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* Any skepticism you have toward a given situation is recognized as such, and you are attributed with positive qualities like being rational, calculating, and prudent, rather than negative qualities like being fearful and doubtful due to your gender. This makes you more trustworthy as an employee to be given decision-making power with little supervision.
* Any skepticism you have toward a given situation is recognized as such, and you are attributed with positive qualities like being rational, calculating, and prudent, rather than negative qualities like being fearful and doubtful due to your gender. This makes you more trustworthy as an employee to be given decision-making power with little supervision.
* Not having people casually steal your ideas for project ideas in chat conversations without giving you credit for them, even to the point of thinking that they came up with the idea themselves.
* Not having people casually steal your ideas for project ideas in chat conversations without giving you credit for them, even to the point of thinking that they came up with the idea themselves.
* The possibility of being offered a job as a white-hat hacker if you find a security breach in a complete stranger's product or system and demonstrate your skills. A woman can't risk this because any suggestion of immorality in a female invites backlash rather than a celebration of her ingenuity. A man will be forgiven for being in an acceptable 'gray area' and even praised for his risk-taking behavior.
=== Employment ===
=== Employment ===

Revision as of 02:44, October 3, 2012

The Male Programmer Privilege Checklist

Being male (or perceived to be male) as a programmer, means:


See also: Othering

  • Never having to explain why terms like "guys" or "gentlemen" don't include you.
    • Never having to navigate others' confusion about how to refer to you when not using your name.
    • Not ever being called "the lady programmer".
    • Never being the special case ("hi guys and girls, I guess, too, if you want to get really technical about it!!")
    • Never feeling compelled to ease the discomfort of someone who realizes that they have forgotten to include you in their greeting because of your gender, whether or not you were actually bothered by the omission.
    • Not ever having to wonder if people are deliberately ignoring your presence on $project when they refer to your team as "the $project guys".
    • Never having a CEO/owner casually say to your face, "We're looking for a coding guy," when you're inquiring about job openings at a start-up and coming to the realization that you would be wasting your time if you tried to apply.
      • Not wondering how to react because it didn't seem like he was trying to offend you, since he looked genuinely sure that you wouldn't be even interested in the position.
      • Not later coming to the realization that he could have predicted your interest, since you asked about jobs at a tech start-up, so he either simply didn't care or doubted you would have the back-up, time, and financial resources to be able to pursue legal action for sex discrimination.
  • Not having to wonder whether you're well-known in your community simply for being "the female one".
  • Expecting that if you say you are a programmer, people will believe you.
  • Never being described as "hot" first and a competent professional second.
  • The freedom to watch a technical talk without being explicitly reminded that many of your colleagues see you primarily as a sex object. (See also: Sexualized environment.)
  • If you're heterosexual, knowing that you will almost certainly be able to join in appreciation of the sex object du jour.
  • Being free to do your job without anyone insinuating that you only got hired because of affirmative action or "quotas", or because of the anatomy you happen to possess. (See also: Tokenism.)
  • Being free to attend a technical talk without anyone assuming that you're only there because your boyfriend dragged you along with him.
  • Attending conferences without fellow attendees posting pictures of you on Twitter solely because people of your gender are a novelty.
  • Expecting that when you attend a conference, giveaway shirts will be available in a cut designed with bodies like yours and fashion norms like those attached to your gender in mind, even if they are out of your size. If shirts are provided from event signups, there is no need to do anything more complicated than specifying shirt size. (See: T-shirts.)
  • Never being asked whether you got lost upon entering a computer science classroom.
  • Being able to listen to speakers refer to non-gendered items as defaulting to male (such as calling an inanimate software construct "this guy") without being reminded that you are a minority gender in the room. This reminder can result in feeling othered and getting distracted from the content of the talk.
  • Not having to deal with awkwardness after someone complimented you on your work in a non-gender-appropriate way and then tries to correct themselves (for example: "you the MAN! err... you the woMAN!").
  • Not having to worry that you will be insulted in a way that calls attention to your gender (for example: "bitch", "whore").
  • The freedom to laugh at jokey photos of women holding bumper stickers about closures because they're as funny to you as pictures of cats "reading" calculus books, rather than wondering whether your colleagues see you in the same way as those women.
  • The freedom to listen to speakers say that software should be so easy to use that even your mom could use it without wondering whether they have you in mind.
  • The freedom to laugh at stories about speakers' significant others not understanding something technical without wondering whether they have you in mind.
  • The freedom to listen to speakers say that instant messaging isn't just for teenage girls talking about the Backstreet Boys without wondering whether they have you-ten-years-ago in mind.
  • The expectation that if you attend a professional conference, there will be a restroom you can use. (See also: Restroom.)
  • Never being excluded from the conclusion of an important conversation being conducted in the hallway because the rest of the group decided to stop at the restroom. (See also: Restroom.)
  • Never being embarrassed by almost accidentally walking into the wrong restroom because you were distracted by an important conversation.
  • Being invited to play video games with your colleagues, because they haven't assumed you won't be interested because of your gender.
  • Having colleagues who can close the door when they talk to you if the conversation is loud or should remain private, without anyone worrying about impropriety, assault, or false accusations. (See also: Personal safety)
  • Not having to think about what gender you are.
  • Not being accidentally called by the name of an employee who does not resemble you in any way except for gender.
  • When touring a prospective workplace, seeing your gender heavily represented among the employees and making you feel right away like you belong in the new environment, rather than the opposite.
  • Being able to casually say the phrase, "I get it," and be taken seriously and included in the group of elite people that "get it."
  • Not feeling exploited when companies make a show of supporting gender equality in their promotional materials, but don't actually practice what they preach in terms of hiring and promoting.

