Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login
Introducing “Ask a Female Engineer” (themacro.com)
174 points by cbcowans 376 days ago | hide | past | web | 458 comments | favorite



> Invite women you work with for coffee

No chance of this being misinterpreted.

   Invite women you work with for coffee and 
   ask what they like or dislike about their
   day-to-day. If they mention concerns or
   problems they’re having, ask if there’s
   any way you could help make it better.


Ask everyone you work with for coffee. Please don't omit the women.

I've mentored new hires, and in that context it's easy to say, "hey can we get tea and talk about how the first few weeks have been?"


Yeah, this. It's weird to single out women and it's equally weird to not include women. The whole point of these discussions and elaborate rigmaroles is to treat people the same regardless of gender.


Hello, I am Grace. Please include women in the workplace. Talk to us. Don't omit us.

If you aren't sure if it's HR appropriate to talk to women at your workplace please check with your HR team.

I hope your HR team will encourage you to talk to women and ask what they like or dislike about their day-to-day. If they mention concerns or problems they’re having, I hope your HR team will encourage you to ask if there’s any way you could help make it better.

We are engineers answering from different countries. Different countries have different cultural norms and laws.


I have a lot of respect for the concepts discussed here, but as a side note "check with your HR team" is a pretty bad idea in most cases. As it's often said, HR is there to protect the company. Not to help employees. Approaching HR with the question "Is it ok to talk to women?" is going to make that HR employee make a note in your file that you're potentially causing a harassing environment and there's documentation of you specifically targeting female employees. Not to mention, it sounds like a loaded a question. The type of thing someone would ask after a woman sounded offended or rebuked him, and the guy is going to HR to try to preemptively do damage control and get his side of the story out first.

Don't go to HR with your problems, it can only hurt you. If you're the victim of something inappropriate in the workplace, seek outside legal advice and follow their direction in communicating with HR.


Seconded, I have never worked at a company where talking to the HR team was a good idea for any reason.

If you are thinking about it you should probably seek a lawyer because they are not your friend.


Agreed, HR exists to protect the company, nothing else.

Nothing related to gender, but I once had a coworker at a mid-sized company angrily threaten me in his cubicle: "if we weren't in the office, I would slit your throat." I immediately went to HR about it and literally the first thing they asked me after I told them was "can anyone corroborate your story?" I couldn't since nobody overheard us, so I was screwed. It was the only time in my life that I actually feared for my life from another human being -- especially since I tried to report him. I walked to my car with a friend that night, fearing he'd be waiting for me in the parking lot.

This coworker had received complaints for other issues from others in my department as well, but the company just didn't act. He remained there until he finally was fired for incompetence.


You should have talked to the police too.


Taking to HR is like talking to the cops. It's only a good thing when you have the grievance.


Even then they can probably nail you for something if they're so inclined.


I second this. Grace's advice to include women is good. Going to HR is risky. My strategy is to just treat everyone about the same as well as I can. Make sure the pattern is clear in people's minds. Helps if any disputes, esp false claims, make it to HR. I hang out with them, too, if they're alright. I learn from the good ones. Anyway, it has side benefit that they mentally compare their experiences around me with what they hear. Should match.


Aside from wives, other elephant in the room: accusations of harassment, sexual or otherwise. So easy to make. I'd be curious to quantify the chilling effect this has on office relations.


> If you aren't sure if it's HR appropriate to talk to women at your workplace please check with your HR team.

In what workplace is it not appropriate to speak to someone else?


I agree, HR, or talking to a lawyer about the cultural norms and laws is super important. I've seen a few guys with good intentions to help our struggle, but just not socially savvy get in trouble, and just become super bitter against women.


>If you aren't sure if it's HR appropriate to talk to women at your workplace

I'm not sure what you mean by this. What's the meaning of "HR appropriate"?


My wife would be furious.


Elephant in the room. Nobody seems to want to discuss the very real chilling effect of spousal mate-guarding behavior on workplace camaraderie. Thank you sir.


Didn't know this was a thing. Can you explain why it would be a problem?


Ok, example. You've watched movies where a dude looks at a woman sitting alone or talked to her, and her boyfriend/spouse shows up. Sometimes he gets angry at the random dude, sometimes gets angry at here for talking to him.

Same sort of thing except reverse the roles. It is still a control mechanism, and still wrong no matter which way it goes.

I've had women get angry at me because I'm talking to "their" man, and some will get angry at men for simply looking at a pretty woman or talking to any others.

In the workplace, this means that treating women the same way as men - building rapport, having lunch, etc - winds up causing problems at home.


"Who the hell is this $female_name person that you texted about going out to lunch with?!" [throws plate]

[dodges plate] "My coworker!"


Shun women because if I casually mention saying something about having talked to a non male while my wife wasn't around the wife'll beat me. If I don't say anything about talking to non males then I'm hiding things, which never goes well if wife ever meets a non male coworker who doesn't describe me as super shy


Y'all have some super-paranoid jealous partners, if you can't even talk to a colleague of a particular gender, purely as colleagues. I hope both for your partner and for you that they stop being that way someday.


Oh sure I can. I'm just not taking one out for coffee alone.


You mean to say you aren't allowed go our for coffee with a colleague? That sounds like a really unhealthy relationship to be honest... She doesn't trust you alone with a person of the opposite sex?


as someone who has had such partners (and thankfully do not now), let me assure you that it's a fairly common phenomena.

Also, for me at least, yes; it was a very unhealthy relationship/lifestyle. You're absolutely right about that.

edit: I didn't realize spouse implied only married-partner. I changed my wording on that. I always thought it just implied 'live-in partner'. (i'm not the marrying type, hah.)


that's cute. not married eh?


I'm married. I have friends of both sexes. I'll go out alone with them if I please. He has the same freedoms as I do. I don't see what the problem is. That is being respectful and not allowing jealousy to stifle your partner's behavior. IMHO, if you can't trust your spouse to go out to lunch or coffee with their coworkers, perhaps there is a problem with the relationship.


Are you suggesting this is a healthy dynamic that all married couples share?


i am not attesting at all to its health, just its commonality


just the ones that will likely end in divorce because somehow the husband thinks a woman will remain faithfully attracted to a witless, scared man for years on end.


There is a name for this. The name is isolation. Abusers do it. Mine did. Other things, too. I'm sure she still does. But not to me; I left. I can't help whoever's stuck with her now, and I'm sure there is someone. But I could help myself. Perhaps you could as well. Others helped me, too. Perhaps someone will do the same for you. If you want to hear from me, let me know, and I'll get in touch. You need not suffer this.


Exactly my thought.

For anybody interested in the topic of abuse, I strongly recommend, "Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men": http://www.amazon.com/Why-Does-He-That-Controlling/dp/042519...

It is the single most astute book I have read. The author, a domestic violence counselor for men, mostly had clients who were court-ordered to attend his sessions. He spent a decade listening to vast amounts of self-justifying bullshit and then wrote a thoughtful, precise, and clear breakdown of why and how abusers work and how the abused can get out of it.

At this point I've given away 15 or so copies. Some to people who needed it urgently, and many to people who just wanted to learn more. Ignorance gives abusers cover, and I honestly think this book should be required reading for every high schooler so that they can spot and call out patterns of abuse.


Such a book has a great deal of value, to be sure.

Is it possible that there are significant differences in the way abusive men behave, and the way abusive women do, such that more is required to make a book useful to abused men than simply taking a book written for a female audience and swapping pronoun genders throughout? It seems possible to me. And the book you mentioned implicitly disclaims relevance to a situation of the sort under discussion here:

> In addition, I have chosen to use the terms he to refer to the abusive person and she to the abused partner. I selected these terms for convenience and because they correctly describe the great majority of relationships in which power is being abused. However, control and abuse are also a widespread problem in lesbian and gay male relationships, and the bulk of what I describe in this book is relevant to same-sex abusers.

From the perspective of a man who has been abused by a woman, it is very hard to read anything in this paragraph other than "Go away. You do not exist. This is not for you." Perhaps you may object that that is not an accurate reading. Do you imagine an abusive relationship to be strongly conducive to objectivity?

In any case, I'm having a hard time finding anything like a companion volume for men abused by women. It seems pretty reasonable to imagine that such a book would exist, but if it does, it's sorely in need of publicity. I've found some dating books, and some books of statistics, and some websites that seem to regard the fact that women sometimes abuse men as evidence of some kind of overarching anti-male conspiracy, which I'm not sure is helpful. But I haven't found a "Why Does She Do That?", or anything substantially similar. Perhaps I'm just looking wrong.


I think that's a totally legitimate criticism of this book. The material is clearly rooted in his personal experience, which was counseling a great number of male abusers.

I think that a lot of the core dynamic is similar, so I'd expect the book to be useful to anybody in spotting patterns of abuse and control. Personally, I found the book much more widely useful than the author's intent. But if someone in your position didn't want the uphill struggle of trying to read themselves into a book that didn't start out from an inclusive stance, I'd totally understand. Not only is that a lot to take on when somebody is already struggling, but I'm sure important differences would be missed.


Is it isolation if it's just women?


I used to think that's just how women are, too. Eventually I realized that I had been made to think so in service of a purpose not my own.


No, I mean if your spouse only cares to keep you away from other women, but doesn't care which men you associate with.


Ah, I see what you mean. I can't really speak to that from my own experience, which was that of a gay man married to a woman who set great store in the idea that she had turned him straight. (She had not, of course. She merely found him too young to have realized that what one's body says at any given time need not be taken as the final word on anything, and went to a great deal of effort to deny him that realization.)

Perhaps a place to start might be: What would we say of a man who only cares to keep his wife away from other men?


I'd say pretty much the same thing. I'd only consider that man controlling/isolating if he kept her from the women too.


I'm not sure I understand how it is acceptable for one's intimate partner to forbid on pain of punishment that one have contact with anyone.


This isn't a work place issue, it's a marriage issue. If your wife beats you for talking to women while she's not around, you need to document and prolly get a divorce. This is not okay.


But it is a valid point that this kind of drama at home impacts male behavior at work in a way that is exclusionary towards female colleagues and I appreciate the fact that some people are willing to admit it here.


While I also appreciate the fact that people are willing to be open about it...

Drama at home is drama at home. It's a reason, but not a convincing one to behave differently towards female colleagues at work. The real problem is that person's unusually unhealthy personal relationship issues, which colleagues shouldn't be expected to tiptoe around.


No one is asking anyone to tiptoe around anyone else's issues, and I think it requires a certain degree of tendentiousness to read this conversation in that way. We're not talking about men who are unhappy at home so they take that out on female colleagues at work. We're talking about men who are uncomfortable or even afraid to interact in any significant way with female colleagues, because they know that if they do so and their wives find out, punishment will result. If you think that sounds fucked up, you're right. Imagine how it must be to live a life like that.

It is, to say the least, not easy for anyone to speak publicly, even under a pseudonym, of being or having been abused by intimate partners. But it's something worth doing and worth encouraging. That's true because abusers rely on secrecy to escape the opprobrium their actions deserve. It is also true because every time someone describes abuse clearly as what it is, there's a chance that someone else, who hasn't yet realized the true nature of their suffering, will see in that description something which may be of value to them.

When you respond to such statements in so callous a fashion as this, you may very well in so doing make those to whom you so respond less likely to make such statements in the future. Please think about whether that's something you really want to do. I don't ask this on my own behalf, because you cannot harm me. But it is very possible that you can harm someone else. If it were me, that's not something I would want to do. But perhaps you feel otherwise.


Hell, more than a divorce, if the beating is literal. No one should be beating anyone.


I'm glad we sorted out that problem.


The commenter several up in this thread mentioned the threat of a beating from their wife so casually, like it was no big thing, like of course their wife would beat them for talking to other women. I presume it was just colorful language on their part, but if they are laboring under the idea that this would actually be a reasonable situation (fucked-up gender norms perhaps playing a role here), it's important to stress that it is not. Wives should no more express displeasure with their husbands through violence or the implicit threat of such than vice versa. (Nor, as noted, should anyone behave this way toward anyone)


Of course it's a crappy situation, but it is how life is for a lot of people.

I'm not quite sure where you're coming from here, but you give me the impression that by declaring a reality "not OK", we can act like that reality doesn't exist.


I'm not blaming any abuse victim for being in their position; I'm just saying "Hey, I'm sorry you're in that position. Maybe you've been led to believe that kind of relationship is normal and healthy, but I want you to know it's not. (Perhaps, in the cases of this thread, you've been especially trained to dismiss the idea of this counting as abuse because of the gender dynamics of the situation not matching a common image. But it remains abusive regardless). So if you ever get the opportunity to leave it or otherwise perhaps to change it, please don't hesitate to do so. Again, sorry for what you're going through."


I hope you're being hyperbolic. I've gotten lunch with female coworkers and mentioned it to my partner without issue. If your wife considers it to be unreasonable I would look at why that is the case, rather than suggest the advice given is wrong.


Hi. Woman here.

This is a form of abuse, and it seems she has a jealousy or insecurity problem. It is unfortunate that men aren't taught these sorts of markers in the same way as women - women are taught this is one of those red flag things. It is even more of a tragedy that it is culturally acceptable for women to be like this to a point, when we should be calling folks out for it.

I don't know what the rest of your marriage is like, it could be mostly peachy as far as I know. But this does impact your life significantly and adds to the overall issue of women not having equality at workplaces. I'd urge you to suggest counseling as a minimum.


My wife wouldn't, but having talked with her friends, she's the exception that proofs the rule.


This put this recent article in a new light: "Everything i am afraid might happen if i ask new acquaintances to get coffee."

http://www.newyorker.com/humor/daily-shouts/everything-i-am-...

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12334272


This whole thing sounds like it was thought up by Jared from the Silicon Valley TV series


What about asking no one? :) Some of us prefers to drink our coffee by ourselves.


That is perfectly acceptable. Well, you know, some folks will look down on you for the antisocial bit of it (which is a shame, some people relish their alone time), but if you are doing it equally, no real harm done either.


And some folks will look down on you for being a female. Guess we are in the same boat?


Oh, I give them other reasons as well. I'm pretty quiet myself, I'm an immigrant, and my hair is blue. :D

Edit: I actually find the woman thing being the least of the problems now. It was a bigger issue living in the US than here in Norway, it seems.


Look at the context: what is a non obvious way one could help a female engineer? Mentoring them. That might include checking up on them eg perhaps by chatting over coffee. At the least, if you are mentoring male colleagues (even informally), you should try to give similar guidance to your female colleagues.

