Some of the reason these strategies succeed is because we live in a world where women are discriminated against.
Liberal garbage. There are a few, mostly men on top. Then most women. With most men on the bottom of the pile. I'm getting tired of feminist whiners deciding that since most of the people on top are men, therefore all men are on top.
No feminist would have ever written an article like this. It is strongly biased and doesn't support women's struggle to reach the same status men have in any serious way.
The problem (according to feminist doctrine, not sure I subscribe to it myself) is exactly that most of the people on top are men. Since the population is split 50-50% between men and women you should expect the same balance to exist at the top. In some very modern societies (Sweden, for example) this is, in fact, the case.
I'm not sure what it is you're tired of, exactly. Except for those few cases where the rights of men are compromised in the name of feminism, how could you sensibly object to a school of though that wants to gain equality for women?
Except there's a flaw here: if you only consider one end of the power/status continuum you don't get the whole picture. Men outnumber women at both extremes, which suggests that traditional theories of gender discrimination are, at the very least, missing something. "Men discriminate against women to get to the top" doesn't explain why so many men and so few women end up at the bottom, and so is insufficient.
One slight (odd) detail: the human population isn't split 50-50. Normally, I believe that male births slightly outnumber female births (105 or 106 males for every 100 females according to a source I'll cite in a minute.)
However, there are complications. First, for a long time, the actual number of females in the world doesn't match the 105/6 to 100 number above. This has been described by Amartya Sen as the "missing women" problem. (That is, quite a lot more women should be on the planet than are.) Second, I've seen some more recent articles suggesting that the larger number of male births is shrinking. I don't know enough to say much about that.
I'm very much in agreement with your overall sentiment and arguments though. (There should be more women in positions of power. Who could argue with equality and why would they do so?)
"""(There should be more women in positions of power. Who could argue with equality and why would they do so?)"""
Saying there ought to be more women in positions of power isn't equalitarian, it's sexist against men. There ought to be an equal way for anyone to get to said positions of power, but not to force the answer to come out any particular way all the time.
Who would argue against equality? Someone who doesn't think men and women are the same ( but without one being better or worse ) - see the below link for a discussion about how and why men and women are different - if men are better at wide and shallow relationships and business thrives on wide and shallow relationships then it's less surprising if men and business go together, and it's not a conspiracy by men against women necessarily. Equal pay for equal work? Yes. Equal chance to apply for jobs and the best fit gets it without gender prejudice? Yes. Forcing a 50:50 split to give a public image of equality? Maybe not.
I did not mean equality of outcomes should somehow be regulated. I didn't say nearly enough to clarify my position, so that's my fault. However, nothing I did say suggested or implied any kind of quota or regulation. That is your assumption - perhaps reasonably based on past experience.
When I say "There should be more women in positions of power," I mean that even if we assume a great deal of biological, inescapable, gender-based differences in psychology and physiology, the number of women in positions of power seems staggeringly low (and staggeringly low across time and space). Given that, and given what I know about history, I believe that another factor is at work here: sexism.
I also seem to be in the minority here insofar as I find most evolutionary arguments that attempt to explain modern-day human psychology to be entirely wrong-headed. I wont try to have that debate here, but for an idea of why I believe this, see this article by Jerry Fodor (nb: the link is to a pdf): http://ruccs.rutgers.edu/faculty/Fodor/Fodor_Against_Darwini...
I wasn't asking for both. I would be very happy if the world were moving towards equality of treatment. That's my focus. (Full disclosure: I work at an all-girls school, and I also have a wife, mother and sister. So perhaps I'm biased in favor of getting those people equality of treatment.)
> Isn't that statement predicated on the assumption that men and women, in a general statistical sense, have equivalent ambitions and abilities as men?
Yes. Nobody has ever given me sufficient reason to believe otherwise. (The only argument I've ever heard that has any pull is simply the one that points to the world as it is. That is, someone will say "Women's ambitions and abilities must be different from those of men. Look at how few women are presidents." But of course that argument begs the question.)
