Geeks Guide to Women: AnnMaria Explains it All

I am tired of hearing that men in technical fields cannot meet women. Some stupid company even went so far as to say that they had hired hot women to work at their company so now they were going to have no problem attracting good programmers and engineers. This is stupid on so many levels. As the house rocket scientist said,

“Right. That’s exactly what guys want, more good-looking women to turn them down. I think the way  to attract talent is have interesting problems and pay people well.”

To continue on the logic – some of the technical people you want to hire are women, a lot of those men are married, and explaining to your wife that you are taking a job at another company because there are hot women is probably not the kind of conversation conducive to marital happiness. I presume this company is looking for young men who are very bright with no social life so they will work all of the time. I do have to wonder, though, what the “hot women” hired by the company think of being used as recruiting bonuses.

As a public service, I have decided to explain the three steps to actually meeting a woman. This is based on the extensive research of being a woman, having been married three times (less exciting than it sounds, I was divorced at 25 and my second husband passed away after 10 years of marriage) and accomplished “till death do us part” 67% of the time – in excess of the national average I might add – being the mother of three daughters in their twenties and spending well over half my life as a programmer, statistician and engineer. I believe anthropologists call this “participant observation”. All of these same steps apply in on-line relationships as well.

Jenn after finishing her M.A.

1. Say “Hi”.  This is the first step where many men fail. Have you actually talked to that woman in accounting or who you see every day at the coffee shop? Next time you walk by her cubicle, see her in front of you in line or you pass each other in the halls in your apartment complex, say “Hello”.  That’s all. Just say, “Hi”.  The next time you see her, do it again. (I don’t mean walking by Janet’s cubicle to the water cooler every hour and saying hello. That puts you in the weirdo camp.) I mean, when you walk into the office in the morning or by her desk as you head out for lunch.

After this has gone on for a few days, if you are behind her in line, coming out of the elevator, say, “You know, I don’t think we’ve been introduced. My name is Jack. I work over in the systems administration group.” (Unless your name is actually Jack and you really are in systems administration, you should substitute the correct information in that sentence.) DON’T ASK HER OUT. She probably already knows who you are, but that doesn’t matter. She’ll tell you her name, as if you didn’t know, and something about herself. If she tells you she works in accounting or for Goldman Sachs, ask her about it, how she likes working there, how long she has been there, how did you end up there, did you always plan on being an accountant. You might discover she is the most boring person on God’s green earth and you don’t want to go out with her, but that is okay, too.  After you’ve walked to where her desk is or picked up your coffee, say “Nice talking to you.” And leave.

Exhibit A of how seldom men actually even say, “Hi” is darling daughter number two, shown above right after she finished her masters degree. For four semesters, while she was getting her M.A., she would come over to the building where I worked and we would car pool home. Often, I was stuck in a meeting and she would be sitting downstairs waiting for me in a building where hundreds of the exact men who complain about meeting women worked. At the  time, she wasn’t dating anyone, having just moved back to L.A. to start graduate school. How many people in that time actually stopped and said, “Hi” to her? About seven – four married men who worked with me and knew she was my daughter, and the three security guards who rotated at the front desk, one of whom was a woman and the other old enough to be her grandfather.

An even better time to say hi is when someone new starts at work or moves in the neighborhood. When you pass the person in the hall, say, “Hi, I’m Jack. I know you’re new here – if you need any help, I’m in apartment 12/ I work in the Unix group – feel free to ask. I know it is hard getting used to everything a new place.”

Here is a really key point – do this whenever someone new moves in/ comes in to the area. She may be married, old or not the type of woman you would date in a million years. You ought to offer to help out new men at work too. You don’t want to be seen as that creepy guy who hits on all the attractive women.

Why anyone thinks all of these suggestions go out the window when they are online is beyond me. Do you know how many women on on-line sites get messages that start out, “Show me your tits.” If you wouldn’t do that in the hallway don’t do it on line.

2. Don’t be a jerk. If Janet does come over and ask how to log in to the server, don’t start out with “Well, you see we have these things called computers…” I cannot count the number of men I have seen trying to impress women with their technical knowledge and instead coming off as a pompous ass (and I can count pretty high). If she asks a question, tell her the answer. Then, if you can, add something like, “Did anyone tell you where the company handbook/ procedures/ secret site of insider knowledge is?” and show her where she can find the answer for herself in the future. DON’T ASK HER OUT.

