In short, I like it, mostly. There are huge perks: I stand out in a room. I am automatically unique and special without having to do anything. I also get special attention, I admit it. Boys give me the extra little gestures of courtesy, like opening doors, that they don’t give their fellow boys. And I’m not complaining.
Also, I guess because I am used to it, I generally feel comfortable and welcome in a 80%-boy environment. I tend to have more issues when I am around a different generation than when I am around a different gender. But that’s one of the things that I like about the whole “Web 2.0” crowd: I’m kind of on the old side.
But there are also some downsides to being one of the few girls. First of all, like a lot of girls in the tech industry, I am not a coder. You have no idea how many times I’ll be chatting with a guy about whatever geeky topic, and 5 or 10 minutes into it, it will come out that I am a writer. And the comes the line that I always hear: “Oh, I thought you were technical.” Um, just as a heads up, boys: I have no idea how to respond to that. What is technical? What do you mean? What are you implying? Just because we girls are often in fields like writing, marketing, and design doesn’t mean that we don’t understand the technology. If you want to reach out to us, accept these related areas of technology with equal respect and appreciation that you give the coders.
Also, as girls, we have to always wonder why you boys are talking to us. Are you really interested in business networking or do you just want to talk to a girl? Do you really want to meet again to talk about that idea or are you hoping dinner will lead to something more? It adds a layer of complexity that we don’t have to deal with when talking to other women.
So girls are in the minority in the geek world. It is good to acknowledge it, but I think there are more interesting things to focus our energy on.