But we're not doing this a priori (unless you're some kind of cave-dwelling hermit who'se never seen another man or woman). I certainly haven't noticed any detectable difference in male/female intelligence in my own experience.
In general I try not to use a sampling of people different from the general population, filtered through my own personal biases, to draw conclusions like this.
Further, your inability to see a detectable difference might simply be due to a lack of a margin between the two groups. Humans are great at separating groups, they are not so great at detecting small differences between groups.
We're just talking about default assumptions here, so I'm not sure what you're getting at. Of course my default assumptions based on my own personal experience might be wrong; that's why they're just defaults.
>Humans are great at separating groups, they are not so great at detecting small differences between groups.
Is this actually true? It seems like a bit of a sweeping statement, and I'd be surprised if you have any hard evidence to back it up. Also, the observed inequalities between men and women are currently quite large, so it seems unlikely that very small differences between men's and women's abilities could explain them.
Well I guess I'll be the only one saying it: this entire article reeks of male geek condescension. I didn't know Clay Shirky was a feminist-apologist but I certainly grow tired of messages like this delivered from male bloggers about how women need to change, to do this or that or the other. This is a thin rewrite of a post that appeared I believe here on HN a few weeks back; only that post was actually written by a woman. These outside-looking-in pieces that male bloggers do are almost always a bad idea.
That's not true. Being overtly self-aggrandizing to women is a turn off. It makes sound like you are trying too hard to impress her. (Cockiness works, but not overt boasts).
Men do need to be more aggrandizing in professional life. Men do not carry a baby to term and nurse it for years. All they bring to the mating game is wealth, status, and genes. Thus, professional success is much more important in order for a man to attract a mate. Thus men are much more aggressive and do whatever it takes to rise the ladder.
On the flip side, when a women is self-aggrandizing it is quite a turnoff to a man. It much more actively harms her reproductive success. So women learn not to do it, and that rubs off in professional life.
When I drink I tend to be a bit of a jerk. I tend to be blunt and not care what people think about what I'm saying. I also tend to view myself as being more smooth/interesting/whatever than I actually am. Of the times I've gone out and barely drank or not drank at all, I've never left with/taken home anyone. There have been at least five separate occasions where I've been somewhere between pretty drunk and absolutely wasted and ended up going home with someone (and this isn't the beer goggle effect at work either).
Call it an anecdote or a small sample or whatever you want, but being more aggressive and boastful and jerk-like has clearly worked better for me, even if I feel kind of bad about it sometimes the next day.
Why? This seems to be a common sentiment, but it's definitely possible to find a mate without crossing the line from "taking some initiative and dressing nicely" to "self-aggrandizing jerk". I and many of my male friends do have girlfriends; many of my female friends have boyfriends. To the best of my knowledge, no-one behaved like a jerk.
Which doesn't even imply "your" strategy isn't more succesful, however you want to define that, but it's definitely not the only way.
Obviously women want men that are good to them. But they also want high quality mates (which tend to be jerks, because they can afford to be, the same way they prettiest women tend to be bitches, because they can afford to be). They're also more likely to dump a guy that's way too nice because he seems desperate, which means she could probably do better.
So the end result is that a woman might date the high quality male even though he's a jerk and dump the nice guy, simply because she's looking for quality.
I could be way off here, but you sound very young. I remember believing the world worked this way when I was about 19. Get towards thirty and my, how the tables turn. Now, practically everyone I know (including me) is in a happy, stable, long-term relationship. Nobody I know fits that description. Of the ones that aren't, their main complaint is that they can't find a nice, down-to-earth mate. The very few people I am still in touch with who remain as superficial as you describe, are miserable.
The alpha-male / hot bitch thing works okay when everyone is looking for a one-night stand. When you get a little older and thoughts turn to finding someone to spend the rest of your life with, that sort of behavior just seems idiotic.
