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Being a Developer After 40 (medium.com/akosma)
854 points by wallflower on April 26, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 549 comments

I am based in Bulgaria and I recently had my first experience with a potential Swiss employer. It was rather unpleasant. After I went through 5 interviews we discussed my rates (as a remote consultant). I received a low ball counter offer which was about the half of what I usually charge. This quickly became a racist rant and a senior manager at the company tried to persuade me by saying that with the money they offered I'll "live like a king" in Bulgaria. Needless to say I politely declined because I would much rather work with people that value my work. I was really surprised that such unprofessional attitude came from Swiss company, but apparently it's not so uncommon judging by the blog post.

As a developer in Switzerland, I'm unfortunately not surprised.

Maybe Swiss firms have a real arrogance problem (not all, but many). If it makes you feel any "better", your country of origin is not the reason (I get comments like that while living in Switerland too).

They are mostly just clueless. Large Swiss firms even more so (Swisscom being the main offender).

EDIT: To clarify, I got lowball offers with some other bullshit reason like "but it'll help bootstrap your career". As if my multiple years (15+) of career in international companies doing a good job (as developer/architect/senior) was not enough for their position, somehow.

Precarity at CERN, aka cheap disposable temp labour w/o healthcare:


And a warning to non-western members:

"The cost [...] has been evaluated, taking into account realistic labor prices in different countries. The total cost is X (with a western equivalent value of Y) [where Y>X]

source: LHCb calorimeters : Technical Design Report

ISBN: 9290831693 cdsweb.cern.ch/record/494264

On top of the above, the usual package for prospective employees:

Resolution of the CERN Staff Council

- the Management does not propose to align the level of basic CERN salaries with those chosen as the basis for comparison;

- in the new career system a large fraction of the staff will have their advancement prospects, and consequently the level of their pension, reduced with respect to the current MARS system;

- the overall reduction of the advancement budget will have a negative impact on the contributions to the CERN Health Insurance System (CHIS);


Pensions which will be applicable to new recruits as of 1 January 2012; the Management and CERN Council adopted without any concertation and decided in June 2011 to adopt very unfavourable mesures for new recruits. http://www.gac-epa.org/History/Bulletins/42-2012-04/Bulletin...

Given that cheap and disposable trainees — PhD students and postdocs — fuel the entire scientific research enterprise, it is not surprising that few inside the system seem interested in change. A system complicit in this sort of exploitation is at best indifferent and at worst cruel.

While I understand the point you are trying to make (CERN is partially on Swiss territory), it is not a Swiss employer by any stretch of imagination: they have extra-territorial status, like the UN.

Swiss laws and wages don't apply to CERN (workers there also don't pay taxes, or contribute to Swiss social welfare).

Its annual budget is about 1 billion _swiss francs_.

La Suisse pourrait contribuer à améliorer les conditions sociales des travailleurs détachés du CERN. Le Conseil fédéral est prêt à évoquer la question avec l'organisation.

Staffs and Permanents are very well paid, even Fellows considering you pay no taxes and you get free UNICA healthcare which is insanely good compared to what you get in Switzerland (it's worth 1.2k CHF monthly, can cover your whole family).

It often does sucks if you work at CERN for some university, the salary then depends on their rates, and often you don't know where you will be in 2 years, but you still get UNICA + no taxes...

Then the problem is that getting a staff or permanent position is very hard, then again CERN cannot hire half the world, it's a matter of needs, From what I witnessed most people just take CERN as a stepping stone and move on, unless you're one of the lucky few to get a staff (and you're ok with gambling 5 years to get a permanent).

Staffs and Permanents, even Fellows are by and large from Western Europe. In particular senior staff positions (ie. decision making). Just look at any orgchart in any division.

Which makes sense given that these countries contribute the most to the funding of CERN.


Then we both agree, that jobs are not awarded accorging to the matter of needs, neither merit for that matter. It is about the most funding, which is self-selecting in the long tradition of Western European capital concentration: the first among equals. Makes sense, but contradictory to any publicly stated charter (be it CERN or EU).

It's not what I said. They are pretty explicit about how the selection is done btw https://jobs.web.cern.ch/content/recruitment-policy


The Swiss also have a real ageism issue. When I worked there, I had a good friend who was Swiss that got fired. He was in his 50s at the time and the attitude was that nobody that age should be coding. He was a very good developer, but couldn't get hired because of his age. He started a web development company. The key to his success was that when he met with clients he presented himself as "the boss" with his crew of young developers. Back at the office, he was that crew of young developers. He told me that if his clients thought he was the one developing the code, they'd never have hired him.

As an American I've heard this is a major issue in our software industry as well. But I'm young and I don't know any significantly older developers so I can't really verify.


I think you are verifying it.

My point is that I'm only passing on hearsay.

as you get older, looking for a job isn't called "looking for a job", it's called "sales". and you can "look for a job" for other people, too.

Yeah, that's supposed to be good business sense: you pay less money for the same amount of work. In truth though, you get what you pay for, always. Software works the same regardless of who writes it, where they live, or how much you pay them, so if you pay less for a piece of software you'll just get a piece of software that's worth less money.

It's exactly for this reason that big corporate software is generally shite: because they try to get it at a discount by paying low wages to consultants whom they think they can afford to underpay because they live in a poor part of the world (hint: India). Then they end up with horrible messes of software that nobody wants to work with, at which point they have to pay more money anyway to convince anyone to fix the mess.

It's just people thinking they're so smart when in fact they're short-termist and dumb.

If what you were saying was true, you'd be getting better quality developers if you only hired guys that were born in your high-wage country. Thats not how it works.

I've met a lot of very bad german developers that command a decent wage, simply because there is a scarcity of talent, and I've seen lots of eastern european guys do a fantastic job earning much less, because thats how their local market is like.

I agree that it is never a good idea to pay less than the local average, though.

except for the most part the market for talent is an international one and the good engineers wil move to the high paying jobs.

you find exceptions and cost of living in different places creates some disparity but as a rule "you get what you pay for" still holds water

"t the market for talent is an international one and the good engineers wil move to the high paying jobs."

you assume that getting a visa is easy. Often impossible or insanely difficult.

Since this thread starts with a Bulgarian developer applying for remote work with a Swiss firm, I think it's fair to say we're not talking about moving or visas. We're talking about an international market for talent in remote development.

The device you used to type in your opinion was likely produced in Asia. This enabled you to pay less without getting less.

You can in fact get a Bulgarian developer which is just as good or even better than many Western European or American developers (I have hired a few) and for a fraction of the price.

Meanwhile they may still be paid very decent amount of money that allows for them to have a standard of living exceeding the one they would have had if they had been employed in Switzerland with Swiss salary, and Swiss living cost.

You don't always get what you pay for with developers or any other services or products. Sometimes, but not always.

From my traveling experience the cost of food in large cities in Bulgaria and Romania is about the same as the cost of food in Canada. Yes, they have (much) lower wages there and they will accept your low offer because they have no better choice to make more money. Please don't delude yourself in believing you pay them a fair/decent price. You just pay them better than what they could make locally.

Oh, please. From my experience living in the US and now living in the capital of Bulgaria I know that the price of food, housing etc. is way lower here than in the valley or NYC. Easily 3 times cheaper. And the tax is lower too.

But don't take my word for it: https://www.expatistan.com/cost-of-living/comparison/sofia/s...?

A decent full stack developer in his early 20s with no or little college education and 2-4 years of working experience is paid out 25,000 dollars yearly after all taxes and social contributions are paid.

Adjusting for living expenses that's like being paid out some $70-80,000 in the valley.

Developers here don't have debt, easily save up money, live in nice apartments, drive German luxury cars, enjoy 5-6 weeks of vacation where they travel to foreign countries. They meet in at 10 AM and leave at 6 PM sharp. We eat lunch together at restaurants every day and take plenty of breaks. From what I have experienced living 5 years here, life as a developer in Sofia (the most expensive city in Bulgaria) is more comfortable than in the Valley or New York.

Professional opportunities in the US are probably better, no doubt about that, but that's another story.

So many Americans simply don't understand what you're saying. Having lived outside of the US myself for almost 10 years and planning to do so again, it's a world of difference.

I'm in love with the entire Iberian peninsula, particularly the southernmost bits. It's poor(er), beautiful in people and in landscape, the weather is nice most of the time, and things are affordable, even by the local sheep farmers. I won't be getting rich, but I'll be living and working on my own terms. Best part is, the wife is amenable to this after the children are out on their own. My wife is in the medical field. She can likely transfer her license and skills over. Heritage-wise, she's from the area, so this is a bonus as well.

>>now living in the capital of Bulgaria I know that the price of food, housing etc. is way lower here than in the valley or NYC. Easily 3 times cheaper

You're comparing two of the most expensive places in the world to Bulgaria, it's likely that your statement is true of many parts of the US.

But also two of the places in the world that pays developers best. I bet developers in Oklahoma City are paid much less than in SF or NYC in average. So the main point stands.

I was talking about the average cost of life in North America, I think Montreal and Toronto can be considered about average. The cost of living in the Valley is not representative for medium to large cities of USA or Canada.

That only weakens the argument. Cost of living in Toronto is nearly 2.5 times higher than Sofia: https://www.expatistan.com/cost-of-living/comparison/sofia/t...

But median salary in Toronto is merely around USD 50,000 before tax according to payscale: http://www.payscale.com/research/CA/Job=Software_Developer/S...

That leaves Toronto developers with significantly less than Sofia developers when you adjust for taxes and purchasing power.

So, do you sell your product(s) in Bulgaria, or in the US?

Denmark, mainly

I assume that means you get a Denmark sort of price for your software. Yet you pay your developers a Bulgarian sort of wage.

I don't want to moralise, but in this case I don't see how I can avoid the conclusion that you're basically ripping them off. So I'll just stop here 'cause I don't like to moralise- but I'll just say that I'd never work under such conditions.

I thought it was the nature of business to sell at higher prices than you buy.

Feel free to moralise but try to live up to it yourself: Don't buy anything produced in parts of the world where people make less than you. Buying employees or services or products are the same, you know.

With virtually zero percent unemployment for developers in Sofia, need for programmers everywhere in Europe, no visa-requirement preventing anyone from leaving Bulgaria, and some 10-15 percent of the population already having left, I think it's fair to assume that nobody is getting ripped off.

The thing is that I don't have much choice when it comes to, say, electronics or the clothes I wear and so on, but I'm not the person who employs the people who make those things directly and I don't profit from their work. In fact, if you think of it this way, if I pay £15 for a cardigan made in Bangladesh by a woman who gets paid £5 a week for her work, I'm getting ripped off also. Why am I not paying pennies for it, if that's what her work is worth to whomever is selling it to me?

Your position, however is different than mine. In your case there's noone forcing you to not share a bigger part of your profits with the people you employ. The choice is all yours.

You maximise your profit. Fair enough. But that brings us back to my original comment. In a free market economy, everybody is maximising their profits. For low-wage workers that means minimising the quality of their work, and I don't see any way out of it, if you agree that everyone is a rational player.

The alternative is that you're hiring complete idiots, which also works to your detriment, considering they're expected to work with their brains.

You can always go the extra effort to locate the factory workers who make your clothes and start sending them money directly. You have that choice too.

But back to your original point, do you believe that a shirt made in England that you would pay twice the amount of money for, would be 2 times higher quality than a shirt made in Bangladesh?

>> You have that choice too.

So I end up paying twice for each item I buy? Nice.

>> do you believe that a shirt made in England that you would pay twice the amount of money for, would be 2 times higher quality than a shirt made in Bangladesh?

My experience is that clothes and particularly shoes that I buy which were manufactured in Europe and are noticeably more expensive than the cheaper varieties made in SE Asia, are generally better quality and tend to last longer.

>> So I end up paying twice for each item I buy? Nice.

Not if you believe that you underpaid for it in the first place.

>> My experience is that clothes and particularly shoes that I buy which were manufactured in Europe

I was under impression that those were not available to you from your earlier posts. In that case, you can simply choose to pay more for European clothes of higher quality, so not sure what the problem is.

>> You don't always get what you pay for with developers or any other services or products. Sometimes, but not always.

If you paid people a lot more money you'd get a lot better software.

You get what you pay for alright, regardless of whether you recognise it as such or not.

> In truth though, you get what you pay for, always

This is completely wrong, but it sounds nice.

Do not be surprised, I've interacted with hundreds of companies, many are run incompetently by people unqualified for the position and who have no integrity or morals. Maintain your composure and move on, if you're not being turned down now and again for being too expensive, you're too cheap...

Saying 'you will live like a king' is not the smartest thing. He should have said:

'Please consider that your local living costs are much lower than in Switzerland. We incorporate those differences in our offered rate like every other company does. Thanks for your understanding.'

So the tone was—yes—unprofessional, the attitude not. And even if this attitude is debatable, you have to allow the other party to express reasons for a lower offer in a negotiation.

Both phrases are quite presumptuous. As if I don't know what my cost of living is.

This is how much I charge. Thanks for your offer, it's way below of what I think I deserve for my services. Nah, I don't need a lecture from you on why I should find this generous. Nope, I don't care why you make me such a low offer. What does it matter if I can actually find people who pay the rates I charge?

The market will balance this out. Thanks for your time, have a nice day.

You just gave yourself the counter-argument:

> The market will balance this out.

The employer can also and usually choose between different candidates and maybe there are some or many equally skilled professionals in country x offering their work for much less (because they can because of lower living costs). So, it's reasonable to ask for a lower price in such a context. It's not about disdain.

EDIT: why the downvote?

How's that a counter-argument?

My argument is that "offer me whatever you want; I'll accept whatever I want".

I don't need a justification or a lecture on why I should consider your offer as a generous one. That's how much you can give for my services at a certain point in time. Even if I consider your offer low, I won't find it insulting. But I will find it insulting if you think that I should accept your offer because based on your opinion this is how much I should make because of where I live.

No thank you, I'll be the judge of that.

Both arguments are the same, by rejecting the offer, you, as part of the market, are deciding and affecting the market itself.

I find it quite bizarre that remote workers living in a country with lower cost of living are expected to take lower pay than locals while doing the same work and offering the same value.

Otherwise yes, people are allowed to express silly things and one shouldn't prevent them from doing so, especially when they show their true colors.

Looks to me like they dodged a bullet.

It's essentially about power differentials and narcissism, not money.

When you call out someone trying to lowball you and they start ranting, they're really ranting about a narcissistic injury to their self-image.

Someone who does that will be a terrible client, because they're operating from a position of contempt for the people they employ. They do not see you as an equal, but as an inferior.

If the "inferior" challenges their default entitled one-up world view by expecting to be treated like a competent and well-compensated professional, they're absolutely going to have issues with that.

An apt description of disturbingly many workplaces. This type of "superior" person can hide themselves quite well and have a decent working relationship with their "inferiors", but when challenged will show their cards.

The difference here was that OP had the power to say no, and wasn't trapped by obligations.

I have the impression that some commenters resent them for having that level of self-determination and make excuses for the behavior of the employer.

But why would there be a "differential"?

If you can low one employee, why not lowball them all, and and up with only lowballed employees?

Yeah, like the UK universities I attended offered me a discount for being Bulgarian ...

EDIT: funny as it is, my rates were probably a third less than what a local consultant would have charged them.

I can understand paying remote workers somewhat less, regardless of what country they live in. I would expect productivity to be lower for remote workers and communication with them to be more difficult, hence the lower value.

But I agree that basing salaries on costs of living in the worker's country is wrong. Salaries should be based on what your labor is worth, not what your perceived economic need is. It's exploitative, and it's also not fair to local workers who would get priced out by foreign workers willing to settle for less.

> with lower cost of living are expected to take lower pay than locals while doing the same work and offering the same value

DO you also think it is weird that people who live in incredibly expensive cities like NY or SF should get paid more money then?

I don't think the customer of a remote contractor should care much what costs the contractor has. It's the contractor's job to deliver enough value so that they can charge enough to cover their cost of living and make a profit.

Yes, which is why I can't support the idea of a living wage in general, because a living wage in some areas would equate a nice wage elsewhere.

There are multiple advantages in taking someone local. Mostly in requirements gathering - it's easier to do this face-to-face, but there can also be cultural differences, knowledge of local business practices. Additionally, if it all goes wrong, it's easiest to take legal action when you're both in the same country.

No, that would be just as bad. You pay for results, not for where the person lives.

I don't understand the downvotes here. Results are results. I can understand paying a person more if you are worried about providing a living wage, but really you are paying them to do a service for the company.

If you are looking at two remote candidates offering to do the same work, the fact that one lives in India and the other in Paris should not make a difference in what you pay them (well, timezone difficulties aside). You should pay well for good work, and if it's not going to be good work you shouldn't pay at all. 'Pay well' is not relative to where a person lives, it's relative to the market value of that work.

No, you pay the minimum amount you can to get the job done to a satisfactory standard.

That's the same thing. But we are apparently only capitalists when it means keeping the minimum wage down.

It wouldn't have been smart either. What one should charge is what one can charge. And it's unrelated to what the cost of living is in a given country.

Sad as it may be your being based on a low income country was probably one of the main reasons they approached you. And it is quite universal so I wouldn't attribute it to unprofessionalism. From company's point of view it makes perfect sense to outsource to the best quality/price ratio.

Actually, this wasn't the reason. I already knew the guy who approached me. They were developing a data analytics solution quite similar to others I have worked on/built in the past. They needed a developer with a real-world product experience in their domain. Unfortunately, it wasn't my acquaintance who was responsible for the hiring.

Luckily, the software development market is global and there are some really sane people out there.

Maybe at double the price he would still be the best quality /price ratio.

And still, I was probably 30% cheaper than a local consultant. Anyway, if a relationship starts in this way I cannot image what working with the client would be, so I did myself a favor.

The manager's rant part aside, the reason to outsource to the Eastern Europe, Ukraine and Russia is and has always been the rates.

That's very much untrue. EDIT: I stand corrected - this misses the point.

Sure, wages are lower than elsewhere (especially Switzerland), but the quality of engineers in eastern europe is very high.

Case in point: Google Switzerland employs lots of eastern europeans with Swiss-level wages. That wouldn't make any sense if the only reason was money.

EDIT: My math and electronics teachers (both women, data point) in my Swiss engineering school were Russian and Romanian. Their shared theory was that during communism teaching material was not written by teachers, but was written by topic experts (expert mathematicians were forced to write teaching books). It sucked for the experts (they were forced), but was great for students to have a book written by a master to study. Their point, not mine.

I think there are several other reasons why hard sciences developed more than soft sciences in former Communist states:

1.You can't really use ideology to fight them. If a researches comes and says that 2 + 2 = 4, even the most fervent apparatchik (Communist party member) would have had a hard time spinning it into 2 + 2 = -1. While in other fields such as sociology or history... things are a bit more malleable.

2. They're practical and quite far removed from anything that might stir up anti-establishment actions.

3. The "1984" factor: if you need highly skilled mathematicians and physicists for your weapons, you really need them. You wouldn't want to issue your army 7.5mm rounds for their 7.62mm rifles because someone was bad at engineering :)

    That wouldn't make any sense if 
    the only reason was money.
Yes, it does.

Fewer Swiss would work for tech wages, because they can more easily get jobs in banking, finance, law, medical that pay better and/or are easier. Or hail from old money, and are artists, musicians, run galleries ... A similar phenomenon is at play in tech in the US, which is full of foreigners from EE, India etc.

> Google Switzerland employs


No. On-site, in Zurich.

They have arrangements with authorities to get work permits more easily (it made a lot of debate in the press). They "import" qualified workers, paid Swiss salaries. If price was the only matter, that wouldn't happen - Google would open a development office there instead (they have smaller ones, but the Zurich office is the largest that is not in Mountain View).

> No. On-site, in Zurich.

Yeah, so I assumed.

Your "very much untrue" remark is very much off the GP's point then, which was that those considering remote outsourcing to Eastern countries do that mainly for the cost reasons. Not that these countries lack the talent worth paying for when onsite.

Ah, good point.

Thanks for showing me the problem with my argument.

I think in contrast to the Uk and US - work relationships in a lot of European countries are much more rigid and hierarchical.

This very much depends on the countries. For instance Swedish companies typically have very flat hierarchies, much more so than US companies. In fact when a US company buys a Swedish company often several layers of managerial hierarchy is added.

That's one part of the equation the other is availability of qualified people.

As a developer over 40, my biggest challenge is actually that the management has come to expect weekend work and late nights as the norm. As someone with a family , I can't put in those hours every day and every weekend. Single programmers who can put in those kind of hours are rewarded and those who cant are singled out for ridicule or "performance concern chats with manager". Projects have gone agile and they have not accounted for the unexpected shit that happens, low level functional designs seem to have fallen out of fashion and the deliverable deadlines have become ultra aggressive.

And the mangers' attitude is that "they can shake any tree and it rains qualified programmer resumes". Here in Toronto, there is a company called Allegis and all major employers post their developer job here. The headhunters are plugged into Allegis and they call you based on keyword match. Have you ever seen poor people huddled outside HomeDepot, hoping to be picked up? Thats what it like to be a developer searching for a job in my town. Most enterprise dev jobs are focused on a very narrow set of skills; so it doesn't matter how good you are with designing solutions or algorithms you know -- what matters is do you know java/c#/angular(new) ? And thats all that matters for Allegis keyword match. You are probably thinking I can learn more technologies ; what I am pointing out is that enterprise s/w development process is based on the fundamental principle of getting barely skilled people who can put in the hours and keep their mouth shut. But these jobs pay a lot more than startup jobs and have a lot more security.

This is probably an unpopular opinion here, but only a very small subset of developers need to design algorithms or even know any of them by heart.

Disregarding a few years that was mostly WordPress consulting, my experience is largely enterprise C#. Lots of line of business applications, glorified CRUD apps, and some client work. Zero need for any ability to write a BST or radix sort.

If you're working for SpaceX, or Twitter, or a Big 4, of course you should know those things. But most developers don't work for one of those companies. The vast majority of programming is done to further a business other than programming.

Vast majority of developers would benefit from at least passing knowledge of algorithms and data structures.

For past few years I work (not full-time) on what is essentially a prototype of trivial line of business application: stock-keeping system. It is 3 layer and blahblah, with me implementing most of the server side. Amount of various hacks in the server to accommodate requirements of the "It is impossible to linearize a tree in C# without having local SQL database" kind is truly ridiculous (most of these involve few lines of generator-and-list-comprehensions-heavy python code on server).

Somehow there is whole large class of so called "developers", that can only directly transform input to output and anything that requires building some kind of data structure is impossible/unfeasible/whatever for them.

I'd agree with that. My impression is that the profession is bifurcating into two categories:

1) Programmers, who have solid coding skills that primarily work on building systems using existing modules and libraries. 2) Software engineers, who have algorithmic and systems level expertise along with advanced coding skills, and are capable of working on complex software such as operating systems, compilers, and other libraries / components used by others.

Let me hasten to add that that isn't to say one is better than the other. Both are needed, just like both regular doctors (in greater quantity) and neurosurgeons are needed (in lesser quantity) are also needed and all are highly skilled professionals.

>and all are highly skilled professionals

Apparently (and unfairly), our society thinks otherwise - family doctors make $150K/year and neurosurgeons make $750K/year :-)

I'm pretty sure there are more distinguished engineers and other senior engineering roles paying $750/year in total comp at Google/Microsoft/Apple etc. than there are neurosurgeons.

Not to mention tens of thousands of average developers that got lucky with stock options and became millionaires where a doctor of same age is still slaving away as a resident with 24-hour shifts and abysmal pay ($50-$60k year for surgical residents, according to google).

The market (not society) is treating us developers pretty well.

>The market (not society) is treating us developers pretty >well.

I am on the East Coast (outside of NYC, though), have been in the software business for 20+ years and know a lot of smart /accomplished people.

I don't know a single software engineer who makes more than $200K/year in a senior engineering role, as an employee. (We are comparing salaries, not consulting income or stock options here, which can disappear very quickly).

It would be nice for you to step outside of the bubble you live in SV, every now and then :-)

Please include stock grants, because otherwise it's a silly comparison. With that included, I know a lot of people in SV, NYC, and even Pittsburgh who meet that bar. Google, Facebook, Dropbox, Microsoft -- all of these places pay over $200k total compensation for senior engineers. A grant of shares of GOOG or MSFT every year isn't likely to completely disappear within the vesting period...

Stock grants for non-executive employees are rather rare (at least on the East Coast).

And even then, once the bubble pops, if you don't sell (there is usually a vesting period), they could be worth much, much less than today. Remember 2000-2001?

I'm confused about this "east coast" thing. Many of the major tech companies that compensate in cash+RSUs operate on the east coast at some scale or another. Heck, in Pittsburgh alone, you can pick from Uber, Google, Facebook (Oculus), and Apple, of the "really big tech companies that give their employees RSUs". You'll find similar options, no pun intended, in NYC and Boston, at minimum.

As I said: The rolling vesting offered by most companies means that you're selling stock every year after your first. So if you ignore the first year (or pretend that it's poorly compensated), it's not that shockingly bad.

I am not in SV (but still on the West coast) and I know several software engineers making more than 200k/year. That includes stock grants, because it's ridiculous not to when the stock is in a public company and can be immediately turned into cash.

> stock options

RSUs in an established big company are much less likely become worthless overnight. Core part of your compensation at Amazon/Facebook/Google/etc...