I don't care about your coffee habits. There is a conversation happening, and you're responding to only one part of it.


There's one coffee shop in my city where startup people just all happen to turn up at. I find going there by myself and just casually bumping into others throughout the day is nice without taking up too much time.


Even if it's not misinterpreted by her, it could be misinterpreted by friends / colleagues / SO's if either of you are married or in a serious relationship. Inter-gender relationships are hard :( I'm reminded of this xkcd[0], 'Hooray! we've solved the problem of drama!'

[0] https://xkcd.com/592/

EDIT: I should add a bit of context. I am self employed as a contractor, but my 'boss' at my biggest client - the one that pays the bills - is a woman who is close to my age. We are both married. I would be a little bit uncomfortable going to lunch or coffee one-on-one with her, not because I question her intentions but because I'd rather not be seen on what could be interpreted as a 'date' with someone other than my wife in my community.


I agree that things can be misinterpreted, but that's not a reason to avoid relationships with people. It's a reason to keep things clearly communicated. And if people choose to gossip and act like high schoolers, let them. Maybe call them out on it, depending on the nature of your professional/personal relationship this can be easier said than done.

But, maybe this is just me, I'm not going to forfeit my good relationships with women (several single, attractive) just because my SO is getting jealous. If she doesn't trust me, then that needs to be addressed directly. And if she can't trust me, that's a bad sign for the relationship in the long-term.

If my coworkers start rumormongering because I go to lunch or coffee with a female colleague, they need to grow up. Men and women are quite capable of having professional, and personal, relationships that remain entirely platonic. And barring these sorts of professional relationships on the basis of gender means reducing the professional network of both people, which can result in long-term career setbacks. This is exactly the sort of thing that can hold women back in a male dominated field.


I'm going to side with GP's motivation. While it would be great if people didn't rumor-monger when they see two coworkers spending time alone, wishing it were different doesn't make it so.

There's a lot at stake. A simple your word against theirs or miscommunication can land you in serious HR trouble. This issue is incredibly sensitive and very charged. Why risk it?


Two reasons. First, these relationships are important to me in various ways. Second, because not acting means leaving or even encouraging the status quo. I'm willing to risk it because I trust the women that I have these platonic relationships with to not levy false accusations. So long as my judgment is accurate there's no material risk to me. And when it's not, I'll deal with it.


Are you single? You sound single.


I'm not single. I'm a woman, even. And I have the exact same theory as he does. I expect to be able to be friends with whomever the hell I like, and my husband has the same. I don't have to spend time around his friends if I don't want to, and the same for him.

I have a good enough relationship that we can both express distrust for the friend, but that isn't something binding or obligatory to follow. If I find myself jealous, that is a problem I need to overcome and not take out on him and I expect him to do the same. I don't have reasons not to trust him, and if one doesn't trust their spouse, perhaps they should address that issue.

I'd not enter into a long-term relationship thinking this wasn't the case, honestly.


No.


I think this could be misinterpreted as a setup for a date. I'd think that if some dude asked me and we hadn't had much small talk at the office. At the same time, it isn't horrible advice.

It really all depends on the situation and your current 'comfort level' with the person. I mean, if you've been working together some time and have chatted at the office, might not be an issue.

It might help to mention that you wanted to talk about work or their experience - This helps make it clear that it isn't a veil for a date (this is not foolproof). It might seem more appropriate to ask them to eat lunch with you in the middle of the workday, and things like that.

In other words, make it a coworker sort of thing, and use your judgement. Whether she declines or accepts, just go on and treat her the same nevertheless.


Does it work to outright say "It's not a date, I just want to talk to you"? Or does it have the opposite effect and make the askee more wary that the asker may, in fact, take it as a date?


I can't answer so much on generalities on this one, as it probably depends on the the person. I've personally had people say this in different circumstances (not always work), and sometimes it is believable and sometimes not. Thing is that I didn't necessarily think along those lines until they brought it up.

I'd say if she seems to be really uneasy (and you might not tell, most women will try to just be polite), you can try adding it in. Probably unnecessary if you've put the why's of it upfront, though. If she says no, you can always add a little more about what you wanted to talk about, and tell them the offer is open if she'd like. Well, in your own words, and using simlar language as you would with any other coworker and stuff.


I will suggest that saying it is not a date is problematic. It is more effective to signal this is specifically work related in some other manner, like saying you want to discuss X project over coffee. Affirm it is work related. Don't reference dating at all.


Give the work meetings a proper name (eg 1:1) that everyone can use to designate the meetings as work related, and then it alleviates ambiguity.


This is what annoys me. With a male colleague I don't have to size my words or rethink too much what to say to ask for a coffee and a chat about work. Even if you have the best intentions you end up having difficulties to express something that should be pretty straight forward. IMHO that's the difference that makes so hard to treat women as any other colleague.


This works the other way around as well. I can ask a male coworker for coffee, and suddenly he thinks I'm interested. It gets weird. Same sorts of things happens with guys I thought were just a friend - dating was the furthest from my mind.

If I were to speculate, I think some of this has to do with the way we treat dating culture and flirting - lots of hidden meanings and things that aren't/shouldn't be said instead of simply being upfront about intentions. If some of the courtship ritual were changed, I think there would be less ambiguity. I also think this has a good deal to do with culture and the messages we are taught growing up (for example, women being taught they should be suspicious of men's intentions, even though most men aren't assholes in that way).

In a way, your expressed difficulties are precisely the problem.


I would say that the problem is the overprotective treatment women have lately but maybe that's a naive thought of mine (since I can't be fully in the position of a woman).


Or maybe it is just a complicated situation that we haven't solved yet because women pursuing careers in large numbers is a new-ish thing in the world:

http://micheleincalifornia.blogspot.com/2014/03/the-gray-zon...


I read your post when it was around here in HN and a few more. I think you are part of - what I think is a minority - of women that don't agree with everything that carries the flag of feminism and actually discern if a particular thing is good or bad for the sake of women.

Focus on the topic, I don't know if that grey area can be solved any time. Whereas there are feelings there will be people incapable of control them. And I'm not talking only about romantic feelings, I'm talking also about fears, insecurities, pride... we aren't taught to manage them if it is not done by our parents and that's something that doesn't seem to be changed any close in the future. So, for example, there always be guys that will misinterpret women that are just simply being nice to them and women fearing or feeling being left out of the group when there is just the common behaviour between guys.


It will never be fully solved, but cultural norms can change in a way that makes it a lot easier than it is currently. I believe that right now, it is so normal for men and women to only really talk if they are looking for a hookup that it creates a highly charged atmosphere anytime that rule is broken.

I have read articles about the problems created when men from countries where the veil is normal move to countries where it is not. For such men, who have lived their whole lives in a culture where women are covered from head to toe in public, it is a shocking level of nudity to see women with bare faces and exposed hair and bare arms, etc. For them, it is also highly sexually charged and they stare or make inappropriate sexual advances.

Western men are not shocked by seeing a woman's face in public and it does not strike them as inherently sexually charged. Yet, even western men (and women) tend to find it weirdly over intimate to really talk with members of the opposite sex and both men and women tend to err on the side of thinking it equates to being hit on. That piece can absolutely be changed so that it is much more normal to talk with people, regardless of gender, and not default to thinking it must be an expression of romantic interest.


There's nothing I can argue about what you have said. I would love to see that change, I don't have any special desire of making women uncomfortable at their workplace and even less to feel myself uncomfortable around them. I would gladly put on practise any new idea on that purpose but many of the things I've seen lately don't look like they have that purpose or go beyond that, making us men to feel "threatened" (maybe that's no the right word but I think you get the idea).


I get that this is something people find threatening and that a lot of what gets written is real blamey and accusatory. I get that men get framed as the bad guy.

I have literally spent my entire life working out another answer. I try to blog about that. I don't get much attention.

I think I have something unique to offer in that regard. I would sincerely appreciate it if I got more comments and I got promoted more by people in some way. Currently, it is mostly me posting my own writing and people largely ignore it.

If you want to see more constructive discussion and the spreading of the idea that, yes, things need to change without the subtext of because men are all rapey bastards and assholes, please consider leaving comments on my blog and sharing links to things you agree with on it.

Here is what I happened to have just finished writing when I saw your comment here, which I think I probably won't bother to post to HN because I am so frustrated with being ignored and with other aspects of doing that:

http://micheleincalifornia.blogspot.com/2016/09/change.html

Have a great day.


Or just go freaking have a coffee without overthinking the whole thing and finding 1001 ways that a conversation over coffee could be misinterpreted as god knows what... Christ people need to chill /rant.


I only overthink it because of the many times I just went and talked to a man only to have it lead to serious weirdness.

I wish it weren't necessary. Perhaps someday it won't be.


In today's climate, I would err on the side of caution. Being naively honest and straightforward can very easily be the worst possible approach, if you are unlucky.


I think it also depends on where you work. In my company it is very common to get coffee. Team's and groups regularly take coffee breaks or meet for coffee to touch base. I do agree generally though it could be misconstrued.


Most definitely. It being common makes it much less likely to be misinterpreted, for sure.


There is a difference between "water cooler/coffee" as compared to going to a "coffee shop". When I read the article I thought "water cooler/coffee".

I'm regularly asked to "go get a cup of coffee" which is a two-minute walk down the hall to the Keurig machine and we end up talking about family, sports, etc. If another colleague were present, I would have no problem asking a female colleague if they wanted to "get a coffee" with us. For me it would be socially awkward if it were 1-on-1. And I wouldn't dare ask a female colleague to a coffee shop.


Just adding another data point — I've gotten coffee outside of the building (at a cafe) alone with male colleagues, both multiple and one-on-one, and it's always been fine.


I'm reading this as sarcastic. While there's some remote chance this could be misinterpreted, there's a remote chance that talking to any woman at all at any point could be misinterpreted as prurient interest. It's sort of a boring point.

Realistically, the conversation can go something like "hey, i'm going to the break area for coffee, wanna come?" ... "So how is your work going?" ... "Huh, that sounds ... Anything I can do to help?"

If you're completely risk averse but still want to be a supportive male, you can have this entire conversation without bringing up that they're a woman.

Alternatively, If you want, you can make a passing comment, maybe with a joke, like, "Just wanted to check in because engineering can be a boys club sometimes. Want you to feel like you're in the club." Maybe you can say "It's a little dorky, but I read this interview where a female engineer suggested talking directly to women about their experiences and it seemed like a good idea. I just wanted to see how this job is treating you."

As long as you don't leer while you say any of this, everything will be fine.


> you can have this entire conversation without bringing up that they're a woman

Exactly! Talk to them like they're a person. It's not that hard.

You'd be surprised how refreshing women find it when you talk to them like they're a person, not a "woman". At least based on what they've told me when I took that approach. Maybe they lied ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The idea is that you treat them like people, not like a bag of stereotypes.


But people have histories and unsaid feelings and assumptions. It's not uncommon that a woman in a male-dominated field has found that she becomes a magnet for attention, such that anytime a man asks her for some one-on-one time she -- as unfair as it is to that particular man -- can't help but be guarded. And it has nothing to do with what that man, in this particular occasion, decides to say.

I think it might be a bit presumptuous to think that a woman who feels she needs to be cautious just needs to have a contentious guy talk to her, as if she and her presumptions are a puzzle, and being contentious is all that's needed to solve that "puzzle"

As to the question of, "Well, if she's going to be guarded about everything, what do you say?" -- in the context of the current thread, my opinion is that it is nothing about what you say, but the context and setting. Don't ask her what it's like to be in a boy's club or similar small talk while she's working at her desk. Go out for coffee, and bring along another co-worker or 2, if the intention is to make a new worker become acclimated with the rest of the company.


Of course. Singling them out as "Hey you're different and don't belong, let me help you belong" starts you off on the wrong foot.

Treat them like they already belong.

As for it-might-look-like-a-date ... ask them to tag along for your mid-day coffee run. Don't ask them out for coffee on a Friday evening.


Yeah. In (short) retrospect, the thing that we're responding too -- the engineer who suggests we should ask them out for coffee -- is a bit strange and maybe missing context. I'm guessing during the interview, the question felt like it was asking for a concrete example, perhaps in a situation where coworkers have worked together for some time. I'd be surprised if anyone's idea of a good activity, when first joining a workplace, is: "Yeah ask me out to coffee and what I feel about being a _____ at my new company".


I see this pattern a lot: trying to tiptoe around unknown, unsaid feelings and assumptions as if it were a minefield. In practice, it doesn't need to be a minefield.

There's a formula for this kind of thing, but polite professionalism is also a communication skill that needs practice. The formula goes like this: 1. State why you're about to ask for whatever it is. 2. Ask for it.

Assuming #1 definitively isn't "to get a date with this person," then it's really quite straightforward to handle the situation. If they imply that they think you're making some advance, you can literally say "No, wait, I think there's some misunderstanding, I'm not doing that, I'm literally just [repeat your reason for talking to her]." And then make some concession to demonstrate the point, such as "If this would make you more comfortable, we can discuss this out in the common area."

If it's a casual conversation without a strong agenda, you can also just say that. "I don't really have an agenda, but I want to get a sense for your communication style so that I know how to work with you."


But this is on a thread titled "Ask a Female Engineer!"

I'm with you, treat 'em like they're people. And quit distinguishing them as different, like TFA.


To me, treating people like means paying close attention to what they have to say about their lives. Like it or not, some kinds of visible difference have a major effect on people's lives because of how others treat them.

We are slowing emerging from millennia of patriarchy. Insisting on pretending otherwise doesn't sound like treating people as people to me. It sounds like insisting that they conform to your expectations, which I think is pretty much the opposite of treating them as people.


A casual, "Hey I'm going to lunch, care to join?" works well with my colleagues. Usually they decline, to which one can reply, "Ok, have fun. See you in an hour"


i would never, ever ask another man out for lunch or coffee, just as i would never ever ask a woman out for lunch or coffee, and would equally decline if was asked.

Work doesn't need to be about buddies. work is about work. That's why you have a personal life. keep the two separate.

corollary #1: dear manager. I am not your friend, you are not my friend. i will never be your friend. Chances are i don't like you at all. Just be professional, and i'll be fine with that.


I'm guessing your way is most applicable when working a relatively low number of hours, like 35-40 weekly. Once you start pushing into 80-100 hours at work each week, being friendly starts to make more sense, if only to avoid going crazy from isolation.