Double standards and double binds

  • The freedom to tell someone to RTFM without ever being accused of PMS.
  • The freedom to make mistakes or say stupid things without worrying about it getting added to the pile of "why women suck at computer stuff". (This point is also illustrated by the "you suck at math" xkcd comic entitled "How it works.")
  • Being praised for the content of your writing rather than the neatness of your handwriting.
  • Being appreciated as a competent professional rather than as an instrument for calming down troublesome people or manipulating disagreeable ones.
  • Never having anyone suggest that you slept your way into getting a bug fixed.
  • Being confident that your work is really as good as your supervisor says it is, free from fear that someone is allowing you to submit substandard work in hopes of sleeping with you.
  • Having potential romantic partners assume from your career that you're smart and well-to-do rather than unattractive and unfeeling.
  • If you're married, having people take you to lunch without any speculation on how your spouse would feel about them taking you to lunch.
  • The freedom to show interest in things that are stereotypical for your gender without having to worry you'll be taken less seriously because of it.
  • The freedom to show interest in things that are unstereotypical for your gender without having to worry that you'll be seen as freaky and sexually unattractive/uninterested in sex because of it (instead of being seen as cool and progressive).
  • The freedom to show interest in things that are unstereotypical for your gender without being told you're just doing it to get attention from the other gender (instead of being seen as just another member of the group).
  • Being treated like a hero if you compromise on work for childcare responsibilities, rather than having your commitment to work questioned.
  • Being praised for an extraordinary achievement if you cook a dish for the work potluck yourself instead of having your significant other do it or buying something from a store.
  • Not having to choose between dressing/acting stereotypically for your gender and being thought unprofessional (or not a Real Geek) for it, and dressing/acting un-stereotypically and being thought unseemly.
  • The right to organize professional or educational events that are a safe space for members of your gender and in which members of other genders are unwelcome, without being criticized by members of a different gender for being "sexist" or "exclusionary". (This works because you enjoy the privilege of being able to enforce the single-sexedness of a particular event or space without ever having to say so explicitly, thus granting yourself immunity from criticism.)
  • The freedom to mention your gender online without worrying that if you do, and you then experience gender discrimination, others will tell you that it's your fault for mentioning your gender.
  • The freedom to not mention your gender online while knowing that even if your accomplishments never get stacked up as "worthwhile things male programmers have done", male programmers' reputation will be safe anyhow.
  • The freedom to switch to a less technical career without feeling like you're betraying the cause of gender equality.
  • Knowing that others will explain your interaction with same-gender colleagues based on your unique personality, rather than based on stereotypes about your gender. That is, if you get along well with another person of your own gender, others will attribute it to your unique friendship, rather than natural bonds between men that can't exist between women and men; likewise, if you do not get along well with someone of your own gender, others will assume you have valid reasons, rather than attributing it to how men always hate each other and judge each other harshly.
  • The freedom to acquire skills on your own without diminishing your marketability, while saving the additional time and money that a woman would have to invest in formal credentials in order to be taken equally seriously. (See also: Employment.)
  • The extra time and freedom to upgrade your skills and stay current in technology because your gender is not expected to perform the "second shift" (also known as the double burden) in the domestic world.
  • Not being disproportionately expected to take on workplace menial tasks (making coffee, washing dishes, making copies): if refusing, you may be thought well of as being prudent by not wasting time on tasks so far below your skill level rather than poorly of for not being a team player and picking up after yourself; if accepting, you may get recognition as a team player who isn't afraid to get his hands dirty rather than receiving no recognition or being admonished for wasting time/leading co-workers to expect that sort of menial work from a person of your gender.
  • The freedom to enter the field from a non-traditional background (for example, the arts) and enjoy the advantage of being seen as special and creative (instead of being seen as an outsider with the wrong credentials).
  • Having high-profile successful college drop-outs of your gender to look up and aspire to in the IT industry (for example, Bill Gates), so that if you drop out of college to try hacking in your basement, professional colleagues will take you seriously, not tell you to get a computer science degree.
  • The freedom to make mistakes on the job and have others attribute it to your career being a continual learning experience, rather than assuming you are incorrigibly incompetent.
  • The freedom to talk with, or even just sit with, colleagues of the same gender at work without having others assume that you must be gossiping rather than doing work.
  • If seen talking to another person of your gender or minority status at a tech-related gathering that you just met, not being asked if you know each other.
  • If your education credentials don't come from the highest reputable schools ever, due to life constraints or personal choice to learn in a particular city, it will likely not be a reflection on your skill. For example, male programmers from community colleges are still regarded as highly skilled and sometimes even held up as examples that practical education trumps theory, whereas if the community college graduate was a woman, she would be seen to lack the qualifications to make it in a university CS program.
  • Any skepticism you have toward a given situation is recognized as such, and you are attributed with positive qualities like being rational, calculating, and prudent, rather than negative qualities like being fearful and doubtful due to your gender. This makes you more trustworthy as an employee to be given decision-making power with little supervision.
  • Not having people casually steal your ideas for project ideas in chat conversations without giving you credit for them, even to the point of thinking that they came up with the idea themselves.
  • The possibility of being offered a job as a white-hat hacker if you find a security breach in a complete stranger's product or system and demonstrate your skills. A woman can't risk this because any suggestion of immorality in a female invites backlash rather than a celebration of her ingenuity. A man will be forgiven for being in an acceptable 'gray area' and even praised for his risk-taking behavior.