From talking to Janet in the elevator, you know that she works in accounting, is into fly fishing whatever. The next time you see her in the hallway ask her if she could recommend an accountant, tell her you were interested in taking up fly fishing and wonder if Bass is a good place to buy bait. Don’t lie. If fly-fishing makes you want to puke, go with the accountant angle or you may be trying to find some way to get out of cutting bait. DON’T ASK HER OUT.  On the other hand, if she says, “I’m going to Bass on Friday after work, do you want to come?” Don’t be an idiot. Say yes.

Keep in mind, though, that when a woman asks you if you want to go to lunch or go to Mandelbrot’s lecture (well, before he was dead) or go to Macworld, she may just think it would be nice to talk with you at lunch or to have company to hear Mandelbrot talk about fractals or go to Macworld.

Again, all of this applies on-line as well. Darling daughter number three (shown here) has thousands of twitter followers and Facebook friends. Fairly often, she’ll get a tweet along the lines of,

“I would like you to have my babies.”
and many, many more graphic ones. What the hell are these people thinking? If she ever in a psychotic break went out with one of these idiots, I’d smack them in the head the instant they came into the house. The only one that I did not think was super-creepy was the guy who asked her to the Marine Corps Ball. If she hadn’t been in the middle of training for a fight this Friday, it wouldn’t have surprised me at all  if she had taken him up on it.


So, when do you get to go out with her?

3. Find the right woman. You might think this would come first. You’re wrong. If you do steps 1 & 2 first, you’ll find out if Janet is married. DON’T EVER ASK HER OUT. What are you, a moron? If Janet has a boyfriend, don’t ask her out either. Seriously, do you want to date a woman who cheats on her boyfriend? If she breaks up with him, and she’s interested in you (and often even if she isn’t) she’ll bring it up in the conversation. By this point, you know if Janet is dumb as a rock, is a born-again Christian or spends her evenings kick-boxing.  All of those may be a turn-off for you or it may be exactly what you are looking for your whole life. You may find that you thought dating someone very religious was off the table but that Janet’s views on always being honest, the importance of family and the way she walks the walk by volunteering at a soup kitchen every weekend are pretty amazing. In short, you’ve gotten to know Janet as  a person. Worst case scenario is you have made an acquaintance who you don’t want to date. However, that same person may have given you a new perspective, may refer you for a job some day or introduce you to someone you DO want to date. Women tend to have a lot more friends who are other women than men do. A second possible outcome is you and Janet become friends. She’s not your type, maybe she never was. She’s married, too old, too young, just not compatible. However, having a friend is a good thing and as a bonus, she may give you some good insight into starting a relationship with a woman.

Ronda trains two or three times a day and loses things at such a rate that it is almost a super-power. She has lost so many passports that I think the State Department has her on a watch list.  If hiking in the mountains for three hours is not your idea of a good time, the two of you are not going to get along. On the other hand, Jenn, lovely daughter number two above, had a minor in Film Studies and teaches history. If your idea of a good time is going to the gym at 5 a.m. on Sunday morning, she is probably going to quote some line from a movie I never saw to describe you. Whatever it means, it won’t be good. They are both massive Dr. Who fans, though. So, one day, when you are hanging out with your friend, Ronda, watching a Dr. Who marathon because she has trained for five hours that day and is too exhausted to move, you mention you really liked the Ken Burns Civil War documentary. She rolls her eyes at your boringness and then a light goes off, “You know, you really ought to meet my sister …”  and then you are off again at Step #1.


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  1. I’ve been described as a geek. I’m fascinated by technology, while my wife simply tolerates technology.

    My wife and I watch only two types of TV shows together: Doctor Who and Masterpiece Theater. Our courtship included countless Star Trek (original series) reruns and new episodes of The Simpsons. And yesterday we marked our 20-year wedding anniversary, so the combination works, somehow.

    Now we’re raising 3 girls, and “Hemedaughter #1” is a Doctor Who fan. We are grooming her for some lucky geek (far in the future, we hope).