The barrier to being neurosurgeons is much higher than a software engineer. The average Neurosurgeon will make on average more than than top 1% of engineers. You can look at pure statistics and get that result.

True but neurosurgeons go through almost 10 years of additional training at a fellow's salary (~$50k/year), in addition to a much worse work-life balance.

Looking at the reponses (and downvotes), it looks like my comment was understood as a comparison to software engineers' salaries

I was just pointing out that, even though both family doctors and neurosurgeons go through long and arduous studies, the income disparity among doctors is very high.

Outside of SV and NYC, $150k is more than enough for a single-income family of four to have a solidly upper-middle class lifestyle.

Not, really, if saving for retirement is factored in. Most people aren't saving at all, which is how they manage to maintain that upper middle class lifestyle on what has becoming the equivalent of a formerly lower middle class salary.

It's true. I make in that neighborhood, and I can't even save for a house, much less retirement. Maybe my kids will support me when I'm old.

What makes you think they will be able to afford to, if you couldn't?

If you really feel that you are living beyond your long term means, you should act: you can make more changes now than you will be able to later, and as hard as it can be to accept - this problem isn't going to solve itself.

Thanks, I hadn't thought of that.

Where do you live?


How can you not save for retirement with 150k outside of those places? Are you assuming everyone is getting a Lamborghini or something?

I'm not assuming anything, except that you don't know the costs involved in supporting 4 people, while raising and paying for the education of two children, and while putting together the few millions of dollars it takes to live, pay for medical bills and assisted living for a decade or three after you can no longer work.

So true. Alone its a good salary with retirement needs not so much.

IMHO software engineering is more about how you go about your work rather than what you work on. You can be an absolutely brilliant developer working on complex software but still not be a software engineer, yet still work alongside and be paid more highly than software engineers.

You're designing algorithms even when you're coding a FizzBuzz or a "Hello, world". And most of the business logic is by far more complex than FizzBuzz.

Hah, I was just discussing something like this with a coworker this morning. We both agreed that the business logic we're dealing with is actually less complex than FizzBuzz! We work for a huge bank where nearly all (our) business logic boils down to boolean conditionals. There's almost no math at all and if there is it's all addition and subtraction.

Writing front-end JavaScript is vastly more complicated than the business logic!

Everything I witnessed was not just a bunch of boolean conditions, but a mess of boolean conditions. This is where complexity comes from.

And, think about the awful stuff like derivatives, taxes, etc.

Need to know? Sure.

But being able to adapt, apply and even create algorithms is a big part of what separates crappy CRUD/UI implementation dev jobs from real engineering and research roles. I don't imagine anyone wants to be stuck writing CRUD apps their entire career.

If you are just a CRUD developer then yeah you don't need much to do average work.

If you're working for employers who think it's easy to find good developers, you're working for employers who hire lots of terrible developers.

A recent (UK-centric) study[1] shows that working fathers get a 21% 'wage bonus' on average over their childless counterparts. Is this situation reversed for engineers?

[1] https://www.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/Pay_and_Parenthoo...

>As a developer over 40, my biggest challenge is actually that the management has come to expect weekend work and late nights as the norm.

my experience is that this isn't the case, at least not where I am. Last place I was at, the guy who came in weekends was the first of us to be let go. (granted, the first guy to get promoted to direct-hire status also worked more hours than average, but he didn't come in weekends, and he certainly put in way fewer hours in the office than the guy who was let go first.)

There is quite often a correlation between my perception of a person not being very effective and staying super late.

>what I am pointing out is that enterprise s/w development process is based on the fundamental principle of getting barely skilled people who can put in the hours and keep their mouth shut. But these jobs pay a lot more than startup jobs and have a lot more security.

Eh, that's kind of the space I am in right now, only I'm more ops than dev (nearly every job is a mixture of both, most are tilted one way or the other.I am maybe 1/3rd dev, 2/3rds operations, my title is 'SysAdmin' at the moment)

The thing is about the corporate keyword jobs? You are right that they are looking for replaceable cogs, and it usually pays better than startup work, but it is very 'easy come, easy go' - expectations of contractors are super low, and contractor interviews are super short, so while you are very replaceable, so are they.

Where I am, in silicon valley, direct hire jobs at the places where you'd get those easy contractor gigs are kind of a different animal. They pay even more, really by quite a lot, and getting them is a combination of passing a bunch of IQ-test like puzzles and complex social signaling. Now, most of the people I know with those jobs are actually pretty good, so maybe the sorting process is better than I think? My problem is that first, I barely qualify, IQ wise, at least for the best of those companies, and then I am, well, I kind of am a capitalist, and part of the complex social signaling is pretending that you really want to be part of that advertising collective, which is super difficult for me, personally. I mean, I don't mind selling my sword to an advertising collective, but I am not the sort to 'drink the kool-aid' - Advertising is not making the world a better place, and I know that them hiring me is a transactional sort of thing. I'm not joining a collective, and I have difficulty pretending it's a collective.

I'm 41 and a dev (and manager and bunch of other roles when needed, but most my days are spent with software/hardware dev) and sure, it's all true what this article says, but there is no real personal advice there besides, as others said, just 'don't do everything, but do everything'.

So some unasked advice from a 40+ then which I wish I was told when I was 17 or something: a) believe in yourself; learn from others, but if you have strong opinions or think something is wrong then voice it even though others (are supposed to) have more experience b) fast typing and making long hours are irrelevant c) get out there and mingle with non coders a lot.

All of these 3 points (I learned them at different stages, in order of appearance above; c I only started doing 3 years ago) made me never having to need a job as such, always worked where/when I wanted, always made enough money and usually have enough spare time to do whatever while still performing.

Funny, but those of us not living in the Bay Area do mingle with non coders a lot. It's actually hard to find coders to mingle with. When I visited Palo Alto for example it felt weird. On one hand it seemed great at first, hearing discussion on databases or JavaScript on the street from total strangers. On the other hand it felt like a bubble, like an echo chamber. I actually heard this guy saying he liked some girl and wanting to ask her out with the pretext of raising money for his startup. I was like "on what planet am I?"

It's one of the reason why I left Silicon Valley. I love what I do, and I love to meet with other developers, but I was tired of only meeting people similar to me.

Now it feels good to be in a real city with many different people, doing different stuff. It's much more fulfilling than living in a bubble with clones of myself.

Curious, where did you move to? I am also looking to leave the valley someday, but am afraid that the jobs won't be as plentiful as they are here.

I left the valley in 1991, right before the "web 1.0" bubble burst. I moved to Boulder, Colorado. It's wonderful here. There's tech companies--including an active startup scene--but people are far more balanced, even the nerds.

>I left the valley in 1991, right before the "web 1.0" bubble burst.

Huh? I think you have the wrong year!

The web existed in 1991, but it was still . . . embryonic. No one had yet made any money on it.

>I left the valley in 1991, right before the "web 1.0" bubble burst.

The web existed in 1991, but it was still . . . embryonic. I think you mean 2001.

Unfortunately the housing prices in Boulder are pretty close the Bay Area but I've heard the pay has not even come close.

Thoughts on that?

Most large metros will have at least a halfway-decent number of software jobs available. NYC, Chicago, Dallas, Boston, Minneapolis, St. Louis, etc. all have decent markets. It won't be like SV where there are a million startups, but they also won't be 100% corporate, either. Check out LinkedIn or Dice or something to check a specific area.

Eh, Dallas is about 80% corporate, with the majority being non-software companies. It's really depressing since I don't have any interest in that kind of work beyond the money. There is some small to midsize web/mobile work to be had, though.

Of course they won't be. If anyplace else in the country had the volume of jobs that SV had, it would have equivalent salaries. But it'd also have roughly equivalent cost of living. It's almost a certainty that you will make less (cue anecdata), but cost of living will almost certainly bring you out on top.

In my area unless you want to be one of maybe two "IT guys" in an office, there's really only 8-10 employers within a half hour commute. There is no shortage of turnover or people bouncing around between them as positions open up. Sure it's not like SV where you can probably swing a dead cat and hit someone looking to hire a Go ninja rockstar, but there are plenty of coding jobs, especially if you're familiar with Java or C#.

My interactions were mostly with colleagues/employees I selected and hired myself; hardcore geeks. It gave me social-ish interaction without having to talk about scary non-coding things. I have always lived in Europe and outside my group of friends and/or colleagues I didn't really interact much. And my friends were obviously mostly techie.

Edit: it sounds a bit more negative than it was; I was always happy but now that I discovered this whole new thing I am more assured that the happiness will stay as I have a broader base now both emotionally and business wise if that makes sense

Age is an issue with software devlopment. Early forties is not old at all, realistically you will likely be working for another 20 years unless you've already made significant money. In many professions such as law you're only getting started at 40. If in software it's an achievement to reach that milestone than something is wrong.

As one of the few left of my peers that still develops I would say that it is a milestone. There is a lot of burn out and churn along the way. I knew guys that left software dev to become a worm farmer. Most take the elevator up to management which is what I did becoming a CTO but I always position myself at small but growing companies so I could keep myself hands on with technology. I have two friends left that started dev around the same time as me (92). For most it's just not a long term industry and burnout usually takes it's toll.

That being said the web revolution happened in the early 90's and was a huge shift in development. There where a lot of older devs around at that time who where doing desktop and had no desire to make the jump so 40'ish is also kind of a demarcation line of where an epoch changed in development, so the fact that you see few over 40 devs could be a) that the web was small back then and there where only a handful of us doing it and b) The developers that where doing web in the early 90's where all young, therefore it is kind of origin of a new type of developer.

I would certainly rather farm worms than take many mainstream tech jobs. There's probably much more freedom to innovate.

I haven't seen this much; I read about these stories on HN/Reddit, but don't encounter them in real life much.

What do you mean? You tend to see plenty of devs over 40?

Yes I do. And a larger % I work with are over 30 rather than under 30.

If you're talking about the internet, a decade is a long time and an important distinction. We're not talking about a 32 year old dev. I mean hell I know plenty of early 30s folks.

40 years ago was 1976. We're talking about people who were born not too long after we landed on the moon (or even before). There's just not a lot of people that age who both went into programming and are still doing it, as opposed to management or something non-technical entirely.

So while it's not at all surprising to see an early- or mid-30s developer (I work with many), it is very surprising to see a mid-40s developer (I've only ever worked with two, and one had an almost violent aversion to anything except procedural VB).

Programming is a skilled labor, not a profession, in that you are "supposed" to do it for a couple years and then move on. Like teens used to work at McDonalds and give weird looks to the creepy 30 yr old guy still working fast food.

When its not noteworthy for programmers to have an age distribution similar to the greater population, or for experience to be respected instead of being made fun of, then programming will finally become a profession rather than a semi-skilled labor.

Personally I don't mind being made fun of by the kids... I get a lot of money cleaning up their inexperienced mistakes.

> Programming is a skilled labor

Please. That's borderline insulting to people who have to earn a living through actual, physical, labor.

Every programming job I've taken has started with the "Do you see your future self as a senior developer or a manager?" discussion. It's absolutely a viable career path to stay a developer, or at least it is now.

And there's the tired "lol these 30 year old kids don't know what they're doing I'm getting rich fixing their mistakes!!" tripe.

It may be obvious (i.e. general networking effects), but what dynamic let c) give you work and freedom? Please elaborate.

As a coder who really dread interacting with people (especially non-technical people) in the context of work, I'd like to know how this advice would change my life.

Well I had the same thing; I liked to really stick with techies and went to coding events (as far as there were any here). I thought that was nice and it felt like doing it right. Somewhere after selling a company I went travelling and relaxing for an undetermined period of time. Until I really didn't like that anymore and I wanted to get back on the horse and start full time coding again (I'm not the best with self discipline).

A friend told me to go to a fintech event and because it was 'tech' I thought I would meet a lot of very technical people (so same as always). There were only business people instead; most of them had a (long forgotten) technical background but only few were practicing any tech at that moment. I met a lot of them and exchanged ideas, possibilities and contact info. It was in a friendly way as I didn't go there to get work/jobs/projects; I was there to see what this market was like.

I liked it so much I went to a lot of non-tech startup events and general events and talked to more and more people. After only maybe a month or two people started mailing with questions, projects, business proposals etc. One of them I am working on now full time and others I advice, have shares in or work with in some way as the tech adviser.

I dreaded the interacting part like you and I dreaded flying; I started doing both of them (as they are usually intertwined; I need to get to people obviously) a lot and now comes naturally and I sit talking to everyone; on the airport, in trains, in bars, wherever instead of staring into my phone or book. So when I got over this whole dreading sensation I expanded to a much larger circle of non work related friends as well as work related contacts & combinations of the above.

TL;DR the dynamic that gives me work and freedom is the fact that when knowing a lot of non tech people, acting and/or being 'senior' and being able to drop names of people/companies/projects they also know (hence the 'a lot' part) will put you in a position of adviser and tech-trusty. Which gives you opportunity and freedom as you do not need to prove yourself at all anymore.

Thanks a lot for elaborating. I suspect I need to get over my social challenges to make something like this work. And probably move (or travel more) to places where these gatherings actually happen. I live in a "technological desert" at the moment, which is a challenge in itself.

I live deep in the mountains of Spain :) Village with 40 people and more goats than people. That's why the flying...

Heh, I guess I have no excuse, then =)

That sounds fantastic.

I can't emphasise enough how important (c) is. Personally, I find programming to be emotionally challenging in that you have to put emotion, and your own thoughts aside when cutting your code. Add in to the mix the social dynamic of the workplace and the emotional workload doubles.

I always had a feeling this was important. I remember reading about NEDs (New Economy Depression syndrome) and identifying with that, but it wasn't until I went and did a diploma in psychology that the rationality behind it all crystalised.

Across all fields that study wellbeing it's fairly conclusive that social support is one of the most powerful mediating factors. In summary the more friends you have the happier and healthier you will be.

How does this relate to "non technical people"? As a friend once said to me once, when I was going through a particularly kafkaesque work episode, "you need to get outside of your head". You need to engage with people on a plane other than the one you work upon every day - to give those parts of your brain a rest and to help you to develop others.

People are hard though. In many ways more difficult than computers but the key thing to remember is that unlike with computers there isn't a right or wrong thing to do at all times. People have empathy, they can be sympathetic, they can meet you half way and they can help you to figure out what you're thinking.

Start off with something small, where you don't have to have too many interactions, but where you can be around people. I don't know why but for some reason communal drumming classes comes to mind. The key is to be around people where they will get to know your face and you theirs.

I guess my current strategy for handling social dynamics (as an introvert) is not doing me any favours. I usually get quite close (in a professional context) to 1-3 co-workers and have most of my interaction at work with them. All others I keep at a distance. Then again, social interactions with people I don't know very well is really draining for me, and I can't spend that kind of energy at work.

I've always done this, though. I have a few friends that are very close, that I can count on for life, even if I don't "nurture" the relationships continuously. But making new friends is really hard.

Thanks for the advice, though.

All I can say is, I used to be like that. Your approach to professional relationships is healthy as far as I can make out ("1-3 co-workers ... All others I keep at a distance"). The only thing I'd suggest you develop upon is the relationships outside of work, keeping things lightweight (superficial, even) if you find people draining. What's important is to just be there. Socialising is like a muscle the more you use it the stronger, more enjoyable, and easier it will be to use it.

Well put. It gets better when you do it more often, really! And it gets (in my experience ofcourse) very enjoyable.

> In summary the more friends you have the happier and healthier you will be.

Just to nitpick, it's more about the strength of the relationships that you have, not necessarily how many friends that you have.

Hmmm - not necessarily... The operative term is "social support" so as long as you have access to that you should get the benefits. More relationships provide more access to support and stabilising relationships. Strength of relationships are of course important and an important correlate of social support but not a be all and end all. For instance you could obtain support thru sports club, church, book club etc of course you want to stay away from 'negative' relationships too which is easier for the more superficial ones. Strength coupled with a bad relationship can be quite damaging too

There's a lot of money out there that code hasn't touched yet. Biological sciences in particular are remarkably stuck in the 20th century. Don't talk to them about bioinformatics. Listen to the things they're doing. As though you were 12. And just ask questions.

I'm 36 and really want to develop (c). I have decent social skills but I have no idea how to find non-coders to mingle with. Where does one start? Meetup groups? Cycling groups? Creating art and showing it?

I find sports are the best for meeting people and actually building a relationship. In my experience, floor hockey, slow pitch, hiking and cycling were good. Oddly, running groups were not. Also better results if it is a mix of men and women.

I think bringing a friend is essential. It reduces the awkward times when you don't know anybody. In addition, it doubles the chance of meeting people because your friend meets people too. A wing men are helpful :)

Art is solitary.

When I go to planned meetups for drinks, it is just small talk or ulterior motives (ie. they are looking for work).

"you were, are and will be a software developer, that is, a relatively expensive factory worker, whose tasks your managers would be happy to offshore no matter what they tell you."

this is exactly my experience. writing software really doesn't require any great creative mind or cleverness. i'm a pretty mediocre programmer. i got roped into programming as a kid by, first of all because i wanted to make video games, but then once i'd dipped my toe in i found learning new, exotic (seeming) ideas and making clever solutions to problems was a lot of fun in and of itself. but i can think of only one time i got paid to do anything that felt like that: working on a tetris game with bombliss, without the official tetris rules. the rules of tetris are surprisingly deep and refined, in case you didn't know, so that endeavor was utterly insane and disastrous, which was the general character of the company i was working for. but still, it was a lot of fun playing physicist from the tetris universe, trying to infer the rules through experimentation.

to write software, once you have the skill down, is really just about doing the work. it doesn't require any insight, unless you intend to write good software, but no one cares about good software. no cares about the software at all. they have things they want to do, and the software, the making of it, is, if anything an impediment. so is the person making it.

While it probably confirms a lot of fears around here, this comment is pretty hyperbolic. That is to say, it captures the lowest lows (replaceable cog) and some of the highest highs (experimental physicist in Tetris universe). But most of us are not really suffering under those conditions, except (critically!) in an imagined way.

> it doesn't require any insight, unless you intend to write good software, but no one cares about good software.

This last statement is demonstrably false. Many people care about good software. Just like they care about good cars, good vacations, good hot dogs.

But still, grumpy developers will upvote this and believe in it. They then become a self-fulfilling prophecy. They see threats that don't exist, then at some point they call out those threats and in doing so cash in their chips.

I've seen many smart developers miss great opportunities in doing this. They could be learning to make their own terms and push back, taking advantage of high demand. Instead they become a plumber, landscaper, or Ph.D., thinking the grass really is greener over there. Well, maybe so. But that mentality has not changed, so what are the real chances?

"This last statement is demonstrably false. Many people care about good software. Just like they care about good cars, good vacations, good hot dogs."

i care about good software. i know plenty of people that do as well, so you're right that my statement was demonstrably false, but the point is people who pay don't care about quality software. that shouldn't be a controversial thing. obviously they care about their costs and the value they get out of the software, not the invisible quality of it. this is my experience, at least. like i said, i'm a mediocre developer. maybe my customers aren't as discerning, or they don't have very interesting problems to solve.

also, it's interesting that you characterize being a replaceable cog as the lowest of lows. let's be honest, that's life. of course i'm replaceable no matter what my position in a company. if i own a company, that company's replaceable. it's not a lowly thing to be replaceable, it's the nature of things. like they say, the cemetery's filled with indispensable men. that's not to make every living human being feel lowly, but to help keep perspective.

> This last statement is demonstrably false. Many people care about good software. Just like they care about good cars, good vacations, good hot dogs.

If allowing poor software means delivering on time, and thus being able to afford those cars, dogs and vacations, which do you think the people in charge of those things will choose?

I feel "software dev" is too broad. And the ambiguity disguises choices that might harm you prospects.

I read this: http://quantjob.blogspot.com/2011/12/how-to-avoid-quantdevel...

And the description of being "sucked in" to a "housekeeping IT" rang scarily true. Match with this phenomenon: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B64WFyuCIAAjq3u.png

And you might realise there are shitty dev jobs with poor prospects out there, that bill themselves as more than they are. The whole "passionate about my job" thing then becomes a little sinister.

There are different classes of dev jobs. The bad ones pay little and lead to less, and will usually come painted with BS. The "passionate" dev will be happy with whatever they get, and they'll get very little to be passionate about - in-house housekeeping all the way.

But at least the market is good enough now that you can always realise this later and try to fix things. When the gravy train begins to wain, you might be stuck with what you have...

I'm really sorry for you, there ARE better places to spend the majority of your life if you feel this way about your job. I'm a developer turned manager, I care deeply about the code we write. My Boss (Director of Engineering) and his Boss (CTO) care about the code we write. Hell even our CEO cares, though for different reasons. Good well designed code is not easy and it does take creativity. If you don't work for a place that allows you some measure of that, leave. It's not an easy skill to learn and there is a huge amount of demand, we do not have to deal with crappy environments.

I'm really sad this is the top comment here. It doesn't need to be this way. For reference I'm been a developer for over 15 years and I know why some developers feel this way but they shouldn't have to and don't have to.

i feel a lot of bad ways about my work, it's true, but i really don't see it so much in my original comment. i was just elaborating on a comparison likening programmers to factory workers. i wouldn't necessarily say i'm a factory worker, but i think there is a comparison to be made. is that so awful? is it so awful to work in a factory?

for what it's worth, i'm not sorry for me. i don't like my job, but i've never been satisfied with a job. i don't want to work a job, i want to do my own work, but that's very, very rare to do full time. maybe someday, if i'm incredibly lucky. in the meantime, i have bills to pay. my current job's pretty cushy, affording me a bit of flexibility on time, and enough free time to make progress on my own stuff.

You're describing the lower tier jobs in an industry of disposable software. There are software jobs out there that do value experienced and skilled developers.

I grow weary of hearing about "white privilege". I likewise grow weary of any of today's politically correct messages: women in combat, bathroom bills, work quotas, transvestite rights. It's all BS.

I grew up a military brat. We didn't have a lot of money. I wore hand-me-downs, had iron-on patches on my knees. My family could not afford to send me to college, so I served in the military to get the GI Bill and worked my own way through college.

I'm over 40, in IT and no one ever gave me hand out in relation to any job or education.

Like an earlier poster said, I'm under no obligation to do anything. I believe in hard work. No one should be given a free ride because they are black, homosexual, female, whatever. Work your ass off to get where you want to be. Full stop. No one is under a moral or other obligation to get you in the door or ensure fair play. I'm not an asshole to people, but everyone has the same opportunities. I realize the military is not for everyone, but young men especially can really benefit. You can do a four-year hitch and have your college paid for. If you like it, you could re-up as an officer and the sky is the limit.

The problem with people today is they have a sense of entitlement that is misplaced. No one owes anyone anything other than moral decency: please, thank you, that kind of thing. Work hard, play hard. Life is better without handouts. You have a sense of fulfillment when you pull yourself up by your bootstraps.

Your whole argument is a strawman. "I didn't grow up a millionaire" doesn't mean that your life would have been the same had you been black, all else equal.

Take a step back and don't be so defensive: "white privilege" isn't a personal attack. It's only meant to raise awareness, awareness that you clearly need, based on your post.

I don't need awareness. I'm keenly aware of what's happening here in America and abroad. I got where I am because I worked hard. I've received no handouts. I paid for my education through my military service. I earned my 3.98 GPA in CompSci because I put forth the effort. I currently work with some blacks who have done the same thing, and they were poorer than me growing up. It's about attitude and what you want. Real men don't want handouts. They don't want a check given to them for doing nothing.

Hell, now there are people talking about a basic income for doing nothing. I agree with scripture, work or don't eat. Granted, society has people who cannot work through no fault of their own. Take care of our less fortunate brothers and sisters, by all means. If you are an able-bodied adult, get off your ass and work for a living. Start of down low like everyone else and make something of yourself. This is where the military shines. A poor guy can rise to the top in the military. Get his college paid for. Make something of himself. Nothing stops these people. There is no such thing as will power. It's want power. How bad do you want to be better, different, not poor, educated. How bad do you want to work to ensure your children live a better life than you? My parents were not perfect, but damn if they didn't raise me right. I work for what's mine and want no handouts from others.

>Hell, now there are people talking about a basic income for doing nothing

Yes, there are. And you know why? Because jobs are being more automated as we speak. What will people do? Where will they be employed? Instead of being happy for introducing driverless vehicles, automated machinery to maintain and harvest our food, we grow scared for our jobs and turn into Luddites. We should be thinking about improving humanity as a whole, not just going "me me me me!".

And I feel you are a bit blinded from your American standpoint. You know who paid for your GI bill and your ability to be in the military? The state - the working people. You most likely didn't produce anything of value in the military, nor did you likely protect anybody. Jose worked his ass off for the tomatoes on your tables, while you most likely stood around with a gun, if that.

>I agree with scripture, work or don't eat

There are many, many people on this planet, and in the US who DO work, but still can't find enough food to eat. Think about that.

Furthermore, basic income would likely get people out of unemployment benefits and food stamps and into jobs because they no longer have a DISINCENTIVE to work! I expect this effect would be about as large as the number of people who quit their jobs to pursue their passions / hedonism.

Everybody in America gets something for nothing. Roads, police, fire, infrastructure. Built by taxes of generations before us. Its all about when and what.

Now the machines are doing most of the work. This is supposed to be a good thing! Ever more of us will not have to work in this new world. Do we let them starve?