  • The freedom to apply for a job at your partner's workplace without worrying that others will think you only got the job because of your partner.
  • The ability to have your desk near the entrance to your office without visitors assuming you're the receptionist.
  • Not being the first one everyone expects will take notes, reserve the restaurant for lunch or dinner, or call maintenance to get the AC fixed.
  • Never being asked by a job interviewer whether you would mind being the first employee of your gender in the company.
  • The freedom to attend job fairs without having anyone suggest you look for secretarial work instead.
  • Having the career plan of "get hired in a non-technical job in my dream company and work my way up" be an audacious plan of last resort if not hired in a more skilled role, rather than the first suggestion for a person of your gender.
  • Having questions about your ideas directed to you during a meeting or seminar that you're speaking in, rather than to your collaborator or colleague of a different gender.
  • Never having to re-direct attention to yourself as the expert, away from someone of a different gender.
  • While networking for your next job or trying to find a different-gender mentor, having people take your professional aspirations seriously and not view your efforts to make professional connections as flirting (because you can't seriously be interested in technology).
  • Ease in finding a professional mentor, as no one regards you as a waste of teaching time and energy or as inherently technologically incompetent and unteachable because of your gender.
  • The ability to be hired easily early in your career, because employes see your natural potential and view you as trainable rather than using your inexperience as an excuse not to hire you.
  • Having many self-taught programmers of your gender as role models, because employers have faith in people of your gender who lack formal university credentials, and such people can thereby achieve success.
  • Being recruited by non-local employers who don't assume you can't move because of your spouse's career.
  • Being believed when you say you are passionate about technology, programming, or gaming, when passion is listed among the desired traits in a job candidate.
  • Being confident that you are compatible with a company's culture when an employer explicitly states they want someone with the "right fit" but does not define what it means to be the "right fit."
  • The freedom to apply for a programming job if you have a non-technical background, buoyed by the accepted view of your gender as innately rational and logical.
  • The expectation that even if you apply with a liberal arts degree, you'll still be taken seriously as a programming job candidate. (There are plenty of male programmers with English degrees out there who were allowed to prove themselves. However, the shortage of female programmers has been explained away as "because they just don't study Computer Science in high numbers." This ignores the existence of female self-taught programmers and demands that a female earn the "right" technical degree before she is allowed into the field, establishing a double standard where women are expected to have a higher level of formal education than men in order to do the same job.)
  • Feeling entitled to command a higher salary, thinking you deserve it more than colleagues of other genders because your work is superior. Feeling confident in this belief because you're able to maintain the idea that IT is a meritocracy where your gender naturally excels, with the smaller number of women as "proof."
  • Not being perceived as greedy and undeserving of a higher salary because you are out of your element in the IT industry, and should therefore be grateful instead of whatever you're originally offered in pay.
  • Never having to wonder if your employer will deny you a positive reference for your next job in retaliation if you report sexual harassment or pay discrimination.
  • Never being told that the only reason why you weren't hired for an entry-level position was because you would leave soon anyway to another company with better pay, because no one assumes that people of your gender are rare in the industry and therefore more in demand (desperately needed to fill quotas).
  • Not having your looks work against you in a hiring decision if you meet conventional standards of attractiveness.
  • Better access to the Old Boys' Network or angel investors if you want to start your own company, since white male tech startups get funding for being white and male.
  • Being seen and admired as being ambitious and even ingenious, a coding hero or maverick with a justified big ego, if you're a self-taught programmer with no formal credentials, rather than being seen as outright unqualified for the job. (Can also fall under Double Standards and Double Binds.)
  • The freedom to represent your company at a professional convention without having booth visitors assume you're only there as eyecandy.
