When I was a freshman in high school, just 13 years old, I decided to take one of my school’s technology courses. I grew up around computers because my parents both worked with them and it seemed like a natural fit. What I found out on the first day of class was it was me and about 20 or so guys with a male teacher, in the school’s windowless, basement computer room. I was the only girl in the entire section. I was a little intimidated, for about three seconds, and then I started reading the syllabus and got completely distracted. A few months later, we were working on something in class and my teacher casually turned around and told me he was very surprised that I’d decided to stick it out in the class. I was very puzzled, until I realized he was insinuating he thought I would quit because I was the only girl.
Fast forward eight years and I have graduated college, and embarked on the first rung of my career ladder, at a small video production company a few towns over from where I live. I have now worked here for a year and four months, and for the majority of that time I’ve been the only girl on the night shift working with a small group of guys. And actually, I prefer it this way.
I’ve found that my work and communication styles in the workplace actually mesh much better with men than women. And believe me, I’ve worked with plenty of women in the past. For six years, throughout high school and college, I worked full time at a Girl Scout camp in the summers, where, except for the waterfront director, the staff was made up of exclusively women. While that job was infinitely more fun than my current one, it was also more stressful and I found it much more difficult to get along with my coworkers overall. There were more gender politics at work, more gossiping about each other, and more subtle undermining of your fellow staff members.
In the male-dominated industry of video production, working well with guys is a very good thing. I have definitely worked with an eclectic bunch, from an obnoxious pig to one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met to the world’s biggest movie buffs, to guys who turned pushing my buttons into a game to see who could annoy me the most.
It’s strange, but I’ve actually developed a sort of sisterly relationship with most of them, which makes work a much more enjoyable experience, especially when we’re not trying to re-engineer an entire way of backing up a system at ridiculous-o’clock in the morning. Spending time mindlessly sorting out beauty shots at 3 a.m. is much more fun if you’re playfully arguing over how hot George Clooney is, or debating whether it’s worth getting Assassin’s Creed on a $5 sale, rather than sitting in a cubicle with your headphones on in your own little world.
Today I actually had a female daytime coworker turn around to me and say “I don’t know how you do it, putting up with these jokers all night.” And she was partially kidding, but at the same time, she wasn’t. In my experience, a lot of women find it difficult to be around just guys for extended periods of time, but I enjoy being able to just “blend in” with them unobtrusively. Yes, they’re definitely weird and yes, they do talk about some things that my female coworkers would never dream of bringing up in a million years, but that’s what makes it interesting at the same time.
The most important thing that I’ve learned is that, despite urban legend, working exclusively with guys isn’t actually something to be intimidated by. As long as you’re respectful of them, they generally treat you with the same respect. That’s not to say that the same isn’t true with women, it’s true with most people across the board. However, with all people, there will be exceptions, regardless of their gender.[divider] [/divider]
Thoughts? Tell us in the comments or tweet us @litdarling.[divider] [/divider]
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