Tuesday, September 29, 2009

From the WISE Guy: Light Bulb Moment

This is a guest post from one of the biggest WISE supporters from the male half of the population, Jeff Gordon.

I recently found myself part of a brief, yet intriguing conversation about the relationships between the types of men and women that often find themselves in the field of science and engineering. Now being a guy, I've always tried to distance myself from the typical computer science male image. Sure, we're intelligent but often the attractive qualities end there. So I just tell people I moonlight as a male model. Image problem solved! But yet, there are still a majority of guys in the field whose "S" skills are doggin on my rep. By "S", I mean social. How am I supposed to fulfil my goal as the ultimate and smooth computer science playa? haha...I kid of course!

Now, most women in the field's "S" skills are quite normal. So being a minority, they really have no choice but to interact with the uninteractable. I'm told this is especially difficult when meeting someone new (arguably a slightly awkward experience already). Typically new introductions are a task of tuning frequencies to find the right wavelength for communication between two people. (In layperson's terms, you try crap out until something works.) When dealing with a person whose transmitter is broken, this can be especially challenging. By the way, where are the engineers to fix this problem?

A few of the women of WISE shared a few techniques with me for anecdotal purposes. Do they work? Well I don't know. But they're definitely interesting. My personal favourite is the hug approach. Hug a new computer science guy you meet. That definitely breaks the ice! Maybe I should try this on some of the WISE women at the next event? I can't think of anything that could POSSIBLY go wrong doing that... No? Oh well, I guess it's different for women. Still I realized how challenging this can sometimes be. I mean sure, I deal with these personality types too. But I likely have a better understanding of the male mind and so I have a bit of an upper edge in these situations.

I guess my point is that I had a little bit of a light bulb moment. For the record, I like light bulb moments. Naturally, I never really thought about these kinds of interactions from a women's point of view. But I felt it was an interesting discovery in every man's endless quest to understand the female mind :-).

Either way, us guys try our best to communicate (social skills or not). And women try their best to communicate. And somehow, we get the job done. Often with very interesting chemistry!