Behaving like an honourary guy

This is an Ask a Geek Feminist question.

The actual question is in search of a specific blog post:

A few months, maybe half a year ago, I came across a blog post written by a woman who worked in the game design industry. She talked a little about how she has found her behavior changes due to working in a largely male environment — for example, she tends to assume a more aggressively positive or motherly attitude than she otherwise might. She also talked about how it seems less forgivable for a woman to be wrong about something than a man. If a man asserts something is true and then turns out to be wrong, he was just mistaken; but if a woman asserts something is true and then turns out to be wrong, she is maliciously lying. I found the blog a fascinating and insightful look at some of the experiences of women in the gaming industry (or in general in any largely male workplace).

Alas, I failed to bookmark this blog and have been unable to find it again. I wonder if any of the geek feminists around here recognize and can help locate the blog post I am talking about, or know of any similar information (blogs, studies, psychology research, anything) that deals with this same topic. It’s clearly something that potentially affects any woman working in a largely male environment, but it’s not something I have seen a lot of discussion about. As a woman in game design myself, I have caught myself doing some of the same things that the blog poster mentioned, and I am very interested in reading more about this topic.

If you have thoughts on which blog post that might be, or other interesting links about being “one of the guys” or a mother-hen in a male dominated environment, feel free to share, but this might also be a good jumping off point for anything else you want to say about honourary guy-dom. “Honourary guy” is a term coined in a now locked blog post for being “one of the guys” and having the privileges associated that at the cost of seeing women constantly othered as “not-guys”.

This is compounded by intersectional oppressions: the less like a guy you are, the less likely it is that you can even consider being one of the guys. Or, in one word, kyriarchy.

So: links and discussion of how being in a male-dominated or guy-dominated environment influences you, or forces you to change in order to survive or succeed.

6 thoughts on “Behaving like an honourary guy

  1. Amy

    I have to admit… this hit me in a particularly vulnerable spot. I’ve been going through kind of a rough spot in terms of my own career and how it links to my self-esteem, and part of that ties in to some comments I’ve been getting from my (all male) coworkers lately about how I seem to “know it all” and how I “don’t listen” or don’t seem to want to learn from them.

    Since these things are extremely far off from how I actually FEEL (and since there is at least one coworker who I feel really DOES act this way but doesn’t seem to get the same comments), I’ve been constantly analyzing my own behavior to see if there is something I’m inadvertently doing to give off the wrong signals.

    The idea that maybe it’s just ordinary confidence and pride in my own work, and that these things are being interpreted as arrogance because I’m female, that idea is incredibly seductive, and therefore incredibly dangerous for me. Because… what if I’m wrong, and I really AM being arrogant somehow?

    (God, I really wish I had a confident and successful woman mentor at my job who I could consult!)

  2. Katherine

    I hope someone knows the blog post in question, it sounds like a good read.

  3. Ann

    I am in a VERY male dominated field – geology, geoengineering and in the early 1980’s quit a big dollar job because of the culture in the office. I was so young at the time I was unable to articulate what was happening. I returned to this industry about 5 years ago, and was severely shocked, disappointed and disturbed that over the last 25 years not very much had changed. We have more women with Master’s degrees, but no more with PhDs, and they leave academia (30% or more) after attaining tenure at about 10 years – no obvious explanation. So, it has become my mission to try and change my little part of the world on this issue.

    Unfortunately, I was so angry with myself because 10 days ago I found myself in the EXACT same position. I went to my boss to ask for more work, and found out that they felt I had not lived up to their “expectations” in advancing and had been pulling work from my plate!! Talk about a 2×4 upside the head. As an aside: in over 3 years I have NEVER had a performance review and in the last year we have been without any administrative help for 8 months – who do you think has to take care of the copier, set up meetings- etc… You guessed it – me. Not one of the men in the office, even though they had been their less time, were expected to pitch in. To make matters worse, if I had not gone in and made my request I WOULD NEVER HAD KNOWN. We still have to work twice as hard, we are expected to be the “office mom” and still be professional, skilled and knowledgeable.
    You are absolutely right – you find yourself slowly adjusting to the male culture that exists. God forbid if you are “pretty, or good looking” by society’s standards you barely stand a chance. Which in my case, is unfortunately true – per my husband.
    I wish it wasn’t a woman-man thing. It is great we are not the same. We DO think differently and if they would pay attention and take what we say seriously, they actually might find we can solve problems too, just in a DIFFERENT creative way – and I don’t really care if they take credit for it, just pay me the same and pass some appreciation my way once in a while.

    Here are some sites for you to check out: this will get you started. (Am. Women in Science)

  4. Lampdevil

    I don’t have a workplace story… is a gaming story okay?

    The feeling of being the “mother hen” in a pack of guys is a familiar one for me, in one of my gaming groups. While it may come down to just being the sort of player dynamic that we have, I often find myself feeling obliged to keep the party on track/keep the game from running off the rails. The group previously had another female player, and she drifted away for a variety of reasons… but one of them was “I am tired of having to effin’ babysit you guys!” The other players did not take leadership roles… or if they did, they did an atrocious job of it. So now I’m the designated “no more Monty Python jokes, roll your dice and move your mini and also that idea is a bad one and the party will die if you do it” person. The overall reaction? It’s one of acceptance. I am the nanny scolding the naughty children, I guess.

    Taken on its own, well, it might just be the kind of group dynamic that we have (and it’s gotten a lot better now that the GM spot has rotated out to another player and the former GM is a clever dude.) Still, I’ve seen shades of it occur in game groups at conventions. I’m naturally a laid-back, shy person, but I’ve had to learn to assert myself all over the place when I game, or things just don’t get done. If the group is tooling around uselessly, or simply talking over me, I know damn well that I need to raise my voice and assert myself or the whole production is gonna suck.

    I’m not sure if I have “honorary guy” status. Maybe I do. And then someone makes a sexist joke, I go “ahahah no that’s not funny”, and my membership seems to lapse for a few minutes. I once went along with it, because hey I was one of the COOL GIRLS, who GOT IT, not like all those other icky ones… the feminist blogosphere helped destroy that nasty thought.

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