That's great. Congrats. You worked hard, you lucked out a bit (we all luck out to some degree, once again this isn't a personal attack), and you got ahead in life. You're right to be proud of that.

White privilege isn't saying you didn't deserve any of that. It's just about appreciating that, despite how it may seem to you, you had some luck with the dice, some luck that you wouldn't have had, had you been black (once again, everything else being equal).

I'm not talking about a basic income (I do think it makes sense in today's society, but that's a whole separate issue).

"Sending the elevator back down" doesn't mean giving out handouts. It doesn't mean hiring people because of their gender or race. It doesn't mean discriminating against white men. It means acknowledging your biases and working to counter those. It's about giving others the same opportunities (specifically, the same benefit of the doubt) you had.

>It's only meant to raise awareness, awareness that you clearly need, based on your post.

And yet, awareness of other issues and even the opposite side of the same issue seem to not be as needed.

> "white privilege" isn't a personal attack.

Academically not, but it ends up being used either as one or as ammunition for one.

>awareness that you clearly need

Case in point.

> No one should be given a free ride because they are [X, Y, or Z] ...

Is that stated in the article somewhere? I'm pretty sure it's not. It also doesn't say anything about "handouts". It only says that certain people have an obligation to recognize their advantages and to make some attempt at improving things. That's quite a bit different than suggesting anyone should get a free ride.

> everyone has the same opportunities.

Not really. That's what it means. Being white makes it slightly easier to get some opportunities.

Two people of the same socioeconomic standing but of different races. One has a lower bar to entry into college because of affirmative action and a easier time getting a high paying job because of diversity needs. Who has the privilege here?

I recently worked for a place where I and one other man were white. Everyone there attended the local university free of charge because they were either black or Hispanic. Not exactly fair. A white man such as myself would have been charged almost full price to attend.

The poorest people I know are whites and I've lived and worked around the world. Yet, the same whites cannot roll into a university and be let in almost for nothing, yet the blacks and Hispanics do.

There's no exact solution to these problems, and I will admit that affirmative action is more of a band-aid than anything else, but POC (I only speak for the US here) in general are worse off economically, have a criminal justice system that disproportionately incarcerates POC for similar non-violent crimes as whites through stop-and-frisk and racial profiling, are stripped of their voting rights

The concept of white privilege makes a lot of white people uncomfortable, including myself for a long while. It's not simple: white privilege is a result of centuries of structural oppression against non-whites. It doesn't guarantee that all white folks are better off than some POC, but the overall differences are stark. Nor does it guarantee that your life was easy.

Saying "I had a hard life and I'm white" is a single-data point of a very, very large structural problem. Maybe affirmative action isn't the answer, and I'm not certain that it is. But to say that all other things equal, a white person and a black person of the same economic status is equal in our society is blatantly false.

POC (I only speak for the US here) in general are worse off economically, have a criminal justice system that disproportionately incarcerates POC for similar non-violent crimes as whites through stop-and-frisk and racial profiling, are stripped of their voting rights

The uncomfortable truth we need to be talking about is that POC commit a disproportionate amount of the crime in the US, and so nothing you said should come as a surprise. The fact that we can't have an open and frank conversation about this is part of the problem. Promulgating white guilt and a perpetuating a victimhood complex in everybody else does nothing to move things forward. It keeps people from empowering themselves and fosters divisiveness. In fact thinking that these other cultures need our help because they are incapable of lifting themselves up without us is actually pretty condescending. It sounds a bit bigoted if you ask me.

But to say that all other things equal, a white person and a black person of the same economic status is equal in our society is blatantly false.

I never said they were equal. In this specific hypothetical I'm saying doors open more easily for the black person.

The uncomfortable truth we need to be talking about is that POC commit a disproportionate amount of the crime in the US, and so nothing you said should come as a surprise.

Notice I said "for similar, non-violent crimes" and "disproportionate" [1]. It's true, poverty and crime are heavily correlated [2], and I live in a community where such crime exists at high rates (Downtown Oakland).

In fact thinking that these other cultures need our help because they are incapable of lifting themselves up without us is actually pretty condescending. It sounds a bit bigoted if you ask me.

The War on Drugs was created to incarcerate black people and hippies [3]. For crimes that more than 50% of my classmates and myself, have committed (possession of marijuana, dealing marijuana, various other drugs), extreme disproportionate incarceration has occurred in the US to POC at disproportionate rates[1]. Once incarcerated, getting back into society is an extremely difficult process, with voting rights being stripped away, with job opportunities scarce, with the mark of a felony on their criminal record. This contributes to a vicious cycle where these realities feed off of each other. It's no wonder then, that all these facts contribute to a never-ending snowball effect on these communities.

I really highly recommend the book The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander [4]. It does an amazing job describing this cycle. It's not that "other cultures need our help to stop committing crimes", it's that we all need to be aware of the effects our criminal justice system has on everyone.

[1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2014/09/30/white...

[2] http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=5137

[3] http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/23/politics/john-ehrlichman-richa...

[4] http://www.amazon.com/New-Jim-Crow-Incarceration-Colorblindn...

Notice I said "for similar, non-violent crimes" and "disproportionate"

The article you linked said blacks were being disproportionately arrested because they were selling outdoors, whereas whites were selling indoors. Assuming it is true though, are we really going to pretend that it's simply the difference in skin color and has nothing to do with a culture that glorifies criminal behavior, disregards the rule of law and preys on larger society. If these antisocial subcultures were distributed evenly between the races then we wouldn't even be having this conversation. The unfortunate and uncomfortable fact is that they are more prevalent in specific minorities. But the fact that we can't even talk about this in a straight forward and rational way exacerbates the problem.

I'll give you that historical prejudice has played a huge role though. Historical being the key word. I am completely with you on ending the War on Drugs. If we spent a fraction of our energy on that as opposed to promoting these toxic identity politics, then maybe we would have actually made some progress by now. Despite all of our best intentions, race relations are getting worse and nobody seems to know why. Hmm.

Trick question, nobody fucking knows without knowing their entire history.

Being smart makes it much easier to get some opportunities.

I liked the post, and empathized with some truths in it. I saved up and bought a used Commodore PET in 1977 at age 13. I taught myself assembler, c, basic, and went on to buy a Vic-20, C-64, Amiga 1000, Amiga 500, Mac PowerPC, NCR 3125 (386 pen-based tablet in 1995 or 1996!), and then read up on AI in the 1980s - Neural Networks, GAs, GP, Expert systems, Fuzzy Systems, Chaos, Complexity, etc... I was using Minix on my Amiga before Linux on my PowerPC, and I have dual-booted since, but Windows is also in my repertoire. THEN, I gave it all up and became a welder at an animatronics company that made window displays, stayed in the entertainment field designing stage machinery, special effects, and so on. My last job was at a water show diving and fixing hydraulic and electrical systems as a senior manager and show manager (not in the US, since a senior manager would not be caught dead in the water!). I have now aged 51 years 11 months, getting heavily back into neural nets, livecoding graphics and music while living in East Java, Indonesia. I was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY as a contrast. All I can say, and what I bestow on my older two children (I just fathered a baby girl a year ago), is that I left the fast track to the huge salary to do what I wanted, and that always kept me happy, and busy in a good way. I read books until I don't understand them, and then go back and forth to others until I do, and I stayed physical, and avoided 'desk job' ailments of most people my age. I have grown to know it is time, time with family and friends that money buys you. And if you have food, a roof over your head and some toys, you don't need the other $25K to $100K per year, or what have you. No, there is nothing new under the sun, but I have miles to go before I sleep...

I have miles to go before I sleep.. I like the reference to Stopping by woods on a snowy evening..

Great to see u made yourself a good life in east java.

My grandpa lived in Solo and my dad in Jakarta.

I tried so much to move there. But couldnt make it.

I am still stuck at the hamsters wheel in London. Hopefully i can get a fully remote job and then move to Indonesia. I can only dream !


The Robert Frost reference I played because I always feel like I can keep learning som much more, do so much more, as I think he tries to convey in his article. And I played it off the English translation of his Latin quote, 'Nil nove sul sole' ('Nothing new under the sun') to convey that too. You're never stuck; it's in your head. I grew up poor in Brooklyn, and I have taken lower paying jobs after higher paying ones for the experience and fun of it. You learn to live within your means. You don't need a remote job to move to Indonesia. I live on very little here. I spend more on luxuries like books and credit for Internet. I am far from any big stores or town, so the temptation to just spend is gone too. I am sure you can manage to save $10K USD in a year. I am spending the time studying, exercising, sleeping (I have slept an average of 6 hours or less per night for the past 30 years or so, and now I try and get 8 to 9 hours, sometimes more!). The old cliche 'Life is short' rings more loudly as you get older, and peers start dying around you. In our youth we rally to 'Seize the day', but we don't own it. As Joseph Campbell said and wrote, 'Follow your bliss'. The rest will take care of itself just like the feet and hands wash themselves in the process of showering or bathing. Semoga berhasil!

A question - you are looking for 'fun' in a job and, at the same time, consider programming fun - haven't you been able to find a programming job you like?

Not really. I code what I am interested in. Most jobs are broken down into small parts for many programmers to work on. I like doing one-liners, and code to solve a specific problem I am having in another discipline like engineering, or art.

"That means that you she or he gets 100 KCHF per year, but she or he are actually creating a value worth over a million francs. And of course, they get the bonuses at the end of the fiscal year, because, you know, capitalism. Know your worth. Read Karl Marx and Thomas Piketty. Enough said."

While neither Karl Marx nor Thomas Piketty have a great track record when it comes to economic policy prescriptions (Dean Baker's opinion on this might be interesting for people who share much of their world view with all three of these economists), will they teach me to better negotiate based on my "knowledge of my worth"? I rather doubt that they will, given that the punchline of much of their writing is that worker compensation necessarily trends towards the subsistence level over time, r>g, etc. etc. Certainly if the point is to "know your worth" in the sense of being able to negotiate a better compensation, a better source ought to be available.

Separately, it's an interesting turn of events that fairly politicized economists' writings are now recommended reading for computer programmers. The next logical step is a recommendation to join a political party (certainly joing the political party would help one's career in the USSR where Marx was required reading for people entering the professions.)

a nice piece on understanding self and the pursuit of a rewarding life in tech or code or whatever (with real examples from said life) diverged in a wood of political lecturing garbage.

I think that misses one big point here; and a point that I live by: Don't waste your neurons and time.

Time is the most precious thing you have, so don't waste it learning stuff you won't need. Even if it's shinny. Resist, and for the things you do need, don't become an 'expert' -- pick the things you NEED and scope it well. Then hop along on the new tech that came around...

I always see any new thing I take on as an investment, and I try to make it pay down the line...

I didn't use to do that, and I'm an expert in a few tech that I had fun learning, but have absolutely zero relevance today. See, I can write Altivec code without the scalar version for example. That was useful for about 2 years...

This is where luck comes in. If you wait until something is super popular then you lose the advantage of being one of the first people that understand the technology when it goes into production. Also sometimes you may learn something that never pays off but later it feeds into something that does. I spent a lot of time learning Common Lisp and could never apply that knowledge at work until functional programming became more mainstream and Scala/Clojure became acceptable languages for production.

This had nothing to do with being a developer after 40.

tldr: Banal, overconfident advice on the subject of a software career, devolving into political rants at times.

I have seen developers threatened to have their work visas not renewed if they did not work faster

That was an eye-opener. For some reason I thought Switzerland was a worker's utopia with the relatively higher salaries.

I had the same initial reaction but if you think it through not having your visa renewed effectively comes down to being fired, i.e. the company terminating their dealings with you.

Doesn't make it better (at all), but it's essentially just the threat of firing albeit with more weight behind it for the visa workers. Not the company calling the visa office about you or holding on to your passport, etc...

I have seen people threatened to have their work visas not renewed in Sweden.

Well, this risk is the price you have pay to work in a better country. And anyway, most probably they would have some time (in my case, up to 45 days) after the contract termination to find a new job, so it's not that tragic.

It's not so different in the US either. My previous manager has indirectly referenced delaying my green card process if I didn't deliver on time.

Not for Gastarbeiter. You're supposed to work, pay all taxes and GTFO before you can legally claim any benefits, while still being despised by unemployed locals for "stealing" their jobs.

It maybe is... but not if you aren't Swiss.

Did I just stumble on slashdot? I much prefer the discourse on HN but the reaction to "PC culture" and "White privilege" is basically the same everywhere.

It has never been supposed to mean anything about an individual, and yet that is ALWAYS how it seems to be taken. We (as white and or males) can't help but see things from our individual perspective and take offense at the implication we ever had anything easier than anyone else.

I agree with others in the thread, we just need to throw away the word white privilege and come up with something else because it has been totally poisoned. I'm not saying there aren't overzealous "social justice warriors" that haven't contributed to the misunderstanding of the word.

Just remember, when people use the word white privilege, THEY ARE NOT REFERRING TO YOU AS AN INDIVIDUAL FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.

yet that is ALWAYS how it seems to be taken

This is a clue that perhaps your terminology is loaded, inflammatory, and should be changed.

I find that there's very little value in reasoning about race as a collective, since it's usually just a (overly) reductive variable for socioeconomic status, upbringing, or environment. If you mean those things, say those things. Attaching a racial modifier to a term and then expecting members of that race to not feel described or targeted by it makes no sense.

(And that goes double when that term is used, often, as an attack, not in the thoughtful way you describe, but that is a rant for another time.)

You've actually hit on the exact point, there is no point in reasoning about race, but as much as we wish that people didn't see race, the fact is they do.

That is the entire point of the term. Because of your race, people do reason about your race, and do make assumptions about your socioeconomic status, upbringing, and environment. I'll grant you that there are (probably a very few) people who do get some satisfaction out of feeling like a victim but otherwise, nobody is more tired of reasoning about race in america than black americans (who are of course not the only discriminated against minority).

You seem to be implying that america is post racial and some of just won't let it go.

You seem to be implying that america is post racial and some of just won't let it go.

And you seem to have read your own biases into a very objective and clear point. That point being, stop banging on about how terrible it is people get defensive when you use offensive terms.

If your response to that is "but it's not", followed by yet another academic definition of "privilege" is.. stop. You've missed the point.

Offense is taken, not given. If your goal is to have a frank and honest discussion with someone rather than attack them, you do not lead off by using terminology that is racially charged (as if anyone can choose their race), minimizes someone's struggles in life (of which you necessarily know nothing), implies guilt (however slight), and which is frequently used in bad faith to shut down discussions anyways.

That may not be what you personally intend, but that is what the audience hears. Act accordingly.

Because privilege is based on looking at only a subset of the group. A subset that changes to push a narrative. For example, white privilege often involves some concept related to being given leniency in legal matters. Less likely to be stopped, less likely to be arrested if stopped, less likely to be charged if arrested, and less likely to be convicted if charged. And statistically, that is all good and fair. But then male privilege discussions almost never include that the reverse happens when you look at gender (and to a much greater degree than race).

Also, while perhaps not originally meant to be applied to an individual, that is the common experience with it. It is further compounded by picking only certain areas for privilege to matter and being very stereotyped. For example, one white privilege is going to a school where the majority of the student body was the same race. Except that isn't always true.

While the wording behind privilege is extremely toxic and needs to be done away with, much of the ideas behind it are what directly led to that toxicity to begin with.


Yeah, if you ignore all the other times.

---Disobey authority. Say “fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me” and change jobs.

Challenge authority, but don't be an ass about it. Simply try to help them understand that you are doing them a favor by challenging them. Perhaps say, "Do you mind if I weigh in on that?" If they aren't interested in your opinion still follow up with "I understand you've thought about this, but I've also given this a lot of thought and I also have a lot of experience around this and I've seen it be a problem before."

"forget the hype, make sure to learn node and start building bots"

That aside, a lot of the more generic points make sense.

> "Ok, let's make a rails app" > "Oh, I need rails first" > "Oh, I need rbenv first" > "Oh I need brew" > "Oh I need xcode tools"

As a Rails dev, this made me chuckle, yes, I've put a lot of hours into troubleshooting dev setups. But this is the wrong example. All of these are installed with one line on the terminal. And really, there are far simpler web stacks to pick up without even having to leave Ruby. Sinatra on system Ruby works just fine. All you do is 'gem install sinatra', open up a text editor and go.

Really, the complexity you have to watch out for is the complexity you impose yourself. Choosing the wrong tools for the job or the wrong abstractions. For many applications, Rails is overkill.

That involves knowing the one line on the terminal, and when you google "rails set up" you will get a bunch of out-of-date tutorials, and not knowing rails you won't know which is out-of-date.

On the other hand, 30 year old C code will often compile right out of the box, because the people maintaining them weren't chasing the New Flashy every year.

The modern systems suck in terms of maintainability.

Lol as opposed to PHP where you just drop the folder into Apache folder and you're done.

This was a good read - I'm a dev over 40 and much of this rang true. I think there's a lot of great advice in there. One standout for me was "Be prepared to change your mind at any time through learning. " - something that I think we should all aspire to.

Mentioning income gap at the end were very random. I wish author would mention it in the beginning, so I wouldn't waste time reading the whole thing.

In an email exchange I had with C.A.R. Hoare a couple of years back he said:

Paradoxically, I have been working on shared variable concurrency, using a partially ordered trace semantics. Until I retired, I was too frightened to tackle anything so difficult.

Definitely life after 40, 50, 60, 70, ...

Slightly disappointed about the post not being about how they became a developer at age 40, which was what I initially thought it was.

I started my career as a software developer at precisely 10am, on Monday October 6th, 1997... I had recently celebrated my 24th birthday.

I initially drew the same conclusion, but was nonetheless entertained by it.

I found the advice to be quite a mixed bag, but um, having just turned 42, the OP knows very little about being a developer after 40. The article is about what he learned as an under-40 developer.

Warm fuzzy nostalgia aside, this article seems to amount to "Learn everything, read everything, do everything, don't bandwagon, Apple is pretty cool. The other stuff is OK too, if you like that sort of thing. Learn Node. PS. Don't harrass people".

It's an amalgamation of every Medium tech-post ever.

I guess the real message is: believe whatever the mainstream audience believes at the time. You can't really go wrong with always agreeing with whatever the current thought bubble agrees with - and be quick to change your opinions if the herd is moving. When the author saw the derision against Steve Ballmer, and the favor Apple was getting, he made the clear choice to jump ship. And because he was part of that popular herd jumping ship, it worked very well. Follow the wind.

It's actually a pretty good point and is a decent way to always remain relevant. You can't be left behind if you're always on top of the latest thought trends.

EDIT: A missing piece the author points out too: don't be an early adopter of a thought trend (Point 1: Forget the hype). Only jump in when it becomes mainstream. If you adopt something before it becomes mainstream, there's a chance it can fail. If you wait until it is mainstream, but get in just as it becomes mainstream, you get the benefit of being an early adopter and the benefit of never being on the unpopular viewpoint.

So your always going to be playing catch up - back in 94 when i had been playing with the www I volunteered to go to Edinburgh for a month to work on a cutting edge RAD/DSDM Project.

Basically I told my then boss see you after Christmas - If I have followed that advice I would have stuck with Oracle and Java or spent my career in Mainframes

> I would have stuck with Oracle and Java or spent my career in Mainframes

And last I heard, there are tons of job openings asking for experts in Oracle and Java.

So how exactly would that have been terrible in terms of getting a steady income?

Well enough if you want a traditional 9-5 job (which is fine if it suits you) - pity Java is such a PITA to work with though and Oracle do charge a lot! for there product.

Trouble is if your company pivots and you have been doing Mainframe COBOL for 20 years - you might find transitioning to a new language hard.

I would happily go back to mainframes if given the opportunity. I miss the days of the "priesthood of the computer". I sorely miss linear languages like COBOL and PL. Yes, yes, I'm old fashioned, but man, were those the days. I miss programming on my 8-bit Commodore 64, praying I wouldn't run out of space on my floppy drive. Anyone remember Creative Computing magazine. I wrote every program in every issue for quite some time.

Now? I'm stuck working for a salary in a job that pays the bills. I live in Texas (I know, I know) where IT salaries are already low. Texas has that "right to work" mentality. My bosses are not real IT guys in the sense that they love IT. They're in it for the salary, whereas I'm in it because I still love it after a span of pushing bits over three decades. I would retire only if I won the lottery, but if I did that, I would likely buy a Z-Series mainframe and spend my days playing.

I get some of that "praying I [won't] run out of space" with programming microcontrollers for home projects.

> Trouble is if your company pivots and you have been doing Mainframe COBOL for 20 years - you might find transitioning to a new language hard.

Then you are not following the advice discussed.

Well there was a period when it looked like the mainstream was going to switch away from Java, but then Android was released. Java is heavily mainstream still. If you're optimizing, it's still a good bet to stick with. But be ready to jump off if Android switches languages away from Java which may pull enough mind share to make Java a 'niche'.

At least, that's my interpretation of the article's logic mixed with what appears mainstream to me. There's a lot of room for subjectivity, but it's difficult to argue that Java/Android isn't an extremely mainstream direction.

> It's an amalgamation of every Medium tech-post ever.

Very well summarized.

While I enjoyed this post somehow, maybe because I was thinking of the good old times, I didn't feel comfortable reading: I found his views having a touch of an ubiquitous negativity and slight frustration. I disagree with many of his points. And I miss one clear message.

Yet, your sarcastic summary is a breath of fresh air in the HN comments...

I wouldn't call it sarcasm. I had the same feeling while reading.

The OP contains a lot of opinions about a lot of different subjects. An amalgamation.

I don't think amalgamation means what you think it means (obligatory reference to 'The Princess Bride' ;)).

And if you mean by amalgamating that he united or tied together a lot of different opinions on a lot of different things, how is that unpleasant?

He is talking about daring bets on technologies with a potential. Then insists you learn Node.js. If anything my bet is that JS is not worth learning at all because future is all about WebAssembly (and LLVM effectively - he is right about that).

"Say 'I won’t do what you tell me' and change jobs. There are fantastic workplaces out there; not a lot, but they exist. [...] Do not let a bad job kill your enthusiasm. It is not worth it. Disobey and move on."

Especially Europeans have problems thinking like this. I always advise engineers to keep on looking for better offers / jobs the moment they take a new job. Instead many hibernate in a job for 3-5 years without thinking of their careers and hence miss opportunities.

Disclaimer: To help engineers finding jobs / working on their careers and support IT-firms to find people, I recently started a small headhunting agency.

So mail me, if you look for a tech-job in Zurich. Salaries here after [!] taxes start at 7000 CHF / month. Find my e-mail address in my hn-handle or check out my story "8 reasons why I moved to Switzerland to work in IT" https://medium.com/@iwaninzurich/eight-reasons-why-i-moved-t...

Compensation wise it's still a better idea to move to the USA to work at google & co then. A typical goofacesoft sr engineer gets +$250k/yr total compensation + paid for health insurance with a %30-%40 total income tax rate as a sr engineer.

Also to start a corporation, you have no capitalization requirements and it's easy-ish to hire canadians, australians and people work who work in a foreign office for +1 yr on a L visa. The waiting times for citizenship in the USA are surprisingly less than switzerland if you're not chinese or indian, which is pretty bad when the USA beats you in citizenship waiting time.

And most important of all, there is a shit ton of VC cash to get investment dollars from.

I think you confuse many things here. For canadians US is the better choice but for people from the EU who are not top 5% of the engineers, Switzerland is the best choice.

Being in the top 30% of engineers or even mediocre means you will make a decent or very decent living in Switzerland. I am not sure, if this is true for the US.

As one those engineers who has worked in SV for 5 years, you definitely do not have to be in the top %5.

You probably spent 4+ years of your life going to some sort of university to get a degree to help get something like 60k euro per year software job. So is spending a couple of months really getting good at cracking the coding interview and doing some practice interviews is definitely worth the $70k+ equivalent after tax salary bump. Even getting a job at a FaceGooSoft european office and later transferring to HQ in SF would be a good idea. Do realize though it's hard to change jobs with an L1 visa vs. H1B once you have one, so that should be your goal.

Now the USA has it's non-salary downsides for sure, but if you're just thinking in salary terms then the USA beats CH as far as I can see.

You're assuming that everyone with a bachelor or master in CS can just walk into FaceGooSoft after reading "cracking the coding interview".

That is not true.

The false-negative rate at FaceGooSoft is very high, they have a revolving door of candidates, that is why they can afford it.

I am interviewing people for IT-jobs for over a year now and I met many engineers that are Google-material but did not make it into a tier-1 firm for some reason (they where scared-off by annoying recruiters, where asked unlucky questions at interviews, did not even try or even want to make it in there).

Hence, they have to work at mediocre companies and life at mediocre companies is better in Switzerland than in the US, I believe.

That is why you apply for 10 companies, get 3+ offers and maybe try a few times. They know that people get rejected for BS reasons and it's totally cool to apply again after +6 months. They even will start contacting you again to apply! With enough prep and determination, you can do it, and the amount of time & money required is far less than getting any 2 year masters degree.

You can even apply to not FaceGooSoft, get in the USA with smaller company X and then try from a more comfortable position of having a work visa and being in the USA.

Look at this guy as another example:


Why is it a thing to change jobs every 3-5 years. Seems like only a software developer thing

Yes, it is a software development thing. Labour market is crazy.

