I’m a part-time IT at my university. Our main service is troubleshooting hardware and software. Out of all the ITs, I’m the only girl. It was around the time I started that Guy 1 and I went to help a lady with her iPhone. When I happily admitted that I could be of help (I’m also an iPhone owner), he said with a smile, “Oh, finally something you know how to do.” The lady gave me a bewildered look. At first I was shocked, but shrugged it off as a tasteless joke. Another time, one of the front desks walked in after not knowing how to deal with a broken projector. She explained the problem, then added, “I’m not sure if it’s because I’m just stupid or–”
and Guy 1 quickly responds, “It’s because you’re stupid.”
I thought it would all stop after Guy 1 left for another job. Nope. Recently I encountered an older printer model and wasn’t sure how to get it to print a configuration page. I knew it couldn’t be that hard– but the client I was working with had problems besides the printer, so I didn’t want to waste time. I went back to the office and came back with Guy 2. Almost immediately I heard the machine printing. “Oh hey! How’d you get it to work?” I was eager to learn how he solved the problem.
“Because I’m smart.”
What the hell does that mean? I turned away before all the words escaped my mouth. In that moment, the dam broke; thoughts came pouring in. What the fuck! Do you think I can’t do what you do? Who do you think you are? I looked at him as he stood unaffected, smug and nonchalant. In an alternate universe, I would’ve flipped over desks and stabbed his face with a screwdriver. What these guys said annoyed me, and it bothered me that it did, which only fueled the cycle of agitation. I gritted my teeth and cut my finger while reassembling a hard drive.
Yes, I’m new, but I’m willing to learn. How can you just insult me like that? I kept thinking repeating these incidents and others in my head, thinking they were acts of sexist discrimination. Later that day at a Korean joint:
“He just sounds like an asshole,” Erika said.
“Yeah, I don’t think it’s because you’re a girl,” Ren-Jay added. “He’s just a jerk and probably would’ve said that to anyone.” I scavenged what little meat was on my gal-bi and swallowed.