Once you start pushing into 80 hours you need to forget about making friends at work and find another job. It's inhuman.


no this is the best policy for a normal job. You are not isolated, you are working. That means a good deal of communicating with coworkers, but about work, not about personal.


I my experience having lunch with colleagues helps to get to know your co-workers. Which in turn helps to work better with them. Usually they do not become my friends. It is still a professional relationship.

I am curious: Are you going out for lunch alone? Or are you not going out for lunch at all? Or don't you have a lunch break?


I agree. This is bad advice. If the whole team is going, sure, but as a woman this sounds like the setup to a date.

Really hope guys reading this article, understand a lot of women are different, and to take what they are saying with a grain of salt.


Please correct me if I'm wrong - I think phrasing the request appropriately is a big part of this, and could mitigate a lot of potential misunderstanding. Something like:

"Would you be interested getting coffee sometime?"

Definitely sounds like a date setup to me, so framing it as (1) more immediate than a planned date, and (2) work related would be much better. Something more like:

"I'm going to grab some coffee in a minute, wanna join?” or "I'd like to discuss some work stuff with you, do you have time later today to chat over coffee?"

Again, these are just my initial thoughts so I'd be interested to hear if it doesn't actually make much of a difference.


It's honestly hard to tell sometimes. People are emotionally complex, and life is messy. But there is a reason office romances typically have HR rules in a lot of companies.


What? There are workplace rules for romances? Is that legal? I have never heard about that. Are they in the contract? Or the house rules? What are they covering?


Yea, my HR department has it in our contract. My last place had it so no couples were allowed in the same department.


Interesting.

- What happens if people become couples that are in the same department?

- Is one of them send to a differrent department?

- Is one of them fired?

- Is it ignored until it becomes a problem?

- Do they have to announce it? If so at which point? The first date? The first kiss? When they have sex?

- What if they keep it a secret?

So many questions!

I am certain this would be illegal or void in Germany.


Sorry don't have any answers, but I will say I met my husband at my last job, but I moved on to a new job to avoid the hr issues as he was the Team Lead.

It's actually why I find some of the advice from the other female engineers so troubling. Our relationship attraction first started when he took me for coffee break, to see how I was doing after my 6 month probationary period ended.


So, let's play "roles reversed" game. Or maybe not. It is sad however, that you cannot even ask another human being for a cup of coffee.


"cup of coffee" is code for date. Plausible deniability and all. There are other ways to talk that are less ambiguous.


As a straight male I've asked plenty of people, both male and female to grab a cup of coffee. So far no one seems to have been confused. They all understood it was just getting coffee and chatting.


Ok, then what's the code for cup of coffee?


The same. The only reason plausible deniability works is that it's ambiguous.


Ambiguous might not be quite the right term. In many cases for such an invite, it's desirable that it be pretty clear you mean a date, but you still retain deniability.

I guess you could say you want the implication to be clear and fairly unambiguous, but not explicit/provable.

Double entendre comes to mind.


"Hey, I'm heading out for coffee in 15, want to join?"

There is a big difference between "lets meet and talk to each other for an hour at the coffee shop on the weekend" and "We are at work, lets take a quick break!"


"Cup of coffee" -- it just depends on the context and how it is asked.


"Want to grab some (Starbucks|Blue Bottle|Peetz|etc)?" Maybe they'll just get a cookie.


it's also sad that you can't just call someone to netflix and chill....right?


No. I prefer to watch movies snd shows alone, so attention needs not to be divided.


"Netflix and chill" is current code for having sex. The idea is that you go over to someone's house turn on Netflix and proceed to ignore it while you have sex. @hnbroseph was playing off of the fact that this is another phrase that when taken literally is innocent, but has implied meaning in a certain cultural context.

Though "Netflix and chill" is probably less ambiguous in most cases since it wasn't a commonly used phrase before it gained its implied meaning.


I thought this was code for having so much bandwidth you can waste it


No, because it's a universal tongue-in-cheek way to state you want to have sex. "Cup of coffee" to "I want to fuck" however, is a stretch.



Once again, inviting someone over to your place for coffee after a night out isn't the same thing as inviting a coworker for a cup of coffee in the middle of the day.


This is a great point it also underlines that a person might do something awkward not because they have bad intentions, but because they have read some less then stellar advice on HN.


> to take what they are saying with a grain of salt.

funnily, that would beat the purpose entirely.


Yea I was thinking about that. I think if their advice was screened by HR, it might be a lot more valuable for guys.


I have to agree with this, in that depending on length on circumstances, it could be taken as putting out the feelers for a date, even if that is not either party's intention.

The easiest way to get around this is to go as a group. Don't make it one-on-one.

This isn't only specifically about tip-toeing around a gender-related situation. I don't mind grabbing coffee/drinks with close colleagues of any gender, one-on-one, because that's the time we shoot the shit about stuff that doesn't need to be heard in-office (e.g. venting, likely). But if an acquaintance wants to get a one-on-one coffee, I feel justified in assuming we're going to be talking shop, like "Hey, I have this project idea, what do you think" or some other implicit solicitation.


This did happen to me once. I asked someone to a general get-to-know-you coffee and she spent the next two years mentioning her boyfriend to me and even mentioning a couple of times that she liked me as a friend but didn't want to date me. I thought it best not to mention that my interest in dating her was equally low.


I think it's totally ok to say, "Sorry if it didn't come across that way, but I'm really just interested in talking professionally." Many women have had previous bad experiences and react with that in mind. It's ok to clarify.


I am fasdf. Basically, I had already been so misunderstood, I thought the best approach was to say no more on the matter. Given how seriously she misunderstood one comment, who's to say how she could misinterpret another? (thinking that I was implying she was unattractive, etc.) She would say, as a group of us headed to an event, etc., "XXXX, we're just going to this as friends, I'm not interested in dating you, you know that, right?" (she would literally say things like this). I'd just nod and say "mmhmm" because anything else felt risky.


Yeah that's a tough situation to navigate if you know the other person isn't a rational actor.

In my experience, you have two real options:

1. Add no new information

2. Add new information as unambiguously as possible

I've personally found that dealing with the matter up front and letting the issue burn itself out is the best long term approach to keeping your own sanity.

There's a technique to the second one for making sure your bases are covered professionally since you're in potentially risky territory. Part of it is reporting what's happening to your manager and HR (paper trail). The second part is saying something like "Look, I'm not interested in you, never was. You're not even my friend. You're my co-worker, and we're going to hang out with co-workers. Are you okay with that?"


That's too bad. Maybe there is nothing you can do, since your nod and "mmhmmm" was not noticed. Maybe you have to mention a girlfriend to maintain symmetry, or something. It is uncomfortable to be misunderstood in this way; it's not necessarily all under your control. For what it's worth, I think it's fine to say directly, "I'm not interested in dating you," and let the chips fall where they may, but I understand that makes some people uncomfortable.


"Letting the chips fall where they may" can include permanent unemployability. Let's just say I'm not going to be asking anyone else to catch up over coffee.


Will you be believed when you clarify, that's then another thing...


One can't live one's whole life worried about this. When I (female) ask male colleagues etc for informational interviews, work coffee, other meetings, I face the same problem. All you can do is be clear in the first place and exit gracefully if misunderstanding persists.

"Hey, I'm really interested in your experience teaching kids how to create GUIs using tkinter. Could I ask you about that over coffee?" If there's a persistent misunderstanding that this is a romantic conversation, you just gotta leave it -- nothing else to do.


The natural conclusion of this train of thought is to never ask someone out for coffee to begin with as the OP was suggesting.


If you're going to take it that way, don't interact with humans ever. You do you, my friend. But that's black-and-white illogical thinking. "Once I asked a woman to discuss a tech thing and then she mentioned her boyfriend forever." Who cares? One person had a hangup or a bad experience, and the horrible outcome is that she mentioned her boyfriend a few times. Try again with someone else, guy or gal. Try asking two people to coffee at once. There won't be any tragedies if you are polite and professional.


I care.

I care when a woman takes a totally innocuous statement or question the wrong way and thinks to her self "That guy is creepy."

I care when she tells her friends "stay away from that guy, he's a creep."

I care when she gets promoted and becomes my boss and thinks "that guys a creep."


>the horrible outcome is that she mentioned her boyfriend a few times.

You're missing the point. The horrible outcome is that she will forever hold the irrational concern that you're hitting on her. It will colour everything you say or do.


I think he/she got the point, but just doesn't see it as a big deal. I don't either, though I can understand the hesitation.

The parent poster's point is that you really can't let that bother you, and that in situations like these a thicker skin for awkwardness pared with straightforward but polite communication will serve you better in the long run.


Exactly.


Since my bad experience inviting a female colleague out to coffee, I've never really gotten too socially close to my female colleagues, and it has harmed neither my professional career nor my social life. I have female friends, I just don't make them at work.


There will always be people who take things you say or do the wrong way. That just comes with the territory. If you want to be good at your tech job, you won't be able to avoid working with other people in some form, so you might as well make the best of it.

Your best move is to play the game with both hands above the table, not to avoid playing the game at all.

Here's a suggestion for what to say: "Sounds like there's some sort of misunderstanding. I'm not interested in you as anything more than a coworker. We're on the same team and I need to know how to work with you. If you don't want coffee how about we just chat sometime in a meeting room?"

If they're still being weird about it, then it's probably worth discussing with your manager because that other person is probably generally difficult to work with. Also to cover your own ass from the specter of future sexual harassment issues if that's what you're worried about.

If you're just worried about the other person making it weird... I don't mean to dismiss the concern, but there are plenty of weird people out there, and it's unimportant in the grand scheme of things.


>bad experiences

This can swing both ways of course. I've had situations where colleagues were interested in me, and got nasty when I made sure they knew it was professional coffee.


> couple of times that she liked me as a friend but didn't want to date me

The correct response for that would be.. "Don't worry, you're not my type."


Did you ask a coworker, or just someone random? If it was a coworker, that's... really weird.


I appreciate the effort put into these interviews, but most of the advice might be a short cut to HR and office drama.

This kid gloves attitude sounds condescending and forced. I don't care about the gender of my peers and that should be enough. Otherwise, you're just expecting a special treatment.

Female peers never had any issue with me. They know my friendliness is genuine, not a political effort.


> I don't care about the gender of my peers and that should be enough.

Not caring about their gender is awesome. You know what's not awesome? Refusing to accept that other people who do care might have had a big impact on their lives.

> Female peers never had any issue with me.

Well, they have never admitted any issue to you. It could be that they have no issues. Or it could be that they've put you in the category of "person not worth talking honestly with." Given that you have a strong aversion to what you see as "special treatment" and they might see as "fair treatment", I could see why someone might be inclined to flip the bozo bit. [1]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bozo_bit#Dismissing_a_person_a...


> No chance of this being misinterpreted.

Easy fix: if you're a manager invite everyone for coffee and ask how they feel. In 5+ years at a company, the only time there was any structured one-on-one was during the final yearly review, otherwise it was unplanned (meeting in the hallway, or by the coffee machine).

You'll find a lot more if you talk to people one-one-one. It doesn't matter if they are women, men, other genders, races or age. Groups don't work, multiple managers doesn't work, just one-on-one.


In the author's defense, being a member of a certain identity group isn't great training for giving good advice about interacting with that group. If the prerequisite for talking about identity issues is being right all the time, no one's ever going to talk.


Identity politics is designed to be divisive. Its used to atomize people into identity silos which can then have there interactions policed by busybodies who know the right way we should all interact with each other.


Humans are divisive. We discriminate in all sorts of ways (positive and negative), and that discrimination becomes part of our culture. It's natural. If we don't talk about how our biases affect our interactions, the kinds of people who have historically gotten screwed by biases are going to keep getting screwed.


The kinds of people who have historically gotten screwed by biases come from every religion, ethnic group and culture in the world. Any genuine discussion would have to acknowledge that as a prerequisite. The narrative of oppressor and oppressed falls apart against the backdrop of reality when peoples real culture and history's are discussed. So does any potential political and economic power that can be gained through black and white grievance politics.

American Identity politics is about erasing peoples identities and histories and putting them into segregated groups based exclusively on skin color and gender then assigning a sliding scale between oppressor and oppressed to these groups. With 'white people' and 'male' being the oppressor and the other groups falling into some victim grievance class hierarchy who demand but will never get 'justice'. Its the perfect war of all against all that can be carefully manipulated by media and distract the population away from serious political and policy failures that we see all around us.

Identity Politics in the tech industry is simply ridding this wave trying to extract whatever power and resources it can before they become an inconvenience and money sink to corporations who think thy can use idpol for there own nefarious objectives.

I will point you to Charles H Smith who wrote an interesting essay on idpol from a leftist point of view.

Identity Politics = Totalitarianism

"The truth is we have more in common with people of different ethnicities and religions than we can possibly know in a totalitarian system drenched in the divisive propaganda of identity politics.

Identity politics are the core of every totalitarian state. Identity politics were the beating heart of Nazism, and the core strategy of the USSR's liquidation of kulaks and other groups identified as enemies of the state."

http://charleshughsmith.blogspot.nl/2016/09/identity-politic...


This is a touchy point. If a male boss only has coffee with male colleagues, the lack of mentoring is legally discrimination. (I'm not a lawyer, but this is how it was explained to me.)

If you ask once, and get rebuffed, at least you've done your part to not exclude.


I think that would be the worst for a woman: working in an office where nobody talks to you in fear of being misinterpreted.


I think that is a common experience for women. I find it really challenging to get men to engage me in meaningful, meaty discussion. Often, once they have, they suddenly are interested in a romantic liaison.

It's maddening.


Lol, maybe the problem is not working among many males but among many single males craving for a girlfriend!


I wish sorting for marital/relationship status solved this issue. I haven't found that it does.


In IT. many men in IT secretly dream of a partner that has an interest in their field.


I usually try to go in groups to avoid this.

Wanna grab lunch with me and Bob on Friday?


I think a way this can work is to actually make it work-related. "Hey, I have this project and I'd like to get your advice." That said, don't just do this with random women in your office. It should be someone you do actually work with and know before you ask to buy them coffee.


Agreed. In my experience, woman (IME) really are looking for someone to listen and relate, they aren't so interested in you "fixing" the problem.


I used to always have this in the back of my mind, and would be hesitant to network with men because of this. I started asking people to meet up for breakfast, and would keep the topic of conversation about work/industry/etc. Once I got married, I noticed my paranoia with interpreting male co-workers intentions went down quite a bit.


> No chance of this being misinterpreted.

