"Oh yes! over-preparing for meetings is my jam :)": The Gendered Experiences of System Administrators

Mannat Kaur, Harshini Sri Ramulu, Yasemin Acar, Tobias Fiebig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
56 Downloads (Pure)


In the system and network administration domain, gender diversity remains a distant target. The experiences and perspectives of sysadmins who belong to marginalized genders (non cis-men) are not well understood beyond the fact that sysadmin work environments are generally not equitable. We address this knowledge gap in our study by focusing on the ways in which sysadmins from marginalized genders manage their work in men-dominated sysadmin work spaces and by understanding what an inclusive workplace would look like. Using a feminist research approach, we engaged with a group of 16 sysadmins who are not cis-men via six online focus groups. We found that managing the impact of gender identity in the sysadmin workplace means demonstrating excellence and going above and beyond in system administration tasks, and also requires performing additional care work not expected from cis men. Furthermore, our participants handle additional layers of work due to gender considerations and to actively find community in the workplace. We found that sysadmins manage by going above and beyond in their tasks, performing care work and doing extra layers of work because of gender considerations, and finding community in the workplace. To mitigate this additional workload, we recommend more care for care work. For future research, we recommend the use of feminist lenses when studying sysadmin work in order to provide more equitable solutions that ultimately contribute to improving system security by fostering a just workplace.
Original languageEnglish
Article number141
Number of pages38
JournalProceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction
Issue numberCSCW1
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • care work
  • feminism
  • feminist approach
  • gender
  • human factors
  • sysadmin
  • system administration


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