The Unisex Geek Uniform
I read an interesting point of view from Melinda Seckington. One thing that caught my eye was her mention of how she wears geeky t-shirts so that people believe that she’s actually a geek. Like her, I prefer to wear womanly clothes in public. But the assumption doesn’t bother me. Here’s why.
Assumptions vs Prejudice
We always make assumptions based on our past experience. Examples include: an elementary teacher is a woman, a mechanic is a man, a person with an expensive camera is a photographer. This is different from prejudice where you make an opinion not based on experience or evidence. Examples include: girls suck at math, girls can’t be gamers and blondes are dumb. There is absolutely no evidence to support these claims.
Now back to the clothing.
Why do women feel compelled to wear geeky t-shirts over womanly clothes?
Many geeks, whether male or female, wear the geek uniform. That usually consists of jeans and a black or grey t-shirt with a reference to programming, video games, science or a sci-fi show. It’s like a competition of geekness. Another popular attire is a black or grey sweater. The audience of a conference often looks like a computer terminal: a dark background with a few colors in the foreground. You won’t be any less geek if you wear an orange shirt. Colors are soooooo much more fun.
The Male Stereotype
What happens to the man who decides to wear a nice shirt? Think about his job……………….. You might have thought about management or sales. Geeks are expected to wear more casual clothes. Geeks don’t dress up. But do geeks wear a Tesla t-shirt when they go to a high school reunion? I would assume not.
The Female Stereotype
What happens to the woman who decides to wear a dress? Think about her job……………….. You might have thought about PR or marketing. She may even be a booth babe if she’s really pretty. And so, to avoid being mislabelled, some women put on a dull t-shirt and lose their identity.
It’s not so hard to say “actually, I’m a programmer”. BOOM! It feels great, try it. Tell them what you do for a living. Until then, all they can do is guess based on past experience. In their experience, they may have never met a woman who can program. Cut them some slack.
I am a Geek
Or at least that’s what my friends say. “You’re such a geek, it’s unbelievable”.
Assumptions used to annoy me, but now I’m actually enjoying seeing men’s faces when they discover that I’m a skilled programmer, that I like sci-fi, action movies and video games. I impress people with my big photo lens when I bring it along. But then they sometimes mistake me for a photographer
When I wear a dress at a conference, other women tell me that they wish they had put their dress. It’s contagious, so spread it! Here is some inspiration. Sorry I couldn’t find a photo of me with the dress. Men are hesitant to take my pic because they’re afraid to look like stalkers.