When it comes to development and UX, I am a lady in a sea of dudes.
I look around at conferences, development meetings, and Team company pages and it's clear that I'm the outlier.
This doesn't have to be awkward but it is. I think about it all the time.
I network because I like people, I like asking questions, and it's valuable to my career. Because of the field I'm in, I'm usually talking to men. I show a lot of interest because I want to know what they're doing in their careers so I can apply it to my own situation. I follow up with people to have one on one discussions about Product and UX (usually at a bar). Sometimes there's low lighting.
How is this different from a date? Do I have to tell them I have a boyfriend? Would that make it even more awkward? Why should I have to say I have a boyfriend? I'm not anyone's property. Should I wear a fake wedding ring so I don't have to say anything at all?
Fortunately, all of the guys I've networked with have been fantastic human beings. A number of them have fiances, wives, or girlfriends and they've been totally down to meet up with some stranger(me)- holding no judgement and offering ton of advice. The majority have become longer term mentors.
So why write this post? To encourage new and upcoming lady designers to push through the awkward singles mixer-like interactions. You don't have to say that you're not interested or that you're taken. Expect to be treated like an equal and (in my experience), you will.