At least for coffee it is less likely to be misconstrued as friendly conversation (not a date) vs afterwork drinks. A (female) friend who previously worked in early stage startups, around 75+% males, in a networking-oriented role said this was a constant challenge.


Just be very, very careful that this invitation is not extended while you are in an elevator.


Does phrasing exist though to keep if professional? Honest question. My best attempt would probably be:

"Hey would you like to go out for coffee professionally?"


Mention the topic. "Hey, I'm interested in your experiences adjusting to this startup environment after being at Microsoft. Coffee?" "Hey, I noticed you worked a lot with the devops folks at (place) and I want to learn about that. Coffee?" "Hey, I saw this project you did up on github and I was wondering if you tried neural nets like you mentioned you would. Coffee?"

These signal that you know something about the person besides their gender, and indicate you might actually be interesting to talk to.


"Hey would you like to go out for coffee professionally which is totally not me asking you on a date?"


"Coffee?"

"Want coffee?"

"Want to get some coffee?"

All these are just fine and work professionally. If someone takes it the wrong way, I'd take it as a warning sign myself.


I have a feeling that would be ruined by a few men who who had more than professional intentions.

Besides, nearly this entire conversation is because of a few people. It only takes a single creepy guy in a group of 100 to ruin everybody's experience.


Yes, but this is the case in many spheres of life. For example, very few men attack women on the street. However, because I know that women are watching out for this, whenever I am going to be passing a woman on the street in an isolated neighborhood at night, I make sure to stay well away from her, don't look at her, and overall try to make sure that she doesn't think I'm one of those bad guys.


Instantly awkward.


Sometimes it is liberating to embrace the awkward :)


I would not use the phrase "go out." That sounds like a date. I would find some other means to signal that this is professional. As others are saying, inviting someone to grab a coffee in the break room is much less likely to sound like romantic interest than saying something like "go out for coffee."

Try phrases like this:

Meet for coffee.

Grab a coffee together.

Let's discuss (professional thing) over coffee.


If that's really a worry, invite 3 women. That will make it clear that it's not a date, and it'll be much more likely that they'll feel safe talking about gender issues if they know they'll have backup and confirmation.


Oddly, this is how they fire people at my wife's workplace; take them out to coffee and drop the hammer.

I don't think this is professional advice. In fact, I think it's horibble advice. If I wanted to ask a female coworker how they were doing, I'd do it right in the office, as a professional to a professional.

I would never ask a female coworker out to coffee just to talk. I've had a female project manager ask me out for coffee, and I was too polite to refuse. I felt obligated to go. She asked me about my family and how-are-you-doing kind of things, but I still felt it was awkward. She was an awesome project manager, but I was new and didn't know her well enough to know her intentions.

Before I got married, this is how I would screen dates -- coffee or drinks. Small talk, and then if we clicked, another coffee until we were comfortable to go on a real date.

Contrary to popular opinion this is how most office affairs start, and I'm sure a fair bit of harrassment, not a dropped pencil in the copy room leading to spontaneous sex with disco music in the background.

I wonder if these issues would dissapear if Silicon Valley companies weren't so focused on hiring only 20-somethings, with a skewed sense of morality, and had a few crusty bastards with daughters lurking the halls.


I wish I got asked/was okayed to ask for coffee...


Hi, I got my CS degree from a university in Australia back in the early 90s. It was hard to find a job after I graduated, lots of companies prefer guys to work for them. So I had to start from a very bottom position, data entry. After a year, I managed to find a position as a junior programmer. I had the lowest salary in the team. I liked technical challenges, but hardly got any because all the interesting projects went to the male (junior mostly) programmers. Younger male programmers were more ambitious, in terms of getting somewhere. So they didn't stay in the company for long. One day, we received a job for a big government project (multi millions dollars) and there was only me, the manager and the project manager left. So I was sent to do the project with no prior experience or knowledge for this particular software. Long story short, I managed to complete the project, by myself within the time frame. I built the hardware (cards, screws, motherboard etc) by myself, installed, configured and programmed the whole thing. During the project, I was never invited to a technical meeting. I believed I was the first female in Australia to build this particular system.

Then I moved to another job, with higher salary. It was hell. The bullying was obvious, even in front of the customer. It was very stressful time for me. Then I got pregnant. After 3 months, I notified my manager that I was pregnant. I was made redundant few weeks later.

The whole experiences were very stressful for me. It was a brutal environment. IT industry is not kind to female staff. I did not enjoy sitting and coding for hours/days/weeks. I enjoyed building the hardware, writing code to make it work etc. The commitment to long hours also discouraging. I know a few female around my age that have CS degree and were doing IT stuff but gave it up because the environment were too toxic. Most of them gave it up after having kids or switch to other non technical job. Having lots of overseas workers coming to do the job also bringing in a different set of culture into the tech world. They provide cheap labour, but it does not mean they solve the problem of gender diversity in the long run. In fact they might contribute to the current problem. What I can see, employee would hire foreign workers (graduated in foreign countries) first instead of giving Australian female graduates the position. my2c.


> I did not enjoy sitting and coding for hours/days/weeks. I enjoyed building the hardware, writing code to make it work etc. The commitment to long hours also discouraging.

Your honesty is refreshing. I also prefer a greater diversity in my activities.


I resent your comment about immigrants, it comes off as extremely racist.

I'm a woman, My brother and I are first generation korean-american developers, and were trained by our father to be computer literate, so we could get jobs. He taught us life isn't easy.

We experienced some racism, low ball offers,horrible working conditions.Both of our working circumstances don't seem that different then yours.

But it's crystal clear to me a lot of the working conditions for developers just suck in general. My brother and a few of his friends attempted suicide, he worked in silicon valley for a startup, his friends worked all over the place. He was bullied and threatened by his boss. My father had to drag my brother back home on the east coast to take care of him. My brother still isn't the same even years later.

Hell, Just listen to some of the horror stories from amazon.


I'm an Australian male who moved to the US. I don't recommend anyone, male or female, work in tech in Australia. The pay is crap and housing is ridiculously expensive. Think SF'ish rent for midwest pay.


Oh? I heard pay was ok?

Is that not the case? Or is it ok compared to Europe?


Interesting. I've been watching "Ask a Female Engineer" for years now, except they just call it "Ask an Engineer". Here's Adafruit's weekly show by that name:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL7AE4BFB81D3DC925


I would like to ask a female engineer some things.

1) do you think there are more men in engineering exclusively as a result of men being prejudiced against women?

2) do you think your male co-workers are less qualified to be engineers because they were hired for their gender?

3) one of the engineers in this article said she felt uncomfortable being aware of being the only female. Can anyone explain what causes the discomfort?


My answers as a female.

1.) Not completely. This profession isn't appealing to a lot of women for many reasons outside of it being prominently male dominated.

2.) No

3.) In my early career I was always the only female on smaller male dominated teams. New male devs that came in initially automatically assumed I was administration. It only took a few days for them to realize what I did and all had total respect after.

I personally think the heavy PR push towards women in code over the last couple of years has made it more uncomfortable for women in the profession. I for one don't want that kind of spotlight on me. I want to be judged for my capabilities not for my gender. I am also turned off by companies who heavily promote that they hire women/men equally. I want to be chosen because they think I am the best fit for the job not because they are trying to fill some more female seats.


>I personally think the heavy PR push towards women in code over the last couple of years

It's not been 'the last few years' It's been about 30, now. I can remember them pushing when I was in elementary school.

Also, it's a misnomer to call it '[gender] dominated'. Tech is largely female rejected. Just as most men reject teaching, nursing, or the social sciences. Those aren't female dominated either, but male rejected.

I'm perfectly happy working with competent people of either gender. I don't give a shit what's in their pants. Just don't be an idiot and we're all good.


It does seem to me that calling it female-rejected is a more accurate way of framing this topic.

Addressing it this way doesn't diminish or invalidate the issues people have with this state of affairs. And it still allows people to constructively ask the question, when a desire to increase the diversity within tech workplaces is present: How do we make tech more attractive to females?

"Male dominated" is, yes, technically the current state of the tech industry, but it's not accurate to ascribe male domination as a self-fulfilling cause when female rejection consists of many other reasons too.


> doesn't diminish or invalidate the issues people have

It depends what those issues are

> still allows people to constructively ask the question.. How do we make tech more attractive to females?

Why is this of value? If tech as it is isn't attractive to females, why dress it up? Do we do the same with any other field?

The word "dominated" or "domination" does have a slight stigma attached.


Sorry for the late reply.

> It depends what those issues are

Not really. Female rejection implies and is consistent with male domination, it's simply addressing the root cause rather than the symptom. It doesn't claim to change the situation at all.

> Why is this of value?

First, let me stress that this is not a cause I've picked up for myself, so I'm not the ideal person to ask.

However, within this thread there are sources that show measurable benefits to increased diversity in the workplace. As I wrote in the very sentence you partially quoted:

> when a desire to increase the diversity within tech workplaces is present,

What I'm saying here isn't that the question needs to be asked, merely that addressing the issue in this way doesn't preclude people who DO want to ask it.


I'm also sorry for late reply, was on holiday :-)

"measurable benefits to increased diversity" is a little suspect. What kind of benefit, and to who. I don't accept that any good end justify the means.

Also, Male domination is the result of female rejection. To flip causality, you have to show that women want to go into tech, but are prevented from doing so.


I studied computer science and biology, and yea I agree with this statement. My cs classes were full of guys, my biology classes were full of girls. I remember when a bunch of biology friends found out I was also studying computer science. The comments ranged from "Why, you aren't autistic ?", "Good for you, I can't even imagine how boring it is", and "Yea makes sense, Asians are good at math".

It seemed pretty clear most people considered compsci pretty low on the social status hierarchy.


Personally I'm in agreement with the rhetoric that blames the interests that we expose our children to, this tweet[1] really sums up that whole situation (though I'm not so naive to think that this is alone to blame). Some more questions:

1. Did you have [what shouldn't be] atypical interests as a girl?

2. If yes, did other girls discriminate against you because of those interests?

My thinking is that it's a compounded problem: as liberal as I might try to be with my children, their peers might disuade them from doing what they want to do (primarily because of their archaic upbringing). It's always good to re-evaluate your beliefs, so I'm genuinely interested here.

Regardless, thanks for your insightful comment.

[1]: https://twitter.com/mariofusco/status/772677525885640704


GREAT additional questions. My answers may not be the popular sentiment but here they are.

1. No and never have. Other than interest in boys ;) But I also wasn't boy crazy like a lot of girls.

2. Other girls can't relate to me and I to them. I have a couple of very close girl friends that I have been friends with for a long time but I tend to mesh with men better.

I also have 4 sisters all of whom I am very close with. Not one of them have any desire to get into this profession.

Bottom line is many women just don't want to do this and for reasons that have nothing to do with it being a male dominated industry. Does that make it more difficult for the minority of women who are drawn to this profession? Yep! But trying to force more women into it is not the answer imo.

Also - I am not totally convinced it is because of the rhetoric we as females are exposed to. Yeah, that makes it hard for a lot of us that are not drawn to that type of stuff but I do believe many girls are. As an example: I have a 4 year old daughter. We do our best not to expose her to that but she is so drawn to girly things. It is in her DNA. My son on the other hand isn't and neither was I. I believe I am the minority though.

Women and Men are different and are drawn to different things. That is not a bad thing.


>Bottom line is many women just don't want to do this and for reasons that have nothing to do with it being a male dominated industry. Does that make it more difficult for the minority of women who are drawn to this profession? Yep! But trying to force more women into it is not the answer imo.

Exactly! I know exactly how to achieve gender parity in tech, force more women to do it. But alas, that's even worse!


> Also - I am not totally convinced it is because of the rhetoric we as females are exposed to.

A lot of the guys I know seem to have gotten into tech while modding their computer games. I myself got into it while creating websites for computers games I played (Petz and Creatures primarily) that had very active online communities I wanted to play a greater role in. You can accomplish or support stereotypically feminine goals/interests with tech and, when presented within that context, it can inspire girls who are stereotypically feminine to want to jump in if given support.

But I think tech is not often presented as a means to an end that little girls are not at all interested in and the "natural" path of computer game modding (I have no idea how common this is in reality, but it seems most of the guys I run into Sf have it in their background as an entry point) that so many men seem to fall into isn't one as many women follow.

Do I think this means the world is ending and we all need to freak out? Not really. But I do think this statement

> Women and Men are different and are drawn to different things.

Is too flippant as an explanation for why women aren't in tech. Because tech is a tool and it isn't limited in use to male interests. People learn to cook not because they necessarily enjoy throwing ingredients together (though some do), but because the final product is worth the effort. Why women aren't actively learning and using such a powerful tool is an interesting question that I think isn't answered by innate differences in male/female interests.

> Bottom line is many women just don't want to do this and for reasons that have nothing to do with it being a male dominated industry...

Personally, I think a much larger issue than the pipeline "issue" is that male dominated fields tend to create environments that are hostile to women or, really, any person with professional standards of behavior. I was turned down for a position with a whole bunch of bizarre reasons; I later learned that company routinely had business meetings and events at the local strip club and their CEO routinely handed out cocaine. Clearly I was not a culture fit.

That's an extreme example, but, to a lighter degree, male dominated fields normalize behavior that would make the average woman deeply uncomfortable in terms of casual sexism. The company I work with right now supported me when I requested we put a halt to casual use of words like bitch, slut, etc. as derogatory words thrown about the workplace. But the fact that even needed to be brought up as unacceptable is insane and they could easily have pulled a "we're all happy this way; YOU'RE the one with a problem".

I care more about why women leave the field and don't come back despite loving the work itself than I care about why Suzie chooses to major in English rather than CS. And that is an issue of a male dominated field. One of my friends is a male nurse; he's surrounded by women. And he's happy as a clam. I don't know many women who feel the same when the situation is reversed.


Thanks for the food for thought!


1. Did you have [what shouldn't be] atypical interests as a girl?

Sort of? I read a LOT as a kid. I bought a book randomly as a third grader on interesting sites for kids on the net; this led to my Dad teaching me how to get on the net and my older brother helping me set up my first web page for my "online pets" via AngelFire. It's a website, so one might think atypical interest for a girl. However, I soon was teaching myself basics (aka copy pasta) so my site (moved over to Geocities :P) could be the prettiest in these online communities...which were dominated by girls. The USE of our technical knowledge was very typically female (caretaking games of animals, story-telling, community driven, pretty-all-the-things, etc).

