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Playing Like a Girl

May 22, 2014

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You throw like a girl!

One of the worst insults a 5th grade boy could say to another boy. No one wanted to throw like a girl. Not even the girls wanted to throw like girls.

Something happened between those days so many years ago and my life today. I had daughters. And while they are beautiful and talented young women, they play like girls! (And that’s a great thing!)

Rodney, can you come talk to a customer?

Okay. . .but why aren’t your operators taking calls?

Oh they are, but Kerri has a customer who refused to speak to a woman. He doesn’t think we are technical enough.

Seriously? Wow.

. . .

Hi, this is Rodney, how can I help you?

Hey thanks for taking my call. I’m sure the girls are nice enough, but it’s been my experience that girls just don’t “get” computers like us guys do. Don’t you agree?

How can I help you?

Kerri was fuming. I didn’t know the product line so Kerri had to coach me all the way through the call. My mother founded two multi-million dollar businesses. My wife was a computer consultant for many years. My sister never married and went on to a successful career in management. No way was I going to buy into the mysoginistic customer attitude.

In my field of IT, there are typically few women. There are even less in the programing and engineering fields. But, some of the best programmers I’ve ever worked with were women. If you are a woman in a technical field, you typically have to be that much better than your peers to be taken seriously.

My two oldest children are daughters. They grew up with the normal “girl” stuff, prom and piano lessons (not that boys can’t take piano lessons,) barbies and a typical American girl upbringing. But, they also at times, stepped out of the traditional female roles.

When my oldest daughter was 16 she stated going with me to play pickup basketball games, and she was good.

If a girl shows up to a pickup game, you want her on your team. She wouldn’t be there if she wasn’t really good.

I bought my daughter a shirt that said,

Remember when “You play like a girl” used to be an insult?

I also discovered that I couldn’t guard my daughter. She could drive on me every time. “Dad-mode” trumped “basketball-mode.”

My second oldest daughter played baseball (Not softball, baseball!) When she was 18, she joined the Army Reserves. She’s now in the ROTC program at Utah State. She enjoys the physical aspects of being a soldier.

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I haven’t heard the phrase “You throw like a girl” in years. Partly it could be that I’m not hanging around 5th graders anymore. But, I’d like to think that it’s also because, like my daughters, women and girls are more excepted into traditionally male dominated careers and sports.

I’m very proud every time I have the chance to say,

My baby girl wears combat boots.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife and thirteen children.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

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2 Comments
  1. Shanna permalink

    I had a project where I had to give direction to a bunch of IT guys in Japan. We all found it much easier when the guy who sat next to me pretended he was managing it. I told him what needed to be done, he was the one who sent the emails and talked on the phone with them. I might have been very offended about it all had I not studied Japan in college and understood about the cultural expectations. I have encountered the situation you described more times than I care to think of. I have been at many events where there were over 300 people and only 10 or fewer were female. It was definitely challenging.

    • During boring meetings at Microsoft I used to count the number of men vs women. It was. Ever closer than 70% – 30%.

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