Many men assume that women know little about technical/geeky subjects, and will speak condescendingly to them. Examples of such condescension include:
- Assuming that women at geeky events are new to that geek community and/or are beginners in that technical area ("it's so brave of you to get involved, well done")
- Assuming that women who do not hold CS and engineering degrees are incapable of understanding technical details.
- Assuming that any women at geeky events is attending with a male partner who is the actual geek ("so, you're here with your husband I guess?", see Here with my boyfriend)
- Assuming that a woman who is attending with a male partner or who has a more involved male partner is not also interested in joining the community or learning more for its own sake
- Assuming that women at technical events are there in a marketing, media reporter and interviewer role, community organization or sales role (see also Pigeonholing)
- Mansplaining: explaining something to a woman with the tacit assumption that she is technically inexpert. (Geeksplaining is the non-gender-specific equivalent.)
- Male geeks sometimes talk about a specific non-technical or non-geeky woman (most often their own wife or girlfriend, but also often their mother) as if her non-geeky interests make her an uninteresting or unintelligent person (see also So simple, your mother could do it)
- Male geeks sometimes make statements about "our girlfriends", "our wives", and "explaining to girls" (in a dating context). This is both Condescension as well as Othering for those that are not hetero-sexual males.
- Articles about how something geeky is becoming mainstream often use a woman participant as an example ("even my wife now uses Linux") and hypothetical examples of non-geeky or non-technical people are disproportionately hypothetical women rather than men
- A woman giving a technical talk often has her talk downplayed and labeled as a "beginner talk". The same talk given by a man might be labeled "intermediate"
- Open-source projects led by women are often not taken seriously, regarded instead as toy projects that can't be used in real-life situations
Condescension is often well-intentioned and sometimes perpetrated by men genuinely intending to welcome more women to geek communities. This can be related to the issue of invisibility, in which the work of a small number of involved women is ignored.
- See the many examples of So simple, your mother could do it, in which a female user is used as a barometer of ease of use for the non-technical
- HOWTO Encourage Women in Linux describes an example of condescension:
- "One of the LinuxChix reports that her first invitation to speak at a conference was as a member of a panel entitled "Wives of Hackers." The prominent open source celebrity who suggested the panel didn't understand why she was insulted. After all, her own work in open source was apparently insignificant compared to being the wife of a famous kernel hacker."
- German civil servant Horst Bräuner used a woman to demonstrate Linux to other council workers on the basis that a woman using it meant that no man would be prepared to admit being unable to do so.
- This twitter exchange:
- webchick: Does anyone have a lead on free SQL Server hosting? I want to experiment with some interesting #drupal stuff...
- plaiddogdesign: @webchick best way to experiment with Drupal is locally. If Mac install MAMP if PC install WAMP. MAMP has a free version. I use it for dev.
- hypaticadotca: @plaiddogdesign psst, she's a core drupal committer. I think she knows how to install it :)
- @plaiddogdesign kinda-apologized in a later post: @webchick @kuahyeow @br3nda no offense, as soon as I looked at her profile I knew I put my foot in my mouth. Next time I'll check first.
- Men who explain things (LA Times article by Rebecca Solnit)
- Karen Healey has written about the term mansplaining several times: A woman's born to weep and fret, This is a show tune, but the show hasn't been written for it yet.. Mansplaining Redux