However, I also I played Diablo online and other video games with my siblings and Dad which is not considered normal for girls I believe. Comic books were also big in my house, so Batman was my favorite thing ever as a kid. Barbies and him had many a storyline together in my backyard.

2. If yes, did other girls discriminate against you because of those interests?

No. Not at all.


Not a female engineer but I have a perspective on #1. My daughter, who is 5, already has it in her head from kids in her school that boys can do basically anything and girls can't. So she wants to be a boy so she can "do whatever I want".

She is only 5 and the girls and boys in her pre-k class were talking about women doing X roles and boys doing A-Z roles. I'm convinced this whole less women in STEM, less women in many professional roles in general are very cultural that starts from a super, super young age.

We've been trying to course correct. I try to show her different women in fields that have done things. I try and talk to her about how smart woman are, etc. But honestly I don't know what the answer is, society-wide, beyond a very, very slow multi-generational nudging of young women telling them they can get into whatever field they want.


As much as I would like to teach my kids that women can do anything men can do, I am sorely tempted to lie, and tell them that women can only have careers that will probably not get them killed or maimed, and that will pay them enough to move out of my house before they turn 25.

Sorry kid, you can't be a lumberjack. Or a lumberjill, or whatever. Women are actually so good at being anaesthesiologists, actuaries, corporate IP lawyers, and electronics hardware engineers that there aren't enough left to let any take the dangerous and low-paid jobs. So keep your grades up, girls.

For boys, I'd just have to come up with some other basis for bullshitting them into preparing for the better jobs. ("Sorry, son, but you can't be an oceanic fisherman if your kneecaps are the same size. You're just going to have to become a plastic surgeon if you want to make one of 'em bigger.")


Fair enough. I am always tempted to lie about all sorts of things if I think, in the long run, it would help them / keep them alive longer :). Hard balancing that. Parenting is hard!


Have to answer as a mathematician, but

1) No, women think I am batshit insane too. Most people in America are prejudiced against mathematicians, worrying that liking mathematics says things about our mental stability and sexual desirability. But some men get to be boy geniuses and there's no corresponding stereotype for women that I can find.

2) In academic math I do often see that. There are mediocre guys who persist (you're at MIT with only two ok papers?) when good women are pushed out (with 4 good papers and that MIT degree, pushed to teach, hates teaching, leaves for industry).

3) If all the guys pointedly ignore me, like in that 7th grade math class, I have to eat lunch alone and don't talk to anyone all day and that is sad. If all the guys in turn ask me out, like freshman year of college, I get tired of all the emotions. If all the guys ask me what math I'm learning when I'm 3 years out of the PhD, it's a bit weird but I'll tell 'em. If everyone looks toward me when it's time to take notes or do education and outreach or get the point of view of "the woman", that's just plain annoying. My handwriting is crap, I'm not always a caring or approachable person, and I certainly don't agree with all women about anything (compare this answer to the other answer in the thread). The older I get the less I care but that's because I'm grumpy and married. (Men do treat me differently when they know I'm married.)


My answers as a female engineer:

1) I think it's a significant contributor. I remember my first programming class at college, there were a couple of hundred people in there, and maybe half a dozen women, I felt very out of place, and had I not been so stubborn I think I would have quit.

2) No, definitely not, I have some great male co-workers. I doubt that they were hired by their gender though, at least not explicitly or on purpose - I believe there was probably some unconscious bias going on, but this is not their fault and they still passed the technical interviews as I did.

3) I understand what she means (see my first answer) - I think it has to do with feeling out of place, like imagine you go to a party and everyone is dressed in fancy white suits, but you come in and you're dressed in a super colorful t-shirt and no pants (not because you wanted to, but because you thought you were supposed to dress that way) - you stand out and don't feel like you belong. It's like that.


Thanks so much for asking. I'll add these to the questions that have been submitted for future posts!


I think you need an editor with notes about HR approved behavior too, in case some given advice is less than good.


My understanding of the answer to (2) is that the bar isn't substantially lowered; rather, more males are considered.

This happens for lots of reasons -- as a white dude, if I refer people, a majority of my programmer friends are white dudes. That's fine. But if you care about diversity, you can look for other qualified programmers via different channels [new grads, especially from a place like CMU [1]].

Similar things oftentimes sway conferences so that the lineup of speakers is skewed more than the actual demographics of individuals in the associated field.

I presume conference-creators aren't being malicious, they're just not trying to be diverse [A]. Some of this may also be a result of common personality traits. Some women might not feel qualified to speak about a subject when another person [with an identical background] would. This can happen because "men overestimate their abilities and performance, and women underestimate both." [2]

Thus you'll have bias in the # of people who respond to a call for proposals.

[1]: http://www.cmu.edu/news/stories/archives/2016/february/women...

[2]: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/05/the-conf...

[A] Why is this a problem? Partially because of your question (3). Lack of diversity at a conference makes diverse people feel uncomfortable / unwelcome. This creates a feedback loop, as well. Mostly men ==> activities men are interested ==> only men attend conferences.

I imagine conferences are best if they can enrich everyone interested. Providing videos for people who can't attend, making people who want to come feel welcome, etc

NB there's lots of great literature about intersectionality, so much of this doesn't just apply to the male/female issue. For more reading, check out some of these: http://theteej.tumblr.com/post/122334039549/hi-white-friends...


Hi, I was a female engineer many moons ago. I stopped doing CS related for a while but now am back in the industry. Here are my answers: 1. Short answer no. CS industry has grown very fast, faster than the human to catch up. In the early day, lots of companies employee anyone with any tech skills (no matter how little experiences they have) just to keep up with the growth. So in the beginning, someone (usually men) who worked as a field tech (eg. putting cables in someone's home) could land a job in the CS with higher salary. Where women tend to enter CS after they graduated from universities. These men used to work with other men and not used to work with women. So they created a very tough environment for women to enter. I had good experiences with younger co-workers who also graduated from universities. We could talk the same lingo and had civilised discussion. But the older men were harder to work with, they had different work ethics too. For them it was a politic games, not getting the job done. I also find that workers from India are gender bias. There are few Australian companies that have Indian managers or even higher, and there are no female tech engineers in their teams. 2. Based on my experiences, the older ones (in the 90s) were hired because for their gender. The yonger male co-workers who graduated from universities had more opportunities to get better pay, better projects (more interesting and technical), more training. These might answer why Australia is still behind in the tech world. Australia has not capitalized on the other 50% of the population. Australian companies would rather hire someone from overseas (places like India) than an Australian female CS graduate. The foreign workers may be cheaper and could fill the positions faster, but they are not necessarily better at doing the job. I believe Australia's universities have higher quality CS education than India's universities. 3. No, I never felt uncomfortable being the only female. My explanation would be that she came from different culture.


In regards to #3, perhaps it is like being the only tall, blonde, blue-eyed white person around in remote India. I'm told you feel extremely out of place, and people are always staring at you and asking to take a picture with you.


Yes! That's exactly it! I'm a 6' tall female and went to China for a couple weeks in high school, and, although I never made the connection, I had many of the same feelings there that I do in engineering. It's not so bad at first, but, over the years, it just sort of compounds and weighs down on you.


1) do you think there are more men in engineering exclusively as a result of men being prejudiced against women?

Definitely not. Humans are complicated beasts, so it'd be pretty impressive if there was an exclusive reason. I do think, however, that EVERYONE is prejudiced against feminine behavior (with "women" just being used as short hand), not just men. I actively am aware of my prejudice against feminine presenting women or men and when I interview people I go out of my way to mitigate my biases through objective assessments.

On the other hand, at the end of the day I want to work with people who will have the same values when it comes to the company culture and similar ideas as to what good code looks like. We're all looking for allies at work and it's impossible to know whether someone 100% fits your idea of a "good" co-worker, so we use shortcuts...like how similar they are to us. And gender is one variable of similarity, so I'm sure it plays an important role in hiring decisions.

2) do you think your male co-workers are less qualified to be engineers because they were hired for their gender?

Slightly. It's not about being hired "for their gender", it's about tendencies in terms of they represent their abilities. A woman says she can do something, she usually has the relevant background/skill-set. A man says he can do something and he's likely to mean "I can teach myself this though I don't know the language or the relevant framework. I may also not have set up my environment yet..."

So. That's an uncomfortable trend with new male hires.

3) one of the engineers in this article said she felt uncomfortable being aware of being the only female. Can anyone explain what causes the discomfort?

If I'm in an all male group that I haven't been in before or that I know sometimes wanders off into unacceptable behavior, I'm readying myself (which is uncomfortable). I'm readying myself to keep talking after being ignored, to call out someone who repeats one of my ideas as if it's their idea, to call out a sexist comment or a boorish joke (I swear to god the amount of men who think the words bitch, slut, whore, etc are just dandy every day insults is insane), to politely decline to go open the door/get coffee/leave the room to perform a menial task, etc. It's uncomfortable.

At my work, I don't feel this way; I'm the only female engineer but it's really borderline irrelevant at this point. I'd be hard to replace, and I established very early on what makes me uncomfortable and the cofounders police that behavior now so it's nearly non-existent. Which is wonderful; I don't want to be a kill joy, I don't want to mother anyone, I don't want to be lone person complaining as everyone mocks me behind their back (aka being established as "that" girl; the very idea behind the statement being YOU are the problem for wanting to be comfortable at work and treated respectfully) I just want people to act like adults in an professional environment and to treat me as an equal who deserves my spot at the table. And I get that. But it took time and effort and support from the leaders of the company.


I haven't read the other answers here, and I'm sure you're getting many of the same responses, but the more the merrier, right?

1) No. When women ask me what I do for work, I get just as many awed looks and statements like "Wow! That's really impressive!" from them as I do from men. I've been to career fairs recruiting college students for entry level software engineering jobs. When I ask men if they're interested they often say like "No, sorry, not a CS major" or something, and women often laugh, or act like I'm crazy/making some sort of joke for asking them. Both genders need to get their shit together and realize that there's really no reason for this to be a male-dominated field.

2) Not at all. I don't think that engineers are "hired for their gender" as much as some, from time to time, may be "overlooked for their gender." I think this effect is much stronger as women age (everyone wants more girls in tech, but no one wants 40 year old mothers in tech. Although ageism is, granted, a factor for both genders), and for higher-level positions (women may be recruited for entry-level jobs, front end development, or UX design, but not, say, as IT managers, or lead security officers).

3) This is a genuinely interesting question. When I first started working, it didn't bother me at all that I was the only female. I mean, I hung out with guys a lot in high school, I have a master's in software engineering, I'm straight -- obviously, totally fine talking with men! It never bothered me at all.

But, as the months and years wore on, and I kept working at startups/small companies where there weren't any women besides me, or there was just a female office manager or something, I started to get a little "stir crazy." Can you imagine going months without having a single conversation with someone of your own gender? I lived with my boyfriend (now husband), and, while I was especially busy (wrote a book, did some freelance work, got a half-time master's over four years -- very few women involved with any of those), sometimes I didn't get out much on the weekends. There were literally no women that I could talk to, during day to day life.

I've tried to make more of an effort in recent years to talk to women and make friends with them, but it's a lot more difficult than it used to be, and I've been told that they feel like they're "talking to a guy." When I got married, there was a bit of a crisis when it seemed like one of my sisters wasn't going to make it to the wedding -- I didn't have any bridesmaids to replace her. I mean, scrolling through my list of Facebook friends, literally couldn't find any female friends much stronger than "casual acquaintance"

Anyway, the discomfort, for me, wasn't just "Oh no, all these guys around, this is super uncomfortable" but feeling really unsettled and unbalanced in a way that you can't quite put your finger on, and that feeling builds up over many years. For me, the problem isn't necessarily "too many men" (although there have been a few extreme instances where I really disliked being surrounded by all the dudes -- DEF CON, and "Friday beer o' clock and Call of Duty in the office," and that time one of my co-workers was confused about how vaginas work, spring to mind), as much as it is "too few women" and I feel like I'm missing out on a significant part of... womanhood? That sounds cheesy and lame, but, that's really the best way I can think to describe it. It would just be really really nice to have another lady around sometimes.


> Once I was representing my company at a career fair with a male engineer. He and I were standing next to each other ready to take resumes and answer questions, but all the candidates lined up in front of him. I tried writing “SOFTWARE ENGINEER” in big letters on my name tag, but even then had to continuously tell people in line “I’m an engineer and can answer your questions too!”

Having been in a few career fairs, there _is_ a tendency for females to be HR, and males to be engineers. That's kind of sad, but the only way to reverse that trend is to have more male HR reps and more female engineers, so please continue going!


How active should men be in actually helping to solve the gender diversity problem vs sitting on the sidelines and sharing the work of women who are solving the problem?

I've been working on an initiative to encourage more of my male peers to do more to make their organisations more diverse and was recently criticised by a female software engineer who told me that I shouldn't "come into a feminist space" where "women are already organising, telling stories and advocating for themselves".

All views appreciated!


I'm a male that worked with a feminist group about a decade ago. What I learned is that there are spaces/initiatives where men are welcome and, ones where they are not. As in any human relationship - respect of boundaries is key.

Like alaithea said, if you're not welcome in one space - you may be in another. You could also start your own initiative but, remember that top down decision making in the name of helping a group has alienated groups and stifled progress many times before.


Imagine men saying to women "you are not welcome here" in any context except a bathroom and you begin to see the problem.


I'm just baffled by this comment. You seem to mean as in "these women are setting a double standard, see!". As in, the cure these women are proposing is just more of the disease.

However, it implies you think that the women told "you are not welcome here" is currently a solved problem, a thing of the past, and that they don't actually face any scenarios were they are told "you are not welcome here". Or, at the very least, that there are more "girls clubs" than "boys clubs", so that you'd have to imagine the girls clubs as boys clubs to "see the problem".

There are many, many more de-facto boys clubs than girls clubs, and they usually afford much higher status in society.


> However, it implies you think

It does none of the sort. It correctly points out a double standard in supposed progressive culture and that's it. As for "clubs":

> "Putting on a man-tailored suit with shoulder pads and imitating all the worst behavior of men? This is the noblest thing that women can think of?"

-- George Carlin

But hey, what good old George surely didn't realize (being such a sexist as he was who would never make a whole track ranting just about how bad ass women are), is that "they did it first, they are doing it more". Very inspiring.

Yeah, I also say it's more of the same. Support and safe spaces are one thing, using them as fig leaves for some rather more sinister another. There are grey areas and who can draw the line and yadda yadda, but that doesn't mean there are not several "poles" to this stuff, very distinct things, some of them using the language and issues of others to cloak themselves.

