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I would like to see the studies you're referencing. However, taking what you're saying as truth (a thing I am reluctant to do), I still find it a big leap to claim that the reason that there are fewer women in tech is that fewer women are interested in tech, and I would still be inclined to believe that women in tech are at a disadvantage. Proving lack of interest seems difficult, at best - for instance, is it that women are inherently just not interested, or is it that women are left to feel like being interested is not "womanly" or that they should feel ashamed for being interested? There's a lot of confounding factors, and many of them reveal potential disenfranchisement of women before they even enter the tech world.

Here's why I believe that women are disadvantaged in tech: Women in tech are part of an out-group, just by being in the minority. This necessarily puts them at a disadvantage. We know that women make less than men in most environments. Acquiring a job more easily is one thing - sure, if I assume you're telling the truth, women get more callbacks. But consider the prospects after initial employment. It is not as simple as "women are more employable in the tech industry" - it needs to also be the case that women are making equal pay, given equal opportunity to advance their careers, and are expected to do equal work.

I guess what I mean to say is that it feels like you're doing exactly what we should not do with complex social issues: oversimplifying.




> Women in tech are part of an out-group, just by being in the minority.

A key insight I also saw in a study about gender equality in the teaching profession (done by the Swedish institute for higher education). If you are a male student entering a profession with 80% women, you are naturally going to doubt and question that decision. If you pass that first wave of doubt, you get hit by a second wave as soon the first road bump hits (like a failed exam). Male students (studying to be a teacher) are much more likely to ask: "Should I be doing this?" compared to female students in the same class. Then third wave hits when the person is entering the working profession and has to work in a culture that has integrated gender identity.

The big question should be how we can fix this problem in a general way. Based on Swedish statistics, only about 10% of women and men work in a profession with equal gender distribution, and about similar number for people who work in a profession with a dominated gender of opposite gender. About 80% of the work force, both women and men, work in a profession where their gender is the dominating gender. The trend from the last 30 years has been steadily in the wrong direction, with more gender separation in the work force.


> The trend from the last 30 years has been steadily in the wrong direction, with more gender separation in the work force

Interestingly this has been a trend most strongly observed in the most free, socially egalitarian and rich countries. In other words when men are women are most free to pick a career path they naturally self segregate. In countries that are less free and have more pressure to pick economically efficient career paths (i.e. social/financial risk of career failure is severe) there is a more even spread of genders. So I'm not sure that increased gender separation can be easily characterised as the "wrong" direction...


I am inclined to agree that it's not necessarily "wrong" - but mainly because I don't believe it to be a black and white issue. Self-segregation is beneficial to the individual - they feel like part of the group, and that reduces stress. But it certainly feels like there may be societal factors that force people to make that choice, and those may be negative. Likewise, diversity seems to me like something to be sought out. If I am only surrounded by people who are very much like me, I tend to only see problems from one perspective, or have my own personal biases reinforced.

As with most things, it is not as simple as "this is wrong." There's a lot to consider, and to me, it isn't the self-segregation that we should fight, but rather, it might be the case that we should fight the root cause of the desire to self-segregate.


I think the statement that on average women are less likely to be interested in tech careers is likely reasonable. For example, take veterinary science ... this is a rigorous and demanding area of study previously dominated by men, but now dominated by women. You can Google about this yourself, but here's an article I just found [1].

So why has this happened in the veterinary sciences, but not tech? One answer could be that somehow male computer scientists turn out to be horribly sexist compared to male vets. A more plausible explanation could be that with meaningful swathes of societal gender discrimination against women removed they are perfectly capable of moving into and dominating a technical field when that chimes with some aspect of female nature. In the case of veterinary science that synergy would come from the female predilection towards caring and nurturing. I'm not saying every woman cares about things like that, but on average more do than men. The male predilection towards abstract and systematic thinking could in my opinion go a long way to explain their over-representation in the tech industry. I think those are uncontroversial statements, although sadly after 30 years of sub-standard echo chamber research in the social sciences that may not be a popularly held opinion.

The benefit of this way of looking at things is that it doesn't paint women as somehow deficient and needing of special treatment. Rather than bombarding them with negative messaging it recognises that women are perfectly capable of reaching out and taking what they want from society. A more empowering feminist message, no? And indeed neither does it paint an entire industry as systematically sexist - which sounds to me like the sort of oversimplification you take objection to? But there's big social media capital and real world rewards propagating sexism in tech memes.

> We know that women make less than men in most environments ...

> ... it needs to also be the case that women are making equal pay

I'm not sure it's fair to start these sorts of statements with "We know that..." - the most charitable depiction would be to characterise such statements as debatable. In the UK women under 30 now earn more than similarly aged men, in other words they have reversed the pay gap for that age group [2]. Again this suggests to me that until biological imperatives take hold women are more than capable of competing with men in the workplace. What happens post 30 is down to life choices. As a whole women are more likely to value family life and make life choices based on that, whereas men are more likely to devote their energies to their careers. It's not a zero sum game, there are sacrifices on both sides there. And again, that doesn't hold true for every woman and every man, but to claim entrenched massive systematic discrimination seems to me at best tenuous.

[1] https://www.avma.org/News/JAVMANews/Pages/100215g.aspx

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/money/2015/aug/29/women-in-20s-e...


