About visibility when working among men

Today the Swedish site IT-tjej (IT-girl) has been launched here in Sweden and I found a lot of interesting articles that made me think. Those of who know me know that I am not especially fond of Microsoft but the article featuring their female IT-evangelist Maria Lundahl was really intersting for me. She said that she enjoy the visibility she gets in the male-dominated IT-business and that people often are surprised when she explains what she is working with and why she loves it.

I am probably the only open transsexual woman working as a career officer in the Swedish Armed Forces so I know I am visible. Probably more than most people, even most women in male-dominated workplaces. Yesterday I wrote about my desire to blend in as “just another woman” and what do I think about this visibility then?

Well, first of all I guess it depends if I am visible because I am a woman or because I have a transsexual background or possibly both. I have decided to be open with my background just because I have been in a closet to long already. I believe in honesty and openness. However, it is not the first thing I say to new people when I meet them. So that is where I want to blend in and be just another woman. However, that is where my visibility as the only woman kicks in. The hard part is that I have not yet learned to figure out when people notice me because I am a woman or because “there is something unusual with me”.

Even though I am a career military officer I am passionate about IT and the possibilities it gives us. I am rather nerdy in the sense that I like to dive into the technical details of big enterprise systems such as EMC Documentum and FAST ESP to understand what makes them tick. So I guess that is unfortunately also something that is not so common among women. I hope this new website can be a place for all women (nerdy or not) in the IT-business to meet, learn, grow and get some inspiration from each other. I think that all women that work in something that is not generally seen as a typical female line of work sooner or later need to get together and compare notes from our daily experiences.

So do I like the visibility…Not necessarily but I must confess that people seem to remember who I am which usually is good 🙂 Whether it is because I am a nerdy female missionary of ECM-systems or an unsual women with a transsexual background I don’t know. And in most cases I guess I have to learn not to care to much.

So like Maria I get many arched eyebrows when I tell them what I do for a living. I guess people expect me to be a hair dresser or a nurse or something. However, it does not always bother me too much since I guess I am breaking new grounds both for women but especially for those with a transsexual background.

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