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Back to newsletter 087 contents | All Javva's articles

Observing The I.T. Geek In Their Natural Habitat

I work in I.T., and different places tend to be different, but generally there are more men than women - at least in my experience. And where I am at the moment, I reckon the ratio is close to ten men to every woman around here. This leads to some interesting social dynamics which I've decided to document - for the particular habitat that I am currently studying.

The Female Herd

The most obvious item I see, as I look around the large open plan floor, is that the females tend to be grouped. This is not an accident, when a female recently joined, I overheard the project organizer (a female) telling the new joiner that she was putting her close to some other women so that she didn't feel isolated. Clearly, the female of this species prefers to be in amongst the female herd members. When a female group is located close to a main thoroughfare (some aisles are more frequently traversed than others), this results in a location where males seem to stop more often than at other locations. The female groups also have a tendency to have meals and breaks together, while male groups do not show this tendency - the males seem to meet, greet and eat according to non-seat-grouping arrangements - they have groups but not related to where they sit.

The Kitchen Cluster

The visitors to the kitchen tend to be in and out without much pattern except in one configuration - if a female is lingering there. Should one or more females linger in the kitchen for more than a minute or two, males start to cluster around the females, until a ratio of approximately three to five males to each female is achieved, at which point the number in the cluster seems to stabilize for a few minutes, although individual members of the cluster may change. This quasi-stable clustering appears to continue according to the amount of gossip available, or until a scheduled meeting causes the cluster to break up.

A New Female

When a new female joins the floor, the male hierarchy swings into a consistent pattern of activity. Firstly, males nearby to the female's new location are sought after by the further away males for information about the new female's role in the overall project. The more predatory males also interact with the new female very quickly, introducing themselves and attempting to co-opt the new joiner into their lunch plans. More patient (or less confident) males attempt to organise work encounters that provide the opportunity to interact with the new female on an I.T. basis, at which point these males will attempt to extend the interaction into a more social one.

Meetings

Meetings which involve a significant number of females (i.e. more than one) are assiduously attended by the male I.T. geek. Whereas attendance at other meetings are of a more lackadaisical nature, with a relaxed attitude to getting to the meeting in time - or indeed at all; instead the expected attendance of multiple females causes the male either to be right on time, or more often to actively gather up attendees, seemingly to ensure a full attendance, but probably to extend the pre-meeting social communicative phase of the interaction.

All in all, observing the I.T. geek in this habitat with a highly imbalanced ratio of males to females is a fascinating and continuing recreation. Any television producers that might want to produce a program on my findings, please contact me using the link below.


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