Harassment and discrimination

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Harassment and discrimination

Personal experience

Mary Filonova's photo
Mary Filonova
·Apr 19, 2022·

4 min read

While announcing my speech on our first meet-up, I had negative feedback about the title of my speech. Some said that it's an insult, some - discriminative and offensive. The title was: "Even if brain is smaller. Women in IT".

Now I feel I have to tell my story about discrimination and harassment so my motives would be more precise.

I was born into a family with patriarchal culture. My mother was a housewife almost all my life. Sometimes while arguing father yelled at her that she was nothing and didn't bring money home. I have been listening to it a lot during my childhood.

I left my hometown at 15. But sometimes I visited my parents there. Also my second degree was in my hometown. I was doing it simultaneously with my first degree and 2 jobs. So I had 5 days to pass all exams and go back to Moscow to continue my full-time education and employments. When I was here during exams (2-3 in a day), my father was not happy that I didn't make him dinner and clean dishes.

Once, my husband and I were visiting my parents and we were discussing womens' achievements from a historical point of view. My father's position was that there were many famous men and very few women through the ages. Also, there was a point that women's brain is smaller than men's, so it's clear that women are not as intelligent as men.

My father is a good and honest man and I love him. He loves us and takes care of us. He's not a bad person. But still, it hurts when you hear or face something like this.

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During my time in IT, there were situations too. Once I was working in a department where I was the only woman. Guys there often shut me up, and my opinion was not considered most of the time.

Once there was a significant deployment on production, and our Team Lead rolled out changes in the code for a half a year of only my work. He was so surprised that it worked out without any problem! Because most of deployments with others increments always had issues and required manual adjustments right in prod.

Of course, there were meetings when men ignored me and were chatting only with each other.
Once, guys discussed that it would be cool if I posed in a swimsuit for a corporate calendar. And it was during the management meeting that I was the only female leader.

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Almost no one considers shaking my hand, and if I initiate it, I always have uncomprehending glances.

Not surprisingly my managers flirted with me. Once a married senior manager confessed his feelings to me even though I wore a ring and talked about my family.

And while I was the Head of the development department, some guy decided to teach me what language we should code in, even though he was a data center maintenance engineer and had neither programming experience nor education nor specific knowledge.

It's not easy to tell about such cases because usually, in response, you will hear from others that you are complaining, and it's disgraceful. And it's fun, but louder would shame you other women, and I don't know why.

A week ago, my husband and I discussed the book "Invisible women". Specifically, the issue of molesting women on public transport. He told me he thought that such things are happening mostly in Asia countries, until he read many local women's posts on Facebook during the flashmob (women were telling their stories of molesting on public transport).

This is the main point. If you have never done such a thing or faced it, you may think it does not exist. And if you do, you would not like to discuss such topics.

Women should not be silent. We have to be united in changing our state in society. Let's support and believe in each other.

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P.S. I named my speech "Even if brain is smaller. Women in I.T." to engage more people in the topic. And yes, on average, women's brains are smaller than man's. But a lot of studies proved that size doesn't affect capabilities. And if provocative, controversial headlines are needed to draw attention to the problem, I will do them. The more people involved in the discussion, the better, even at the cost of some amount of hate in my direction.

 
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