Workplace etiquette?

JellyJenJellyJen Registered User new member
So when I graduated it took me a while to find my first coding job, but I finally got hired! I was super excited - it's a small startup, 6 people total, 3 other coders. I was expecting the usual startup culture - you know, desks made from doors, working out of a rented house, long hours etc, but some things are really starting to get to me. I'm the only woman on the team, and there's a culture of hanging out and drinking and playing games late into the evening and having poolside barbecues and horsing around. It's like there's a party almost every night, and they're heavy drinking, but it's always billed as a work event. There are lots of other people, mostly in the neighborhood tech scene, who come over, but very few other women, and I feel like it's super awkward. I've tried to make excuses, but there's pressure to 'show up to work meetings', and they were certainly clear that there would be meetings and events outside normal work hours. How should I respond to this? I don't want to get fired or offend anyone, but it's really not my scene.

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  • KruiteKruite Registered User regular
    If they are drinking heavily every night and conducting business during these parties (ie while drunk) they probably won't be a viable business for long. Make a mixer non alcoholic so you can blend in and try to just enjoy yourself at these "work meetings"

    Just try to complete your tasks during the day and start looking for a new job.

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  • Inquisitor77Inquisitor77 2 x Penny Arcade Fight Club Champion A fixed point in space and timeRegistered User regular
    Make sure you are actually getting paid. If they are not giving you a paycheck and are instead paying you in "equity", you aren't working - you are volunteering.

    Start-ups are notorious for overworking people for a return of absolutely nothing. I point this out both because it is important to actually get paid and because that is what your party-hard colleagues are competing against.

    Make sure you are seeing a real product being built. If you have no idea how your product is going to make money or grab users then run far away. If you don't see meaningful progress towards a product you do understand, then start looking for a new job because that one will be gone soon. Likely with some unpaid paychecks in the process.

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  • HevachHevach Registered User regular
    Don't want to ask too many details about the startup... But how is it funded and how much of those funds are being drank or grilled at these "meetings"? This really sounds like either some hapless investor is going to lose his shirt, or some better covered investor is going to eat the place whole when he finds out where the money is going. Either way, it doesn't sound like the kind of startup that ever becomes not a startup.

    Just...uh... Keep your resume up to date.

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  • JellyJenJellyJen Registered User new member
    Thanks - that's helpful, but I'm not so worried about the money - the company has a sub-contract from an established company to deliver a sub-section of a project, and as far as I can see they are meeting deliverables and getting paid for their work. The issue is more the culture. I feel uncomfortable being expected to turn up to pool parties in my swimwear, and being given subtle shaming when I don't want to do that. Kind of being told that I'm not a team player? What can I do?

  • GethGeth Legion Perseus VeilRegistered User, Moderator, Penny Arcade Staff, Vanilla Staff vanilla
    Tinkles detected banned alias
    Reason: JellyRead, JellyJenny

    A pathetic creature of meat and bone, panting and sweating as you run through my corridors.
    JellyJen

  • kimekime Queen of Blades Registered User regular
    JellyJen wrote: »
    Thanks - that's helpful, but I'm not so worried about the money - the company has a sub-contract from an established company to deliver a sub-section of a project, and as far as I can see they are meeting deliverables and getting paid for their work. The issue is more the culture. I feel uncomfortable being expected to turn up to pool parties in my swimwear, and being given subtle shaming when I don't want to do that. Kind of being told that I'm not a team player? What can I do?

    Honestly, how feasible is looking for another job? Depending on where you are, coding jobs may be pretty easy to find. That is definitely not what I would consider a healthy or acceptable work culture, and I suspect it may not be realistic to think that you would be able to change it in any way.

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  • mRahmanimRahmani DetroitRegistered User regular
    This is an unfortunately common problem throughout tech culture for women developers, whether at a startup or an established corporation. Personally, I would start looking into other companies, and during the interview process specifically ask about the number of female developers there. Hopefully there are other women devs here who can chip in more useful advice than me.

    Are there any fellow female devs in the organization, even if not directly on your team? If nothing else you can at least commiserate with them.

    kimeHeirInquisitor77
  • Inquisitor77Inquisitor77 2 x Penny Arcade Fight Club Champion A fixed point in space and timeRegistered User regular
    So, you aren't working for a start-up. You're working for a sub-contractor. If what you were building was proprietary and important, your company would've been bought out already, likely by the established company paying the bills.

    It's unfortunate but I think the others have the right idea: You are unlikely on your own to change the culture there, and frankly it is a huge amount of effort and risk for very little reward. You would be better off in the long run finding another situation.

    In the interim, I would defer to women here who have dealt with this kind of situation to see what they think you can do to mitigate or address things until you move on.

    kime
  • Inquisitor77Inquisitor77 2 x Penny Arcade Fight Club Champion A fixed point in space and timeRegistered User regular
    I asked one of the senior female devs who I work with for her perspective on this, and she said a few things that I wanted to repeat here:

    1) You should feel comfortable expressing that you just don't want to go to a social event. You don't even have to specify a reason. How they respond to this can serve as a personal litmus test for your working environment. If they disregard your decision or continue to strongly pressure you to attend, then you basically don't want to work there, because if they are going to be dicks about happy hour, then they will likely be dicks about other, more important things as well.