You believed that's the way things worked when you were 19, because it did. And now when that you're 30+, it's different. You're not smarter, things have changed.
For men, the late teens to mid-twenties is the period where most mate competition takes place. This is where testosterone rates soar, as do accidental deaths as a result of risk-taking behavior http://www.epjournal.net/filestore/ep026685.pdf
No one you knows fits that description because like you said, everyone you know is in a relationship. What I described happens when people are trying to compete over mates. When everyone has a mate, i.e. past their mid-twenties for most part, they become much nicer.
Well, except for the occasional 30+ yo that likes to make cheap shots about folks over the internet via an implied link between maturity and intelligence.
Get towards thirty and my, how the tables turn. Now, practically everyone I know (including me) is in a happy, stable, long-term relationship.
That's how it was when I was getting towards thirty, too. Ten years later, most of the people I knew then have divorced at least once and are far more cynical and bitter, with lower expectations relationship-wise.
I'll be 50 this year. My experiences match the guy you're trying to call "very young."
> When you get a little older and thoughts turn to finding someone to spend the rest of your life with, that sort of behavior just seems idiotic.
True, but then my office is full of people who've been divorced more than 3 times, and each spouse isn't significantly different from the preceeding one (or at least what the co-workers complain about). I don't think that most people are that logical when looking for a mate.
I find it interesting how, in discussions on this topic here and elsewhere, people tend to come down strongly on either side.
Perhaps it's careful selection of company, perhaps it's different circumstances (none of us are really the type for one-night stands; note the boy-/girlfriend theme of my post!), or perhaps we read events to fit our theories about how dating works; but I've very rarely read someone arguing the middle ("being a jerk can work with some women, but many other women ultimately prefer a caring partner").
I don't really understand your objection. I'll try to explain what I understood and tried to say, and perhaps you can tell me where I was unclear/incorrect?
The original statement, on a literal reading, is universal ("the only way for men to get women's attention is to be a jerk"). Clearly, this was not what was intended: you call it a generalization, and that's the only reasonable reading, I'll agree.
As a counterpoint, I offered my personal experience. Admittedly, the plural of anecdote is not data; however, the fact that I know of literally no case where being a jerk got someone a girl does suggest that a closer look may be in order.
This argument works as a counterexample against a universal statement, but that doesn't mean you can't argue a more statistical version of truth based on these observations.
Garbage. You've derailed the argument to one about sexuality. This is about professional advancement, not courtship.
The author is comparing men's success in impressing an authority figure of an unknown gender against a woman's success in the same. Yet, you've at once implied that the authority figure is necessarily male, and that any male/female relationship is inherently framed by sexuality.
Not only do I think that's bullshit, it doesn't relate to the author's original argument.
I wonder how much of this has to do with women being biologically wired to avoid risk or anything that threatens survival of the race while men are biologically wired to be as aggressive as possible and take as many risks as possible to show they (and their genes) are even fit to survive?
Rather, anything that threatens their own inclusive fitness.
Apart from that you may be in the right area. In the environment in which we evolved, a successful male can theoretically have more children by having more partners, whereas a female cannot increase her progeny in this way. It also seems that an unsuccessful male is less likely to have any children than an unsuccessful female.
In short, variance in reproductive success is supposed to be higher in males, and its theorised that there's been a selection pressure towards more risk-taking in males. Naturally, this sort of thinking has its detractors.