  2. Thanks for the poem. I am not a big poetry fan and I had never heard of Elizabeth Bishop, but I liked the poem and she sounds fascinating.

  3. There are a variety of reasons why the single guys at your work didn’t approach your daughter Jenn. Some may have felt that it would be inappropriate to be perceived as “hitting on” a co-worker’s or supervisor’s daughter. Others may have just assumed that an attractive girl would already have a boyfriend and/or she was out of their league. Guys that wanted to talk to her may have also thought about it too much, rehearsed the possible conversation in their minds too long and by the time they were going say something, the opportunity had passed. You also brought up the point that sometimes geeks can come across as creepy. That can be a valid concern if the company’s HR department is trigger happy when it comes to terminating people for sexual harassment complaints. That is one reason I have a “speak only if spoken to” policy when it comes to women at work (who are mainly in non-IT departments, so it is rare to have a valid business reason to talk to them anyway). Then there is the old adage of “no fishing from the company pond” to avoid being the topic of gossip and/or having private relationship problems interfere with work.

    Or you could just chalk it up to guys being intimidated by a woman due to the fear of rejection, being ignored, laughed at, etc. As a co-worker once put it, “when I see a pretty girl, it’s like my balls die.”

  4. Your co-worker is hilarious.

    I don’t know how many people would have known Jenn was my daughter outside of my own department. The area I worked had a lot of security so she could only wait in the lobby three floors down. So, the not wanting to hit on a co-worker / supervisor’s daughter would not have applied to many people.

    I really think the big obstacles are what people set up for themselves – telling themselves she must already have a boyfriend, she’s out of their league, they’ll sound stupid.

    Funny how guys who are perfectly comfortable with the idea that the first time you run your code it will probably fail are freaked out by the idea that the first time woman they talk to probably won’t be overwhelmed.

    I’m a hypocrite, though. I asked my brother (who began his career as a COBOL programmer) how men could possibly ask a woman out. What if she said no? He just shrugged and said, well then next time you ask somebody else.

  5. It would be nice also the idea of the girl talking to the boy instead. Surprisingly, we also like the other sex to do that from time to time…

  6. @kws, are you sure you are not falling in a geek’s trap of making excuses when it comes to striking a conversation with the opposite sex.

    It is perfectly normal to start a conversation with anyone and everyone with the intention to network. And from this vast network, the chances of dating a girl is more likely. But if people start with the intention to hit on the girl, then they get nervous and makes excuses to back off.

    I work as scorecard modeler for a large bank. Unlike the front-end business units, the modelling department is staffed with geeks.

  7. What in particular are you referring to Roger? As an introvert, your version of networking is an alien ritual to me. I stick with the form that involves computer hardware and wires.

    BTW, I wasn’t kidding about the over zealous HR people. I don’t want to be the next guy who says something that is misinterpreted and unemployed in less than an hour due to a zero tolerance for “creating an uncomfortable work environment”.

  8. None of this really matters anyway when you’re the type of guy that only attracts gold diggers. They’re not attracted to you, just your susceptibility into being conned into spending money on them. :/

  9. A little bit off-topic, but is it true that to marry one of your daughters, you must first defeat them in battle (and by battle I mean judo)?

  10. Ronda says a guy who she could beat up is a turn off so that may be true.

    Jenn teaches history and hates all forms of exertion greater than walking to the beach.

    So far, only one daughter is married. Her husband is 6’4″ and never did martial arts, but he did play baseball at Stanford, & he could probably hit Maria with a baseball bat. She’s pretty sneaky in a fight though, so I’d put my money on her.

    The short answer is, “No”.

  11. Hi. That was excellent. You are one smart lady. After more than twenty years of marriage and raising three sons I got divorced. I forgot how to approach women. For some reason I was actually afraid to do so and I don’t know why. I know that I thought too much, though. Can’t get a hit if you don’t go to bat. BTW, my field was IA&S. Thank you.

  12. As usual, Doc, I loved the post. I really should check out this blog more often. I already love the Judo one. I’m now even more convinced that, though I’d thoroughly enjoy hanging out and socializing with daughter #3, I’d probably get along better with daughter #2. Maybe it’s the teacher thing or my Classical Studies degree… 🙂

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