Mission Sex: Dating Techies

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My friend Mary has no doubt. “You can’t throw a can of PBR in the Mission without hitting a techie,” she says, sitting at the Sycamore Cafe on Mission Street in front of two lamb sliders with fries. I’ve just asked her if she has dated any of the guys who work at startups, Google, Facebook or any other computer-related venue.

Her answer is the perfect starting place for my research about a type of guy who brings to mind contradictions. On the one hand, going out with someone who can talk for hours about positioning, SEO and other concepts most civilians only pretend to understand can be difficult. On the other hand, it’s possible to learn something new.

But if it’s true that they’re only a PBR can away, meaning a tech date is likely, what do Mission women think about them? What have the dates been like? Does the industry attract a certain type of man who is better or less understood by women than, say, the typical “men are from Mars” scenarios?

“They were so busy working and learning that anything interesting about me was very interesting for them,” Mary says, reflecting on her experiences while I immerse my fries in ketchup. “They were easy to impress. One was even very impressed by my nose piercing, which is not very impressive at all.” Sweet. That’s hilarious. I cough, spit out some food and ask her to continue.

“Sometimes they can set their own hours. That’s good,” she says. “But one of them was a workaholic, so it was hard to see him anyway.”

Interesting. Are they free or are they not? I want more input, so I go to Four Barrel Coffee, where everybody seems to be working on a laptop while drinking expensive latte.

A political consultant, who wishes to remain anonymous, says she has been dating a software engineer for three months. “His work seems to be very flexible. It’s one of the sectors where if you produce good work you can be more flexible.”

“They have a job that pays well,” she adds.

Sounds good. But wait, it could be even better. What about those stories about techies selling their startups for huge amounts of money?

“Don’t they work for three months and then stop?” asks Anna Kempf, also at Four Barrel. Her experience is as limited as mine, but she imagines she would enjoy dating a techie. “I like nerdy things. And I guess they wouldn’t be too dramatic, too emotional.” Mmm, sounds typically male.

At my next coffee-stop, Muddy’s, architect Meg O’Halloran says: “I don’t date techies. I wish I did. They’re smart and ambitious.”

Over the day, the views expressed range from admiration to skepticism.

“Startups and technology … it’s revolutionary,” says Maria Mealla. “The idea of having an office job used to be a nightmare for young people, but now people do it and it’s exciting!”

She is sitting with her sister Carla, and the two discuss in Spanish whether they would like to date a techie. They don’t like being prejudiced, but they don’t think so.

“I dated one,” Carla says. “It didn’t work. I felt that at a personal level, we were very different. I’m an artist and I had the feeling I couldn’t really connect with him or his friends. Their lifestyle was not very alternative, and they were scared about having deep conversations.”

That doesn’t bother others.

“They’re stable, they have money … Maybe we could take a trip to Sonoma County on the weekend. That sounds nice,” baker Ashley Chapman says with a big, sweet smile.

She lives with three techies but has never dated any of them. “I don’t know what they’re looking for — probably not a baker,” she laughs.

She wouldn’t mind, though. “Oh, I don’t think they would be boring. They’re nerdy but there’s also this other side where they’re into music and trendy things,” she says.

“They have money,” says Cheri, who prefers to give only her first name. But money isn’t everything; Cheri says she would prefer the techie she dates to be an explorer of the world.

“They can be very selfish,” says a blond, pretty girl with glasses and a striped T-shirt at 780 Cafe. She doesn’t want to reveal her name, which is understandable, because she’s about to fiercely criticize almost all of her past techie dates and assert that she will avoid them in the future. She knows what she’s talking about, she says; she has not only dated a handful of techies, but has also worked for a tech company.

“They have a lot of money and are very stingy all the same. They think that what they’re doing is the most important thing in the world. They schedule girlfriends the way they would schedule meetings.” She defines them as “socially awkward,” a term she is not the only one to use.

At the same coffee shop, Rachel Aoanan says that one friend describes himself the same way. “He projects an authoritarian personality at work, but he’s cool, interesting and smart when you get to know him,” she says.

Of course, views change when the techies are friends or colleagues instead of boyfriends. At Dolores Park, three women from Pacific Heights, techies themselves, explain that they see girls who are interested in their co-workers because they are a popular type in San Francisco, even if they’re not particularly attractive.

At the door of the shop Therapy, two women from Facebook’s recruiting team say that techies are interesting, but they just don’t find them attractive. “I’m more into Mission hipsters,” one says. “Coding doesn’t make me excited,” says the other. Yet they both agree: “It’s becoming cooler.”

So they can be cool, too.

Unless, of course, they aren’t. At Dolores Park, Georgia Andrews, who works in the field herself, tells me about the new concept of brogrammers, defined by the Urban Dictionary as “a programmer who breaks the usual expectations of quiet nerdiness and opts instead for the usual trappings of a frat-boy: popped collars, bad beer, and calling everybody “bro.” Despised by everyone, especially other programmers.”

Georgia says: “Not all of them are like that, but there are these kinds of guys who are more fratty than nerdy … They’re sort of sexist, trying to be cooler than what they really are.”

I vaguely remember having read about that in Mother Jones just a few days ago.

Ugh.

Well, it appears there are plenty of exceptions, so I decide to stay open-minded. More experiences? Let us know. missionlocal@gmail.com

Our next question: What do techies think about dating Mission women?

29 Comments

  1. I’m a woman who work in tech. I think you should meet some women who work in tech before writing a story about “dating techies” where you assume “techies” are men. In alllll the stories I’ve read about brogrammers, dating “startup guys” (story that appeared in The Bold Italic last year), I have yet to read a single interview about how men like dating women in tech.

    Can we move on and just agree that technology is now a wide and varied field where many different types of people exist – shy boys, frat boys, sorority girls (yes, I know one), shy girls, people who defy categorization – and be done?

    Enough generalizations already. I’m really sick of how women continue to make generalizatons that belittle our own gender.

    • Kelly

      Yes, more women work in tech now – but that doesn’t change the fact that the field is still greatly male-dominated.

      I’ve dated techies and, yes, most of them certainly lack social graces. What really dooms relationships with them is that “they (are) scared about having deep conversations.”

      • I think the essential thing everyone is missing is the quotations around the word deep.

        “Deep” conversations are useless if what that means is “let’s share about our feelings.” Actions speak louder than words, etc.

        It would be untrue to say that techies only deal in shallow conversations. On the contrary, very few that I know have any interest in meaningless conversational fluff.

    • Susan

      Took the words right out of my mouth. What do techies think about dating Mission women? What exactly is a Mission woman? Why is she necessarily different than a techie? The Mission is a neighborhood. Tech is a profession. Even if you have to commodify gender roles at least get your categories right.

      • Jennifer

        Thank you, Susan, for your comment! Amen. And, really, what are Mission people if the Mission has been hit hard by gentrification in the last decade? And hipsters? Please. This article needs a recheck.

    • my_two_cents

      As a reader i simply can’t agree with this statement:

      “technology is now a wide and varied field…”

      Well, not really…it is still dominated by males

  2. Oh dear. Is MissionLocal turning into Cosmo?

  3. Agreed with the ladies above on this one. Tech is such a large category of work now that it is really had to make categorizations about it or the personality types. Most tech companies are comprised of coders, yes, but there are also sales people, HR, accountants, admin types, marketing people and more.

  4. Ginny

    I work in tech and look like your Mission girl next door (I have bangs and tattoos!) and I feel weird about this article. Men, women, transgendered and gender queer people all work in the tech industry. Some have poor social skills, I guess, but some are the most awesome people you’ll ever meet. Some can afford weekends in Napa, but others barely scrape by. Most would rather stay home and play Doom 3 (jk).

    The sexist, “brogramming” culture does exist, yes. I didn’t just read in Mother Jones, I’ve experienced that first-hand. But not all guys in tech are like that. I’ve worked with awesome, feminist guys who work hard to break down gender barriers in the tech field.

    I don’t want to be a jerk and totally tear apart this article, but it just feels very shallow and heavy on the stereotyping. A follow-up story on Mission women in tech would be cool.

    • randolph mortimer

      No, please, be a jerk and totally tear apart the article. I’m too disgusted by it to summon a clever putdown.