  • The advantage of being able to easily network with other programmers without thinking about gender, and with the majority of the people in the industry sharing your gender. Being able to easily network with programmers of your own gender, with the majority of people in the industry being your gender. This is an enormous advantage over women in a world where it's not what you know but who you know. You have access even to the male programmers that refuse to befriend women, only seeing them as potential sexual partners and nothing else. You can be their friend, and achieve personal gain through their network and word-of-mouth job advertising, while women cannot unless they consent to dating them. You are removed from this burden and allowed access to the "hidden job market" just because you are male.
  • Being able to save on company costs for lodging, because you can share a hotel room with another male colleague.
  • The freedom to share a hotel room with a male colleague during business travel (potentially getting important informal interaction time) without having a male supervisor insist that you room solo (because different-gender room-sharing offends his sensibilities).
  • There's a trend that the more women there are in a certain domain, the less valuable or respected that domain becomes. University degrees, once respected, are nowadays touted as "useless," "easy to get," or "dumbed down," now that the majority of graduates are female. Work experience is becoming more valuable than formal education. Work experience is harder to get than education because someone has to hire you and give you permission to join the field, whereas in education, all you have to do is get high grades and actually qualify. Young male hackers with high school education have tech jobs and university-educated women have unpaid student loans. Despite the widespread lamentation of the educational system "failing" boys, these young males now have the shortcut of heading straight to the labour market and getting a head start over women that are still studying and accumulating debt.
  • Being able to market yourself. Not being told you're "too pushy" or "aggressive" if you make your technical career ambitions known to a lot of people. And if you don't, your achievements wouldn't be ignored as a consequence.
  • Being approached for leadership positions in start-ups. While there's a law preventing discrimination in hiring employees, there's no law that prevents white males from only seeking other white males in business partnerships and ignoring everyone else.
  • Not being denied a job because a company, in its attempt to appear non-sexist, has already met their minimum quota of people of your gender and thus "don't need any more." They can now turn their attention back on hiring people that really belong, instead of "social engineering."
  • The ability to coast in your work and call it "working smart" rather than "working hard" and be seen as innovative and clever in the culture of the four-hour work day. Women and minorities must keep "working hard," and being twice as good for half the recognition, or be seen as lazy.
  • Having a much better chance of maintaining your career in IT as you age, since you have a good shot at getting into management without the glass ceiling to deal with. IT, like engineering, is often called and "up or out" type of profession where you either take on a lead, supervisory role or are replaced in your technical role by younger and cheaper employees fresh out of school. Since leadership is subject to subjective societal forces, your privilege will maintain your longevity and worth in your role while women and minorities are pushed out when they can no longer cling to their quantitative jobs.
  • Not having the stigma of possessing a long resume gap due to a period of unemployment because of discrimination. Unemployment, usually regarded as the mark of an underperforming individual, may actually affect perfectly competent women that were just as competent as the men around them before being laid off or fired. They couldn't hold onto their jobs because being twice as good was expected, rather than being just as good.
  • Not having that resume gap be perceived or assumed as time taken off for giving birth, rather than simply an extended job hunt.
  • At a job interview, not being casually compared to another person of your gender that had worked there before, ie, "We had one other woman working here but she eventually left to go work at a bank instead. Are you sure you're comfortable working with men only?"
  • When expressing doubts about being treated equally, not being condescendingly assumed to have lack of confidence in your technical abilities because IT is supposed to be a meritocracy, so if you were really good, you wouldn't be worrying at all.
  • Not being subject to assumptions you'll want to quit work to have kids once you approach a certain age, even if you want to be child-free or can't have kids.
  • Having far more job offers from different tech companies willing to hire you, giving you the leverage to negotiate a higher salary.