Looks very interesting but I'm without headphones on my computer in a cafe in Taipei. If you have the briefest of moments, would you care to give a short rundown of some of the more interesting points to you?
it's better for everyone to become pleasant, collaborative and respectful, then for everyone to become jerks. i'd rather live in the former world. "when in rome..." is a little too simplistic and immature in this scenario. it's almost like seeing injustice and deciding to come out on top oneself, rather than fighting for social change. "man up!" seems somewhat appropriate for everyone involved.
as a techie female, the change in culture that i've seen has been crucial and awesome. i've stayed away from rails in favor of the awesome python and django communities. i've had excellent mentors. i've taken my time to accrue skills and confidence, and i've come to terms with what ego-ism and arrogance i do encounter.
before i was pulled into my first startup i had so often turned away from the perceived negative environment of hackers and startups and mean people. i assumed i wasn't l33t enough. like hell! i'm not afraid to say i've had encouraging guidance along the way, nor that i'm a master of my limited domains.
very early on i saw that we were all of us somehwere on the same continuum trying to get better. our paths might diverge based on goals, but there is no point in static comparison.
i see hacker news as milestone in social tech news. reddit was unbearably self-centered and negative. coming to hacker news, where people wanted to be intelligent and amiable, share and listen, was what proved to me that the tech culture had truly changed. maybe it's the entrepreneur influence that makes people more cognizant of networking and bridges.
shirky might have some good advice, it's just taken to the extreme. there's no need to stoop to the lowest denominator. be authentic to yourself, but don't put yourself down. build yourself with the long term in mind. competence shows, confidence follows. anyone can be competent with enough man-hours.
everyone always says startups are a roller coaster of emotion, but after two startups and nearly 3 years, i have to disagree. sure, i'm as emotional as the next woman, and starting out did come with a lot of doubts and stress, but at this point very little phases me. but yeah, maybe my balanced view doesn't help someone who feels very emotional about work.
I certainly did. "I realize that, by overstating their abilities, the student has probably gotten the best letter out of me they could have gotten" sounded like the sort of social-engineering-unbeknownst-to-the-manipulated at which women are stereotypically adept.
I did. I think it's because the post's titled "A Rant About Women", and starts with a description of what's probably supposed to be a typical case of something or other. This connection, even if tenuous, was strong enough to build an image of a female student in my mind, and it didn't get overridden by the supposedly masculine behavior.
This reminds me a story from my childhood. I was brought up by my mother, who is a very smart, independent and strong woman (and a hacker!). One day, when I was about 9, she asked me who, in my opinion, is usually more intelligent, man or woman. Without hesitation I answered that women are. It was the first time I learned that most of the world probably doesn't think like me. We're all biased, there's nothing to do about that, but publishing and broadcasting your bias is dangerous because it helps make it real.
Somewhere in this rant is a good point, but the author has piled on so much bullshit its hard to find. For example:
"It would be good if more women see interesting opportunities that they might not be qualified for, opportunities which they might in fact fuck up if they try to take them on, and then try to take them on."
This drips of sexism to me. It paints women as patently timid and naive, which is a costly mistake.
It does make sense that successful people are more attractive to others, and that's probably not a bad thing.
I was referring more to domination in the sense of forcing your will on others, especially if it's done assholishly. A lot of people feel that you're a "real" man if and only if you're richer/stronger/getting more women/etc. than other men.
It doesn't miss the point at all. This is a zero-sum game.
That is, men being SAJ more than women is problematic because it means they will get more attention. If men reduced their level of SAJ-hood to equal that of women, then men would have no advantage over women. There would still be winners and losers, but they would be female and male in equal proportion (according to this theory).
It may be a zero-sum game (no idea), but it's still a good idea to change what can be changed, instead of invoking some grand principle (I'm all for grand principles; it's just that the result of invoking them is either changing what can be changed or doing nothing constructive, usually the latter.)
Besides, it's not really good for women, per se, if the jerks are a bit less successful; it's equally good for everyone who isn't jerk-ish, which includes many men.
> "assertive, self-promoting, and self-confident."
true, but slightly more balanced than self-aggrandizing jerks. i hope people of both genders shoot for what you said rather than what shirky said. it's self-aggrandizing arrogant (mean, self-centered) jerks that are impossible to work with and quite frankly turned me off from programming for a long while.
think of what "hacker" used to mean and then think of what it means now. there's a way to have positive energetic confidence that doesn't demean others, and in fact helps others.