Is it like communism? You have all these girl clubs to counter all these boys clubs, then ???, and then a society of humans who have first names and other fancy stuff and have grown beyond identity politics? At what point, exactly, would a vehicle for power and double standards cease to be one? All you said is that boys club's are worse - okay, granted, but if the proposed solution, is to make girls clubs just as bad and powerful, if looking any further than that is too "baffling" to even consider -- then what?


You really got caught up in your rant, but nothing up there in my post is a defense of said clubs. I'm not a fan of them, and my post wasn't about them.

The fact that two wrongs don't make a right is taken so, so far by some reactionary people, that they basically end up pretending that the first wrong is blown out of proportion or doesn't really exist.

Which is exactly what that poster implicitly revealed by offering up that thought experiment. Imagine men saying to women "you are not welcome here". Yeah. Imagine.


> You really got caught up in your rant

You may not have defended it, but you also didn't criticize it. So I added that, like draping garlic about, to increase the safety of this space.

> The fact that two wrongs don't make a right is taken so, so far by some reactionary people, that they basically end up pretending that the first wrong is blown out of proportion or doesn't really exist.

I know that, and I resent that as well. But I see nothing in the comment you replied to to indicate that at all, they probably weren't thinking of ALL kinds of groups that exist, but merely advocacy ones etc. I don't know, but why presume either way on this little data? You basically said the poster implied "exactly" that they are reactionary and in denial. Maybe you two have history, but this is a really odd style of discussion to me.

> Which is exactly what that poster implicitly revealed by offering up that thought experiment. Imagine men saying to women "you are not welcome here". Yeah. Imagine.

Yeah, we don't have to imagine it, and "we" for any given "we" know how we react to it in what we consider polite company. Hence the same reaction to girls clubs, at least where it crosses the line from immediate safe space and support to political outlook and whatnot.

In that sense, there is kind of a double standard, there are plenty of people who find that benign or even cute when women do it, but would instantly recognize it for what it is in other contexts. Hence an allergic reaction to anything that might contain it and doesn't contain proof it doesn't. I guess your reply was kind of similar, assuming an reactionary outlook of a specific type based on very little.


funny you find my style odd. I find your weird professorial affectation over pretty standard anti-feminist fare really off-putting myself. it's like you've read a million posts about "sjws" and are trying really hard to pretend like you haven't. "we" for any given "we" - c'mon dude.

anyway,

- "we" know how we react to it in what we consider polite company

- plenty of people who find that benign or even cute when women [discriminate]

- I guess your reply was kind of similar, assuming an reactionary outlook of a specific type based on very little.

It seems like your "polite company" is very outspoken about condemning what they imagine is distant and cartoonish sexism, and yet they have no problem characterizing women organizing as "cute" in your presence. Maybe your polite company hasn't allowed you to glean enough insight into how sexism manifests itself today, because bringing that up as an example of how women are favored seems completely out of touch.

Maybe one day you'll drop the defensive and charitably try to understand why these organizations happen in the first place.


I've not been convinced that 'the gender diversity problem' is a problem.

The only 'solution' I see is to force women who don't want to work in tech to work in tech, but since I believe in female agency - and that women have chosen something other than tech to do with their lives - that too would be wrong.


The problem is that some women who would like to be there basically feel forced out. As you point out, active inclusion does not work. But reducing exclusion can help enormously. However, it isn't an easy thing to make happen.


There are thousands of Men that are 'forced out' of technology jobs every day due to not making the cut during there interviews or leaving for a long list of reasons.

No one has shown that the general environment in technology focus businesses is more hostel to women then Men. It can be stressful and hostel to everyone equally. I believe that is the case. Woman have better options for careers in many professions with less stress and saner hours.


I appear to be the top ranked woman on HN. I have a Certificate in GIS. I have dealt with quite a lot of crap that I am confident is due to my gender.

I am aware that men are not welcomed with open arms merely for being male. But women can do everything "right" and find it still isn't enough.

It is a genuine and frustrating problem for me personally. It is a problem space I have worked on for some years.

I am sorry you remain unconvinced. It is extremely real to me.


Men also have a lot of 'crap' that is because of there gender also.

Lost jobs and being looked over for promotions for the explicit reason that there was an artificial quota for people with a Female genitalia to fill certain positions. Regardless of how unskilled or uninterested they were in the work. I am sure many Men have had this brutal injustice perpetrated against them.

There is a level of aggressiveness and bulling allowed towards Men which would never be allowed towards Woman. It is simply seen as 'survival of the fittest' in most organisations and even encouraged by management in many cases. Serious health problems, depression and even death have resulted because of these type of environments. Where is the outrage for this injustice?

"women can do everything "right" and find it still isn't enough."

Yes, and so can Men. This is not gender specific this is just the brutal reality of working life. Most people have been crushed at one point or another in there career by what seems like an undeserved attack on them personally. If you can not separate that personal experience from the larger Industry and world in general you are putting yourself into permanent psychosis of fear and oppression. The world does not owe you anything even if you're the best, smartest, nicest person in the world. You have to work through hardships and move on in life.


Add this to your men hardship list: if I find out any men-inists work for me, I will fire them. Not a culture fit.


> It can be stressful and hostel to everyone equally. I believe that is the case.

Eh, none of the men seem particularly perturbed by the term bitch, slut, whore, etc until I point out it makes me uncomfortable. None of them seem particularly disturbed by the subpar maternity leave until, again, I bring it up. None of them seem particularly concerned that they are assumed to be technical, and I am assumed to be administrative.

I wonder why all of these things do not seem to be equally stressful to them? Can you think of any reasons? /s

I literally was turned down from a job I later learned routinely had business meetings at a strip club. I highly doubt any of the men were uncomfortable and I highly doubt you're confused as to why I would have been.


> Eh, none of the men seem particularly perturbed by the term bitch, slut, whore, etc until I point out it makes me uncomfortable.

There are plenty of pejoratives for men too, they are likely using those to refer to each other.

>None of them seem particularly disturbed by the subpar maternity leave until, again, I bring it up.

Did you ask about the paternity leave?

> I literally was turned down from a job I later learned routinely had business meetings at a strip club. I highly doubt any of the men were uncomfortable and I highly doubt you're confused as to why I would have been.

You don't think plenty of men would have been uncomfortable in the same situation? I have a hard enough time clarifying me thoughts fast enough in meetings, I really wouldn't want to do it with tits bouncing around and a raging boner. Side note, most men don't really like strip clubs, it's one of those things we are expected to pretend to love.


> There are plenty of pejoratives for men too, they are likely using those to refer to each other.

The words I listed were the ones they were primarily using to put down one another. I cannot even imagine the man who would use those terms in the workplace in America aimed at a woman and expect to keep his job. With men, it's often apologized for and then hushed under the guise of "harmless joking". I'm not in a frat house. I'm at work.

> Did you ask about the paternity leave?

Yes. I made the point that in order to not create incentives to hire men over women we needed to create an equal workplace where the business "harm" caused by a pregnancy in someone's family was equal regardless of gender. Otherwise, honestly, there's quite a good business reason to hire a man over a woman, all other things being equal.

> You don't think plenty of men would have been uncomfortable in the same situation?

Do I think that I was turned down from the job partially because of their assumption a woman would be less comfortable in that environment than a man? Yes. Considering the gender ratios in those environments, I'd consider that a reasonable assumption.

I'd find it difficult to believe the average man's discomfort rivals the average woman's discomfort in that setting.


Of your three examples, I can think of many woman who wouldn't care about the first two at all. They throw around bitch, slut, whore without concern and they aren't having kids so they don't care about the maternity leave.

Those first two seem more like your personal preferences than something universally despised by women.


Your argument is that it would "stressful and hostile to everyone equally" to casually use sexist language or not provide maternity leave?

I'm not suggesting an "all women" situation here, but I am claiming all three examples would be significantly more stressful and hostile to the average woman than the average man.


> I'm not suggesting an "all women" situation here, but I am claiming all three examples would be significantly more stressful and hostile to the average woman than the average man.

So you're saying women need to be treated differently? Sounds a bit sexist.


"Don't want to work in tech" isn't an atomic desire. There are lots of things that go into a persons decision of what kind of work to do. The tech world could no doubt win over some of the people (men and women) who are on the fence about it because of the tech world subculture. Of course, there are some things that people in tech don't want to change, but there are also some things that would benefit everyone to change.


I'd like to clarify what you mean. Do you believe that the tech sector is actually diverse and there are no underrepresented groups, or are you saying you don't think the lack of diversity is harmful?


From the second paragraph it seems like it's neither of your two options.


The second paragraph doesn't necessarily connect to the first one. It's possible to believe there are no good solutions, while still seeing it as a problem.


I really do not mean to be confrontational, as I understand that this is a charged topic on all sides, but I'd like to ask why making tech more diverse (in terms of race or gender) is preferable.

My first instinct would be to say that if it's more diverse, women or racial minorities are more likely to come into tech because they might feel more comfortable there. But then we're back at square one: why do we want them to come?

Please make no mistake, I'm not saying that diversity is bad, but I don't see why it's good either, and further why it must be pursued.


I want to work with the best people. Many of the best people are female. Some of these women don't want to work an an environment where they are the only woman and since they are excellent, they choose to work in places that already have female engineers.

Also, I generally prefer to work in places with a diverse mix of people as well. Given two job opportunities that are roughly equal, I'll choose the more diverse one because it's more interesting.

A while ago, I got an MBA. MBA classes are extremely collaborative and a lot of the learning comes from the other students, rather than the lecturer. Most good schools very deliberately to ensure that the student body is as diverse as possible because otherwise learning is stifled: if ALL the students are investment bankers, then the class doesn't really learn much about other businesses. I see work environments similarly.


Bold question but worth asking for sure.

1) Equal opportunity for everyone regardless of race, gender, age, sexuality etc is just the right thing to do

2) The data suggests diversity matters commercially/financially, even if your interests are selfish.

http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-...

http://www.catalyst.org/knowledge/diversity-matters


A) I see the tech industry shaping the future for the world. The world is comprised of a diverse group of people. How can a narrow group of people understand the needs of everyone?

B) There are a shortage of labor in tech


> I see the tech industry shaping the future for the world. The world is comprised of a diverse group of people. How can a narrow group of people understand the needs of everyone?

People should build tech that they find interesting. It's not our job as engineers to try to save the world. I program because I find it inherently fascinating. If other people benefit from my work, great. If not, great.

> There are a shortage of labor in tech

When programmer salaries rival those of upper management then we can say there's a shortage. Right now there's a desire to maximize executive salaries while minimizing programmer costs. That what "women in tech" is really about.


I agree the shortage is artificial but the other part makes little sense. The parent comment didn't say save the world. It said understand their needs: also called marketing. From startups to incumbents, they make money by figuring out what people want or need then building it. Needs/wants are incredibly diverse across a diverse set of people. So, shouldn't there be diversity in marketing and product development side of tech to avoid missing good opportunities or getting on paths that were obviously bad (to another group in company).


> People should build tech that they find interesting. It's not our job as engineers to try to save the world. I program because I find it inherently fascinating. If other people benefit from my work, great. If not, great.

This is one of the attitudes that I dislike the most among certain parts of the tech industry. (I work pretty much exclusively in open source, where this is particularly strong.) Our work has real consequences for real people. Our decisions in setting the direction of projects, products and companies end up being good for some people and bad for others.

Sure, I program because I find it fascinating - but to ignore the broader social context of what we do is just selfish.

(FWIW, one of the other attitudes that I also hate among certain parts of our industry is that "engineers should try to save the world". That's just plain arrogant.)


We definitely disagree there. For me creating technology is like creating art. Sure some artists may have a mainstream social agenda but some may just be weirdos who need to paint to stay sane :) I don't see it as my or anyone else's place to dictate what a creative individual's motivation should be.

I'll also say as a user, some of my favorite projects started off as mad science type things that weren't created to push an agenda or social cause (some were though).


Simple answer... people of all races and genders are smart and creative, so why limit the pool of talent to a small subset of all people?


That doesn't describe what's happening. What is happening is that people look at the race/gender/etc. makeup of companies and compare to an ideal makeup. When the makeup doesn't match the ideal, they infer that some groups are underrepresented. There doesn't appear to be anyone asking, "how does ideal representation compare to what's realistically possible?"


Why is equal representation of races and genders not realistically possible?


>Why is equal representation of races and genders not realistically possible?

Because, realistically, to achieve equal representation, people would have to forced into careers they are not interested in.


If the initiative exists already, defer to the ones running it. Find out where you can help, but you don't need to be in the spotlight. That would be being part of the problem.

Basically: prioritize listening and helping out when possible. When you can't, when there's no initiative, then make it a priority to enable women access to positions of power over initiatives like that - and of the organization in general.

Otherwise, stepping in and taking over or preempting feminist initiatives is problematic.


> How active should men be in actually helping to solve the gender diversity problem

There is, objectively, different representations of different groups in engineering.

There is no objective reason to think that this is a "problem".

Whether it's a problem, a feature, or just an unimportant fact derives from one's value system...and different value systems are just that: different.

To assume that this is a problem - that it's obviously and necessarily a problem - skips past the fact that there are different opinions, and - values being values - no way to prove one set right and one set wrong.

We might as well talk about the "chocolate icecream" problem, or the "punk rock" problem.


Interesting, thanks for the response.

In my opinion, if people from different demographic groups have different opportunities to succeed there is a problem. Everyone should have the same opportunity.

Secondly, what about the data that suggests gender and ethnic diversity has a positive financial/commercial impact on businesses?

E.g http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-...


I think that woman's view is in the minority. If that particular community is not open to male allies, but you want to help, please keep looking and find one of the many communities that is!


Thanks alaithea, not one to give up easily so I'll keep listening, learning and doing my best to help.


That comment sounds like it depends a lot on what you mean by "help." Advocating for women, signal boosting, providing mentorship if appropriate, speaking out when women can't speak for themselves, etc. & I don't think anyone would disagree with those. But there's a difference between providing a space for a Women in Engineering meetup and leading the meetup or speaking over them in their spaces.


The primary thing men need to do is become more self aware of ways in which they unintentionally exclude women and stop doing that.

I am a bit leery of your description of trying to encourage more male peers to do more to make their organizations more diverse. In my experience, trying to be inclusive is generally a poor approach to this problem space. Just work on not being exclusive and the people who want to be there will show up, in essence.


