Q: I am a software developer who participates in various industry events and online chats. As a woman, I'm assumed not to know much, and thus many men give me know-it-all lectures a la Cliff Clavin from "Cheers," plus suggestions to go elsewhere. I'd like to say, "I have a PhD in engineering, thank you very much" but usually end up saying only the last part, which sounds as though I find their comments useful. I occasionally mention that I teach programming at a local university, but it doesn't seem to register.
I'd write these people off, except that many are leaders in the development community. I keep showing up to demonstrate that I won't be intimidated and to build my reputation among the more tolerant developers. Online, I usually use a male screen name because using a female name generates rants against women.
How can I better deal with know-it-alls and harassers who believe women don't belong in these forums?
A: I assume an eye-roll and chirpy "Gee, thanks, professor!" probably won't fly. Historically, minority pioneers in every profession have had to do everything twice as well, backward, in high heels, to prove they could do the job despite their reproductive organs, melanin levels or accent. Even the tech industry, romanticized as a haven for geeky outsiders with world-changing ideas, has come under fire for its insular "brogrammer" culture — and female techies who speak out often find themselves (further) targeted, professionally and personally.
So, yes, it's unfair that you have to keep presenting your bona fides just to join the conversation, if your male colleagues are not asked to do the same.
Some of what needs to change is beyond your control. For example: