Saturday, September 1, 2007

No, I Need Mister Caitlyn

I promised to write about my recent experiences with sexism in the IT industry, so... Here is a rare cross post of an article from the O'Reilly Linux Dev Center blog which I contribute to:

Lately I've been looking to pick up a new contract or even possibly move back into a long term corporate position. My résumé (CV for those outside the United States) is, I think, fairly impressive. I am a competent systems administrator and security geek with over 27 years of experience in the industry. I've had lots of calls from recruiters: some quite good, some not so good, and some, well...

In the past couple of weeks I've had several calls like this. I'm pretty close to word for word on the most recent:
Me: Hello.
Recruiter: Can I speak to Martin please?
Me: This is Caitlyn Martin. How can I help you?
Recruiter: No, I need Mister Caitlyn Martin.
Me (annoyed): There is no Mr. Martin. What is this about?
Recruiter: (sputters and trips over his tongue, then goes on to say it's about a job)

These recruiters have several things in common:
  1. They are all male
  2. All but one have a foreign (Asian or Middle Eastern) accent
  3. All simply can't believe that the woman on the phone is a skilled technical professional

Yes, one spoke unaccented American English, but most come from places even more misogynistic than the United States. None of them, regardless of whether the position made sense or not, gets to represent me or submit my résumé anywhere. I have to believe that their prejudice will get in the way of them doing a proper job of presenting me to a prospective employer or customer.

I read the replies to Carla Schroder's recent posts about the sexism at Linux Journal. You know, the ones that claim there really is no sexism in IT and that we women are being oversensitive. I even got similar comments when I blogged about Carla's posts. Let me tell you that in my experience things have gotten worse since the turn of the century, not better. If you still don't believe there's sexism in IT in general and in the Linux community in particular either you are blind to it or part of it.

Oh, and how many of you have ever met a man named Caitlyn?

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Music selections last 24 hours:

Michael Rother - Katzenmusik
Steve Hillage - Fish Rising
Nik Tyndall - Lagoon
King Crimson - Starless and Bible Black
Edgar Froese - Aqua

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