  • Your entire career in tech is not threatened by you being "outed" as a non-logical person. Since your work and economic worth depends on being logical, being labeled as not such would implicitly make you seem less qualified for your role, but you have little to fear from this because your gender is seen as rational by default, especially if you are white. Only women, minorities, and members of other marginalized groups have to worry about this if they ever disagree with you on a particular subject because to disagree with you would automatically mean their views are emotional and non-logical.
  • By extension, having everyone agree with your "logic" to avoid being seen as "not logical" themselves would make you seem like you have a natural leadership ability free from coercive forces.
  • Never being asked at an interview if you are truly interested in the programming job, almost as if you had applied by mistake and needed to be corrected.
  • Being encouraged to join a start-up instead of being told with hesitation, "We have to be careful how we expand our team..."
  • Benefiting from a rigged game of "good timing." An inexperienced male applicant can express interest in the company and be given a job, while a female applicant, if she finds out about the male applicant's ease of being accepted, can be told that the company's needs change over time and they conveniently want people with more experience now. Three weeks later, another inexperienced male arrives and suddenly the company can accomodate training new employees again. This protects the company from claims of discrimination because the treatment of two applicants applying at different times cannot be easily compared. It may not be easy to prove, but it doesn't mean that privilege is giving the male applicant an edge and that discrimination is covered up. Similar in theory to "Cherry-picking of qualifications," except that timing is what is cherry-picked.
  • Similar to the rigged game of "good timing," there can be a revolving set of different hiring managers. A revolving set of hiring managers can constantly adjust the standards for hiring, making entrance into the company hard for some and lax for others. Where one hiring manager may accept a male candidate with little experience, a female applicant with similar experience is directed to a different hiring manager. His standards are conveniently higher. As she leaves and another male applicant arrives, he meets with the first hiring manager with lower standards. She never learns of his experience with that manager and believes that the company's evaluation of her skills was fair.
  • Not being subjected to a game of "No True Scotsman" when showing interest in a company. For example, never being told that your qualifications are just off the mark when it comes to getting the job. If you have experience, you don't have enough. If you have high grades in a computer subject, grades don't count, and they're not looking for stereotypical nerds. If the company is looking for creative, well-rounded, above-ordinary programmers, your artistic pursuits don't really count because they're not outside-the-box enough. (geek gatekeeping)
  • Not being subjected to invasive investigations and sabotage out of suspicion that you're not really in IT to build a career because you don't belong.
  • Being able to lie about your GPA and possibly get away with it due to the Freedom of Information Act that forbids the release of college/university transcripts to employers. This is how male Computer Science students are able to land internships, co-op positions, or entry-level jobs in reputable high-tech companies where their female classmates have failed, sometimes even when the latter had earned higher grades. Under the current system, high-achieving women in academic settings may find it difficult to stand out among their peers despite having earned their way to the top of the class.
  • Not feeling somewhat scammed if you were convinced by a well-meaning male colleague, oblivious to his privilege, to fork over money to buy training materials in order to learn a new programming language, only to be denied even an entry-level internship in an area where programmers with that skillset were said to be desperately needed.
    • Never feeling like you don't know what to say when the same well-meaning male colleague asks you periodically how your learning is going, what projects you're working on, and where you're applying.
    • Never coming to the realization that you only attend social functions with your local developer community for the sole purpose of checking for signs of sexism dying down so you can bother to try applying again.
    • Never wondering if people are starting to think you're just there for the free food, or worse, just to look for a boyfriend, since you keep showing up and are never known to be actually employed anywhere.
    • Never then later noticing people following you around and asking you strange questions to test your dedication to the field, as if they suspect you're just an outsider with an ulterior motive for constantly showing up for seemingly no reason.