Employers are obsessed with "acquiring talent". If you can show "growth potential" (as in, being able and willing to learn and extend your expertise), they will overpay you for the first 2 years or so. After that, they will feel entitled to recover their investment in you, so you will continue to grow, but your salary will stagnate.

Meaning, 3-5 years is the sweet spot for getting another income boost from the next talent acquirer willing to pay you to learn even more.

3-5 years? Try 1-2. The reason is that there are a lot of opportunities, and it gets boring to work on the same thing for a long time. Also you can learn more different things and fill out your resume by changing jobs more often.

That said, I personally prefer to stay at a job for at least three years, given the opportunity.

That article could use a followup. Regarding the immigration cap in particular.

Actually, I think I do mention the immigration cap in my article.

That is even more incentive to come over now rather than in 1-2 years, when the immigration cap for EU citizens will be implemented as planned.

If it is really possible to learn one language each year, and read six books, I'm going to be very impressed with that. Especially considering side projects you actually start in some language, frameworks (which are not the same as languages, obviously), and conceptual things which are language-agnostic. And then comes family, home maintenance and, just sometimes, rest :-) .

Reading six books a year is really nothing, and I'm not even sure why the author makes a big deal about it. Especially those books he suggested, are very short, often lots of pictures and examples. Agreed on the new language though, your best course is to just start a fresh project with something new. That's how I learn new things. Just jump in head first.

I think it's possible to gain substantive exposure to one new programming language a year, to kick the tires and gain insight into some of the features and idioms that make it tick. However, I don't think it's really possible to become an expert in one new language per year. I think it is much more realistic to master one new language every 3–7 years (depending on the language). Playing with one new language per year might help one figure out which new language to master.

Why not? i learnt PL/1G in a week and was productive by the end of the second week.

I can easily go thorough 6 books in a month one of the advantages of commuting by train.

I had the same thought... maybe I am doing something wrong :) I will reflect on that

In 1997 I was finishing high school, and about to commence undergraduate studies. I was "interested" in computing and Linux had passed 2.0 and was well on its way to entering the main stream. I remember obtaining a copy of redhat from my local library and a few very significant threads of my career to date commenced.

Java is also a child of the nineties and 1.1 I believe was the first arguably "finished" implementation. I remember the computer magazines were going off on about it at the time and I got a free Java IDE off a cover disk and wrote my first 2D canvas app.

These were the two main "galaxies" I inhabited for the last 20 years with various holidays here and there. The benefit of inhabiting such relatively "open" galaxies is that they provide easily accessible conduits to other galaxies too.

Thanks for the 90s nostalgia - very nearly brought a tear to my eye.

It's sad that the majority of the discussion from this post is people misunderstanding the term "white privilege" and getting so defensive about it.

Changing topics: that was a great read. The links were also great reads and rereads. What do people think of Joel's six mistakes from the "great software takes ten years", sixteen years later? http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000017.html

> Companies want you to shut up about that, so that women are paid 70% of what men are paid.

Stopped reading here because I assumed the rest would be equally as well informed. Shame too, I was enjoying the perspective.

Edit: Decided to give the author the benefit of the doubt and continued reading for the opportunity to have my perspective changed. With that said, I'm also not very fond of the anti-white male narrative quoted below, and I'll elaborate on why

> If you are a white male remember all the privilege you have enjoyed since birth just because you were born that way. It is your responsibility to change the industry and its bias towards more inclusion.

I don't think the real problem here is with being white, male or privileged. (Though, obviously our industry has a problem with diversity.) Programmers, for better or worse, typically aren't very sociable people, and thus become abrasive to dissenting opinions. (I'll be the first to admit that I do this, and will continue to do it as I try to improve and reduce this behaviour.) Whether that opinion comes from a transexual black 10x-er or a straight white female who recently graduated from college, or even a seasoned veteran with 25 years experience. Quite often, a difference of opinion for programmers defaults to "they're wrong because they don't think like me." I experience this daily, and I'm a straight white 21 year old male from an affluent community. So to the authors point, yes if we could stop being assholes to each other that would be great. However I absolutely disagree that the behaviour of my peers is racially motivated, and I resent the implication.

And I'm supposed to "send the elevator down" just to those who I assume to be the most slighted minority? How do you suppose that works? Should I just assume that all women need my help and support because they're women? What indicators would one even use to determine such a qualification, other than being systematically sexist and racist? Here's a thought: help everyone, as often as possible! Don't motivate your behaviour based on peoples' identities!

But yes, I do agree with the underlying sentiment that follows, I just wish it wasn't prefaced with unnecessary garbage.

> Do not critisize or make fun of the technology choices of your peers; for other people will have their own reasons to choose them, and they must be respected. Be prepared to change your mind at any time through learning.

Perfect. Why did we need the intro?

I just want to say thanks for introducing me to ponysay. My terminal was dull until you all shared its magic with me.

Thanks for this! A super interesting and well written look into what a career in software development can look like!

My new todo list: 1) Invent time machine 2) Go back in time and make my 24-year-old self read this article.

Nice post. A bit nostalgic but we all need a meme to get readers interested. In the OP's case its "I'm getting older, but I still love what I'm doing. Come join me!".

What I do when a new tech hype comes along, is allocate myself some time to it. Ok, Webpack? Let me give myself three days (around 20 hours) to check it out. If I don't understand it at first, keep pushing. If after 20 hours, I still don't get it, abandon it and move on.

Of course, 20 hours is just an estimate. If after a day, I feel like some magic has taken place (like what Backbone.js did to me), I'm hooked.

And yes, definitely gravitate towards a galaxy. Sometimes galaxies do merge and you will reap the benefits :)

I'm 38, programming for 15 years. And I still love coding and doing systems stuff.

> 3. Learn About Software History

I was reading about zeromq. From zeromq, I linked to iMatrix, OpenAMQP, GSL, and then Pieter Hintjens and Protocol of Dying. Indeed, history of software, including the people behind it, is no less interesting than the software itself.

>The reason for this lies in the fact that, as the Romans said in the past, Nil nove sul sole

This is from the Old Testament.


> A British roundabout with 6 intersections...

There's one of those in Hemel Hempstead. And surprisingly it works really well...

On a related note, if you have the chance to go to Hemel Hempstead, don't.

I think its only 5 now - and the fun thing about the magic roundabout is you can go either way round.

I must admit I used to when riding a bike round there chicken out and use the under pass.

It is not our duty to do anything. If you want to do something fine. But honestly, I work my butt off to get what I've got and I'm perfectly happy to help others that do the same.

I refuse to help someone just because they are female or a minority just because they are female or a minority. I also refuse to help people who won't help themselves.

Those who want to be great, I will help them every way I can. It doesn't matter gender or ethnicity. It's about work ethic.

Ignore the hype - but learn everything. Think for yourself - but go with the crowd. And don't forget the sunscreen.

Oh, and XML was totally a buzzword in '97.

Came here to post "And don't forget the sunscreen", but did a quick command-f to see if anyone else had already. :)

Which, in fact, was released in 1997!

XML started to be really meaningful buzzword in '98 or '99. (with first really useful implementations in like 2000)

>Software companies have become sweatshops where you are supposed to justify your absurdly high salary with insane hours and unreasonable expectations.

Sadly, I've felt this way for the past two months since I took my new job. I had to take a pay cut for it. Sadly, I think the new company thinks I'm being overpaid and the demands are crazy. All of a sudden, I understand so many of the WTFs on TDWTF!

I'd only add one more point to this otherwise excellent list of advice for programmers doing it for the long haul:

13. Strive to become as proficient as you can in the business domain in which you ply your programming.

Such proficiency can be a crucial asset if you have plans to start your own consultancy or to produce specialised products and solutions for niche markets.

>help a younger developer by becoming their mentor (do not do this before the age of 30, though.)

Why the age of 30? Just curious.

Because before then, you don't know enough to be an effective mentor. ("30" here is a proxy for a level of experience.)

I remember the AVR hype. It was supposed to "change everything" but is became a big nothing burger.

you know what? f... you people. I was hoping to know your opinions about technological choices and things you think would be relevant 20 years from now. And what do I get? 40 f...ing pages of gender and race inequality crap. The article is not about that, damn it!

Don't put things into articles people are going to talk about that you don't want people to talk about. There are two topics in the article and the discussion here broaches both.

Most of this seems very negative.

Excellent tips; However in globalization you need to be a highly skilled wage slave

> Do not worry about hype. Keep doing your thing, keep learning what you were learning, and move on.

Thanks, Adrian. Now I have an official excuse for not writing a single app with Angular/React in 2016.

Within in the context of H1B it's a different game altogether.

"Nil nove sul sole" means nothing new under the sun.

I enjoyed this. Could have just as easily been called "Being an experienced developer" because age doesn't factor in to his message that much.

> The reason for this lies in the fact that, as the Romans said in the past, Nil nove sul sole.

This is actually originally from Ecclesiastes, not the Romans.

Absolutely love this guy!

Somehow I feel lonely when I say open-offices are an absolute evil. Thanks for raising that point!

>Learn all you can about LLVM

While I'm sure LLVM is an important technology, I don't feel it's everyone's job to learn and know everything there is to know about it. There will perhaps be a niche group of developers making cool things with LLVM, most developers can get along just fine without knowing anything about it.

"Forget the Hype" followed by LLVM hype.

Being a 40+ developer myself, I find myself largely agreeing with this post. I guess I could quibble over some small details, but by and large, I think the author is spot on.

The one thing I'll add to this, is to say that, for devs like us, things like Coursera, Udacity, EdX, etc. are really valuable. When you're a mid-career professional who already has strong technical chops in at least one area, "on demand education" like this is super valuable in multiple regards:

1. It's much more accessible since you don't have to go sit in class, on campus, every day, etc. You can fit it around your existing life much more easily.

2. It can serve as a nice way to start "bridging" to a new area. For example, if you're already, say, a skilled Java developer and you want to start moving into Data Science, MOOCs offer a nice way to pick up some additional credentials to help that transition. People argue about the value of certificates from Coursera and the like, and that's fair. I think you don't want something like that to be the only credential you have, if possible. But taken as a complement to your existing credentials, experience and skills, I believe these things can be very useful.

3. Related to (2) above, but MOOCs can be a nice way to add complementary education outside of tech altogether. If you're a developer who aspires to eventually move into management or whatever, consider taking business classes from Coursera/EdX/Udacity as well. There are some really nice offerings out there, including a complete (accredited) MBA program that you can do (partly) through Coursera in conjunction with the University of Illinois. Or maybe you're a Java developer (just an example, I don't mean to pick on Java people, as "I is one") who thinks that something to do with synthetic biology is going to be "the next big thing", but doesn't want to go back to school for a biology degree... great, there's a ton of life sciences / biology / chemistry /etc. stuff that you can take online if you want to start positioning yourself for something like that.

Let me also add this: I totally agree that you don't need to go "all in" on every new tech that comes out, and try to ride the hype wave for everything new. But, I think it's smart to at least explore (many|most|some|??) of the trendy new stuff, to a limited depth... at least dip your toes in the water, do the "Hello world of XXXX" where XXXX is Swift, or R, or Rust, or Scala, or Node, or Go or whatever. At least give yourself a fair chance to evaluate the new stuff, decide if you feel like it's worth investing more in based on direct experience, and at least get a feel for the toolchain and what-not. From there, you can kind of monitor what's going on around you and decide if/when to go deeper with new technology XXXX. Yes, doing all this requires an investment of some time, but that's part of the cost of keeping your value up.

Of course, the truth is, most of this goes equally for the "under 40" crowd as well. But the whole "keep learning new stuff" thing probably becomes a little more important as you get older. There might be exceptions like the whole "COBOL programmer who gets paid big bucks because nobody new is learning COBOL anymore" but I'd consider those situations to be exceptions.

For tech things I would say that just reading the documentation (or source if there isn't any useful documentation) is preferable to any online courses.

On my first meaningfully paid job, first actually useful thing I did was that I went into corporate archives and found documentation for Oracle 7i and Microstation 95 which I was supposed to be using. Somehow nobody else there even thought of reading the docs. (the fact that I somehow automated myself away in this job is another thing)

For tech things I would say that just reading the documentation (or source if there isn't any useful documentation) is preferable to any online courses.

I'm a big fan of the "teach yourself by reading the docs" thing and I've done a lot of that in my career. But since I started doing a lot of these online courses, I've found that they can be very beneficial. Having a little bit of structure around the learning process, having "classmates" to discuss with, etc. have helped me as I've been (for example) learning R. Now, could I learn R by just reading books, tutorials, and experimenting on my own? Sure, of course. But the courses are pretty cheap, add a little bit of rigor to the process, and come with a minor credential from a well known / highly regarded university (Johns Hopkins, specifically). All in all, I've found that this approach works really well.

Just to share an example of one regard in which the online classes have had value above and beyond me simply doing it entirely on my own... The "R ecosystem" has a LOT of stuff in it. If I just started playing around with R, I'd have little clue which libraries and other tools to try out. But the courses I've done so far have guided me towards learning things like ggplot, dplyr, knitr, etc. Knitr in particular turns out to be really cool, and I'm glad I discovered it... but I don't think it's something I would have gone looking for on my own. Maybe I would still have found it eventually anyway, but as it stands, I feel like the course approach guided me in some useful directions early on.

YMMV, of course.

> as the Romans said in the past, Nil nove sul sole

They didn't say that.

> You could experience that right here in Switzerland.


Seems a bit bitter about the shit working conditions. And he's right. It's funny how the whole trade is shit.

There certainly seems to be a lot of young 'genius' and '*10' types who are willing to sacrifice their youth on the altar of a unicorn in return for a 1 in 100 chance of getting rich, if it's taking you more than 8 hours a day to make a living, you're poor :(

Even if the unicorns win it really depends on where you entered for you to actually make out rich. These days even the employees of the winner are getting shafted. There seems to be no ideas of human dignity or work life balance in this trade. It's not a profession, it's a trade. It should probably be unionized, and it would be if not for the high wage.

Well said.

The article was pretty good until this part.

>If you are a white male remember all the privilege you have enjoyed since birth just because you were born that way. It is your responsibility to change the industry and its bias towards more inclusion.

I'm from an Eastern Europe and my family never was rich, I had to put in a tremendous effort to even get into the industry. Assuming I got an easy ride simply because I'm white is a pretty racist statement and I find myself surprised that no one is calling out the author on it.

>It is your duty to send the elevator down.

No, it's not. Just like women don't have any duty to ensure that there's an arbitrary number of men working as models and just like black NBA players have no obligation to ensure that there's enough white guys on the team I have no obligation to worry about some arbitrary quotas.

    I'm from an Eastern Europe and my family never was 
    rich, I had to put in a tremendous effort to even get
    into the industry. Assuming I got an easy ride simply
    because I'm white is a pretty racist statement 
I was about to patiently type out another "hey, you did work hard and you did earn your success - 'white privilege' doesn't mean things were handed to you easily; it means that even though your life has been hard you still got to avoid certain challenges that non-whites face" response.

But you know what? This just isn't working.

We need better language.

I'm a firm believer in the existence of this thing we currently call "white privilege." I understand the meaning and intent of this concept and it's 100% correct; it's absolutely vital that we understand that basic rights we take for granted (for example, walking into a store and not being treated as a potential thief, or having prospective interviewers assume we're professional/literate/presentable) are actually privileges that many people or color don't have.

But if the people we're trying to reach hear the term "white privilege" and immediately misunderstand the term in such spectacular ways... you know what? We're doing it wrong.

> misunderstand the term in such spectacular ways

Who could have guessed that identifying and singling out a particular race for correction and self-abasement would entail some push-back? [1]

> This just isn't working.

Actually, I think it is working as intended. A thriving industry has arisen around the elimination of "white privilege". The term has served that industry well as marketing.

> I'm a firm believer in the existence of this thing we currently call "white privilege."

Are you a firm believer of "Han privilege" in China? Are you a firm believer of "Japanese privilege" in Japan? Are you a firm believer in "Jewish privilege" in Israel? If so, that might assist you in your search for better language.

> basic rights we take for granted

We have hundreds of years of high-quality race-neutral rights language to pick from. Why was that language eschewed?

[1] I'm trying to cut down on snark in my diet but failed. Mea culpa.

    We have hundreds of years of high-quality race-neutral rights language to pick from. Why was that language eschewed?
Do we have equality today in America? The answer to that might assist you in your search for understanding.

    Who could have guessed that identifying and singling out a particular race for correction and self-abasement would entail some push-back?
As a white male in America, I just don't feel that recognizing my privileges makes me feel abased or persecuted or anything like that. I don't feel the need to push back.

Why does it make you feel that way?

    Are you a firm believer of "Han privilege" in China? Are you a firm believer of "Japanese privilege" in Japan? Are you a firm believer in "Jewish privilege" in Israel?
Yeah absolutely! There are privileged groups everywhere. It's not always white people.

If your understanding of "white privilege" is that it's a belief that white people magically have it easy all of the time, everywhere on planet Earth, I'm happy to let you know that literally nobody is saying that.

If your point is that we should be simply talking about "privilege" and not "white privilege" or other privilege, I understand the sentiment. I think that would be a naive and ineffective approach because on any practical level we can't discuss privilege without also discussing the source of that privilege.

> Do we have equality today in America?

You're being parochial. This is an international forum. Do "we" have equality in Israel? In China? In Saudi Arabia?

> I don't feel the need to push back.

You've stated that the phrase "white privilege" is resulting in "spectacular" misunderstanding. I'm agreeing that it is a fatally fraught phrase. I wish you luck in replacing it (if that's what you meant by "we need better language").

> Why does it make you feel that way?

Signaling that _you_ are thinking while _they_ are emoting is a bad-faith tell.

> I think that would be a naive and ineffective approach [simply talking about "privilege" and not "white privilege" or other privilege]

So where does that leave your search for better language?

    You're being parochial. This is an international forum. Do "we" have equality in Israel? In China? In Saudi Arabia?
If you wanted to talk about those things, I wouldn't chide you for being parochial. I would just see that you are... discussing those specific things, particularly if you were being as clear about it as I was. "Oh," I'd think. "There's a discussion that doesn't involve me. Perhaps I shouldn't attempt to be clever in it."

I'm not sure if English is your native language but you should understand that "we" does not necessarily mean "every human." It can have different meanings depending on context.

For example, if I say "My family enjoys dinner together. Tonight, we enjoyed spaghetti" then in this case it's clear from context that "we" means "my family."

Similar, if I say "In America [...] we" then it is also very clear that I'm talking about America.

I hope this makes your future encounters with English more comprehendable for you.

    Signaling that _you_ are thinking while _they_ are emoting is a bad-faith tell.
I specifically said I "don't feel" the need to push back, and that you apparently do "feel" it. To hell with signaling: you're ignoring the thing I literally said in direct and unambiguous language. Now that's bad faith.

    I wish you luck in replacing it
Hey thanks!

Did you have anything constructive to say here? I don't see anything of the sort, just a bunch of misguided attempts at pedantry that don't hold any water whatsoever.

I mean, I get it: you think that talking about particular kinds of privilege is bad. I'm not going to intentionally misstate what you said, or be ineffectively pedantic, because that's neither clever nor helpful.

    So where does that leave your search for better language?
Discouraged, because there are an awful lot of people like you who want to turn things into a pedantic debate (dispute being hilariously underequipped to do so; I suggest you stay in your lane) instead of working towards any kind of awareness or solution whatsoever.

Agreed. The term is just too loaded, designed to irritate. For instance the 'privilege' part. A word loaded to mean 'undeserved advantage'. The advantages are supposed to accrue to everyone; being white means being a whole person. Being black means having less than that. But the differences aren't undeserved; they are owed to everybody.

So the term seems to call out white people for stealing stuff they aren't entitled to. Instead of just having what everybody should have.

I detest the term; I bridle every time I hear it. And annoying the hell out of the people apparently in power, people able to do something about the problem, is a very crappy start to a conversation about race.

Designed to irritate?

Good. Maybe it's a start of a conversation. What white people have SHOULD not be an undeserved advantage, but that's not the reality we live in.

Imagine being black with a black sounding name, or latino with a latino sounding name, and having to deal with people making fun of the name you didn't choose while growing up, and then having to deal with the consequences of discrimination when it comes to just getting your foot in the door.

You only have to deal with the annoyance when you hear the term. Other races and ethnicities don't get that luxury. Seems to me that the term is perfectly, and ironically, apt.

Using loaded terms to begin the conversation, is going to put the dialog into a different place. Someplace that might not be productive.

Hey, I'm not some fragile guy that can't hear about what inequalities are present in society. But I may listen only so far and just say "screw you" and walk away. So no dialog occurs. How is that helping?

> A word loaded to mean 'undeserved advantage'.

"Undeserving" is not part of any definition of privilege I've ever seen, not even the dictionary definition. I think that's just your personal bias against a meaning that isn't the same that others are intending.


A special advantage, immunity, permission, right, or benefit granted to or enjoyed by an individual, class, or caste. See Synonyms at right.


Such an advantage, immunity, or right held as a prerogative of status or rank, and exercised to the exclusion or detriment of others

Like I said, whether they were deserving of those benefits does not feature in any of of those definitions.

Lets reverse it. How does "minority disadvantage" sound?

For years we've talked about "disadvantaged" people. Which is fine, but focusing on disadvantaged people allows whites like me to conveniently ignore the fact that we have advantages.

It's an uncomfortable term, and to be honest, confronting your privileges should be uncomfortable. Darn right it's not fun to look at your life situation and think: "Well, I truly worked my ass off and tried to treat everybody well. But, in addition to my merits and hard work, what other things did I benefit from?"

A point mentioned above, which I agree with, is that this need not be a zero-sum game. I'm not ashamed of my opportunities; I want everyone to have them.

In my opinion that's the correct view.

>We need better language.

No, 'we' don't need that. You want better language so that you can better advocate for your pet cause. There is a big difference between need and want, and also between "everyone" and "this interest group that I identify with".

By "we" he meant "this interest group that I identify with", and you know it. No need to heat up the fire under a topic that's already so prone to flamewars.

He was responding to someone who was offering a disagreeing POV, on a public web forum that anyone can read or participate in.

In that context, typing "we need better language" implies identification with the whole audience, i.e. all readers. 'We' does not mean 'my group of political activists' when used in that way.

Hence why the correction is important. Especially given that he was advocating for the redefinition of language in service of a political ideology. If you are going to suggest that 'we need' to clarify and standardize the words we use to refer to things, then you should probably be extremely precise with your own language, no? Otherwise you are just being a patronizing e-tyrant.

What a strange stance to take.

"I don't agree with this concept, so I want it to have an ineffective or misleading name!"

If icepick lobotomies were called "happy sunshine treatments," or if breaking into peoples' homes and killing their pets was called "saying hello to your neighbors" I'm sure we could agree that those are wildly misleading terms and that we should find more accurate ones, even if we didn't agree with those practices.

> you know what? We're doing it wrong.

How about you just call it "privilege" and leave it at that? This skin color labelling is pointless in the context of real privilege.

A "woman of color" who grew up with servants in her birth country, went to private schools, top colleges, etc has a better chance at the C-suite than a Eastern European "white guy" who grew up poor and went to state schools etc.

Just like a white man can suffer from socio-economic disadvantages, a woman of color can benefit from class privilege. Who do you think it's going to have an easier life? Obama's daughters or some boys from the Appalachia region?

It's unfair to discuss gender and race without considering class. It is also unfair to claim disadvantage in one without acknowledging benefits from the other two.

This is also the biggest criticism against mainstream feminism. It doesn't address class issues as most of the popular causes are upper-middle class issues.

>It's unfair to discuss gender and race without considering class.

Or other issues. Is someone cis or trans. Or maybe even non-binary. Are they nuero typical. What about the types of parents they had; were the parents verbally abusive (or perhaps worse). How tall are they. How attractive are they (especially with regards to factors that one cannot control, at least without extreme cost of resources). Were they medicated as a child, especially using off label prescriptions of medications show long term effects are not well studied in young children. How much of an introvert/extrovert are they?

The thing that polarizes this discussion is that a very small number of the potential factors which result in privilege are discussed repeatedly, and so people who may have benefited from those select factors but who lost out with regards to the factors not discussed tend to become very agitated of the selective focus being given during discussions.

Agree on the class aspect, but it is a bit more nuanced:

It really is a question of your family's values, not finances. I know a few affluent families who don't really value education, and there is enough money for the kids to live off of the family fortune (aka "trust fund kids").

Kids born into white trash families and black-ghetto families are equally fucked, not because they are poor (though it does not help), but because they don't have the values and successful role models to follow/ motivate them.

It is not an easy problem to solve - but that's a whole other discussion.

How the heck is that a valid criticism of feminism? Feminism is intended to remedy the injustices of the hierarchical arrangement of men and women. That's literally all it is for. One may as well criticize La Raza for not addressing the oppression of Tibetans in China.

We already have isms that address class issues; they're called Marxism and socialism. Feminism isn't the mommy ideology that has to welcome all into its tent.

Are you familiar with the history of feminism?

First wave and second wave of feminism were both coopted by upper middle class white women. Third wave, the current one, pays some attention to intersectionality, but mainstream feminism doesn't challenge the status quo enough. That's why there is backlash against Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In.

A quote from the wiki page: "Black feminism is a school of thought which argues that sexism, class oppression, gender identity and racism are inextricably bound together"


However, people on HN bring up class to derail conversation about race and gender, but that's a different can of worms.

Seems like you're not familiar with the history, yourself.

First and second wave feminism weren't coopted by upper middle class white women, they were founded by upper middle class white women. You can't get more white middle class than Anthony, Friedan, de Beauvoir et al.

Not that Wikipedia is a particularly good source, but your own link includes the sentence "Feminism at its core is a movement to abolish the inequalities women face" which is exactly what I said. A poor boy with troubles in Appalachia is tragic, to be sure, but is not any sort of feminist concern.

Intersectionality isn't a just way to garble up different justice concerns and call it "feminism." Intersectionality comes from the intersection of the axes of oppression on e.g. a black woman. The axes of oppression on a poor white man exist, but have little to do with feminism. This person lives in the privileged position under patriarchy, full stop.

I'm confused. Am I being trolled? You are using words that I agree with but you sound like you want an argument.

Of course poor white men benefit from the racist patriarchy, but HN gets upset if you say that bluntly.

You seem to disagree that feminism needs to be intersectional? That's fine. A lot of people participate in white feminism, but many feminist leaders believe capitalism, racism, and sexism have to be tackled together.




You claimed (or insinuated, anyway) that the fact that feminism is more concerned with the Obama daughters than with an anonymous poor white man is a criticism of feminism.

I claim that is not a valid criticism because speaking for poor white men is not a concern of feminism except where it is obvious that patriarchy is the source of their problems.

Okay got it, you think I'm derailing.

Poor white men example was trying to connect to HNers who think privilege is a myth. Privileged tech workers are more likely to acknowledge class advantages. So I hope they could eventually make the leap to gender and race.

The criticism of mainstream feminism is that they don't do enough for working class women or women of color. Which is probably not a concept that HN is ready for.

All right, everything turned out better than expected, then. :)

   > It's unfair to discuss gender and race without considering class.
Think about the practical consequences of what you're saying.

Having a discussion about gender, race, class, etc. alone is challenging enough. Do you really want to say that we shouldn't discuss any of these issues unless we agree to simultaneously discuss all of them? What about all of the other factors that can also lead to inequality?

Does that seem realistic?

Class is an extremely pervasive factor, yes, but I don't believe that talking about other issues amounts to ignoring class divides, any more than discussing diabetes amounts to ignoring cancer.

You have to keep in mind where we are. HN isn't a group of people who read bell hooks and Gloria Steinem. HN is a group of men who boycotts Github for hurting their fee fees.

If I don't concede on class issues then my comment would have been flagged and downvoted into oblivion. I hope at least it got a couple of people do think about gender and race.

Anyway, I upvoted every one of your comments. Thank you for fighting the good fight. I really don't have the energy to argue with ignorant people anymore.

Because that would be trying to muddy the waters.

White privilege refers to the privilege people have for the accident of being born white. Economic privilege refers to (in some instances) the privilege people have for the accident of being born rich.

Donald Trump is a mediocre businessman, but he's a billionaire pain in the ass because of the power and influence he gained by having a rich, white father.... but if you took his kid and Russell Simmons' kid and threw them both in a nice car and drove them down various roads, one of them is gonna get profiled by cops a lot more than the other, and it's not going to be Trump's.

But the discussion is trying to be about a different topic, which is why the earlier poster is asking for different language. It's not about having any privileges in terms of money or education, at all. It's about what people say about generic people who look like you when money and education are taken out of the picture -- when actual privileges are subtracted.

Your example is correct of course.

However, please understand: whether it needs a new name or not (I suspect it does) the concept of "white privilege" does not mean "all white people automatically have it easier than all black people." No conflict there.

Actually yes it does mean when you ask the vast majority of people.

If a lot of people think the moon is made from green cheese, that doesn't make it true -- although it does mean that maybe somebody's not doing a very good job teaching them science.

It's not working because this phenomenon is not the privilege of a race of people. Go to China and you will find a "privileged class" (urbanites), go to Nigeria and you will find privileged people, Go to Japan and you will find privileged people (those lucky enough to go to the right universities) same with France and go to India and you find "privileged" people. So the problem people have is that it's framed as a "white disease" when most countries which have economies which cause a "sorting out" i.e. Not everyone is in the same subsistence mode, have this phenomenon, but it's used as a tool in an attempt to bring other people up by making other people feel (in this case whites) as if they are uniquely and artificially in a position where they are automatically parasitic. Basically it treats success as a zero-sum issue. It pits one class against another and both can feel aggrieved. Which probably is not the best way to engage people and get them onboard with ideas.

Yeah, absolutely. Being white is not an advantage everywhere.

There are some places where beig white is a distinct disadvantage. Like the examples you named. Or, try being a European male in ISIS-controlled territory! That'll get you killed pretty quick, right? No "white privilege" there. In Sunni-dominated regions, in fact, Sunni privilege is a thing. I mean, obviously, right? Sunnis in those regions have a lot of rights that Shia, Jews, Christians, and atheists don't.

So the good news for you here is that the concept of "white privilege" does not involve the notion that white people have magical force fields that render them immune to problems everywhere in the world.

In places like America where whites control nearly all of the wealth as well as the political establishment? For places like this, yeah, it's probably worth taking a look at things and asking ourselves if white people literally controlling almost everything in America might have some effect on equality in America.

Right but you're skirting right by. The thing is it is a pretty common phenomenon. It's something that isn't intrinsic to white people or any single class of people. It happens to be that in the US whites on average can experience advantage. But if the US had a different history and were colonized by other people there would be other people experiencing this "privilege". I mean, we don't go around calling the issue Sunny privilege to describe it, or urban Han privilege, Sciences-po privilege, yet it is the same phenomenon.

Look at it this way, how would people X feel if we called crime instead of crime "people X" behavior as if only that group engaged in crime? And go around saying, well, true many peoples engage in crime but we wanted to highlight that people X engage in lots of crime too so that the people will be conscious of it and then kerb crime.

    I mean, we don't go around calling the issue Sunny privilege to describe it
We certainly would (or could) if we were discussing privilege in a Sunni-dominated area where other groups were oppressed! That would be completely correct, right?

    how would people X feel if we called crime instead of crime "people X" behavior as if only that group engaged in crime?
That's an awesome question actually. Let's say there was a city where nearly all of the muggings involved black people mugging white people. There are one million whites in this city, and one million blacks. There were also 10,000 muggings last year and most of them were black on white muggings.

First of all, that would suck, and in this hypothetical city it'd be hard to argue that there wasn't a racial component to those 10,000 muggings. It is, essentially, a black crime in this example.

But! In this hypothetical city, that also means there are 990,000 black people who didn't mug anybody and -- this is the key concept -- didn't profit from those muggings.

White privilege is a little different. As a white person I actually do profit from white privilege. My life hasn't always been easy, and I have generally worked my ass off. But I have also never had to deal with any of the big and small disadvantages that blacks face in America. Nearly every single day of my life -- and this includes some really shitty, tough, fucked up days -- my whiteness has either helped me or at least not been a disadvantage. I profit from white privilege all the time.

It doesn't mean I'm a bad person or that things are always easy, but I do want to recognize it.

Ok, I thought we were speaking "privilege" however now you're bringing up or conflating oppression, which to my understanding is different.

Never the less, even in Sunni areas, I dont think it would be helpful to describe the issue suffered by say Shias as Sunni privilege. This representation is apt to create a greater wedge between the groups.

Now, as it pertains people in general, within neighborhoods with a majority class there are oftentimes a classification of people who while may suffer disadvantage outside their neighborhood will most likely experience advantage in their neighborhoods. So let's say a recent poor immigrant from Bolivia going to a south Asian neighborhood, or a Bangladeshi going into a Mexican neighborhood. These two may experience privilege in one area and lack of privilege in another.

Or, see how easy it might be for you to get a stock boy job at a Mexican supermarket in for example LA, versus how easy it might be for a Mexican national to get the job.

So privilege can be found among the many groups within the US itself, not just among whites, as might be portrayed. It's something for which we can find expression, if we look enough.

I don't think you can have privilege without oppression of some sort, whether it's an extreme level of oppression like legalized slavery in America, or a more subdued kind like the economic inequality we have in America today.

   Never the less, even in Sunni areas, I dont think it
   would be helpful to describe the issue suffered by say
   Shias as Sunni privilege.
I'd tentatively agree. The value, if any, of "_____ privilege" terminology is get ______ to examine their own privileges, consider how they might benefit from and/or contribute to inequality, and consider how other groups don't share those same privileges.

So in an area where, say, Shia are openly and brutally oppressed by Sunnis there's probably no value to talking about "Sunni privilege" because (I'm assuming) the Sunnis in power are not in denial about the situation.

Contrast w/ America where the inequality is present but typically not as severe nor brutal, but a lot of whites are completely in denial of the fact that there is any systemic inequality at all.

Consider the urban/rural dichotomy that exists in many places. In such places, even in very homogenous places, you will find a pronounced "privilege". An Osakan in Tokyo, East Londoner in London proper, a farmboy from Högsby vs someone in Stockholm. A mestizo from the country side vs a mestizo MDFer. It's more than race or religious and it's something beside "oppression". Alike people tend to help people like themselves. Sometimes that breaks along class, color, accent, political leanings, ethnicity, physique, etc. You can find someone disadvantaged and someone else privileged by being considered part of a given group.

It seems to me the better way is to empower those groups. Give them resources --be it educational facilities with an emphasis on overcoming a different framework etc. If we want people from East end London to be able to compete with people from London proper, while not building "posers" we'd want to have them understand how one can better fit into that structure (attempting to modify that structure may not be the best approach. For a look at changing an entrenched structure refer to the many revolutions which failed in their grand ambitions at changing their societies (even homogenous ones).

Further, let's say I wanted to do well in China. Do I keep on insisting on being a Yank? Or do I try to adapt to the mainstream culture, learn their "language" -which is more than just knowing Mandarin but other aspects of friendship and interpersonal relationships? It may depend if I want to work for a foreign (non_Chinese company) or local.

I agree with you. Unequal opportunity is morally and practically bad. We do not want to prevent the next Einstein or Newton from becoming the next Einstein or Newton because of their gender, birthplace, or anything else.

Again, though: I don't feel that addressing one particular facet of inequality is bad for the struggle against inequality as a whole any more than focusing on colon cancer is some kind of insult to say, breast cancer survivors.

So, it's a pretty common problem. I think everyone knows that. Does that mean we shouldn't address the problems in front of us?

Yes, the problem is presenting it as a zero-sum issue where what one has is at the expense of someone else and in addition posing something as intrinsic and inextricable from a class of people. It's their disease it's a bad disease and really they should be ashamed, rather than addressing the system we're addressing it as a people issue.

Just call it "tribal privilege". That pretty much covers all the "soft" prejudicial discrimination that happens everywhere around the world.

If the tribe currently in power in your locale believes you are a member, your life is easier than it otherwise would be. If it believes you are a xeno, or even an enemy of the tribe, then it will be more difficult, whether it is by intentional impediment or by withholding assistance.

This is why Jews are privileged in modern Israel, but unprivileged in Tsarist Russia. It is why Mexico had a disgustingly detailed race hierarchy imposed by Spain. It is why Rwandans massacred each other after Germany and Belgium explicitly favored one subtribe over another. It is why Shi'ite Muslims find it easier to live in Iran than in Saudi Arabia. It is why Chicago city government is corrupt to the core. Skin color is not the only possible tribal indicator.

I would guess that the ruling tribe in the U.S. has not imputed membership to strangers based on their skin color for a long, long time--at least since Irish, Italians, Greeks, Iberians, Ashkenazi Jews, and Eastern Europeans were not considered members. Non-whites may see it as "white privilege", but that is only because the tribe in power is so incredibly bigoted that they have multiple, ranked categories of xeno, such that if you were on fire, they would have to ask you what you looked like before ignition in order to decide whether they would spit on you, piss on you, or just let you burn.

I recall entering a Walgreens in New Orleans. As I watched, someone walked in with a backpack, indiscriminately shoveled several items from a shelf into it, and walked right back out. I glanced to the checkout, where an employee who had also seen the same thing shrugged at me. Tribal privilege. The clerk chose to favor the people of her city/neighborhood over her corporate employer. And you know what? Neither Walgreens nor the NOPD are in my tribe, either, so I shrugged right back. I wouldn't exactly let that guy into my house, but I'm not about to flip him to the cops over one measly bag of deodorant sticks, either. I am too well aware of how certain cities treat their poor people to wish one of them into a jail cell.

Sorry, but try being Romani (colloquially: gypsy) anywhere in the UK and tell me it is "white" that makes the difference.

That's a totally different issue. Gypsies lead totally different lifestyles that rub people the wrong way, and I'd be careful to dismiss their negative perception by the rest of the UK population as "racism".

Most people couldn't care less what their race is, but it sure is an easy card to play.

The idea of white privilege doesn't mean there can't be groups that are white who are discriminated against. Gender discrimination is another possible dimension of discrimination. Talking about the notion of white privilege doesn't implicitly dismiss their plights.

As the person who started this chain of discussion about white privilege, I feel responsible to say: I absolutely understand that being "white" is not an automatic advantage everywhere.

Lots of people don't really think the Romani are white, frankly.

But as generations of "white" Americans have learned, if you dress from the JC Penney or Sears catalogue, forbid your children from learning their ancestral language, and forget your cultural traditions, you can be white too! It works!

I was astonished when I first learned that in the United States, it wasn't until partway through the 20th Century that people of Italian or Jewish ancestry were considered "white."

Isn't that a myth? Like pink and blue supposedly previously having been associated with the reverse genders.

not a myth, although popularly touted as a myth by people to whom this fact is inconvenient. it's very easy to google examples of racism towards irish and italian immigrants.


here's where the "myth myth" started and was easily debunked by a high school student


But that just confirms it as a a myth - "I really hate the Irish, so I'll pretend they aren't white"

Was he privileged when he was in Eastern Europe or only when he arrived in the US?

I agree. I support most, if not all, the racial justice initiatives of the last 10 years, but the left is in need of better intellectuals and leaders. The language and tenor of much of the discussion is unhelpful in gaining supporters. I rant all the time that it's really a shame that BLM never seems to protest or take issue with police shooting of non-black folks. If the goal was to win, and not just to make a point, we should come up with better language and strategy.

I don't like the term privilege either. Switching to a more digestible word will help. For example, corporations now refer to sensitivity training as unconscious bias training. On the other hand, some people will be offended no matter what we call it.

> basic rights we take for granted (for example, walking into a store and not being treated as a potential thief, or having prospective interviewers assume we're professional/literate/presentable) are actually privileges that many people or color don't have.

You are aware that Irish and Eastern Europeans, and on and off through history Greek and Italian, have had all those same problems right? You know that 'White Privilege' you talk about is really just for those of Germanic origin, right?

Because I'd hate for you to look like an idiot telling someone who could have faced all those issues when they moved to Western Europe, the US or Canada that it's all wine and roses for them.

White Privilege should just be called White Devil. It jsut paints such a simplistic view of the world, not a real one, but one that is useful for rhetoric.

> It jsut paints such a simplistic view of the world, not a real one, but one that is useful for rhetoric.

Bingo. Race is just one facet anyway. We're all born with various advantages and disadvantages, none of which we have any control over. Just as an example, some people are better looking than others ... and those people tend to have an advantage, because they're better looking. They can get better jobs, better pay, etc. all because of the way they look.

So what?

The rest of us just have to work a bit harder. That's how life works. Stop whining. No, life isn't fair. Deal with it.

> That's how life works. Stop whining. No, life isn't fair. Deal with it.

I realize that the context is different in the U.S. vs the rest of the world, but would you say "life isn't fair, deal with it" to slaves in the South in the 1800s? Or to segregated blacks in the 1900s? Or to women who couldn't vote?

Or, to use a more modern example, to Muslims who are facing prejudice and persecution because of the actions of extremists?

Throughout history, "stop whining, deal with it" has tended to be the refrain of the privileged.

Dealing with it can include working toward change. Screaming 'White Privilege' is just complaining without action.

Making people aware of the problem and recommending they help with it is part of working towards change. Which is all the OP really did.

> but would you say "life isn't fair, deal with it" to slaves in the South in the 1800s?

Yes, I would say exactly that.

I would tell them to accept their situation, not whine about it, then break free and run to the north. Many did just that.

When they got to the north, I would encourage them to work hard and make a better life for themselves through hard work. Many did just that.

Yes, they would need to work harder than insert privileged example here to have a good life. Because they're starting from zero. And that's fine. Because that's life.

Many of us start from zero or worse. Many of us were hurt or are being hurt by someone's unjust actions. That doesn't mean you try to rig the system.

We are born with thousands of disadvantages and thousands of advantages. You simply can't engineer a system that will compensate for all of that to create some sort of utopia. We tried that before. It didn't go so well.

Recognizing privilege and inequality is not "rigging the system."

In your examples, nobody would break free and run to the north if they didn't recognize the inequality in the first place.

Also, is that really what you want to say on a public forum? You want to say that ending slavery was the slaves' responsibility? Interesting.

> Also, is that really what you want to say on a public forum? You want to say that ending slavery was the slaves' responsibility? Interesting.

Not what I said, you need to buy new reading glasses.

Doing anything starts with the individual. If you're a slave, that means resisting and running away. If you're a white dude in the north, that means supporting abolition. You get the idea. That's the only way to get anything done.

> Recognizing privilege and inequality is not "rigging the system."

Recognizing? You're not interested in recognizing.

You're interested in discriminating against those you recognized as privileged to benefit those you recognized as disadvantaged. Which is bad enough, but really much worse because of the you part ... and the you part is always the privileged.

This isn't the minorities standing up for themselves ... it's just the privileged stacking the deck again. The only way to make sure absolute justice and fairness is to make sure the deck is never stacked. Ever. For any reason.

The first three are examples of government regulations explicitly favoring some groups over others.

That is fundamentally different from a society with legal equality for all individuals. Yes, some groups will be more popular than others. It's hard to see how that can ever be avoided.

Of course, if you are a slave, you do really need to deal with that situation as best as you can. Does anyone dispute that?

> Deal with it.

Just like the other arbitrary things that can needlessly hold a person or group of people back, if it can be fixed why not fix it? What's wrong with dealing with it that way?

You seem to suggest to that people keep quiet, keep their head down and not rock the boat.

That's a defeatist attitude and suggests that you don't think any effort should be spent trying to correct something that's broken in the world.

"if it can be fixed why not fix it?"

If the fix is "lay guilt upon and attempt to disadvantage all people of a certain skin color because some of that skin color have had an easier time in life", then it doesn't seem like much of a fix, does it?

Racism and bigotry need to be wrong in all cases or the moral authority against them is diminished.

Except no one is talking about disadvantaging people of a certain skin color (white). We're talking about trying to help bring everyone else up to the same level.

As someone with white children applying for college, I can say without question that skin color is used to disadvantage certain people.

No, it isn't. You're not getting the advantage you used to have. That's different.

> if it can be fixed why not fix it?

Because your cure is worse than the disease.

> you don't think any effort should be spent trying to correct something that's broken in the world.

I think racism is bad. I think it's bad in all circumstances because it corrupts our meritocratic society.

Using racism to fix racism is dumb. Because racism is bad in all circumstances.

Our meritocratic society? Which planet are you from? Here on earth, we have no meritocratic society, but we do have a lot of people who confuse the advantages of their birth + not dropping the ball with pure merit.

80% of humanity lives on less than $10 per day. Do you not believe that among those billions of people, there could be many who are just as smart and hardworking as you, but have no access to the physical, social, and cultural capital they need to rise above subsistence living?

If your so-called meritocracy only applies to 10% of the earth's population, it isn't much of one.

It's interesting to note that increasing inequality within the US has been a byproduct of decreasing inequality world wide, as formerly impoverished frontier economies were allowed to compete against the American lower and lower middle working classes. This point always seems to get lost in the discussion.

Anyone who thinks society is actually meritocratic is deluding themselves.

And no one is using racism to fix racism. Only someone who is desperately clinging to that advantage they have for being white would say that.

This is an abhorrent view to take. "I got mine, so fuck all of you."

> Bingo. Race is just one facet anyway.

There's no part of examining privilege that says race is the only facet of one's existence soooooo at least you don't disagree with it there.

To even make a statement like that is like getting mad at "breast cancer awareness" because "it's not the only kind of cancer."

I can't emphasize enough that literally nobody is claiming that race is the only facet of one's existence.

The only facet that matters, then? Or, combined with gender the only facets that matter or let you be a part of the discussion?

I've been told off + blocked on twitter for chiming in about something I have intimate personal experience with, because white male.

Or the semi-famous video "you're a WHITE MALE!" (language warning) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0diJNybk0Mw

While white privilege and male privilege are important realities, I don't think they are the only things that matter.

If it helps to hear this from a white male who is a believer in recognizing white privilege and male privilege: being white and/or being male are sometimes disadvantages too!

In most of America, you can't be male and teach young kids these days. People (parents) will wonder if you're a child molester, and get weirded out by the prospect of you helping kids go to the bathroom even though they'd be fine with a female teacher doing the same thing.

Recognizing something like that isn't incompatible with recognizing male privilege.

I don't disagree with any of that; every gender/race/etc has SOME kind of privilege attached to it.

The point that you're [ missing | skirting ] though is many folks use the existence of privilege to ignore/bully/hate (eg, my YT link above, the white professor who got berated on campus, etc etc).

Yes. Things can flow the other way as well.

Did black kids pick some fights with me in school because I was white? Yes. It's a real thing that happens.

It's a fallacy, of course, to dismiss a belief just because some of its believers are assholes, even if they're being assholes in the name of that cause. I mean really, no group or belief on this Earth could ever pass that criteria.

Of course it's not the only facet that matters. And I think that minorities want white males to be a part of the discussion about race.

However, oftentimes white males say the same exact things. You can kind of enumerate them, "Not all white males," "White people can be poor," "Hey, you're black, can you explain...?" etc.

Many answers to these questions can be found here: http://theteej.tumblr.com/post/122334039549/hi-white-friends...

I don't expect you to read it. But if you want to understand why people get frustrated when you chime in about something it's probably because they've heard the thing that you're saying a gazillion times already and are tired of responding to it. They don't owe you a response.

Finally, I'll reference John Green and say that if you're doing something that multiple people tell you is offensive or bothersome: Stop doing it.

> Finally, I'll reference John Green and say that if you're doing something that multiple people tell you is offensive or bothersome: Stop doing it.

Does that include people telling you Social Justice rhetoric is offensive or bothersome?

Of course. If I were told by a reasonable threshold of people that promoting my causes [whatever they are] is bothersome, I would certainly stop around those people. [depending on how important they are, I might stop altogether]

To be honest, I don't normally try to defend this sort of thing on the internet because it's hard to establish a connection. I can't listen to your experiences, BurningFrog, and empathize. I'd like to. Because I think that that's the only way to change your opinion, and I think this is important.

That said, since I fully expect you to tell me that championing social justice is bothersome I'll let you know that you'll be the first person to tell me that [which I find surprising, although I suppose it's because I truly don't discuss it much].

seeing this upvoted gives me back a bit of hope in HN crowd

I'll keep this polite and assume you're intelligent and informed, a courtesy you did not extend to me.

     You are aware that Irish and Eastern Europeans, and on and off through history Greek and Italian, have had all those same problems right?
I'm very, very aware of that fact. Hey, for the record, I'm partly Welsh. The Welsh have been oppressed by everybody! They're pretty damn white.

Literally nobody is denying that Italians, Irish, Eastern Europeans, or people from unfashionable parts of Brussels, or your mother's uncle's cousin from Estonia, have faced discrimination at various points in time, and perhaps still do today.

     White Privilege should just be called White Devil.
I won't try and change your opinion, but you should at least understand what the concept of "white privilege" means.

It absolutely does not imply that white people are bad, or that white people are devils, or anything of the sort.

The concept of white privilege is a way of viewing things that challenges us to observe freedoms that we as white people have that others don't always enjoy.

For example: as a white person, if a cop pulls me over, I may be treated unfairly. But whatever happens, I generally know that I won't be treated badly because of my race. He certainly didn't pull me over because I'm fucking part Welsh, I can tell you that! Black people don't have that privilege. Now, 99% of the time, maybe their race doesn't have anything to do with their interactions with the police. Most cops are good people. But wouldn't it suck to be black and never really know if a cop was going to treat you badly simply because you're black? And that at least once or twice in your life, it probably will happen? That's some bullshit I don't really ever have to deal with in my life. A privilege I have, if you will.

Now, like I said above, I can't help but wonder if we do need some new terminology here.

I am certain that I have not changed your mind. Again, I'm just defining the concept for you. You can agree with it or disagree with it at this point. That's cool. But your post made it very clear that you had no understanding of the concept. Probably because the term "white privilege" itself was a turn-off. You probably thought it was an attack on white people. It's not.

The privilege you enjoy you do not enjoy because of being a white male, but rather because you're part of one of the dominant social groups. If you go to another country you'll see that people do treat you differently and might discriminate against you depending on your sex/looks/ancestry/etc.

Those that are different always have some disadvantages. We should be working towards fair societies, not replacing one type of discrimination with another.

I don't understand how recognizing my privilege as a white male in America equates to discrimination.

Can you explain in detail?

It's simply intractable to add up everyone's advantages and disadvantages; it's the wrong path to focus on group attributes/trends when you start talking about individuals.