> perfectly capable of moving into and dominating a technical field when that chimes with some aspect of female nature.

It doesn't have to be female nature. It could just as easily be culturally encouraged nature, or a combination of the two (a culturally encouraged aspect that was originally developed from human nature, in a self reinforcing loop).

> The male predilection towards abstract and systematic thinking could in my opinion go a long way to explain their over-representation in the tech industry. I think those are uncontroversial statements...

They should be uncontroversial. It's obvious there are actual differences between male and female minds, and plenty of studies have shown physiological differences. Unfortunately, bringing science of this nature into a discussion about equality is often immediately vilified. On the other hand, this information can be used for the basis of some fairly horrendous reasoning, so it's easy to see why people are quick to discount it.


Care to expand on what you think that horrendous reasoning could be?


For example:

Since all people aren't created equal, we shouldn't strive for equality, since some people are clearly better than others, so let's embrace that.

Since we aren't all physically or mentally equal, and some people are clearly "better" with respect to some aspect X that we/I/some group I'm part of has classified as important, those people are more worthy than others.

Etc.

There are arguments that can be logically made for a society based on those, but not if you want a society like we enjoy and promote in western civilization (not no imply a specific difference in other cultures, I'm just not qualified to comment on them). I think the world is a better place in many, many ways because we've promoted values of inclusion, equality, happiness and life. I'm happy to discuss alternate societies with different values and how what that might be like as a thought experiment (some of the best science fiction is in thus vein), but I'm not really interested in that when discussing problems our society currently faces. We should be able to agree on those core values I mentioned earlier, and taking time in each discussion to reassert and prove that those are important to everyone involved just detracts from useful conversation.

In other words, it's entirely possible that in some instances negative steroetyping based on race, sex, nationality or any number of other attributes is actually somewhat accurate, but we've decided as culture that the downsides are fairly bad, so for the most part we shouldn't do that. I agree with this.


The point when you transition from "X and Y are different" to "X is better than Y".

It commonly takes the even more pernicious form of going from "X and Y are different on average" to "any given X is better than any given Y". If you're lucky, this last statement at least has a "until proved otherwise" caveat.

Unfortunately, history is rife with this sort of reasoning. People slip into it _really_ easily. It doesn't help that there is a natural tendency to perceive your in-group as better than out-groups, so to the extent that X above ends up feeling like someone's in-group and Y ends up feeling like an out-group, the "X is better than Y" conclusion is very hard to avoid.


>In the case of veterinary science that synergy would come from the female predilection towards caring and nurturing. I'm not saying every woman cares about things like that, but on average more do than men.

I think that's BS. From what I've seen throughout my life, women are much more likely to be cold, uncaring parents than men. Notice how you always hear horror stories about mothers-in-law, but you almost never hear anything bad about fathers-in-law. I think we as a society have somehow gotten the idea that women are nurturing and caring, because we want them to be, but it's entirely wrong for the most part.


Except women frequently are a majority, not a minority. In the US, 60% of college students now are female. They just don't go into technical professions.

From what I've gathered from being around different women and talking to them, I think all this talk about being "disadvantaged" is missing the real root causes. They actually are disadvantaged, but the problem isn't the workforce, fellow college students, etc., nearly as much as it is their own upbringing, and their very own parents.

If you really want to fix the problem with women in tech, you need to take all female children away from their parents and raise them in state-run facilities where they're taught that they actually can do math and play with toys that aren't dolls and pursue careers in these fields. Somehow, I doubt this suggestion will be seriously considered....

In short, our very own culture is to blame here. That's not something that's easy to change, because now you're advocating having the state usurp the power of the parents to parent their children.


> If you really want to fix the problem with women in tech, you need to take all female children away from their parents and raise them in state-run facilities where they're taught that they actually can do math and play with toys that aren't dolls and pursue careers in these fields. Somehow, I doubt this suggestion will be seriously considered....

Been tried throughout history. It almost never works and is as horrific as it sounds humanitarian wise.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_Indian_residential_sc...


Yeah, I hope it was obvious that I wasn't seriously advocating that. I'm just pointing out how this stuff is embedded into our society, and it's hard to root out without taking extreme measures (which will likely have even worse unintended effects).

Also, it doesn't help that most of our kids seem to be raised by people who are either uneducated and poor (and thus don't pass on to girls the idea that they can get an education too and be good at math), or by people who are conservative and/or religious (and who actively discourage girls from doing well in math and science because of their traditional sexist values). The people who do have liberal values about this stuff aren't having kids (or not very many), so we just have this almost religious belief that our liberal values will somehow pass to these kids through societal conditioning (which they do to a certain extent thanks to the media and internet).


I've seen more people than I thought possible advocating against democracy, for coups, for segregation, and other crazy things I thought humanity had moved passed. I no longer know what's serious and what isn't anymore.


While I agree with the premise that our culture is (at least partially) to blame, I want to clarify something about my post. When I use the word minority, I do not mean "there are fewer women. Rather, I mean it in the way that the census bureau would mean it: women are underrepresented in our society. There are fewer women in politics, and positions of power, than there are men. Women may outnumber us, but if they are not in positions of influence, where their needs and concerns are being represented, they still qualify as a minority. Minority is not exactly the best word to use, because it conjures that image of a small group standing up to a big group, but it is the common parlance term for the idea of a group that is underrepresented in our society, unfortunately.




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