Personal safety

See also: Rape culture

  • The freedom to attend a technical conference without fear of sexual assault.
  • The freedom to participate in social situations or stay at work late without fear that your co-workers or boss will assault you.
  • If you have been assaulted in a work-related environment, the freedom to switch to another job and be sure it won't happen again there.
  • Little likelihood that having been assaulted in a previous workplace is held against you in the hiring process.
  • The freedom to walk home unafraid after a late-night coding spree.
  • Freedom from fear that your open-source work will make you a target for death threats (note: linked-to post discusses sexual assault and violent threats against women).
  • The freedom to have a closed-door discussion without worrying that this is an attempt to isolate you to carry out an assault. (See also: Othering)
  • The likelihood that you will be able to share a hotel room with another member of your company, without fear of unwelcome advances or sexual assault.
  • The ability to view your career in the male-dominated industry as just a normal stage of progression in life, rather than a serious financial gamble that may put your future (and personal safety) in jeopardy if you invest in an education and are never hired due to resistence.
    • Too much time spent fighting glass doors and not succeeding will lengthen resume gaps and periods of unemployment and result in loss of wages and opportunities.
    • Lost wages mean missed opportunities to invest for retirement and missing out on compounding interest over time.
    • Having twice the debt load of a normal student because you would then have to re-train for another field before you've actually begun earning a salary. You face a situation different from that of a laid-off tech worker because a person could have anticipated downsizing and saved for re-training. You, on the other hand, haven't even started yet. You would also need a new network of contacts.
    • The effects of lost wages and more debt accumulate over a lifetime, resulting in an impoverished situation in later years. Poverty is closely linked with living in unsafe neighborhoods and illness.
  • Not being warned that there will be a backlash if you stand up for your rights.
  • Not having your complaints about personal safety being dismissed as "Well, you chose to be there," in terms of being in a male-dominated environment, where your gender is not supposed to belong anyway.
  • Not being perceived as wanting to "start a fight" when you stand up for your rights, thereby losing support from observers.