I could clamor for tall rich sportsmen to "send the elevator down for me". That it's their responsibility and so on. What you should do is reflect on exactly why you'd think I should feel silly for saying that, and the other guy to not. Would you tell Michael Jordan to check his privilege if he told a group of average white male nerds to reflect on theirs?

    It's simply intractable to add up everyone's advantages and disadvantages

    it's the wrong path to focus on group attributes/trends when you start talking about individuals.
Absolute nonsense. If a particular school had a 30% graduation rate while every other school in the state averaged 80%, would you say, "Wait a minute! It's the wrong path to talk about this school in particular. These are individual kids..."

As you say, every individual human being certainly is more than the some of their labels. But when gross inequalities between groups emerge, it's lunacy to suggest there are no greater group-wide forces at work on scales greater than the individual.

    Would you tell Michael Jordan to check his privilege if he told a group of average white male nerds to reflect on theirs?
Is Michael Jordan a group of people? Unless there's a clone army of Michael Jordans out there that I don't know about, this theoretical question is bizarre and irrelevant to anything anybody is talking about.

I'm not even sure what you're getting at here. He is a part of some privileged groups (rich people, people with one-in-a-million athletic ability, men) and not others.

    I could clamor for tall rich sportsmen to "send the
    elevator down for me". That it's their responsibility
    and so on.
Michael Jordan can't make you a rich, tall sportsman. That's not... physically possible. However, the author of the original article suggested that we help others achieve careers in our industry. Now that certainly does seem possible, doesn't it? Hardly even seems controversial, if you ask me.

I'm not sure what you are getting at with your school example. 20% of students from school B aren't graduating; 70% of students from school A aren't graduating. If you institute some program that leads to one new kid graduating, who cares if it's in school A or B?

Gross inequalities between groups _can_ exist, but that tells us _nothing_ about any particular individual within the group, only that individual's chances _when no other information is available_. But other information _is_ available when looking at an individual.

You seem to be suggesting we somehow theoretically add up all one's advantages and disadvantages- But that means... Considering the individual. Great, I agree. Since we are doing that, phrases such as "recognize your male privilege" mean nothing to an individual male, because it is very possible that individual male has severe disadvantages that make singling out the maleness aspect ridiculous- It would be like telling a minority male shot by a cop to reflect on his privilege of not generally facing sexism like a woman does (setting aside that a "male" privilege here is actually a disadvantage, but you get the idea).

In general people have an obligation to help the less fortunate, I agree.

    I'm not sure what you are getting at with your school example.
It's quite simple. Clearly there are times to consider the individual and clearly there are times when we should consider larger groups.

If Town A had a cancer rate 5 times higher than the national average surely you wouldn't say, "Well, look, those people are individuals, and an individual's cancer risk is affected by lots of things -- diet, exercise, genetic predisposition... to heck with looking for differences between Town A and Town B."

Clearly you'd want to start investigating things that affect Town A on a town-wide basis.

> because you're part of one of the dominant social groups.

I wish this comment would be at the top instead of the ones talking about skin color. I just don't understand the United States obsession with looking at discrimination in a black vs. white way. Discrimination against minorities is what it really should be termed.

All over the world, politically dominant segments of population discriminate against the politically weaker. Sunni vs. Shite, Catholics vs. Protestants, Hindu vs. Muslim, Brahmins vs. Dalits, Western Europeans vs. Eastern, Chinese vs. Taiwanese, the list is endless. You can interchange the phrase "white privilege" or "is it because i'm black" with any of the above minorities, and the effect would be the same (in the relevant country of course).

Shifting the conversation from discrimination of minorities in general, towards discrimination specifically based on skin color is a very narrow minded view, and in my opinion, more likely to cause harm than trigger solutions.

And see this is the part that I never got past. In your example, it's the cop that's committing the infraction. And yet, I'm the one that is expected to improve the situation, despite the fact that I've never been racist.

I'm all for helping people that have been disadvantaged in life. What I'm not okay with is the fact that society expects me to do anything on the basis of my skin color or gender. I will do something if I think it's the right and moral thing to do, not because a bunch of people on the internet told me it was the right thing to do.

I think the disconnect lies in that many people (such as yourself) believe that it's such a clear cut thing when in reality it's much grayer, like everything else in life. Essentially, stop telling other people how to live their lives.

    In your example, it's the cop that's committing the infraction. And yet, I'm the one that is expected to improve the situation, despite the fact that I've never been racist.
You're not expected to fix it, or even feel guilt about it! Honestly. Seriously.

I don't feel "guilty" if a white cop murders a black person, just like I don't feel guilty if I see somebody in a wheelchair. I do hate it, and I do try to consider how lucky I am, and maybe hopefully think about how I can make that situation better, or at least not make it worse.

The idea is literally just to recognize that the inequality exists.

Obviously the hope is that once we recognize that inequalities exist, we might want to address them somehow. Maybe as a society, maybe just as individuals being more mindful of how we treat others.

Like if I get resumes from "Edmund Smith" and "Jamal Brown." Should I automatically hire "Jamal Brown" because he "sounds black?" Hell no. Should I take an honest look at myself and make sure I'm not making assumptions based on what I assume to be Jamal's race and what I assume people of his race are like? Yes. If I work at a large company, should I maybe even look at the data and see if we as a company are rejecting "black sounding" candidates more often than "white sounding" candidates of equal qualifications? Probably, yeah, because it's the right thing to do and our company is only hurting itself if our hiring process is being compromised by inequal hiring practices.

Anyway, even if you hate those examples I just gave, know that the goal of recognizing privilege is awareness.

> You probably thought it was an attack on white people.

Prima facie, the use of the term leads people to believe that an identifiable group of people (white people) has obtained things which they do not deserve (privilege). A typical human response to being told that another group has things which were unjustly obtained is resentment and hostility. This is inevitable and obvious. The term is by its construction divisive.

> It's not.

That's merely an assertion. The term is a tool. Some people use it to try to effect positive change for certain groups of people (I'm assuming this includes you). Some people very much can and do use it as a weapon to enact their idea of retribution.

Is it more important to you to use that specific term, or to get your point across? Because the one seems to be getting in the way of the other, is the point that's under discussion here.

The point is way more important. Like I said, I do suspect that the term is actually hindering the effort at this point.

Kept your dignity. I like it.

I smell cheese coming out from your window. You been driving under the influence tonight? Maybe chasing the red dragon?

Out of the car and put your hands on the hood, Taffy.

Am I going to find any sheep or coal in your vehicle, sir? Maybe some really bland food?


I was going to say something about how I occasionally use the phrase "white privilege" and I agree with you, but I think I actually just tend to use "privilege". You're right, in different times and places there's a lot of change in who is privileged. And it's definitely not a two-level system. I don't think the word "privilege" necessarily implies it, but it's used like that a lot, and I think that's unfortunate, and it's definitely a simplistic view of the world.

For instance, Irish-Americans did not have a particularly great time in the US in the mid-19th century by any means, but they had a much better time than African-Americans. They faced serious discrimination, but they rarely were assumed to be runaway slaves.

I think it's useful to acknowledge that even today, some groups of people have basic privileges like being assumed not to be a thief that everyone ought to have, and we can acknowledge that without reducing it to a simple white-nonwhite line.

I think I agree. Ultimately it's all about recognizing one's privileges, whatever they are.

No, the poster you are responding to is absolutely right -- we need a better language for this thing we are talking about today. You again are getting all hung up on wine and roses (things being good) when that's not what is being discussed by your partner in this discussion.

It's worth going back to the original essay discussing "white privilege" -- the text can be found at http://ted.coe.wayne.edu/ele3600/mcintosh.html. A few highlights:

4. I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed. 5. I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented. 6. When I am told about our national heritage or about civilization, I am shown that people of my color made it what it is. 12. I can swear, or dress in second-hand clothes or not answer letters without having people attribute these choices to the bad morals, the poverty, or the illiteracy of my race. 13. I can speak in public to a powerful male group without putting my race on trial. 14. I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race. 15. I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group.

Irish people in American get to do all those things today, as do Italian-Americans! When's the last time you were called a credit to your race? Me, never -- even though once in the past, the US government tried to deport a Finn under the Oriental Exclusion Act (John Swan, 1909) and Finns were regarded as backward and slow. Times change and that hasn't been a problem lately.

> I can swear, or dress in second-hand clothes or not answer letters without having people attribute these choices to the bad morals, the poverty, or the illiteracy of my race.

You've never heard of "White Trash" or "Rednecks" (a.k.a Bogans in Australia) or how "uneducated" the South is in America (nevermind that Alabama outranks California in graduation ranks)?

> I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group.

And yet, here you are. Speaking for all of us.

As you are happy to point out, no one asked me to :)

And yet you avoided answering my analogy with "White Trash", "Rednecks" and "Bogans". Why is that?

Indeed, various groups of white people have suffered varying levels of prejudice, but 1- it doesn't compare to what, for example, black or chinese people or native americans suffered historically and 2- most of the prejudice against these groups has been forgotten, whereas prejudice against "people of color" is still very much alive.

> but 1- it doesn't compare to what, for example, black or chinese people or native americans suffered historically

And that doesn't compare to what Jews went through 50 years ago. What's your point? There's always a bigger sob story around the corner. You deal with it and move on. The moving on part is important.

> whereas prejudice against "people of color" is still very much alive.

And that prejudice will amplify if you continue treating people of color differently. By providing special privileges to make up for the sins of the past, you are fomenting racism today. Every white guy who didn't get a job because of the color of his skin is now a newly minted racist. And while he really should direct his ire toward misguided leftists, in the end, he'll blame the person of color instead ... which is sad.

    And that prejudice will amplify if you continue treating people of color differently.
Recognizing unjust treatment and inequality is not "treating people differently."

Equality is the goal; recognizing inequality is part of how we get there.

> Equality is the goal

That's your goal. I don't share it.

I want equal opportunity, not equal outcome. We will never have equal outcome because we're all different and that's a good thing.

And I don't care if you're disadvantaged because of a thousand different reasons. None of us are born equal. We have no control over that.

What we can do is make sure that the bar is the same for everyone. That's the only equality I'm interested in.

> recognizing inequality is part of how we get there

That is a terrible approach because you have no idea if the inequality arose out of unjustified discrimination, innate differences in talent, effort invested, or a thousand other things.

I would much rather focus on making sure that the bar is set to the same height for everyone, regardless of color, sex, age, ethnicity, religion, or any other damned thing people decide to group themselves or others by.

> I want equal opportunity, not equal outcome

I should have been more specific, but if it makes you feel any better: I did mean "equal opportunity" and not "equal outcome."

Why did you write something so vitriolic based on an ambiguity? But ultimately, yes, my fault for being ambiguous.

The point is that he was saying that groups of white people had the same as people of color, and that's not true. They had it bad, but it's not remotely comparable.

Ever heard of a thing called the Holocaust? Or the purges in the Soviet Union or any other ex-communist country?

We pretended that institutional racism wasn't sown into the fabric of our society for decades and did nothing about it. The net effect is that nothing changed for minorities, because we've proven that we won't change our behavior without incentives.

> And that prejudice will amplify if you continue treating people of color differently.

Do you have a source for this? Such policy has real concrete effects with statistics you can point to. You can see the real positive effect it has on certain groups of people.

The only effect on white people I've seen documented is that racists have another bullet point on their long list of talking points to stir up their voter base. It doesn't bother normal people.

As a potential candidate, if you're going home and blaming affirmative action for the reason you didn't get hired, it says a lot about the way you think. Mainly, that you blame other people for your problems, specifically minorities, which is an odd conclusion to come to.

> Do you have a source for this?

Yeah. It's called deductive reasoning.

You scream about the evils of racism and what harm it's done to our society ... and your solution is more racism, just in the opposite direction? Smart.

How about no racism at all? I think that's better.

> Mainly, that you blame other people for your problems, specifically minorities, which is an odd conclusion to come to.

It is an absolutely odd conclusion to come to. It would make more sense to blame people like you. Unfortunately, human beings aren't purely logical and when they see another person at the job they should have had ... they blame that person, rather than the policy that put them there.

What's worse, nobody knows if that policy is at fault or not ... so people assume that they got fucked over, because it's always easier to blame someone else than yourself. So you've now created a society that resents success, because it's assumed that success only comes to the privileged classes like minorities, etc, rather than to those who earned it.

Congrats on making a full circle.

I've never personally experienced something like affirmative action holding me back, and I'm not advocating people blame that system. I am all for taking personal responsibility for _everything_ you have to deal with in life (not just race or finances, every potential setback that prevents you from living the happy life you want).

I will say, though, that it doesn't seem completely crazy to be angry at a system that is purposely favoring people with a race other than yours. I'm not asian, but I have heard that asians get the most points "docked" from them automatically when applying to colleges because asians study harder/do better on tests in general. It's not just that certain racists think that, it's that it's literally built into the system. If you study really hard despite a poor upbringing and get an A- on a test, and then know that it really only counts for a "B" for other races (even those that grew up in rich families with personal tutors), that wouldn't bother you even a little?

And the sentiment you mention in your last sentence goes both ways. Lots of non-white people complain about not getting a job or otherwise not getting opportunities because of their race. And that's when there isn't an actual documented system in place that enforces it! I am sure some of them are absolutely right, but it's unlikely all of them are.

Yeah, like 50-100 years ago. Are you saying because some whites were discriminated against in the past, non-whites should be discriminated against today? Sort of like, 'everybody has their turn'?

Except of course during all those times where some whites were discriminated against, people of color always had it worse.

>We need better language.

No, you need better arguments, you can start with the ones where there's no assumption that racism towards certain groups is okay.

The reason I agree with you OP is because, as you, I am also from Eastern Europe and I can recognize the same traits in the current "white privilege" arguments to those that plagued Europe mid-century. Like now, during those times there were people arguing that the Jews are taking all the jobs, the good jobs (doctors, engineers, bankers, etc - basically every profession). And the solution was not to advocate for equality but for reverse discrimination, which basically translates into: now you guys leave everything behind, profession, property and translocate somewhere of our choosing.

Today is the same path: you guys should feel guilty for being in a white collar job. You are in this job not because of your work but because of your race/skin. The implication is that you should step back and get out.

For all the talk about white privilege, I never hear the solutions to it. What is OP supposed to do: not get the job? Not feed his family? How is he supposed to prove that he is aware of his "white privilege"?

> For all the talk about white privilege, I never hear the solutions to it. What is OP supposed to do: not get the job? Not feed his family? How is he supposed to prove that he is aware of his "white privilege"?

The world is divided among two groups of people: people who live for themselves, and people who live for the validation of others.

The latter group believes that changing 'language' results in changing reality. If you want to lose weight, then get a funny mirror which shows you that you're skinny and that would result in you somehow working towards it and becoming skinny. That reality is merely a 'social construct' so modification of the social construct is all what you need to permeate those changes into other parts of the 'reality'.

It's this group of people who believe that minorities aren't succeeding because they don't get enough validation from others. This confuses most of the other people who never cared for this validation.

So people like you or OP says, "But I never needed other people's validation", and these people respond "Oh because you always got the validation, that's why you don't think anyone needs validation".

To answer your question, these people want you to 'validate' minorities. Make it look like that they're successful and apparently that will make them successful.

If you ask me, that just results in creation of pathetic individuals who will never achieve anything real in life.

> For all the talk about white privilege, I never hear the solutions to it. What is OP supposed to do: not get the job? Not feed his family? How is he supposed to prove that he is aware of his "white privilege"?

Of course he should take the job. The point of this discussion isn't to punish one group in favor of another; its to raise awareness that there is an underlying disadvantage for some types of people that has impacted their ability to get as far as you have.

The goal is to change your frame of mind ever so slightly, so that when you are faced with two identical resumes, one from a 25 year old white male and one from a 35-year old black woman, you don't immediately choose the white male due to "culture fit." You may take the time to stop your colleagues from belittling a marginalized employee rather than ignoring it. You may actively push to create programs that bring underprivileged groups into your organization rather than scare them away.

It's about using the position that you gained through your own hard work to help others who through no fault of their own have to work harder for the same success.

You picked a poor use case to support you claim. If you change "35-year old black woman" to a "35-year-old white man", the 25-year-old still gets the job.It is about a "culture fit" (or, most likely, ageism, in this case) , not race.

Why is that a poor use-case? While the discussion is about "white privilege", the same thought pattern holds true for all bias, be it based in race, age, religion, sexual identification, etc.

> Like now, during those times there were people arguing that the Jews are taking all the jobs

Are you really comparing Internet essays about 'white privilege' to the Nazi movement?

The author is not assuming you, personally, got an easy ride. Nor is the author dismissing any and all hardships faced by white males during their lifetimes. It is disappointing that you took his comment that way.

Acknowledging that it is easier to make it in the tech industry if you are a white male does not mean that it wasn't hard for you. It just means, for example, that it probably would have been even harder if you were an Eastern European woman who grew up in a poor family.

You don't call out the author on such comments because you don't need to read such comments as a personal attack. I worked hard as hell to get into this industry. I came from a poor family. I slept in my car for a long time just to afford to get my first product out. But I had the advantage of being a white male who grew up in a culture where those things gave me an advantage from birth.

From the cartoons I watched as a child (far more male heroes than female) to the politicians in my country (mostly white and male), to most of my role models in my field of choice (also white, male). In addition to a million other invisible benefits. I was able to go into technology with confidence and social support that many other groups will not have.

> No, it's not. Just like women don't have any duty to ensure that there's an arbitrary number of men working as models and just like black NBA players have no obligation to ensure that there's enough white guys on the team I have no obligation to worry about some arbitrary quotas.

I think that's a sad way to look at things. We are not trying to ensure there is an "arbitrary number" of certain types of people working in our field. We are simply acknowledging that there are unnecessary hurdles faced by many groups who may otherwise already be working in our field. It is a wonderful thing to have the power and voice to "send the elevator down" to help those people up.

>It just means, for example, that it probably would have been even harder if you were an Eastern European woman who grew up in a poor family.

Women here get hired easier (because US companies have the same policy for quotas, Intel is notorious for this), I know women who got an internship purely because they were women, there are free bootcamps and classes targeting women... not to mention all these special programs EU has for women who want to start their own company (and yes, these programs are for women exclusively). I have yet to see a program or class targeted specifically for men.

So exactly what disadvantages are you talking about?

Let's look at the stats.

Apple's diversity report [1] states their tech employees are composed of 79% male, 22% female.

Facebook's diversity report [2] shows 85% males in tech vs 15% female.

Google's is pretty much the same, and you can compare them all with interactive graphs [3].

Note the dominance of white and male in the graphs.

The programs you mention for women are great, I agree. These are the steps we need to take if we want women who are interested in technology to come forward join our field. But women are not more easily hired. If that were the case then it would be reflected in, you know, reality.

[1] http://www.apple.com/diversity/

[2] http://techcrunch.com/2014/06/25/facebook-diversity/

[3] http://www.theverge.com/2015/8/20/9179853/tech-diversity-sco...

LMAO....you literally just said prior to this comment:

"We are not trying to ensure there is an "arbitrary number" of certain types of people working in our field."

You are a walking Poster Child for hypocrisy.

How does sharing such stats imply achieving "arbitrary numbers" in any sense?

I am pointing at data showing a large disparity in tech employment relative to the population. Women are equally as capable as men when it comes to tech, so we should expect equal representation. We don't get equal representation because of existing cultural biases against women in this field.

It's the same reason we don't get equal representation of men in many "women's" fields where men are clearly as capable as women.

> How does sharing such stats imply achieving "arbitrary numbers" in any sense?

Are you really that ignorant?

> Women are equally as capable as men when it comes to tech, so we should expect equal representation.

And why are there not more women collecting trash or sweeping our streets (90% male)?

And why are there not more men teaching our children in K-12 (80% female)? Obviously men are just as capable and just as smart.

> so we should expect equal representation

This is conjecture.

> We don't get equal representation because of existing cultural biases against women in this field.

As is this.

You are pointing to data and making your own conclusions that the data simply isn't complete enough to show.

Those numbers can still mean it's easier for a women to get hired in the industry.

They can make the entry level for women lower and get those numbers simply due to the lack of women applying in the first place. That would mean it would be easier for a qualified women in the industry to get a job than a man of equal qualification. Which is ManlyBread was saying.

Reality tends to change when you, you know, actually understand logic and statistics.

True. It may mean that, but there is zero evidence to back up ManlyBread's claim aside from his anecdotal evidence.

And what. There is zero evidence to back up your interruption of the 'stats'. In fact your stats are completely useless in coming to any conclusion apart from purely saying there are less women in those jobs.

> Note the dominance of white and male in the graphs.

Not if you actually look at the graphs. Just taking the Apple data at random, the US numbers are

54% white, 18% asian, 11% hispanic, 8% black, etc.

The 2010 US census numbers are:

64% white, 5% asian, 16% hispanic, 12% black.

So whites are actually underrepresented, while there are 3.6x as many asians.

We are looking specifically at "tech." That's not "at random."

What I mean is I randomly looked at one of your three links.

It directly contradicts your claim about the data.

About 18% of computer science graduates are women [1], so Apple (22% female) discriminates against men and Facebook (15%) discriminates against women.

Yes, the above is partly tongue-in-cheek (I realize that not all employees are programmers). I am just trying to make a point that companies hire from a pool of qualified candidates (with college degree usually being the "qualified" selector). So if the pool consists of 18% women, companies will likely not have more than 18% women as programmers.

As to why 18% of computer science graduates are women is a completely separate discussion from the topic at hand.

[1] http://fortune.com/2015/04/20/the-pervasive-bias-against-fem...

Yeah I get that, that's all part of the issue — not enough women in tech education leads to less being employed.

From the cartoons I watched as a child, (far more male villains than female), to the narrowed defined male acceptable professions, to most of role models in other professions (all female), In addition to a million other invisible punishments for not following the cultural rules. I, like most of people with my gender went to a profession that was cultural accepted for that gender, and most people of the other gender went to cultural accepted professions for their gender.

How privileged they must be!

More male villains is on point. Heroes and villains are powerful. We typically see more female victims than male. Many of our tropes and stereotypes revolve around women as victims.

> to the narrowed defined male acceptable professions, to most of role models in other professions (all female)

Are you trying to start a competition of who can exclude each other the most?

> In addition to a million other invisible punishments for not following the cultural rules

Such rules are what hold us back. Encouraging diversity where you have the power to do so is a great way to break these rules and help people.

> I, like most of people with my gender went to a profession that was cultural accepted for that gender, and most people of the other gender went to cultural accepted professions for their gender.

It's a sad thing, isn't it? It would be great if we could change our industry for the better and perhaps become an example to others.

You are missing the point if you think it about competition. 80% of work professions are considered gendered, cultural exclusive to one gender. There is no privileged gender there, and you are only harming people by continuing that narrative.

> More male villains is on point. Heroes and villains are powerful. We typically see more female victims than male.

A study a few years ago looked at the probability that a character would get killed, and fathers in movies had a much higher chance to be killed that a mothers. It generally followed the lines of older male role model -> fathers -> daughters -> sons -> mothers as highest to lowest risk of being a victim of murder in movies. They did not look at henchmen, especially those located in movies for kids.

But what I really find is sad, is that certain type of villains are so exclusively male that they never gets casted as female. One of those is the character that the audience is supposed to get a visceral hatred for. The character that do evil for evil sake, that torture his victim for no reason, and the audience is made to hate so much that any violence is not enough to satisfy the justified cry for blood. I have never seen a feminist advocate to have a female Vaas Montenegro, nor do I think we will see one any time soon.

> I was able to go into technology with confidence and social support that many other groups will not have.

Where I grew up (in 1980s US), white males were almost universally derided for being into technology. It wasn't until the 2000s that it became "cool". There was no privilege associated with being a geek. It was something many of us did despite the social stigma. That's why it's humorous to see people claim there was some sort of privilege associated with those who where early in tech. Yes it turned out to be economically viable but there was huge social pressure against participating.

> There was no privilege associated with being a geek.

You still had some "privileges" by not being black, and not being a woman. "Privileges" in the sense that you weren't automatically assumed to be a thief, for example, when walking in to a store. Or the privilege of actually being granted an interview for a non-secretarial position when you applied for one.

The "white male privilege" people speak of is less to do with people handing you bags of money and opening doors for you, and more to do with those doors not actively being shut in your face simply by dint of gender or skin color.

I speak as a white male who grew up in the 80s and in to technology. I certainly remember it was not 'cool' to be in to computers/tech back then (not like now) but there should be little disagreement that being male was not a hindrance for most desired walks of life (whereas being female, moreso then, definitely was).

>I speak as a white male who grew up in the 80s and in to technology. I certainly remember it was not 'cool' to be in to computers/tech back then (not like now) but there should be little disagreement that being male was not a hindrance for most desired walks of life (whereas being female, moreso then, definitely was).

Really? I physically got my ass kicked every single day. At one point it was so bad i had to get shoulder surgery because i took a beating from black kids who thought i was a geek or whatever. I grew up in what is now considered a ghetto and i was fearful for my life for studying CS. If this white privilege bs existed i would be a millionaire by now and i would still be able to use my left arm to lift more than a liter of milk. People use it as an excuse for racism and their white guilt bullshit. We didn't grow up in the US, we didnt have black slaves and some of our family was slaves.

