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I'm a Woman in Tech. Please Hit on Me. Said No Woman, Ever.

Oh no, you got stuck? Linux drama got you down? You actually don't know everything? What if you have to pick up the phone and call tech support and someone like me answers? A WOMAN.

Let me enlighten you on some proper etiquette for speaking with a female tech support rep.

My open source career began working customer service for Ubuntu/Linux users in early 2012. Like many open source enthusiasts, I was immediately drawn to the community. Over the years, the community has been welcoming, friendly and helpful for the most part. Eventually, I transitioned into a technical support role, and I started to experience unnecessary negativity as a woman and I believe I'm not alone.

During my very technical, non-exotic dancer workday, I do not expect to deal with disgusting pick-up lines and filthy language. I can't stand when people use sexually suggestive statements in a support interaction. As a baseline, most women prefer if you didn't hit on us at all during a support call or in a support ticket.

Sometimes people confuse friendly banter in between Linux commands as a flirtatious invitation to get personal. But in reality, it is just banter and we have customers to help. When you ask personal questions or make suggestive comments, it takes time away from other customers during business hours. I could be replacing your personal questions with diagnostic questions for another customer. Instead, I just get a little angry, sometimes unproductive for a few minutes while I vent, and then confused about why this behavior is still happening in 2019. It can derail a day if you're not used to it.

When men use words like 'hot or sexy' when speaking to a female representative, it's destructive.  If for some reason you feel a comment about the picture is necessary- snap out of it. It isn't. Anything beyond a nice picture comment is generally uncomfortable, awkward and unprofessional.

Women aren't here to show you our faces. We're here to show you our skills.

I worked my butt off to get where I am and I'll be damned if I let you reduce me to the 'office hottie' or 'just another pretty face.' At my job, we try to be as human as possible with our support, so a profile picture is required. I understand that hundreds of people are seeing my face every day. But out of 100, if 95 of those can refrain, why can't you?

I'm almost never the only person that touches a ticket. My whole team sees messages like that. It's embarrassing and puts me in a different light in front of them. Again, if you feel like you need to cross the line, try telling a friend 'this tech support chick is hot, and she's smart too.' Maybe if you get it out of your system, you won't direct it toward me. Just a theory.

Men always get to feel like tech support reps.

In 7 years, not one male technician has ever reported to me that they had someone call them hot or sexy during a call or in a support ticket.

Why should I be any different?

I shouldn't.

If you see this type of behavior in your tech community, understand that it is toxic. You can try to politely educate the person that there are better ways to communicate. But please, don't ignore it. Some people just don't know how it affects us because women don't talk about this sort of thing.

Ladies, we can stop brushing this off. We can stop letting behavior like this influence our decision to switch career fields. The tech industry has changed and maybe, just maybe, there are more men that support us than ones that don't. It is possible to flush out the trolls one by one, now.

I love all my customers and I'm not mad at anyone. I don't know how often you get a human on the phone for support, but if you do and it's a woman, keep in mind that she still has a job to do, skills to share and confidence to build.