As some of you know, I’ve been interviewing for jobs, primarily in software engineering. In the past, I’ve usually worn a nice business dress to interviews because this makes me feel confident that I will give off a professional vibe. However, since I have a number of friends and family in tech, I decided to ask for some advice on dressing for a tech interview.

The response I got surprised me: “Dress down.” Say what?! Yup, people actually recommended switching that business dress to jeans and a subtle shirt. Here’s the reasoning: As a woman, people don’t expect you to excel in tech. Therefore, dressing professionally will a) make people wonder whether you’re compensating for lack of skills and b) label you as a sales rather than a technical professional because of dressing conventions.

I think it’s great that many companies allow their employees to dress in whatever way they want. But evidently, it’s not as simple as that. As I see it, this tech interview practice essentially suggests that tech-savvy women don’t “dress like women” (whatever that means – dresses? skirts? care about our appearance in general?) and that women who dress professionally are more suited for sales because they’re appealing to a customer, not because they’re particularly knowledgeable about a product.

It’s probably not entirely different for men, but I wonder whether an interviewer interviewing for an engineering position might actually give a “well-dressed” man a positive review for being both dressed professionally and skilled, while a “well-dressed” woman has to prove her skills despite her “neat appearance” in order to get the same review. I definitely don’t have enough experience to answer that question, but I’ll continue observing. And once I get a job, I’ll be that professionally dressed AND technically skilled person at the office 😉

I’ve always enjoyed dressing up, so today’s tart follows the same concept. I’ve used leftovers from a chocolate pithiviers to create a lovely dessert that looks good AND tastes good!

Dressing Up