Just looking at the US and seeing this "white privilege" makes me angry. I doubt i as a white european could get a scholarship to a college even though i've been in software for 10+ years. But you see stories every single day that people find it unfair that there is only scholarships for african americans/asian americans and that they're cutting back on asian americans because apparently they're under "white privilege" as well. I'm sorry if i haven't gotten my point across or if i haven't typed things properly, but stuff like this infuriates me to no end when i literally had to fight my way to school everyday.

I never said I was never bullied or beat up. I was. I'm not sure where anyone is saying that white males never experience any hardship. I'm pretty sure no one is saying that, except people that want to argue with the term "white male privilege".

Everyday things like going to a store, going to a bank, taking out a car loan, going to a movie all, on the whole, in the united states in the last 50-100 years, tend to be less troublesome for "white" male folk than for non-white and non-male folks. My assertion here is based on decades of anecdotes and sharing experiences with friends/colleagues/families. Is my assertion scientific proof? Nope. I just don't understand why people can't grasp that being part of a majority in a society generally confers some benefits, even if those benefits are just measured in lack of hindrances/obstacles/barriers.

I would say that when people are talking about "white male privilege", it's generally understood to be US/Western Europe/'white' areas that are being talked about. Me being a 'white male' in Shanghai had 0 benefit to me, and was actually a hindrance (though having a poor grasp of the language contributed greatly).

What are you on about. You've just admitted that this privilege only applies to a subset of activities, in a specific country for a very brief period of time.

Yet you where the one slapping it on people telling them they've benefited from it. You don't know that. You can't know that. You're using a race and gender targeted generalization which is the problem in the first place. Stop.

I think the whole discussion heated up because it's not generally understood that US/Western Europe "white areas" are talked about.

I think you're right.

Same as where I grew up. Geeks were never cool. Being into computers attracted social stigma. You and I went through the same things.

It doesn't change what I've said above. I still walked into Computer Science feeling at ease with the course before I started, and feeling easily welcomed among my very nerdy peers. (Plus the one girl in the first class I had. Imagine how she felt. Social stigma of computers and being the only girl. Must've sucked.)

Actually we didn't go through the same things. I grew up in poor rural America. There were no computer science programs. I didn't go to university and most of my peers went to the army or jail.

Would you have felt "at ease" walking into a design course at the fashion institute? How about a freestyle rap battle or a pick-up basketball game? A rodeo?

Different cultures expose their members to different activities. Outsiders may have a tougher time breaking in but it can be done. Finding the strength to do it is admirable. Homogenizing everyone is not.

I'm not sure I understand your point.

Are you saying that people should be uncomfortable pursuing their interests if those interests aren't culturally acceptable for their class/gender/race to pursue?

Because I disagree. People should feel comfortable pursuing such interests. We should work to remove the cultural stigma that stops people from participating in fields they would clearly enjoy. It doesn't homogenise anyone.

I'm saying different cultures are in general attracted to different activities. In the end it's up to the individual to decide what they want to do. They may choose to participate in an activity where they are a minority. There's nothing wrong with that at all but it won't always be easy. There's nothing to do beyond that. You keep saying "we" but your strictly talking about your own personal agenda.

How do you figure that getting a more diverse group of people interested in programming will make us more homogenous? Seems like it ought to do the opposite.

We shouldn't be "getting" anyone to do anything. People should be celebrated for making their own choices, even if that means not being an engineer. The push to make everyone a STEM professional us what's homogenizing.

But we are "getting" people to do things now by supporting a culture that stigmatises the choices that people make if they are not deemed appropriate for their class, gender or race.

> It just means, for example, that it probably would have been even harder if you were an Eastern European woman who grew up in a poor family.

Spot on. If the previous poster went to a technical institute in Eastern Europe, I am willing to bet that his classes were at least 90% male.

Well, actually Romania has a high number of women studying technical subjects, almost at the same level as males.


Likewise for Computer Science classes in Western Europe (and I imagine North America). This is the issue with arbitrary quotas/targets for hiring female engineers - there is a lack of those qualified. I acknowledge that there is a huge disparity between male/female workers in the field, but the issue is far earlier in an aspiring engineer's life than getting a job. STEM subjects have far fewer female students than male - this is the core of the issue. The lack of women in STEM careers is a symptom of this core problem.

I don't understand this logic, from an age before i even could fathom what 'racism' or 'sexism' was i was fascinated by computers and technology

during early high school the dot com bubble happened and most of my teachers advised me against going into IT, they talked about low wages, unemployment, constantly re learning as tech progresses, outsourcing job et al

girls didn't much care for computer guys and they were near the bottom of the social pecking order. in my experience i was an outcast.

i was being highly discouraged everywhere i looked, but i didn't care one bit, i was doing it because i was interested in it. of course now all of those factors have reversed themselves not that i could have forseen that.

my point is that maybe today women and certain races face some of these issues, maybe you could make the argument that they're discouraged (seems to me that they're encouraged a lot more than i was) but even if we accept that as a truism, which i clearly don't, who cares, if these people are no less able let them prove it and this culture of barriers (which i don't believe in anyway) will subside.

Stop calling it a problem. Why is it a problem that preferences differ? Is it a problem that more women aren't miners or plumbers?

Because we don't completely know whether preferences differ, or whether cultural biases cause those preferences to differ.

I have a young boy and a girl. They are pushed into so many gendered roles from such a young age I have a really hard time trying to figure out what they actually like, versus what society tells them they should like.

My son recently picked up a pink toy in a store and said "I can't have this one because it's for girls, daddy." He used to love the colour pink. I wanted to scream in frustration because society has pushed him to rate a wavelength of light as "for girls" or "for boys." I told him that anyone can like whatever colour they want. But he now refuses to play with pink toys, because society has made it very clear that he's not supposed to touch them.

So yeah, maybe women would make fine plumbers and miners. We have typically pushed men into those roles. So we'll never know.

So don't call it a problem if you don't know it is a problem.

Worth looking at this before assuming that "society has pushed him".


To add to the amusement/despair value, pink used to be considered a boy's colour during Victorian times, because it was considered a stronger, bolder colour, whereas blue was more delicate and feminine and thus suitable for girls.


It sounds like your son exercised his free will. Whether you influence him or society does, he ultimately has to be responsible for his choices. Some will be easy, some hard but it's a cliche to disagree with your child's choices.

Maybe he's comfortable with his gender and gender roles? Maybe that will help him get a wife someday and you grandchildren. It's not for everyone but maybe it will be for him.

I don’t “disagree with his choices.” I find it frustrating that our culture made him feel ashamed of liking his favourite colour. I find it frustrating that he is made to believe something as arbitrary as a wavelength of light is “for girls.”

A child should never feel ashamed of liking something as simple as a colour. That is ridiculous.

> Maybe he's comfortable with his gender and gender roles? Maybe that will help him get a wife someday and you grandchildren. It's not for everyone but maybe it will be for him.

Are you serious? He can get a wife or whatever he wants when he knows what that is. It is amusing to think that traditional "gender roles" would help in any way with that.

It isn't an arbitrary wavelength. It's an entire absorption spectrum.

If the wavelength were the determining factor, green would be gender-neutral, and purple would be androgynous.

Not that this particular societal prejudice could ever be explained rationally, of course.~

A lot of preferences don't differ; no one likes to be discriminated against, harassed, intimidated, made to feel stupid, etc.

Yet we know from data and endless personal stories that many women start out performing well and enjoying math and science in school, but then leave computing fields for cultural reasons--they feel uncomfortable or like there is a hard glass ceiling.

That is the problem--not the raw participation numbers, but the reasons behind the numbers.

If there was some natural preference of women away from computing, then the percentage of women in programming would be relatively fixed over time. What the data shows is that women have left computing fields in dramatic number over the last 30 years. Every study into why has shown that, to some extent, they have been driven out.

I agree that no one likes to be discriminated against which is why I take issue with the "too many white males in tech" narrative. The proposed solution is to discriminate against people like me.

I've never once worked somewhere where everybody didn't walk on eggshells to ensure not to offend anyone. Women who are being harassed and intimidated have legal recourse. It's practically career ending to end up on the wrong end of a sexual harassment complaint to HR.

>What the data shows is that women have left computing fields in dramatic number over the last 30 years. Every study into why has shown that, to some extent, they have been driven out.

Please cite your sources.

It feels awful to think that you might not get a job you wanted because of your gender or the color of your skin doesn't it? This can be a moment of introspection if you let it. Imagine feeling that way almost every day of your life.

There's a positive way and a negative to resolve the situation. The negative way is to impose hiring quotas, so that everyone--even white guys--feel the same fear of unfair denial. That's what you're talking about when you say:

> The proposed solution is to discriminate against people like me.

But there's another way. The positive way is for people to use their conscious intelligent mind to analyze and overrule the unconscious implicit biases that they grew up with, so everyone gets a fairer chance based on merit. For that to happen, a lot of people will need to a) believe it's a problem, and b) work out loud to fix it. Your comments are not moving the ball in that more positive direction, unfortunately.

> Please cite your sources.


Thanks for the snarky link to your sources. That was uncalled for and entirely unhelpful. Most of the links I encountered cited that women left because it's a demanding work environment without a clear career path.

I have been in a position where I was overtly discriminated against because of my race and gender. It was in the early 90s and I was denied admission to a magnet elementary school that my older sister attended. The year I applied they took 50 out of 200. I scored 37th, but I wasn't chosen because diversity. There were lawsuits, and the practice was stopped. Now admissions are blind to race and gender. My younger brother also ended up attending that magnet program. It made a significant impact on the trajectory of my life, and it didn't feel any less terrible to be discriminated against because I am a white male.

A fairer chance based on merit isn't going to solve the gender / racial imbalance in tech. Tech is a meritocracy. Either your program works or it doesn't. The computer doesn't care at all whether or not you have "privilege."

I'm asking you to care. Part of caring is doing the least bit of homework on this stuff, on your own. Here are some excerpts from within the first 5 links in that SERP:


> One-hundred-ninety-two women cited discomfort working in environments that felt overtly or implicitly discriminatory as a primary factor in their decision to leave tech. That’s just over a quarter of the women surveyed. Several of them mention discrimination related to their age, race, or sexuality in addition to gender and motherhood.



> A Harvard Business Review study from 2008 found that as many as 50% of women working in science, engineering and technology will, over time, leave because of hostile work environments.



> I first learned to code at age 16, and am now in my 30s. I have a math PhD from Duke. I still remember my pride in a “knight’s tour” algorithm that I wrote in C++ in high school; the awesome mind warp of an interpreter that can interpret itself (a Scheme course my first semester of college); my fascination with numerous types of matrix factorizations in C in grad school; and my excitement about relational databases and web scrapers in my first real job.

> Over a decade after I first learned to program, I still loved algorithms, but felt alienated and depressed by tech culture. While at a company that was a particularly poor culture fit, I was so unhappy that I hired a career counselor to discuss alternative career paths. Leaving tech would have been devastating, but staying was tough.

> ....

> Here is a sampling of just a few of the studies on unconscious gender bias:

> Investors preferred entrepreneurial ventures pitched by a man than an identical pitch from a woman by a rate of 68% to 32% in a study conducted jointly by HBS, Wharton, and MIT Sloan. “Male-narrated pitches were rated as more persuasive, logical and fact-based than were the same pitches narrated by a female voice.”

> In a randomized, double-blind study by Yale researchers, science faculty at 6 major institutions evaluated applications for a lab manager position. Applications randomly assigned a male name were rated as significantly more competent and hirable and offered a higher starting salary and more career mentoring, compared to identical applications assigned female names.

> When men and women negotiated a job offer by reading identical scripts for a Harvard and CMU study, women who asked for a higher salary were rated as being more difficult to work with and less nice, but men were not perceived negatively for negotiating.

> Psychology faculty were sent CVs for an applicant (randomly assigned male or female name), and both men and women were significantly more likely to hire a male applicant than a female applicant with an identical record.

> In 248 performance reviews of high-performers in tech, negative personality criticism (such as abrasive, strident, or irrational) showed up in 85% of reviews for women and just 2% of reviews for men. It is ridiculous to assume that 85% of women have personality problems and that only 2% of men do.



> I have been in a position where I was overtly discriminated against because of my race and gender.

Then you should be more empathetic to what women experience in the tech industry, but apparently it has made you less empathetic. Which is a shame because success is not zero-sum. In fact, the easier it is for smart women and minorities to succeed, the more great companies and coworkers we will all have.

Correlation =/= Causation

> It just means, for example, that it probably would have been even harder if you were an Eastern European woman who grew up in a poor family.

That is an absurd, subjective, abstract theory with no research to back it. The same thing can be said of any sex, race or creed in virtually any instance of life. Get over yourself and quit acting like this is exclusive to white people.

White people did not invent sexism. Neither is it exclusive to them.

White people did not invent racism. Neither is it exclusive to them.

White people did not invent religion. Neither is it exclusive to them.

If we are talking about America, certain white people certainly profited from stirring up racism here for centuries.

We don't even have to look back to when slavery was legal, the blatant use of racism and dog-whistle politics to gain white racist's votes is well documented as being the core tenet to the Southern strategy.

> If we are talking about America, certain white people certainly profited from stirring up racism here for centuries.

Did you know that less than 1% of the population in America owned slaves in the 19th century? And some of those 1% where African? And that some of those slaves where European or Asian? And that all of those 1% are now dead and long gone?

> We don't even have to look back to when slavery was legal

I hope you realize, that you can turn back the clock and find fault with all races, sexes and creeds. You are being ignorant and singling out one race to fit your narrative of "White Privilege". This is the 21st century. Quit using 19th century white guilt to push an agenda.

Some white people a long time ago had slaves, therefore all white people including those that immigrated just recently are unfairly privileged. Yawn. It's such a nonsensical argument that I'm surprised anyone can even use it in a non sarcastic way.

Thank you for reading past the sentence you decided to respond to.

Gotta agree. You don't have to be a racist to benefit from racism; just look at the Federal Housing Administrations redlining policies and look at the great rates on home mortgages your grandparents got (if they're white Americans).

Why do people view this as an attack on their character? It's just a bunch of facts, spelled out in legislation.

> look at the great rates on home mortgages your grandparents got (if they're white Americans)

I am a "white American" and my grandfather grew up in a home with dirt floors then built his home with his own hands (twice, because his first home burned down). Quit making such pompous assumptions.

No one is attacking your grandfather. The previous poster is simply pointing out the better mortgage rates many white Americans of his generation would have received as a direct result of the racist culture.

From Wikipedia [1]

> For example, in Atlanta in the 1980s, a Pulitzer Prize-winning series of articles by investigative-reporter Bill Dedman showed that banks would often lend to lower-income whites but not to middle- or upper-income blacks.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redlining

> No one is attacking your grandfather.

The previous poster said "your grandparents". A narrow minded assumption that every white person reading his comment would/should identify with.

> The previous poster is simply pointing out the better mortgage rates many white Americans of his generation would have received as a direct result of the racist culture.

Then quit complaining to the current generation(s). Grow up, start acting like an adult and move on with your life.

> in Atlanta in the 1980s

Yeah. One town. In the 1980s. So now what?

Did you know that in the 1920s, when Turkey over took the Ottoman empire, they slaughtered 1.5 million Armenians? A mass genocide that still has ripple effects until this very day.

Redlining is part of the immense capital transfer from blacks to hashtag-not-all-whites that America is famous for. Understanding this capital transfer is useful in considering why economic inequality persists today -- and you can certainly use it to figure out why parts of Appalachia and the South have such poor white populations as well.

It sounds like you're pretty emotional about your grandparents' life, and that's cool; it shouldn't preclude discussion of history that acknowledge the intentionally differential effects of Reconstruction, federal support for homeownership, federal sentencing laws for drug crimes, voting law, etc. These are all facts in history that have effects on what is possible now, because they have determined what we're starting from. Why say that the Armenians are still allowed to be traumatized about what happened in the 1920s while black Americans aren't allowed to talk about mortgages in the 1980s? It just isn't very logical. We should be able to talk about all of this.

> Why say that the Armenians are still allowed to be traumatized about what happened in the 1920s while black Americans aren't allowed to talk about mortgages in the 1980s? It just isn't very logical.

It wasn't logic...it was sarcasm. The Armenians have moved on with their lives and recognize that people are not guilty for the sins of our great-grandfathers and great-grandmothers.

You want to talk about mortgages in the 1980s? Great...and like I asked the last person..."So now what?" We tried sub-prime mortgages to combat that and look where that got us in 2008.

> Why say that the Armenians are still allowed to be traumatized about what happened in the 1920s while black Americans aren't allowed to talk about mortgages in the 1980s?

I think that was sarcasm, I think the point was why mortgages in 1980 and not genocide in 1920s - i.e. Where does it end?

Sounds like he didn't get a mortgage. Again, why are you taking this personally or as an attack on your character?

Sounds like he has bad credit and not enough for a down payment. Why are you shouting racism?

> If you are a white male remember all the privilege you have enjoyed since birth just because you were born that way. It is your responsibility to change the industry and its bias towards more inclusion.

I've heard this assertion made many times in recent years, but I don't recall any reasoned arguments for why the listener should accept it as a moral imperative.

Since the assertion clearly isn't something we'll all automatically accept, the author may wish to offer a reasoned argument for it.

And if he's unable to offer a good one, he should probably reconsider making the assertion.

The "reasonable argument" for privilege isn't that you grew up rich or whatever, but rather that there are negative assumptions made about others that are not made about you. For example, one of my best friends is a doctor, who moved into hospital administration, and from there into financial advising and investing. He's very wealthy and successful. And if he's pulled over by the cops, he has to worry that they'll assume he stole his nice car. He has to deal with people crossing the street to avoid walking by him, or clutching their bags with fear in their eyes. Why? Because he's black.

Not having people assume you're a violent thug because of the color of your skin is privilege.

My wife is a high-level expert in e-commerce, and has been a professional analyst in the field for 15 years. I've watched men carefully explain to her how credit card processing works as if she was an idiot, gently correcting her when she disagrees or contradicts them.

Not getting mansplained about your own area of expertise is privilege.

Does this help?

Thanks for giving examples of what you consider "white male privilege" to be.

In earlier comments I wasn't asserting that being a white male has no advantages in the software industry. I was curious about the author's reasoning as to why attempting to counteract it was a moral imperative for white males.

It's not that white males have an advantage, it's that others have a disadvantage. The word "privilege" to describe this phenomenon was a terrible branding decision imho - it's hostile and negative, and alienates those most in need of understanding. But it's the word we have, and the phenomenon is real.

> I've watched men carefully explain to her

Can you give the context under which this happened? Who where these people? Why did they not think your wife was capable?

This is actually the biggest issue I have with the intersection of social justice and the technology industry. The concepts of "white privilege" and "stereotype threat" are borne of the non-falsifiable, non-reproducibility "science" of sociology departments everywhere.

Here on HN, where people ostensibly require the weight of evidence to accept a concept, I would expect nearly 100% of people to reject this evidence-free, baseless emotional concept immediately out of hand. Yet somehow, this community of rationalists buy into handwaving without any critical thought.

We nerds appear to be just as dogmatically religious as those whose ideas we reject on the basis of lack of evidence. A little saddening.

> This is actually the biggest issue I have with the intersection of social justice and the technology industry. The concepts of "white privilege" and "stereotype threat" are borne of the non-falsifiable, non-reproducibility "science" of sociology departments everywhere.

I wasn't suggesting that because moral claims are metaphysical in nature, they're automatically wrong or meaningless.

Just that because no such arguments are offered at all, the best the author can hope for is that the argument either strikes the listeners as obviously true, or prods the listeners into further consideration which leads them to the same conclusion.

My point was simply that the only chance he has of convincing some of us (including me) of his assertion is to actually do the work of presenting a decent argument, which he hasn't done.

> Assuming I got an easy ride simply because I'm white is a pretty racist statement and I find myself surprised that no one is calling out the author on it.

I wouldn't say you got an easy ride, just that your ride was easier than some others had it?

It might be a cultural thing, but I know that some of my neighbours wouldn't consider me white. Probably because I didn't have the time to shave and I really like my keffiyeh arround my neck and suddenly I might get these looks of "What does this stinking arab do on my street?"

Based on this, I think I agree with the notion that it is my responsibility to change the industry and its bias towards more inclusion. And I don't mean in "we need more quotas" sense, more in "when you see BS, call on it".

I think this is why he mentions "I am making 135 KCHF per year. That was my current salary. How about you? And you? The more we speak out, the less inequality there will be." Based on this, I think I can empathise.

>I wouldn't say you got an easy ride, just that your ride was easier than some others had it?

You're talking to a guy who lives in a country where people who work minimal wage jobs earn about 3900$ per year. As a Junior programmer I earn about 7500$ per year and I'm considered to be "lucky"... except the cost of living is still about 35% of my salary. A programmer with a lot of experience under his belt can expect to be paid between 15k-45k per year.

While food is relatively cheap, I still have to share an apartment with two other people whom I don't even know (renting a flat on my own would cost at least 50% of my income), I have to save for a few months to buy a car or a computer (not even new ones, if I want anything decent I have to buy used things). Buying a place for myself would mean I'd have to pay for a mortgage for the next 20 years.

If I would like to work abroad I have to keep in mind that people think very little of us and that the only thing we've got going for us is that we either take the jobs no one else wants or that we can be paid less than the native citizens.

But please, do tell me my ride is easier than getting free money and being hired because you're not white.

> But please, do tell me my ride is easier than getting free money and being hired because you're not white.

The point I wanted to make was supposed to be more along the lines "If you, in your current situation make yourself non-white your ride will be harder then if you make yourself white" and wanted to bring it up because I tried that on a few occasions. And the experience was really weird because the change was my scarf and slight adjustment of my facial hair :) Fortunately it doesn't happen too often because I live in fairly cosmopolitan city.

> If I would like to work abroad I have to keep in mind that people think very little of us and that the only thing we've got going for us is that we either take the jobs no one else wants or that we can be paid less than the native citizens.

On one hand I would want to dispute this, because at least where I work (and I hope other large EU offices of multi-national corporations would be similar), we hire non-eu colleagues all the time. I have already worked with people from Russia, Armenia and Ukraine in my office and from what we have talked, they haven't been less compensated than the rest of us.

On the other hand, there was the experience of one of my Russian colleagues that couldn't find a sub-let, because landlords were afraid to have him because of his nationality.

But speaking of the the situation you are describing sounds similar to one I have been 3y ago? Living with my gf and 3 other random people to share the rent, working for ~8000$ a year as a junior QE (actually half of that, part-time-ing, while trying to finish school). Morgage ~20 years sounds about right as well. Now that I am the 'programmer with experience' I earn around 25k$/y.

To return to the point of "sending the elevator down", the assumption was that the assumed defaults of our industry that still more or less are 'caucasian-look', 'male' make your life easier, and if you happen to flip any of them you make it harder. If you want to add 'american' or 'westerner' to the mix to account for your brand of harder difficulty, that is fair.

Quotas are bad! So is harassment. No reason we can't speak out against both.

Newspeak version of racism.

- it is not racism as long as you are being racist to white people

- only white people can be racist

It is quite simple

Which is indeed quite racist in itself.

It's not that white males have it easy, but certainly easier than someone born in the same circumstances who also has to fight racism, sexism or other prejudices.

> I'm from an Eastern Europe and my family never was rich

Then the comment does not apply to you.

I don't think you quite understand how deep the rabbit hole of this form of "whiteness" goes; as a social construct it implies people from Western Europe or North America. Surely you have experienced how there are people from there who treat Eastern Europe people as less "civilized? Similarly for, say, Mediterranean ethnicities.

White male privilege might not (fully) extend to you, but that does not disprove its existence.

This sort of response is typical for someone from NY(yes, this is also racist).

I'm white in the US. There is so much ignorance and illiteracy in the way white male racism is portrayed in the USA. It's a beautiful display of how you preach openness and then completely disregard all nuanced world views. You may not have known them then, but you sure as hell don't listen when someone is trying to explain it aaron.

A huge portion of people that are on the receiving end of racist systems are white male by your definition.

The thing that's so offensive about your kind and the authors kind of attitude is very similar to when some spoiled american female brat who's parents can just easily lash out tens of thousands a year for an ivy league school tells me how would i know anything about discrimination because i'm too white.

Theres even a funny 1974s movie about the miserable life of an italian immigrant in switzerland? Pane e cioccolata. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bread_and_Chocolate

But if you really care how about you take a look at interview invites in Germany/Central Europe.

> This sort of response is typical for someone from NY(yes, this is also racist).

Gee, assumptions much? I'm a mixed race straight male from the Netherlands. I have definitely been on the receiving end of racism plenty of times in his life, and even then there's still plenty of privileges that I got to enjoy and that I wasn't aware of until my late twenties.

These are not binary mutually exclusive concepts.

Pointing out privileges is not an accusation, or at least it shouldn't be. It's just saying: you take <x> for granted like a right, but not everyone get's to enjoy that, and the reason they don't is a lack of being male/white/straight or combination of such. Let's put in an effort to make <x> equal for everyone.

> tells me how would i know anything about discrimination because i'm too white.

Except that this is not what I'm saying. I'm saying that privileges exist at many levels, and there's gradations of privilege.

GP is a white Eastern European man. This brings a number of societal privileges. It also means he missed the boat on a number of others, and had to endure racism against certain stereotypes.

The point is that "whiteness" as a race is a exclusionary social construct that exists in gradations, and not as a yes/no binary thing based on skin.

