Yesterday I overheard a male product manager say, "I used to wear nice shirts to work, but now I dress down so that my engineers will respect me more."
I turned around to look at him. He was in a very casual T-shirt and jeans.
Over the years, I've heard this sentiment frequently, usually from women. Many female engineers have told me, "I purposefully dress more sloppily than I naturally would, to be more respected as a coder."
THIS IS SO RIDICULOUS!
With all the issues that women face in a male-dominated industry, now we are also curtailing our clothing choices??
Yes, there is a stereotype of the brilliant engineer with mismatched socks and ill-fitting pants. This stereotype also includes a penchant for social awkwardness! Are you going to dumb down your interpersonal skills in order to "be taken more seriously as a computer scientist"?
I fear there might be women in this world for whom the answer is yes.
It's nice that Google has many examples of glamorous women who are obviously rock stars at their jobs (Sha-mayn!). Perhaps it will seed the overthrowing of this harebrained notion.
I myself have worn my indian kurta two-piece to work many times -- the outfit I consider most opposite to the "T-shirt and shorts" category -- and no one judged me. So obviously it doesn't matter what you wear. (Actually, my intern laughed at me, but no one else batted an eye.)
(photo of aforementioned outfit, from Google Bangalore guesthouse)