When I interviewed at ParserPile, I was oblivious to the gender mix of the organisation. I walked into an open office, and registered that there were about 30 people there. Give or take. Nothing else. I was too nervous and highly strung, and frankly it didn’t even occur to me to check for fellow females.
During my first week, I was taken into a conference room a few times by one of the founders. It was for orientation, and he explained the products, the company ethos, the different teams, and the policies to me in brief. A lot of it went over my head at the time, because I was new and nervous again. But one thing stuck.
He: “So, as you may have noticed, you are the only girl in the office.”
Me: “I hadn’t actually. It’s my third day, and I figured that there could be some people on leave.”
He: “Nope. I am a little nervous about having you here amongst all these guys. But please be assured, if you feel the slightest discomfort at all, you must come to us.”
Me: “Thank you I will.”
He: “No I really mean it. Anything at all. This is a safe office environment.”
Me: “I believe you, and I will. But judging by the people I have interacted thus far, they are more inclined to be wary of a female in their midst, than the other way around.”
End of topic.
Cut to 2 years later, and the HR had come up with this idea of telling stories about ParserPile in a big company bonding session. I had initially backed out of speaking, because I couldn’t think of anything to say. But I got hauled up in front of everyone, as the first female employee and was impelled to speak.
There were a number of anecdotes that sprang to mind then, because I am surprisingly [to my own shock] good at extempo speaking. [Previous experience has not led me to this impression.] And one of my anecdotes was partially the one above. Except, it now had an ending.
Me: *at the gathering* “.. The funny thing is that I recounted this conversation I had with the co-founder to some of the others, after we became better acquainted. And one of them retorts with: ‘Oh he gave you a warning about us?! He should have warned us about you!’ And that, my friends, is how I have a full circle in this organisation.”