And that's probably a good thing. There are too many self-aggrandizing jerks in the world already. We don't need more, we need less.
Current trends towards greater transparency are likely to mean that a career as a con-artist is not quite as profitable a business as it may have been in the past. People who make gross exaggerations about their abilities are likely to be uncovered sooner.
Thats only true to a degree. As things get more transparent, the value of exaggeration will decrease and perhaps become negative.
However, the value of saying "pick me" will still be high in many situations. Anywhere where the selection process involves talking to people or asking for volunteers, etc... will still require people to stand up to be seen.
This article is quite sexist. I don't think it's even appropriate in this forum. If you're going to make far reaching claims about differences between the sexes you better back it up with data, otherwise you're just broadcasting your own bias and helping perpetuate whatever problem you're identifying.
I don't think it's even appropriate in this forum.
Why not? Its well accepted in technology that there are far fewer women than men. Finding out why is of interest to people in technology. However, to discuss it openly, people do have to make statements that are "sexist" because we are talking about differences between genders.
you better back it up with data
Articles like this can be helpful. It makes people reflect on their experiences and maybe change their actions. Sure, having data would be nice (although it might be hard to quantify "being a SAJ") but as long as readers notice these conclusions come from the author's personal experience and not any study, we can add as much salt to the article as we want.
i generally agree that submissions should use the same title as the original article. but in this case, that title isn't very good. "A Rant About Women" could be almost anything, and the implications it carries would prejudice me against it.
I'd actually say the actual post title is 'spicier' since it's less descriptive, more broad, and more likely to get a click just because people love a good flame. The current HN post title is indeed possibly inflammatory, but at least it's descriptive and probably provokes interest based on curiosity quite a bit more than the real title would.
And then, as I get over my annoyance, I realize that, by overstating their abilities, the student has probably gotten the best letter out of me they could have gotten.
What's wrong with a good recommendation, as long as it comes off believable? I feel the whole point of a recommendation letter is so that the person you are recommending achieves the goal she/he set out to achieve. Don't agree to the recommendation at all if you think they are not qualified. Afterall, it's called a recommendation, not an evaluation.
"There are no straight men in fashion. News at 11. This constant analysis of how Women are different than Men, whilst refusing to accept that they actually are different for reasons beyond anyones control, is just getting boring IMHO."
What makes you so sure that the reason that straight men avoid fashion is innate to their sex?
Women and men might be differently situated in our society for reasons beyond anyone's control, but there certainly seem to be some reasons that are manufactured. The real question is, why does your opinion on the matter get to be the definitive one?
Which actually isn't true. The KDE project is the only large project I've been up close and personal with, which had a small number of female developers relative to the whole, but at one point virtually every other sub-project was headed up by women, including: KDE e.V. (financial, legal), documentation, usability, artwork and translation.
Interesting to note that you didn't list software development. I think that's the biggest complaint about the "lack of women in open source" -- more related to the lack of female developers than anything else.
I was in a software engineering class, and we divided into 4 groups, one of which was the front-end stuff. We had 4 leaders, and the one female leader chose to lead the front-end group. Then all of the females in the class grouped under the female manager.
How many people are interested in doing something where they must "get over" discrimination? Most women who stay in the field are ones are really excited about it, naturally very good at it or very lucky not to run into idiots early on -- usually all three. That weeds out a lot of talent and a lot of people who would be otherwise interested.
Ok, I don't actually see any example of people being arrogant self-aggrandizing jerks in this article. I see a lot of relatively minor risk-taking behavior.
Saying 'my drafting is fine' when it really isnt, is a risk, because you could fail the class. Putting yourself out there and saying 'Come look at my work, its awesome', is a risk, because it could get flung back in your face as not awesome. Giving yourself the positive assessment that you would hope for is a risk, again because it could be rejected.
But none of these things strike me as examples of being a jerk. They are examples of taking little risks that help to optimize the chances of a positive outcome. Sometimes these risks have no little-to-no-downside.