (yeah, it probably is as bad as it sounds). I arrived at the interview site and was greeted by five very eager young men. I was not asked any programming questions. I was instead engaged in the following conversations:

Conversation 1

Dork #6 (arriving late to meeting wearing jeans with a 6inch rip at the left knee, a black thermal shirt and (I am not kidding) a bike chain with a clothes pin attached to it as a necklace): Hey, I’m [Dork #6]

Female Dork (aka me): Hi, it’s nice to meet you

Dork #6: Is this how you’d typically dress for work?

Bri: Well you seem to have a rather casual atmosphere so probably not.

Dork #6: Like that would you normally wear?

Bri: ummm jeans? And a shirt…

Conversation 2

Dork #1: Do you drink?

Bri: ummm occasionally

Dork #1: Ok, let me be more specific – If we were making margaritas in the office would you have one?

Bri: Yeah

Dork #2: Let’s say that we were going out to a bar after work – would you come with us?

Bri: Sure

Dork #3: Do you like E?

Bri: ummmm…. I don’t really do any drugs so….

Dorks 1,2,3,5,6: hahahahahaha

Dork #3: [Dork #4] likes going to raves, he was hoping you’d go with him sometime.

Shockingly I did not get this job – I do not know if I should blame my conservative dress (Thanks Laura Ashley!) or my lack of experience with recreational drugs. Perhaps upper management stepped in and rejected me in an effort to avoid the sexual harassment lawsuit that was sure to result from letting a girl into the shire.


themikestand said...

Seriously... code PINK? Sometimes nerds are so transparent ;)

Excellent stories... any more and you could write a short book.

Lisa said...

this is the most ridic story ever! i once got twice winked at in an interview and i thought i had it bad!