PSA: Sexism and Women in Tech Support

*sigh* I was discriminated against today.

This post is not at all writing related, but it’s about sexism and the ridiculous places it comes from sometimes.

I work in internet, TV and cell phone tech support, and sadly, today was not by a long shot the first time I’ve had such a call: Lady gets on the line, has already worked herself up into a tizzy, and when I answer, and give my name, she says she wants to speak to a technician.

I’m a technician, I say, I can help you.

And then she says “No offense” but she wants to speak to a man.

In the past I’ve argued with these people, and eventually got them to hang up, but I figured I’d try something different. After failing to assure this woman that I could help her as well as any man, I let her rant hoping I could get enough information to help her anyway (at my company, we’re often nice that way, even if you’re being a douche – our bosses like to see it, it’s a job — we’re professionals).

Then when I got a chance to talk, I told her I was sorry she’d had so much difficulty with her service, but (in a very firm and level voice, not my nicey nice voice) that I was indeed very much offended that she didn’t believe that I could help her because I was a woman.

It can be really fun calling people on bullshit – she backpedaled then and said she was sorry, she shouldn’t have said that. We’re Canadians, and if there’s anything we can’t abide, it’s offending people.

Again, it’s sad that I get this “I want to talk to a man” as often as I do. And I honestly don’t recall ever getting it from a man. That’s the screwy thing, it’s always women who will come out with that. I’ve talked to men who didn’t think I could help them, and I could tell they had been expecting and hoping to talk to a man, but they won’t say it out loud. Women will. We’re shooting ourselves in the female empowering foot, ladies, come on.

And I’ll let you in on a secret. Those ladies may think that the girl doing tech support isn’t as capable as the guy, but it’s actually likely to be the opposite, and I’ll tell you why. It’s not because women are smarter than men. No, it’s because of those closed minded individuals who give women such a hard time working in the industry (not my coworkers, not my supervisors – they know I know my shit – it’s the customers on the phone who lack faith in the XX chromosome). It’s because there is so much more tolerance from customers for a man who hasn’t a clue what he’s doing, than there is for a woman. Which means, the only women who stick around are the ones who *really* know what they’re doing. They’re typically above average in know-how in the call center, just because if they weren’t, they’d get twice the abuse a man would take.

And this is why it’s still hard to be a woman these days, with all the laws made to protect us from discrimination, there’s still the asshattery that laws can’t stop people from committing, and other women are just as guilty of holding us down as men.

*sigh* Going back to writing now.  Gonna type out the edits on that chapter where the brothel madam complains about how men oppress her.

Advertisements

3 responses to “PSA: Sexism and Women in Tech Support

  1. I have to wonder if she holds onto a sense of her own lack of worth and carries that forward in her belief system as a natural, gender-based state. If she could shed that attitude perhaps she would have solved here tech issue herself.

    • I wholeheartedly agree with this statement, and I love it when I get a customer on the phone who’s interested in learning, and can hardly help going above the call of duty for such people to tell them anything they want to know about tech and troubleshooting.

  2. The strange thing is that I’ve had this happen to me in the reverse–I’ll be asking for help not because I’m incompetent, but because I tried figuring out the problem and just honestly don’t know what the next step is, and get a very unfriendly response when speaking to a male technician. Almost as if OF COURSE I can’t do it myself, I’m a woman, how dare I think that I can talk to him on his level when I ask questions about what he’s doing? That’s been more in person rather than over the phone. I’ve had several technicians come out to my place of business and because I’m the manager of the office, I’m the one they’re dealing with, and the amount of condescension I’ve gotten has been staggering. Not all men or all technicians are like that, of course, but I must have just run into some guys in really bad moods or something on those days, because they were not exactly engendering my customer loyalty with their comments. So if I had called you, I might have been relieved to talk to a woman–someone who would take me seriously without regard to my gender.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s