Othering is a process or a rhetorical device in which one group is seen as "us" and another group as "them". In geek circles, women are often seen as the "other".
Similar othering is inflicted on various minorities within geekdom: disabled people, elderly people, trans people, and more. see Intersectionality for info on where geek feminism meets other equality movements.
- Phrasing which describes "geeks" as separate from "girls" sets up a false dichotomy in which there are no geek girls, and treats women as the "other"
- Technical conferences may have Sexualized presentations which, through addressing an (assumed straight) male audience, ignore the presence of women, treating them as "other"
- Sometimes the use of "other" is explicit. While gender dropdowns in web apps that offer "Male, Female, Other" options are, in one way, better than those that only offer a binary choice, it has the effect of othering transgender people.
- In regards to race, citing extensive travel to non-Western nations on your resume may be great if you are white, making you an asset to global companies looking to hire worldly people. On the flipside, if you are a visible minority, this only emphasizes your otherness and may in some cases work as a strike against you. For example, a Western nation-born person of colour may be mistaken for a non-citizen.
The following example comes via Chris Niekel, originally posted to a private forum in relation to a discussion of UI for gender selection, and reposted with permission:
- What's your favorite operating system: Windows NT, Windows XP or other? As a linux-user that offends me, as I get put in the same marginalized bucket as all those completely different mac-users. Your suggestion that this is only about a very small minority may even make it worse (I don't want to hear that some corp thinks there the number of linux users is too low too count). [...] Please find something you're passionate about, and see how you feel when your choice is the other. (Favorite editor: notepad, vi or other?).