  5. 8086 @ 4.77mhz

    Anything new attracts interesting people. I was a techie in the late 80′s when the internet was a twinkle in Al’s eye. Still in tech, but unsuccessful because I’d rather drink beer and chill and I leave the job at work. My wife that I met then is still a techie too, and we were all freaks of one kind or another. We went through all the booms and saw the boring people fall off like they always do. The brand of techie the current megatechs are cultivating can be hella milktoast, but I’m sure it would be unfair to generalize. The g-bus masses are just serfs for the kingdom, opiated by vesting shares. Tech women will always be rad, and one day soon all women will get their due in tech and society at large – they run shit and always have. Bust a brogrammer in the chops for me and send him back to his republican rents.

  6. randolph mortimer

    See, the difference between Mission Girls and Techie Guys is that Mission Girls are like de-de-de and Techie Guys are like da-da-da.

  7. Vinay

    //fools a plenty
    while(writer is foolish && article has space) {
    “ask another foolish women to provide
    generalizations about dating a male tech worker, and she said this”
    }

    • What kind of language allows string literals as a valid statement?

      Or you know what, on second thought don’t answer that question.

  8. Mrs. Sheppard

    ugh.

  9. pobeb

    I work in tech, over 80% of the male techies of dating age engage in some sort of death defying activites – motorcycle racing, sky diving, surfing, bungee jumping, deep sea diving, snowboarding, kite-boarding, mountain biking etc, etc. That’s because these guys are so desensitized by their work and years of playing RPG games that they think nothing of jumping out of an airplane or gunning down a chute; plus they can afford the expensive equipment. So I’m skeptical that none of the girls you interviewed complained that their techie boyfriends drag them out to the snow/waves/mountains/airplane/racetracks or that they prefer to engage in said dangerous activities with their buddies than hangout with girlfriends. Truth be told, that’s usually the #1 complaint among techie girlfriends.

    • kp

      Pobeb, WTF are you talking about? I bet 80% of the women you talk to RUN AWAY!

      • pobeb

        Or not. If you actually know anything about the tech scene, it’s that most male technies don’t make the first move. Fortunately, in San Francisco, they don’t have to.

  10. kp

    This article makes women look like selective serial daters. This article also makes me want to smash a techie’s laptop into their smug face!

  11. KL

    Very disjointed article.

  12. stick

    gender is cultural (pink girls, blue boys) and sex is biological. Please don’t refer to women as a “gender” women are a biological sex. Also, every tech guy I’ve dated made me despise all Google workers. the one I dated has made me despise tech guys for this reason. I’m part japanese, but I have the fortune of not having “the fold” so my asian features are usually only seen by other asians. The white men in the tech field tend to have a racialized fetish towards asian women that is demeaning, demoralizing and degrading. The google guy I dated embodied this problem to a T. Nobody except asian women sees the growing problem of white male domiance in San Francisco, as in nobody but white men can date or marry minority women. Because us asians are seen as “new money” tech white guys like to date us because in oru eyes we’re seen as “white gurls” to them. They won’t date anyone else, and god forbid them to date an immigrant! They like white-washed americans who they “identify” more with..the more “white” the better. That’s what’s wrong with tech guys. THEY POSESS NO CARE FOR OTHER PEOPLE’S CULTURES, and most are all secretly racist. (Google guy thought “the Wire” was a standout, politically accurate show, when in reality it’s emphasizing that all blacks live in the ghetto which is not true at all!)

    • Jeffrey Taymore

      Well it’s a good thing you’re not using gross generalizations to get across whatever your point is supposed to be.

  13. M.

    elementary school then middle school then high school then college then tech job but still participating in things like its high school forever…your culture sucks. booooring. remember when san francisco was actually interesting and people came here to live and support various “alternative” ways of living? thanks techies and other greedy f–ks for making everything more and more normal and expensive and pushing everything interesting about san francisco out.

  14. Randolph Hearst

    Techies don’t like “deep” conversations? Whaaaa…

    Perhaps they prefer to avoid deep conversations with shallow people?

  15. There are really plenty of exceptions, I dated a few techies and they all were so different people. But they were also unlike all the other men, all keen on virtual life more than real.

Comments are closed.