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Pigeonholing

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Overview

Women in technology or other geeky fields are often pigeonholed by people who assume they are "softer", "more emotional", or "better with people" (see also social expectations). In technical workplaces this sometimes results in women being assigned less technical work such as documentation, UI design, or project management (see Girl stuff); in fields like Science Fiction there is an assumption that women do not write/produce or are not interested in hard SF.

Although there may be some truth in the generalisations made, the application of them to individual women may result in them being denied opportunities, or made invisible. There may also be some feedback: as women move into a certain role, that role may lose status it formerly held.

In addition to work roles being limited women in geek communities may find that their social roles are very proscribed, perhaps even more so than in mainstream society. In particular, if not herself repeatedly harrassed for sexual attention, she may find herself repeatedly used as an "agony aunt", advising heterosexual male geeks on forming relationships with women, or even providing general counseling and emotional support, often to near-strangers.

Examples

  • Well-known award-winning science fiction author Ursula K. Le Guin observes that much of her speculative fiction is denigrated as "soft" because it explores developments in social, rather than physical, science:
"And sure enough, these guys find stories based on the “soft,” or social, sciences to be a debased and squashy form of the genre. They see it as chick lit for geeks. So, OK. If anybody wants to build a ghetto inside the ghetto and live there, fine with me." [1]

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