Letting the side down refers to a phenomenon women report in which they don't want to be seen to try and fail at a geek skill because their skill level reflects on all women.
It also refers to times when a woman's failure or beginner status is taken by others to reflect on all women.
- xkcd's How It Works comic (often called "Girls suck at math" for its punchline) is widely cited as an illustration of how a poorly performing woman is taken as a representativie of all women.
- Girls suck at Python in which Leah Culver posted a beginner programming snippet, and comments on it took it as a reflection of all women's programming skill.
- As Abi Sutherland puts it, "I feel like the fact that I’m not a ninja coder, the Kung Fu Panda of C#, reflects badly on my half of humanity. I’m letting the side down. (Ironically, this makes me suck more, because I find it difficult to ask questions or admit when I’m stuck.)"
- Stereotype threat in which when women or other minorities are reminded of prejudices about their ability, they perform in line with those prejudices.