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June 5, 2011 / ilegirl

6/5/11 Illusions and assumptions

I have a small but interesting group at work, overseen by 2 managers:  one woman and one man.  Both are kinda … well, geeky.  This is rather desirable in software development, of course.  Our conversations typically relate to technical issues, and on occasion Star Trek or Big Bang Theory.  We even share some inside jokes about Brook’s Law.

We recently had some problems with a contractor whose performance wasn’t up to our standards.  We’ve met with the guy twice, he’d received some specific action items both times, and to his credit had acted on them.  But the quality was clearly lacking, and the level of knowledge in the subject area for which he’d been hired wasn’t really impressing us.

I was sharing with my managers that I’d had a conversation recently with the firm through which the contractor was hired, and had communicated my concerns that this guy just wasn’t a fit for the project.

The male manager chimed in and said (I quote), “Yes, you have to wonder about someone who wore the same shirt for both meetings.”

Huh?  Was this a test of some sort?

Honestly, I hadn’t noticed WHAT the man was wearing (nor, for that matter, do I notice in particular what ANY man is wearing unless (a) he’s related to me; (b) he’s wearing something exceptionally ugly; or (c) he’s wearing something extraordinarily stylish).  It tickled me that someone noticed, and particularly someone male who plays Portal 2 and teaches his kids the finer points of geocaching, would be thus inclined.  Too, I realized I’d made incorrect – and even sexist – assumptions about what men notice as compared to women.  And for this I am duly humbled.

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