I find both approaches combined to be most effective. People do show up more often if you knock out barriers. This leaves the common preconceptions, expectations, and do on that can reduce entry attempts if its employment or sustained effort if it's something like getting women to learn IT stuff or enjoy computers. That said, I believe it's important that the situation stays meritocratic where women know they earned their place based on skill. It's why I favor mentoring, blind auditions, women-oriented events in parallel to business/projects, and so on. They get increase diversity without problems from approaches like pure quotas or focusing on employee gender more than skill in how they're treated.


My personal experience is that being very thorough in rooting out barriers to entry has a powerful impact, like water rushing downhill after a dam bursts. But you have to be incredibly thorough to get that effect.


I agree. Im just doubtful a full pull effect is as easy to pull off in most places as a good effort at pull along with gentle, steady pushes.


Thanks Mz, I agree. What I meant to convey is that I'd love to see all of my male peers genuinely caring about diversity and ensuring that they listen, learn and actively prevent exclusive behaviours/practices within their organisations.


> I've been working on an initiative to encourage more of my male peers to do more to make their organisations more diverse and was recently criticised by a female software engineer who told me that I shouldn't "come into a feminist space" where "women are already organising, telling stories and advocating for themselves".

I think that is the silliest thing. It sucks but men follow men. I hate that reality, but a key element of my happiness at my current position is that I DON'T have to be the advocate for change or the enforcer. I had to at the very beginning, but once it became clear what my standards were (pretty basic things like don't call people 'bitch') the co-founders began to enforce it. That was fucking awesome. It made me feel supported and as if I wasn't being 'that women', but rather we all were acknowledging it was inappropriate. Not inappropriate because I was there, but simply not okay in a professional environment.

I often think the feminist movement would be doing a heck of a lot better if we had some Navy Seal as the figurehead giving most of the speeches. The point of sexism is that people don't respect women, so broadcasting "women are people and deserve the following" from a woman is clearly not going to do as much as having it broadcast by some alpha male.

Or perhaps I'm too cynical.


Dude, politics, stay away from that. Specially if you have to ask such questions.


Is this not part of the problem? How will anything get solved if we all shy away from difficult problems?


Im not answering your main question because Im not sure I have a good one. I will address the risk. What's happening is an Us vs Them situation developing around that very issue. You might end up fighting with this group in a way that impacts your career badly. If any SJW's in there, they will passive-aggressively bait you into saying or doing something they can portray as sexist or unprofessional while appearing blameless themselves. These people are small percentage of people who take action but quite effective and in groups like you describe more than average. It took me months to counter a talented one years back that wanted my higher position at any cost. I got lucky some women in power knew the both of us enough to find my evidence most believable.

So, it's the kind of thing that can be anywhere from a situation you can talk out to a hornets nest that will light you on fire. Be careful. Id say ask more women online for advise focusing on those with stronger, personal skills. Get more opinions.


It is not about not doing anything but you have to pick your battles.

It is like saving someone from car in flames. If it will blow up, you will not be able save anyone later. You can't save everyone.


I've done a little bit of volunteering and the attitude (by far) has been "we are working together for a better future".

If someone is asking specifically for a woman's point of view then stay out of that, but otherwise I wouldn't be discouraged.


As a guy myself, I am in favor of guys being active. Men, after all, embody most of the problem; leaving it to women to solve is putting a burden on people who are already getting a raw deal.

But yes, guys should be aware that their common instinct to come in and dominate a thing will often not be well received. Partly because dudes pushing to dominate is how the problem was created and is maintained. Partly because as men we are less likely to actually understand a problem that we don't experience and therefore have thought less about. And partly because there are plenty of women who have been traumatized by men acting like that in the past, and so reasonably see it as a danger signal.

So I encourage guys who want to solve this problem to spend a very large amount of time listening and learning. To always be seeking to defer to the people who are actual experts and/or who are already working on it. To pick up the work that is the least showy, the least glory-filled, the least status-gaining. In short, to approach the work with a deep humility, a high level of respect for the people who have lived at the sharp end of this problem for years.


If you see this as a problem that needs fixing then more power to you. Many however see no problem. Women have free will and can choose the career of their liking.

Also "Men, after all, embody most of the problem;" will not be winning many converts to your point of view. Men are not a uniform being. You're painting with some really broad brush strokes and the only people who are going to hear what you say are those that already fully believe it themselves.


> Many however see no problem.

This is true with most problems. How many people saw a problem with the Windows hegemony? That doesn't mean it's not a problem, just that many people are not in a place to see it.

> Women have free will and can choose the career of their liking.

Yes and no, in that order. "Career" is an essentially social concept. Consider, for example, that women got less than 10% of medical and legal degrees as recently as 1972:

http://cdn.theatlantic.com/static/mt/assets/hua_hsu/cohen_do...

What changed between now and then wasn't women's free will, which they have always had. It was the social context.

> Men are not a uniform being. You're painting with some really broad brush strokes

Sure. So are you. I think most people here are smart enough to understand how a generalization works.

> "Men, after all, embody most of the problem;" will not be winning many converts to your point of view.

Sure, there are people who, for the moment, are such delicate flowers that they cannot admit that they might be part of the problem. But if those people "convert", they will not do much good.


An emphatic male absolutely does know more about what "women are going through" than, say, a narcissistic female just parroting lines she saw work for others, ripping other females to shreds as she strives for power. If you honestly have not ever seen that, keep your eyes peeled.

If anything, I'd say privilege based on treating people as abstract monoliths and having double standards, and being unfair and abusive towards others did cause and causes "the problem", one a symptom of which you call "the" problem.

You know nothing about what others think about, what they know or don't know. I grew up with mostly female friends, always loved to work in mostly female teams and am at the moment, too, and one of my proudest childhood moments was a 13 year old female friend telling 9 year old me that I'm "the only one I can really talk to around here". I believe in being fair irrespective of person, and being supportive to ANYONE who needs support, and that besides making them laugh surely is one of my qualities my female friends would not ever want to miss in me. If I was as I am to them because they're a woman, that would be regression, plain and simple. For me people are persons first, things like gender and age second, and people who think there is "being a woman" versus "being a human who happens to be female" I want to have nothing to do with. I feel exactly the same way about men who do the reverse.

Anyways, crawling on one's knees because of identity politics is BS. Don't interrupt others nilly-willy, listen, don't presume, don't be rash. Don't trample on "small ones", be a compassionate person and show it. This has nothing to do with where you are or who you're dealing with, and nothing to do with gender. It's called being a good person, and this talk about empathy is really like blind people talking about colors. Why not simply recognize the psychological make-up of people by dealing with them, not by gender or nationality or other statistical probabilities.

To sum up, not only is something way better, way more thorough and honest possible, it's being done every day, all the time. It's just those people quietly enjoy being decent to each other.


> emphatic male absolutely does know more about what "women are going through" than

Did you mean a different word here? Because as far as I've seen, the emphatic males are the biggest problem in this context.

> You know nothing about what others think about, what they know or don't know.

Do you recognize the multiple ironies in this statement?

Yes, I'm generalizing. That is a necessity in discussions about broad characteristics. You don't have to have a Not All Men explosion [1] because you don't feel like a general statement doesn't fit you perfectly. If you think you're better than average, good for you. Not everything written for a broad audience has to be about you; you can move on and read the next comment.

> Why not simply recognize the psychological make-up of people by dealing with them, not by gender or nationality or other statistical probabilities.

I agree with part of this, in that people have wide variation in nature and experience and I want to respect that, not put them in little boxes for my convenience. But there are useful correlations between external appearance and experience, especially where that experience is about how people are treated.

For example, when walking at night in my urban neighborhood, I go well out of my way to give women a lot of space, to not walk too close to them for too long. I'll slow down, pass them, cross the street, get on a different train car, or take an alternate route altogether. Why? Because women are highly likely to have experienced street harassment, stalking, or worse. To them, I'm Shrödinger's Rapist. [2] There's no need for me to make a personal inquiry into their history and psychology, which would be hella creepy and would ruin the effect I'm trying to have, which is just to give them room.

And giving women a different sort of room is what I was arguing for above. Your rant mainly seems to be about things that I didn't say. If you'd like critique some points I actually made, that would be swell, but for now I stand by everything I wrote.

As an aside, you seem to be tacking dangerously close to the shores of "I don't see color", which has a lot of issues. [3]

[1] https://www.google.com/search?q=not+all+men

[2] http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Schr%C3%B6dinger's_Rapist

[3] https://www.google.com/search?q=i+don't+see+color


> For example, when walking at night in my urban neighborhood, I go well out of my way to give women a lot of space, to not walk too close to them for too long. I'll slow down, pass them, cross the street, get on a different train car, or take an alternate route altogether. Why?

I do the same on long stretches of walk at night etc., but generally? Whenever I pass a woman in broad daylight I have to get away to make sure she doesn't feel threatened? Ever heard of body language, ever heard of not BEING a threat and so lively a person that the situations where you have to worry about this become rather rare?

> And giving women a different sort of room is what I was arguing for above.

How about this: ask them if they want to be treated like a wounded animal. Don't just presume. Or even better, read their body language, too. It's not rocket science, and compared to that your "useful correlations" are like trying to build a CPU with a bucket of sand and a spoon. It's not that I don't know all you say, it's that I know more. Allow for that possibility.


> It's not that I don't know all you say, it's that I know more. Allow for that possibility.

I do, but I don't believe it to be the case here. Random anonymous dudes full of hypocrisy and drama but low on facts don't score well on my credible witness scale, especially when the topic is the experience of women.


There are some great suggestions on ways you can be a good ally on the last question in the article.


> told me that I shouldn't "come into a feminist space" where "women are already organising, telling stories and advocating for themselves".

At this point, I think you have to ask yourself if these people really have good values, appropriate goals, healthy approaches to reaching those goals.


The lack of gender diversity in tech is NOT a problem. Women choose not to become software engineers for the same reason they avoid all STEM fields.

This recent push to make everyone a software engineer is such an obvious attempt by companies to push down wages. You will be wasting your spare time trying to reduce your salary.


If you would talk with some actual women in tech, you would learn that many women choose not to become software engineers (and choose to leave at 2x the rate of men) because it is often a shitty environment for them.

You would also learn that plenty of people are working on making a more inclusive industry for reasons that have nothing to do with pushing down their own wages. I'm one of them.


It's often a shitty environment for men, too. Now the question is: Is it really that much more shitty for women, are there other factors at play for them leaving (or not joining in the first place), or a combination of both.

I'd say the latter: The environment is a bit shittier on average for a women and therefore should be improve to be equally shitty for all, but there are other factors at play here too.


There's also a distinction to be made between "things are shitty for everyone, and men tend to handle it better" and "things are shitty for women in particular because of anti-female sexism".

Like, construction work is also a shitty environment that's shittier for women. There's significant danger and hard physical activity, and for men are generally better able to handle that. The amount of women in construction may also be driven down by sexist behavior as well - I'm not familiar with how working in that field is.

If men are more willing to put up with shitty work environments because it makes them more money, that'll both create male-dominated fields and be a problem that anti-misogyny campaigns are useless against.


female construction worker and FOSS hobbyist here. I've been to tech conferences and do residential construction for a living. I'm a member of the local VFD. I'm familiar with predominantly male environments. I wish there were more women doing the things I love to do, but oh well.

Predominantly male environments are much more verbally and physically confrontational than mixed ones, in my experience. So my presence is really awkward. No one feels comfortable ripping on the new guy if the new guy is a new girl who's a bit shy. Sometimes the awkwardness dissipates, other times it doesn't. If it doesn't, I leave. So I suppose that this is one reason why predominantly male environments tend to stay that way.

It's always felt like more of a group dynamics thing than pointed sexism when I've experienced it.

One more thing: just because a job is physical doesn't mean that men are better at it. This attitude is extremely annoying to me as it directly affects my day-to-day life. I train 10-15 hours a week, and I'm stronger than the out-of-shape old guys. This doesn't matter. They know so many tricks to make the work go faster. Work smarter, you know?

I'm not sure if there's any data on female construction workers and danger/workplace accidents, but I'm actually confused by your assertion that men are better able to handle danger. Like, I don't understand what that even means.


By "better able to handle danger" I meant that they're more willing to do risky behavior. Like, part of doing a dangerous job is deciding that it's worth doing, and men are more likely to do so in spite of the risk.

Essentially, I'm blaming part of the construction work gender disparity on the same thing that explains why only 14% of motorcycle riders are female.

>just because a job is physical doesn't mean that men are better at it.

Sure. I'm definitely not saying that women can't or shouldn't do physical jobs. Averages and distributions exist, though, and testosterone is a hell of a drug.


As for the danger part. It sounds like men are socially forced to accept danger and risk, I doubt most men really want to do it, but they are forced to be providers while us women are socially forced to be caretakers.


> I'm actually confused by your assertion that men are better able to handle danger.

When the poster said, "significant danger and hard physical activity, and for men are generally better able to handle that", they may have been saying that men are generally better able to handle the physical activity, and not necessarily the danger too. English is ambiguous about grouping clauses sometimes.


It's both, but "men are better at handling risk" is a really weird way of phrasing "men are more willing to engage in risky behavior". And that sentence was originally just about the physical activity, and then I realized that the difference in risk tolerance was also a contributing factor and I should mention that as well, and the phrasing vaguely worked properly so I kept it.


Sure, life is terrible. Sure, the patriarchal system we are embedded in is bad for everybody. But again, if you want to know what actual women actually experience, the right way to approach that isn't boldly stating your own answer. Try asking.


Unfortunately very few people have the experiences of both men and women in tech, which is what is necessary to get a comparison from someone who actually knows how much shittier it is as one vs another.


I'm not seeing why that's necessary. Historically, patriarchy is pretty obvious. Women were forced into specific roles for thousands of years, and that was clearly still happening during the lives of many people now in the workforce.

So I'm comfortable just taking women at their word when they say they're still experiencing problems. I don't need to carefully measure the exact relative degrees of shittiness. Worst case, I will listen to them and solve some problems that turn out to be for everybody.

But if you're merely curious, I'd recommend reading some of the articles where trans people talk about sexism from both sides. E.g.: https://newrepublic.com/article/119239/transgender-people-ca...


[flagged]


"Mainly, most women have an easier way out by getting married so they don't have to do any hard work, physically or mentally. How do you think they survive otherwise?"

I'm not sure you actually have spoken to that many women, have you?


