Tales from The Trenches Archive

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A Name by any other Gender.

I am a programmer by education, trade and passion. I enjoy math and logic and enjoy solving a good programming puzzle any day.

I was a frequent poster on a popular online board where people ask questions and discuss issues related to the language of programming I was relatively fluent in. On the forum, some of us had gotten relatively close, and many people knew each other outside of their “forum handle.”

A friend from the forum mentioned that there was an opening at his company for QA development, and he had suggested I apply. He was higher up in the company and provided the HR department and the department hiring some of my forum posts, showing my ability to program and also be helpful in a large, collaborative environment. 

Many emails went back and forth with this company. My current day job did not allow for phone calls, and I worked the entire work day of this company, but this was a great opportunity and I suggested I make a day trip out for a roundtable meeting.

Now, I have a name that, by all extensive purposes, is supposed to be male. Not one of those “Leslie” or “Dana” type names, but a straight-up male first name, despite having no Y chromosome. It never was an issue for me, nor for my husband for that matter. Nor did I think it ever would matter. It usually was a great ice breaker at conferences or when meeting someone for the first time.

Arriving at the company for the meet and greet, I was ushered in to the meeting to stares of people at the table.  They had no idea, apparently, that I was female… And a not too bad looking one if I do say so myself.

I was not even allowed to have the meeting. Apparently having a “female” in the “all male company” would be bad for policy and productivity. I was removed by security from the building. I left somewhat ashamed. And my friend on the forum who suggested me blocked me and never spoke to me again.

I’m at a great company now where my gender isn’t an issue, and the company that I tried to interview for has since been bought and merged.  I still get a bad taste in my mouth when I see anything online about them, though.