  • Enjoying the learning process without being discouraged by failure, since you can see it as a fun part of experimentation; freedom from perfectionism engendered by fear that your mistakes will be used as examples of why your gender can't excel at programming.
  • Enjoying the blissful illusion that computer science or the IT industry are pure meritocracies where gender never matters.
  • Enjoying the belief that there is no gender oppression in computer science or the IT industry because the people in it are generally educated at the post-secondary level and university-educated people cannot possibly be sexist.
  • Enjoying the belief that women are absent from IT just because they don't want to participate, while unaware that some are actually willing but being denied jobs and a chance to prove themselves at the entry level.
  • Enjoying the belief that women are absent from IT because of its competitive, cut-throat nature (competition with H-1B visa-holders as well as local workers) or a variety of other related reasons and not because discrimination bars them at the entry level.
  • Believing that women are "too smart" to enter IT and that they choose more stable careers out of prudence.
  • Believing that your university degree got you hired if you lacked work experience, not knowing that an equally qualified woman was turned down for not having work experience either (cherry-picking of qualifications).
  • Believing that your work experience got you hired if you lacked a university degree, not knowing that an equally qualified woman was turned down for having no degree either ((cherry-picking of qualifications).
  • Not having to necessarily tailor your resume for the job due to the cherry-picking of qualifications. You're more likely to be accepted just as you are, and the job description will morph and change to suit your perceived strengths. Men can be told, "The job description is just a wish list and you don't necessarily have to fill all that," while women can be told, "Sorry, you don't match our requirements exactly and you're not qualified for this job."
  • Less fear in taking a non-technical job while unemployed because you have faith that the strength of your qualifications and ability to keep up with your field can overcome a history of having worked in a non-technical job for a while.
  • Not being assumed to have "left" the industry like all those other women if you find yourself unemployed and take a non-technical job to pay the bills, and now that you're coming back, having your dedication to tech questioned.
  • Being utterly oblivious to the idea that what you wear and how you look affects whether senior men encourage your points at meetings, ask you to join key discussions, and generally want you around.
  • Not needing to remember where your brilliant ideas came from, because it will probably get the recognition it deserves and you can accept the credit for the insight, even if this means that you may accidentally hear and dismiss an idea from a colleague of a different gender and then come up with the same idea afterward.
  • Assuming that your accomplishments increase your status with people of the gender or genders you're interested in.
  • The freedom to discuss the role of gender in programming without people thinking you're being (a) self-serving, (b) whiny, (c) bringing politics into realms where it's not relevant, or (d) all of the above.
  • The privilege of being able to deny the existence of your own privilege as a male programmer.
  • Believing that to become a master programmer, all you have to do is hang around other master programmers and learn off them. It's easy for your gender, but women are ignored, dismissed, or made to feel unwelcome.
  • The ability to mansplain in the field to the other gender and pass it off as being original.
  • Believing that networking with the CEO is as easy for the opposite gender as it is with you.
  • Not knowing that your work samples did not demonstrate as much skill and hard work as a woman's, and still being oblivious to the fact you were still hired.
  • Being able to just assume that your work samples were a greater demonstration of skill and hard work until shown otherwise.
  • Never really expecting to receive abusive comments on your blog, and never really expecting sabotage of any of your personal projects that deliberately try to prevent you from reaching your goals in tech.


The original version of the list was by Kake, inspired by a post on the London Perlmongers mailing list. A number of other privilege checklists also served as inspiration.

From 2006-2011, the master version of this list was maintained by Tim Chevalier.

Guidelines for adding new entries

To some people, some of the items of this list may not seem very specific to software, computer science, open source, or IT. Perhaps some items seem common to all professional environments. That's okay; the purpose of this list is to sample a broad range of experiences that women, and people who were perceived at some point as women, have had while working as programmers. Not all of the experiences need to be experiences that only a programmer would have.

See also

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.