See also:


I didn't know this movie, interesting

This must be satire. Color of skin as a proxy for some form of "cultural original sin" is bad enough. Now we have the self-anointed determining degree of whiteness.

What happened to just trying to be a decent human being and helping out those in need of a hand, regardless of race?

> Now we have the self-anointed determining degree of whiteness.

What do you mean, "now"? I'm not making shit up, this has been going on for ages. Look up how Irish were considered inferior to Brits because they supposedly descended from black people, Italian immigrants being treated even worse, then the Poles... I mean "latino" as a race does not exist outside of the US, it was invented there to single out the Spanish population. It's all a social construct and it's all bullshit

Here, let me make things easy for you, Kat Blaque's "white history month" series:


>> I'm from an Eastern Europe and my family never was rich

>Then the comment does not apply to you.

It does, I'm white. The author specifically mentions "white male".

In the context it was not meant literally as people who are white and male in the same way that blue collar worker does not refer to all workers wearing blue shirts.

then "white male" has no meaning, unless you mean "white male and privileged" in which case it's redundant and racist to have the "white male" part

Did you actually mean 'redundant'? If so, you first said 'white male' has no meaning. For it to be redundant in the 'white male and privileged' then it must also mean 'privileged.'

I certainly agree on the racist point.

He said, unless you mean...privileged. In THAT case, it's redundant.

The problem is that lots of people don't get that nuance, and then carry the thought along thinking it really does literally mean people who are white and male. Memes morph as they're passed along, and a complex sociological understanding of abstract "whiteness" has no chance of surviving into the popular understanding.

So for each person like you who means "white male in the abstract sense", there are ten people in the movement who literally hate white males for running the world.

When we want to talk about privilege we should say just that: "privileged people". Don't shit on arbitrary subsections of the population.

Really, just use words that describe the concept. "White male" has a very specific inherent meaning. Don't use it to describe something completely different, like racism or sexism.

lots of people don't get that nuance, because that nuance doesn't generally exist and was just made up now to win the argument. "white male in the abstract sense" ffs!

Oh, definitely. I don't believe in the religion myself. I have heard that cop-out before though: "but we're only talking about the successful white males". I think the term for the argument technique / fallacy is motte-and-bailey (you might be aware but for the benefit of anyone reading):


upboat for a brilliant article there!

Race in the United States has a very particular history

I know minstrel shows made it to England, but I don't think they ever made it to the Adriatic Sea


But it doesn't. He may not have specified "from North America", but that's what he meant.

He's not from North America, is he? So why do you think that's what he meant?

you, my friend, are a crazy person.

privelage is more a factor of socio economics than race when did we start this ridiculous fight against merit and this arbitrary oppression quota system.

It started some time about 25-30 years ago as the Cold War was winding down -- and it is a genius move by the upper socioeconomic class to divert our attention from the real issue (it's all about the Benjamins).

You see, it is true that in the US the privileged are often white. But that's just noise in the data. Because most of the disadvantaged are also white, and male.

But by building up racial tensions in the lower classes with a fundamental attribution error -- those lower classes are divided -- and therefore, not much of a threat to those who are actually privileged.

This is the same tactic the ruling class has used for hundreds, maybe even thousands of years.

Divide and conquer.

if i take a look at the data, by most measures asians and jews are much more privileged in america than other europeans.

but of course if people started talking about asians and jews the way they talk about white males the racist nature of their argument becomes all too apparent.

your useful idiot argument very well may be correct though.

> Then the comment does not apply to you.

It might. It's possible that even though the path for him was difficult, it may still have been more difficult if he were black.

"White Power"/"White Pride" is racist and "Black power"/"Black Pride" isn't... Minorities can't be racist and everything white people does is automatically racist.

"White privilege"... Brought to you by "Black Privilege".

Well, the idea of "white male privilege" is that no matter how hard you may have had it as a white male, it was always easier than had you been a non white male.

It doesn't matter how hard you worked or work, your accomplishments will always have the stank of "white male privilege" in the eyes of everyone non white male.

>it was always easier than had you been a non white male.

Really? You don't think there are advantages to being a woman? That my URM neighbor who got into Harvard law with a 164 LSAT would have had things easier if he were white? Your statement is incredibly racist.

Read all the other comments. I basically said the same thing. White Male Privilege means White males have it easier than everyone else, no matter how hard they have it/had it. That's the definition of "white male privilege".

I'm not being racist one bit. Just stating a definition.

is it an advantage for a white male from a poor disadvantaged background with little opportunities has to get higher marks to get into a good college than a minority from an affluent background who has been given every opportunity?

My father was the divorced, alcoholic, greasy flat-rate mechanic, not the suit wearing lawyer[1]. He certainly wasn't paying for any college; I payed for it... finally ... years after my high school peers had already graduated.

However, I've always been told because I'm white it was easier because, well, I'm white and certainly some doors were opened for me that never would have been otherwise.

My original comment is defining this mentality. Sure it was harsh, but it wasn't to be racist, it was to express ... frustration? There needs to be a better way of describing how some people are privileged and others are not. I mean, in some ways, sure, I was privileged. My father had steady work so we ate and had shelter. Does it mean that anything I've accomplished should stink because I'm white male? But, we can't even talk about how that's not fair because slavery gets brought up. Because the oppression of African Americans gets brought up. Because women don't make as much as men gets brought up. Etc. Anything unfair to white males will never be truly unfair. Any rags to middle class story of a white male will always be tainted with, "well, of course, he's white ain't he"?

[1] He was good to me. I miss him dearly.

No but all the rest is - allowed into a store without being suspected of being a thief. Allowed to apply to that college at all. Allowed to attend a church with influential people who could help. It certainly could have been worse, right? Could have been in that situation, and been black.

that's not an argument against what i'm saying, of course you could always dream up someone less privileged than any example i give.

am i saying racism isn't a thing? no. am i saying that we shouldn't tackle issues of discrimination and features of society that encourage people to fill certain gender roles? no.

all i'm saying is that demonising white males is wrong, and i don't believe in some sort of naive quota system or any other heavy handed intervention for many reasons.

if we want to encourage women into programming that's great start at the supply side, artificially increasing demand with quotas etc or moving further away from a merit based system in any way helps no one.

i have spoken to and know many talented bright females, and there is a general dis interest in STEM usually, especially programming. and if you bother to ask they don't talk about discouragement from entering a male dominated field, or bias or discrimination or lack of opportunity they talk about a general disinterest. could we market to them better? maybe, but there are clearly steps we should take and others we should not.

as for all the other problems with society which for some reason the tech world feels it has to rectify we're going about it entirely the wrong way. we should not discriminate on race positively or negatively if we want to help disadvantaged people let's do that by targeting the disadvantaged without taking race into account. racial profiling unneeded and we don't need to stigmatise anyone.

What rubs me the wrong way are the two phrases: "it's your responsibility" and "it's your duty".

I would prefer if he didn't tell me what my duties were. Instead he could try to motivate me in a positive way to think of these people who need help. Please use positive motivation, not negative one.

I think the issue with 'white privilege' as a term is that people forget that the vast majority of people are not 'alright Jack'. It feels like an attack, like saying 'you have too much, give me some'.

Warren Buffet and Bill Gates might have won the game. Someone with $5M might have.

But your average 'privileged white male'? Even if we restrict it to the middle class, there's not that much to give up, you know? It's not as if we're all paid up on the mortgage with the retirement fund sorted and now we're just drilling away for more hookers and blow.

I have real issues with the rhetoric that seems to be cropping up as of late as it seems to push the focus away from the capitalist elite that own everything, and on to those who are in the same order of magnitude of wealth, battling away to keep their lives together.

We are friends, not enemies.

That statement, along with the clueless repetition that "women are paid 70% of what men are paid" really turned me off from the piece.

I agree that racism and sexism are problems. I definitely try to not be racist and sexist myself. I even try to actively correct for my own unconscious bias.

But it's not my responsibility to fix sexism in the tech industry. I'd rather focus on some other problems which I think are more serious—global extreme poverty, for example—and that shouldn't be a moral failing on my part.

Indeed. Getting rather tired of these American-centric, white guilt/saviour bloggers that feel the need to inject their social agenda into everything. I don't browse HN to read about how it's my "duty" to repent myself of the eternal sin that is my race. Asians are over-represented in academia and the tech industry, yet this is never brought up as a problem that needs solving (as it shouldn't). This social justice movement is toxic, contradictory and insidious.

Listen, when I went to high school, there were only a couple of "computer classes" available and I took all of them. When I graduated and went to college, my parents were lower-middle-class and I was a white male, so I didn't get any kind of scholarships or grants or whatever. But my parents had put aside some money and I worked really hard to get through as fast as I could, so I graduated without any debt. Then I got a good job, worked harder, and eventually went back to school. I worked full-time to pay for my masters and phd, and when I graduated I jumped back into another job. The whole time I was putting aside 10-20% of my salary and the result is that now I'm semi-retired. I get to choose what I work on.

There ain't no privlege here. Nobody ever sat me down and said "this is what you need to do". Hell, nobody ever cared about that, just whether or not I could get stuff done. I never had any big friends throwing me tips and jobs like that guy at Sea World training the seals to play horns. I never begged some "angel" to give me money. When I hit a wall, I banged my head against it until I got through. When everyone else was going to "conferences" and "training classes" on the company dollar, I was back at my desk, pounding out code and reading the f'ing manual. And when somebody says I have a duty to make somebody's life easier, I want to ask them where they were when I was sweatting blood?

You want a new "language" for "privlege"? How about spelling it L-A-Z-Y? Anyone could do what I did. It isn't hard. You just have to put in the work and for Goddess's sake stop whining.

I agree with you for the most part. I'd just like to point out, since I also consider my family lower-middle class, that most lower-middle class families have no money whatsoever for college.

Most of us in that situation took loans. And if we did OK, we paid them off. No big deal, just another minor obstacle.

White privilege is reduced sentencing for white people, as compared to people of colour and things like that.

My personal opinion is not that you should bring yourself down and suffer for people of colour, but just know that you have benefited from these little effects throughout your entire life. As Warren Buffet said, these "snowball" into a pretty comfortable life.

I was a 17 year old non-white guy, minding my own business, and I was detained for matching a description. Who? Why? Nope, just matching a description. I was in the system now. Every time I have to deal with the system, I fight to make sure there are no traces. And every few years, I have to do so. Meanwhile, my white friends who work in the financial industry transport drugs across state lines and never have any issues, even if they are pulled over. I know, because I travelled with them once and I was the only one who was questioned for any length of time.

What the actual fuck?

I mean, it was a nice trip, but seriously? I don't even know where to buy drugs.

This is what life is like for someone who isn't white. Over and over, day in and day out. It honestly gets really tiring.

I'm not complaining, it just makes my success that much sweeter.

The whole story is a decent read. I actually read from top to the bottom. As long as the whole idea makes sense, no need to pick a few sentences and enforce political correctness on them, that just missed the point in my opinion.

He is not a politician and is speaking for himself, and he has the right to say that I guess. Overall, a great write!

agreed. getting tired of seeing this self-loathing nonsense and unabashed racism towards whites that's made it from tumblr vogue to mainstream media. it was no easy ride being poor and white in a black neighbourhood, either.

I respectfully disagree; even though the (often inaccurate) generalisation of white male privilege does not necessarily apply to you, the tech world has an inclusion problem along many different lines: education level, affluence, race, gender to name but a few. I tend to think that those of us who've made it into the industry, whilst pushing against one or more of those biases, (including you in this, because of your socio-economic background) should be helping others from similar situations enter the field.

Just because we, personally, have made it, doesn't mean we shouldn't make the path easier for others.

I really just want to echo what johnBooty (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11571398) said and add my 2 cents.

Short version: I'm Irish, former illegal immigrant, naturalized citizen, pay my taxes, have a family, and consider myself a moderate success etc.

I worked very, very hard to get to here I am now, but I guarantee you that that fact that I am white (and spoke English as a first language helped too) played its part too.

It exists, it is a thing, and we're obligated to do our best to make things better for everyone along thew way.

Are there lots of females in the industry where you are? I wouldn't be surprised if there were way more than in west. It seems (from my limited outsider view) that communism/socialism was much more egalitarian regarding gender and some of that carries over post USSR.

Are there lots of ethnic minorities in the industry where you are?

Being a white male doesn't mean it was easy for you or you auto-success. It means it was easier for you compared to non-ethic majority, non-males.

source: I am 45 yr old white male

I don't understand this mentality. I see it all the time.

You're a part of a community. You've taken advantage of the community in the past: there is always an obligation to contribute positively back to the community.

The author is saying they think diversity is positive to the community. You can argue against that point, but you aren't: you're saying contributing is bad.

You won't understand because you fall in that category. But trust when it's said. You avoid certain challenges because of your race and sex and that is a given.

That said, that doesn't mean that you sailed through life on a magic carpet with things handed to you.

> that doesn't mean that you sailed through life on a magic carpet with things handed to you.

See, this is why people get frustrated when people tell them to check their privilege. White men are told all the time that they have life so easy, but almost never have their own frustrations or life experiences validated. I'm very grateful for everything I've had relatively easy in life (loving parents who never divorced and not worrying about having dinner each night, among others), but life still isn't easy, and it's frustrating feeling like there's nothing to complain about because of how you were born.

You're a wise man my friend.

Eastern European Whites are notoriously racist. Are you really trying to say you don't have it easier than a Romani or a Central Asian, let alone a black person who happens to be living in Ukraine?

You had it easier than someone with your original circumstances who was a minority or a woman, is the point. You are highly unlikely to be sexually harassed or threatened on a regular basis. You are highly unlikely to be insulted, questioned, or dismissed because of the color of your skin. Other people aren't so lucky. If you feel upset about this extremely mild general statement about white men, try multiplying that by 10, add it to every part of your life, and you might start to experience what people who don't look like you live with.

It's not about arbitrary quotas. An industry overwhelmingly populated by white men is missing out on 90% of the talent in the world. Programming ain't the NBA.

Hear hear! My grandparents fight the Nazis and never owned any slaves and now all of the sudden I'm a racist for saying all lives matter?

> I'm from an Eastern Europe and my family never was rich

Yes, you earned your success, but being from a poor Eastern Europe family doesn't say anything about whether or not you experienced a "white privilege". Try imagine yourself being a colored female from a poor Eastern Europe family might help a bit.

> I'm from an Eastern Europe and my family never was rich, I had to put in a tremendous effort to even get into the industry.

"White privilege" is simply the (mostly reasonable) claim that your journey probably would have been even tougher if you were a black person from your exact same background.

Well said. Thank you.

I'm from an Eastern Europe and my family never was rich, I had to put in a tremendous effort to even get into the industry.

I grew up in a small, very blue collar town (the sort that most people never escape). We lived on social assistance, at least until my mother killed herself and I went to live in foster homes. Eventually my father -- who later died from asbestos related cancer from his job -- let me move into a spare bedroom at his girlfriend's house.

"White male privilege".

I "made it", so to speak, purely on the backs of a couple of teachers who tried really hard, and the luck of having interests and aptitudes perfect for the time in a burgeoning, lucrative industry. But I certainly did not have a privileged upbringing.

Do you think that no women or minorities grew up in a small blue collar town, lived on social assistance, lost their parents, lived in a foster home?

The concept of privilege does not mean "you did not earn what you have." It means "other people with circumstances like yours were prevented from earning what you have, because of their gender or ethnicity."

It's not about tearing anyone down. It's about recognizing that people with success can help those who are being denied success, unfairly.

> It's not about tearing anyone down. It's about recognizing that people with success can help those who are being denied success, unfairly.

I really hate these sales pitch documents "Visit our showroom, have some food, and you don't have to buy anything".

Just answer the question, what exactly are you looking people to do?

Yes it is about tearing someone down - white males. Because some white males in the US/UK/etc did some bad things some time ago.

If it weren't about tearing people down, you would be trying to support everyone equally without making others feel guilty.

that's the thing here - who the fk is denied success in IT, which all this about? I am from east Europe too, currently living in Western Europe, and the only discrimination I ever saw in university and professional job was positive discrimination against women.

At school, that 1 girl we had in whole class out of 100 students was pampered with so much attention and had it so easy on verbal exams (written of course were equal as far as I can say). Everybody would love to have more girls, from teachers to students, but they couldn't care less. Economic studies were far more sexi rather than geeky IT guys.

Same when working - when hiring, female devs were so rare that there was very strong preference in female candidates (ie all that showed up were hired, but it's fair to say they were good... just not better than competing guys).

Right now, I am sitting in front of a consulting girl from Azerbaijan and a guy from Morocco. Both well performing and highly regarded in our company. This IS fair world, as much as we can do it. Not 100%, but damn good and far better than ever before. So stop whining and rather contribute.

Do you think that no...

I have not assumed anyone else's privilege, or lack of privilege. I haven't made assumptions, demanding group guilt or deference, based upon a simplistic caricature or stereotype.

It's not about tearing anyone down.

I read a statement telling me to remember all of the privilege I have enjoyed since birth. My experience differs, and these sorts of simplified claims fail (the same sort of simplification/see what you want that is the root of racism).

Countering sexism or racism or inequality by attempting to force feed sexism, racism and inequality will never move the conversation forward. It is never useful.

> I haven't made assumptions, demanding group guilt or deference, based upon a simplistic caricature or stereotype.

Ok, the reason privilege is taboo in this society is because it often gets mixed up with prejudice and injustice. Privilege is both real and collective, prejudice tends to be collective but may be overriden individually, and injustice is always individual.

If we consider privilege to come from the unthinking assumptions of people in general (aka. their prejudices) you cannot do anything about it. It is there. You can choose to keep your unthinking assumptions in check, but cannot force the others to do so. You just enjoy when those assumptions work in your favor, and workaround/overcome them when they get in your way.

On the other hand, injustices do happen when individuals choose to manipulate those unthinking assumptions (either in themselves or in others) to gain unfair advantage. So, the "group guilt" you talk about is guilt by association; e.g. a logical fallacy.

By example, there are such things as beaten wives. The reason for this is that their husbands are violent jerks. IF male privilege would not make women a convenient target, the same jerks would go out and look for someone else to beat. So, if you are a decent male, you have the right to refuse taking any blame for wife-beating, while still acknoledging that this is a real problem caused (at least parcially) by male privilege.

And if people wants to still blame you after exposing your case in such a way, it means they are themselves looking for someone to hate. Don't let them bring you to their silly games.

People ask white guys to remember the privilege they experience because it is invisible to them.

No one walks around every day thinking, "My whole life, I've never been attacked by a tiger. Thank god." But people who have been attacked by a tiger certainly remember it!

That's an extreme example to illustrate what privilege means in this context. It's the absence of challenges that other people face. In that respect it is indeed an assumption, in that it is an unexamined filter through which white guys perceive the world.

It doesn't mean white guys don't face challenges too. You've had your own tiger attacks, plenty of them it sounds like. So imagine sitting in a room with a guy the same age as you--but he was raised by healthy, wealthy, devoted parents, went to the best private schools, raised his first seed round from his dad's friends. "God, I've worked so hard to get where I am," he says. "I can't stand it when people say I haven't earned everything I've got."

Wouldn't you feel a bit resentful toward that person? Give me a break, right? He was born on 3rd base and thinks he hit a triple. That's a form of privilege, really the original form of privilege, the one that defined the word.

What we are coming to understand now is that there are other forms of privilege. Just like that guy didn't choose to be born to rich parents, he also didn't choose to born a white guy. Neither did I. But there is ample evidence that being a white guy is an advantage, at least in U.S. society, and certainly in the tech field today. Call it: being born a little ways down the first base line. I've had an easier time beating the throw to first than someone born closer to home base--even if I don't realize it, even if I still ran as fast as I can. (extended metaphor alert)

What would you want from that rich guy? Some awareness--a willingness to listen to other perspectives and life stories. Some introspection--a willingness to compare and integrate them with his own personal experiences. Some empathy--appreciation for others. And fairness--a willingness to consider people for partnerships, collaboration, work, ideas, even if they didn't go to the same fancy schools, or wear expensive dress shirts every day. Even if they have a totally different life story. Even if they look different, talk different. And ideally advocacy--telling his rich buddies to think about these things, to not be so quick to hire folks who mostly look and talk just like themselves, to give people a chance and actively work on inclusiveness.

So I don't think it's an issue of trying to force feed anything. I'm asking you to consider that there is more to the situation than you might have experienced or thought about. If you're in a position to deliver the things I list above, then some other person who is working hard might really appreciate it.

edit: crpatino puts it much better than I did:


>People ask white guys to remember the privilege they experience because it is invisible to them

So for everyone its different. And apparently, invisible. How are people supposed to remember things that they never perceived in any way, shape or form?

And how does one accurately assess and analyze the "privilege" retroactively? At what point does the privilege begin and end?

Where does the hard work, pure luck, and skill take place?

To extend the metaphor a bit more, that guy born on third base very often expects the ones born in the dugout to hit a sacrifice fly the very first time they step up to the plate, so that he can score the run.

In the context of baseball, that is absolutely the correct play.

In the context of life, screw that asshole. Hit a bunt right to the third baseman and try to beat the double play.

Privilege is multifactorial. There are such things as white privilege, and male privilege; but those are not the only (nor arguably, the most significant) privileges there are.

Being "blue collar" and "from a small town" probably set you back in at least 3 or 4 different kinds of priviledges (as in economic, well learned, and urban/cosmopolitan). So, if you compare yourself to black women that had all advantages, yes, your life more often than not will turn to have been harder.

If, on the other hand, you genuinely want to understand what "white male privilege" is all about, you should look at how women of racial minorities fared in your home town, or other similar towns. And even greater insight can be gained by observing how people treats other white men from the same town who are otherwise disadvantaged: guys with physical or cognitive disabilities, gay men, men with "foreign" accents (specially if their speech ressembles that from a not-so-far rival town), or for the matter old folks. Even if they are treated "fairly", the small indignities they have to endure on a daily basis may build up to something significant.

>>Privilege is multifactorial. There are such things as white privilege, and male privilege; but those are not the only (nor arguably, the most significant) privileges there are.<<

Well, that's exactly the problem with the "white male privilege" verbage: it's just one single angle of the global problem regarding social / ethnic class issues.

Even from an Euro-American perspective... When it comes down to it, who has more "privilege" or social status? A college educated Asian-American woman from an urban, wealthy family? Or a poor, rural uneducated white male from, say, Appalachia or the Deep South?

Yes, there are obviously people with lower "social standing" than the poor, rural, uneducated white male -- and color or sex does play a part. But the point is, sex and race are not the only factors that make up social status, even from a Euro-American angle.

If you factor class issues in the entire world, it gets even more complicated. Each area has their own quirks and social structure.

Unfortunately I find that many people who advance the "check your privilege" arguments are not very nuanced. Social status is complicated. So I think it does a disservice in the end. Again, let's take that a poor, rural, uneducated white male in Appalachia, no job since the coal mines shut down, on benefits, etc. They come across an article written by a college educated woman, in an urban area, probably making quite a bit more than he is. And this person is telling all white males to "check their white male privilege".

What do you think this person is going to think?

So then, even among all the other "privileges" there are those for looking good, and bad, smelling bad, looking like someone that someone hates, having a weird voice, bad teeth, an accent, dressing inappropriately or strangely, weird hobbies, mental problems/physical/emotional abuse, anything at all by which anyone can judge....these are infinite and subjective, and dependent on context.

Who are you to judge someone, and tell them to "remember/check their privilege" without knowing all these intimate details of struggles throughout their life, all these factors, regardless that you seemingly know just one of these infinite characteristics?

This is a hopeless topic to discuss without a way to measure these factors.

The way it is discussed here, the privilege theory is unfalsifiable. You can always trot out more (unmeasured) privilege categories to explain any empirical data.

Like the saying goes, "He who refuses to do arithmetic is doomed to talk nonsense".

While I'm microranting, I'd also love to hear how big a factor privilege is compared to other factors for people's success in life.

Something like: Privilege: 40%, Effort: 30%, Luck: 30%, with a breakdown of each kind of privilege, and explanation of how it's measured. Give me that, and I'll start taking it seriously as a way to understand the world.

If, on the other hand, you genuinely want to understand what "white male privilege" is all about, you should look at how women of racial minorities fared in your home town, or other similar towns.

Such an analysis would not yield the results I believe you expect. Most of the minority families from my town have been very successful -- they put high demands and expectations on their children, worked hard, etc. The world didn't expect them to fail, as it does with "white trash" males, and their potential was theirs to make. In no universe am I saying they excelled because of affirmative action or anything of the sort -- they worked for everything they got, and earned it -- but society isn't predetermined to expect failure from them.

I grew up a poor white male in unfortunate circumstances. Nothing was expected of me (I often joked about wishing I was Jewish, because then I'd have expectations), and every door was shut. There were no advantages. I remember one particular malignant teacher saying to another, after I had left a room, "water flows to its own level". And of the white males who I grew up around, most did menial jobs and cycled in and out of unemployment, some went to jail, etc. 90%+, roughly, still live in that small town.

The whole white male privilege thing seems to be a classic divergence between the median, and the mean. A small percentage of spectacularly successful white males pull the mean up, while the median lies in the masses of people living miserable lives. But the masses have to suffer and acknowledge their privilege because of the mean.

Or maybe we should simply discard with the whole premise of trying to simplify large groups on traits.

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