    2) Is there an expectation that you will participate in "sales" or "networking" events as part of your job? Or are you just a code monkey and are these purely work social events? If the former, then they might want you to attend just so you can schmooze with potential investors/buyers (a topic which is its own can of worms for women in the startup industry). If it's the latter then I'd refer you back to #1.

    3) Finding the right work environment is important. You don't want to be spending your time fighting these kinds of battles, especially as a newer developer. You need to be focusing on learning how to build products, work in teams, and most importantly build your own skills and network. There are definitely people out there who are professionals, and if you do good work with them, they will keep you in mind and refer you for jobs in the future. If this is not the kind of place where you can do that, and you are instead spending all your energy avoiding difficult social situations, then you probably want to move on purely from a professional standpoint.

  • kimekime Queen of Blades Registered User regular
    I asked one of the senior female devs who I work with for her perspective on this, and she said a few things that I wanted to repeat here:

    1) You should feel comfortable expressing that you just don't want to go to a social event. You don't even have to specify a reason. How they respond to this can serve as a personal litmus test for your working environment. If they disregard your decision or continue to strongly pressure you to attend, then you basically don't want to work there, because if they are going to be dicks about happy hour, then they will likely be dicks about other, more important things as well.

    2) Is there an expectation that you will participate in "sales" or "networking" events as part of your job? Or are you just a code monkey and are these purely work social events? If the former, then they might want you to attend just so you can schmooze with potential investors/buyers (a topic which is its own can of worms for women in the startup industry). If it's the latter then I'd refer you back to #1.

    3) Finding the right work environment is important. You don't want to be spending your time fighting these kinds of battles, especially as a newer developer. You need to be focusing on learning how to build products, work in teams, and most importantly build your own skills and network. There are definitely people out there who are professionals, and if you do good work with them, they will keep you in mind and refer you for jobs in the future. If this is not the kind of place where you can do that, and you are instead spending all your energy avoiding difficult social situations, then you probably want to move on purely from a professional standpoint.

    I think the complication is that (based on my reading) these are being sold as "work events," not "social events."

    So the normal responses for a woman to decline a social event probably aren't the same here. It's being presented as the OP not going to "work meetings," which has entirely different connotations. (Regardless of the fact that these seem to pretty clearly be social events.)

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  • Inquisitor77Inquisitor77 2 x Penny Arcade Fight Club Champion A fixed point in space and timeRegistered User regular
    I mean, they can say that Hydra aren't Nazis but we all know Hydra are Nazis. If they aren't even mature enough to know the difference or don't care and want to press the issue, then the assessment remains.

    kimeMoridin889Smrtnik
  • kimekime Queen of Blades Registered User regular
    I mean, they can say that Hydra aren't Nazis but we all know Hydra are Nazis. If they aren't even mature enough to know the difference or don't care and want to press the issue, then the assessment remains.

    Right. My point was that for advice, like "You don't even have to specify a reason [to not go to a social event with coworkers]" isn't maybe as helpful/applicable to the OP. Like, I'd be really curious what your senior female devs would advise for the problem of "the culture at my work meetings makes me uncomfortable, because they expect me to drink heavily and wear a swimsuit" or whatever.

    It sounds super ridiculous having to type that out as a description of a "work meeting," but that's the framing the company is giving the OP.

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  • Inquisitor77Inquisitor77 2 x Penny Arcade Fight Club Champion A fixed point in space and timeRegistered User regular
    kime wrote: »
    I mean, they can say that Hydra aren't Nazis but we all know Hydra are Nazis. If they aren't even mature enough to know the difference or don't care and want to press the issue, then the assessment remains.

    Right. My point was that for advice, like "You don't even have to specify a reason [to not go to a social event with coworkers]" isn't maybe as helpful/applicable to the OP. Like, I'd be really curious what your senior female devs would advise for the problem of "the culture at my work meetings makes me uncomfortable, because they expect me to drink heavily and wear a swimsuit" or whatever.

    It sounds super ridiculous having to type that out as a description of a "work meeting," but that's the framing the company is giving the OP.

    Agreed, it sounds pretty ridiculous. =(

    The basic gist was "find another job", much like earlier in the thread. I had asked about specific things like providing a good excuse or trying to mitigate the situation somehow, but the surprisingly enough the crux of the advice was, "You have to set standards for yourself, and you have to enforce them, because often you are the only one who will. And it tells you whether or not it's a place where you want to be working."

    On that note, she also mentioned the word "regret", which I meant to highlight but forgot to mention. She said that she has never regretted standing up for herself or moving on from a particular job because it wasn't a good fit or due to situations similar to what the OP is finding herself in. She has, however, regretted the situations where she didn't do so.

    kimetynic
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