Your rush to dismiss very well documented problems as coming from “a die-hard feminist SV hedge fund kid who blows everything out of proportion because of political reasons” suggests a far more likely explanation: none of the women you've talked to feel comfortable discussing their frustrations with you because they're afraid of sharing that hostile rejection with the potential for negative career impacts.


Exactly this. If I want people to be honest, I have to create a context in which they are rewarded for honesty. This is especially true if I am asking them to do me a favor by spending time to educate me.


> Mainly, most women have an easier way out by getting married so they don't have to do any hard work, physically or mentally. How do you think they survive otherwise?

That is a pretty sexist and insulting statement.


A less offensive statement would be that marriage and child raising provide women, a choice to having a regular 9-5 job.


For majority I interviewed, it provided the women an extra job on top of a 9a-5p or crazy-scheduled job with pay varying from crap to good. A very, small number coild trade one for the other. On rare occasions, roles reversed with the guy being a stay at home dad or using a well-off woman to avoid full-time (or any work lol).


I worked in public-facing positions enough to talk to hundreds to thousands of women about their jobs, life, and such. I'm even in the South where higher percentage supports so-called traditional families where marriage is important. Vast majority of women I've met both work and got married. Many of them work ridiculously hard. A subset are stay at home mom's or married for money. They're less common to rare dependinv on area I was in.

So, my areas are where your statement had better chance of being true but was still wrong and sexist with a sample size of 1000+. Most women try to have a good job where they get stuff done with desirable pay and environment. Like the men do.


"This recent push to make everyone a software engineer is such an obvious attempt by companies to push down wages. You will be wasting your spare time trying to reduce your salary."

absolutely agree and it is obvious.This is simply about trying to expand the pool of qualified individuals to drive down the salary.


Can you add an introductory blurb (education, current company/role) for each respondant? It's hard to tie in experiences to just a first name.


We intentionally left those out and used pseudonyms so the engineers would feel comfortable answering candidly


Ah, missed that note in the intro.

That's an approach I disagree with, especially since there are many female engineers who are willing to discuss these issues openly and would benefit from the exposure from The Macro/HN.


Absolutely, but we feel like there’s room for more than one approach here. Part of this experiment is to see whether anonymity on both sides allows for a freer discussion. That being said, if women who join the conversation would like to use their real names we'd be glad to post those.


Also those women might not want to diffuse their personal brand.

Eg. I imagine it to be quite hard to be primarily known for engineering work and not for "example for female in engineering"


Love, love, love the pseudonyms chosen, by the way.


Loved the choice of pseudonyms – particularly Ada and Grace!


Are we allowed to ask them Engineering questions?


Of course!


This x 100. Yes, please do.


Are they cherry-picking the answers? I would be interested in Jean's answer to the first question.


Hello, I'm Jean. I didn't answer the first question because I have tele-commuted for a very long time. My entire interaction with co-workers is over email, github, slack, hangouts, etc.


I'm thinking about having a child, and possibly telecommuting. Did you run into any issues that might have been related to gender ?

I'm pretty sure I'm not planning to tell them I'm pregnant if I can avoid it.


I have only tele-commuted on teams where most or all of the team also tele-commuted, often from different timezones. Some jobs there was no corporate office even if I had wanted to work in one. It would be much harder to be on a team where most of them are together in an office, able to talk face-to-face. Also tele-commuting is not a work/child-care combination. I have a separate office. When my kids were young, I always had full child care coverage, as though I wasn't there.


My wife just tried to email to offer to participate, the email bounced.


Sorry about that! Issue should be resolved now if she'd like to retry.


Two questions:

1. In the same job (say, sr. developer) with equivalent qualifications, what differences in approach, behavior, and performance can one attribute to someone being a man or a woman?

2. How would you recommend responding to a peer, a subordinate, or a superior who behaves in a way that reinforces negative stereotypes about their identity?


I've taken note of your questions for our future posts. Thank you for asking!


The solution to all gender problems: Actively ignore all topics and articles with "woman" or "female" in the title.

People are who they are and go where they want. Tech is no exception.

When one walks into a car garage, one doesn't make a fuss about mechanics being all men.

When one walks into a kindergarden, one doesn't make a fuss about teachers being all women.


I do think that kindergarten teachers being all women is a big problem. If I have a son someday, I would want him to have some good male teachers that he can look up to from a young age. I had one in 5th grade and it really helped me.


Actually, it's becoming a pretty big problem not just for kindergartens, but for K-12 teachers in general. K-12 is completely dominated by women, while colleges and universities are split between STEM (male professors) and liberal arts (female)


Do you have a source for the gender split among STEM and liberal arts professors?


If you're a man, and say that you want to teach kids "people" will suspect you of being a pedophile.


Yes, and not if you are a woman. Is this 'female privilege'?


No, but it's one of the obstacles to overcome if you want more male teachers.


So we know you are satisfied with sexual politics in the US in 2016. Do the women in your life feel the same way?

Have you had conversations with other people about this stuff or have you deduced it all from first principles?


I encountered this just yesterday. Interviewed a lovely woman with a gender neutral name and a fantastic resume that I assumed was a man before getting on the phone with her. She turned out to be just as good as she looked on paper, and I'm certainly looking forward to hiring her.

I feel like gender only matters to the kind of people that gender matters to (tautologies are cool).


It would be nice if implicit biases and subconscious prejudices just went away if we started to ignore them.


It'd be even nicer if people stopped being so judgemental that they no longer judge people's unrevealed thoughts and instead base their opinion on actions. Because telling people they have a secret and unknown racist/misogynist hiding inside them guiding them covertly is probably never gonna convince anybody to change their mind.


Current research shows this is not something you can just change your mind about because you want to, sadly.

But I agree, being confrontational will not fix things. At the same time, it being subconscious makes it not a single person's fault. One can and should do better than that, but if sub-ideal situations happen (within reason), it does not mean the person is bad. So actions can be judged with this in mind for now, and everyone can be less afraid to make mistakes.

Someone questions my abilities to drive the heavy car for a long distance, but never the guys'? Let's have a look at what is happening, laugh about it and correct for it. But it has to be out in the open.


> Current research shows this is not something you can just change your mind about because you want to, sadly.

Could you link to this research? I'm curious to see what studies have to say.


Woman who have a deep internalized Misandry usually don't realize that they have a problem. Research show there is probably nothing you can consciously do about your irrational fear had hatred of Men. But its definitely problematic and needs to be corrected.

You can not have a conversation with circular logic like this.


It'd also be nice if we could decide each case on its merits without being accused of implicit biases and subconscious prejudices if our decision doesn't align with what's currently ordained as "progressive".


"The solution to all gender problems: Actively ignore all topics and articles with "woman" or "female" in the title."

How does that solve any gender problems? I don't see how me not reading certain topics solves gender problems.


Not quite sure how putting your head in the sand is a solution to anything.


I thought the comment about Australia was pretty random - I'm guessing this engineer is an Australian? I don't understand the context - are they saying that Australia doesn't have problems with gender bias? Because that is certainly not the case.


I would like to know some origin stories, e.g. "Where were you before? How did you get into engineering?" I mean, the answers to these are interesting regardless of occupation or identity.


Thanks for posting! We've added them to our list of questions.


On attending a meeting as a female engineer... "I immediately figure out who is likely to hear me out based on our previous interactions. Then I’ll purposefully sit somewhere near those allies. If I’m feeling less confident when I’m speaking, I’ll look at them first. I’m less likely to even speak up in meetings where I don’t feel like I have supportive people. I don’t often feel like I’m not heard at meetings, but I think that’s because I’m careful about when I choose to speak."

What does this have to do with being a female? It sounds like every meeting I've ever attended.


Because any aspect of the human condition as experienced by women, or minorities, or anyone really, is a problem unique to that sub-group. Apparently. And needs to be explicitly called out as a problem.

I don't get it. I mean, as a middle-aged white guy in an affluent society with social welfare and healthcare I've never experienced anything uncomfortable, of course. Never experienced anything unpleasant.


Come on, man. How many middle-aged white guys, or white guys, or just guys, have you seen hounded out of our industry by death threats and rape threats? I despise identity politics, but I kind of think you have to be trying pretty hard not to see that there's a problem here.


I think you don't see as many men "hounded out of our industry" because that's a property of how sensitive the person is and how much they're looking for drama, not really how many death threats they receive.

I have personally received death threats multiple times after making "controversial" changes to an open source project I work on (as in: good in the long term for the project, bad in the short term for users). And I stopped counting the number of times I've read I should "kill myself". But guess what, instead of writing long blog posts explaining I'll quit open source development because of death threats, I just ignore them and continue doing what's best for the project. So far I don't think I've died yet, so that seems to be working pretty well.

There's also the long tail of death threats you won't even find out unless you look for them specifically (like, going on 4chan to read users talking about your project there). I've seen some other contributors to similar projects getting personally insulted, called "greedy jews" because they asked for donations to buy research hardware, and also being heavily encouraged to kill themselves. They also don't make drama about it, and in fact they'd probably be quite unhappy that I'm even mentioning it publicly.

So yeah, if I were looking to create drama I'd have more than enough material to do so, and I also could probably get "hounded out of my industry" if I was willing to.


I appreciate you taking the time, and I get where you're coming from. That's also a very poor comment of mine that you're responding to. I've left it as it stood because otherwise the longer one elsewhere in this thread would probably not make as much sense. That one may be more worth your while than the one to which you responded.


I have not seen women being hounded out of the industry by rape and death threats either. I think your statement is hyperbole.

I also think that TheSpiceIsLife has a point. Somewhere along the lines of championing equality it became unpopular to show empathy for males. For instance within my team we are now required to make sure that we ask everyone what their opinion is on any given matter just in case someone was too shy to speak up. I like the intent but to be honest being forced to do it kind of implies that we were not doing this previously. I'm sick of being treated like the bad guy simply for being a man.

I got the same thing growing up as a poor white kid. My problems were some how not real problems because it was easier for me being white..


My earlier comment was ill-considered and foolish. I'm sorry for that. You deserve better. Let me try to make my analysis more plain. It will take some doing, because my analysis is not simple. That's because nothing is simple. But I fear I must prevail upon your patience to some extent. Please bear with me.

As I said before, I do not like identity politics. Some may think that a laughable statement from a white man. Perhaps it is less so from a homosexual man. I hope not, because I'm perfectly happy to have people who would disregard what I say, solely because I fail to check the right boxes on their little lists, filter themselves out of the discourse in which I participate. They are beneath me. They are beneath you. They are beneath all thoughtful and sensitive people, and it is well they behave in accord with their station.

I also don't think one need lend any credence to identity politics in order to regard such harassment as that under discussion as contemptible and disgusting in its own right. It's not that this is bad because it happens to women. It's bad because it happens at all. And there are men, too, who have been hounded out of our industry. The tactics differ, but the end is the same. An industry in which such things happen to anyone is not worthy of any of us.

I have a lot of sympathy for what you're saying about feeling attacked just because you're male, or that your problems are dismissed just because you're white. I know those feelings, too, quite well. I understand why you feel that way, because I feel that way sometimes too. Sometimes we are attacked just because we're male. Sometimes our problems are dismissed just because we're white. When that happens, it's very easy to overlook nuance. But it's very important that we refuse to do so, because nuance of any kind is anathema to those who hew strongly to identity politics and employ its false model of humanity and interpersonal relations as a tool in their quest for power.

In that quest, no one is sacred. I know that those who engage in it claim otherwise. Evaluate their actions, not their words. I've had opportunity to do so in their treatment of homosexuals like myself. These people have claimed for years to be fighting on our side. "We are for you," they have said. "No one else is. You can trust us. We want to help." On the strength of these lies they have driven through laws and forcibly engineered social changes which would have been unimaginable only a few decades ago. Many of us believed these changes to be entirely to our benefit. Many of us still do. They are not. In the short term, it's true that these changes have offered some gay people better lives than they would otherwise have. In the long term, it is very probable that we will all find ourselves much worse off than we would be, had we not been exploited by the cynical and power-hungry. The changes I describe did not arise organically. They were enforced. Those upon whom they were enforced are angry about this. There are many of them, and few of us. I do not think it safe to assume such a bill will never be presented for collection. But when that happens, those who incurred it will be nowhere nearby. They have what they wanted from us. We'll be the ones to pay its price.

But it's not the same for a straight man - it's worse, in the short run at least. You can be of no use to them, so they have no cause to show you even false and bitter kindness, and the most for which you can hope is that you be permitted to abase yourself in exchange for some minimal sufferance. Or you may be swept away. And the decision is not yours to make.

That, at least, is the world they would create. They have not yet succeeded. They need not succeed at all. But they only become more likely to do so when we permit them to dictate the terms of engagement. We need not surrender so. Indeed, we must not. And part of that is retaining our grasp of nuance, of subtlety - of the fact that there is no such thing as collective humanity, that we are every one of us special - and that none of us is.

You do not deserve to be attacked, to be dismissed, as you are. Kathy Sierra did not deserve to be hounded from our industry, as she was. Men do not deserve to be mistreated because we are men. Women do not deserve to be mistreated because they are women. Those who do the former are the same as those who do the latter. They differ only in their tactics and their targets. This is a subtlety. It is easy to overlook in a world made less subtle by the day. But, if we're to have any hope of a better future - for everyone - than that to which we'd be consigned by those who love only power, we must take care to see clearly.


How many women have? If there are any, it most likely has to do with their political activism instead of their gender.


I once had a twitter handle that whose gender wasn't obvious, leading to people thinking I'm a guy. I used that handle to defend the creator of redis when he was being wrongly convicted of being sexist.

As a result, I did get a great many rape threats and violence threats because they thought I was female -- form people whose identities were not hidden at all, in fact (eg: CTOs of startups in SV with more than $40M in venture capital behind them were threatening me with rape).

These were the "feminists" threatening a perceived female for defending a male, who was not being sexist, but who was the current target of 5 minutes of hate.

Given the amount of harassment anti-gamergate people have engaged in, and the fact that every single thing they claim gamer gate does, they are doing (while I've not really seen gamer gate do it) and the rape threats I got... I think the harassers are the SJWs.


Did you report the threats? Were they true threats or just shitposting?


Any examples of these threats chasing people out of industry?


My sarcasm detector almost failed on your comment.


Thank you very much for saying that. Sincerely. I am a woman and insight into how men experience doing business has been far more valuable to me than most of the stuff like this article. It has been incredibly valuable for me to know that specific negatives I experience are normal and not about my gender and it has helped me move forward on things that matter to me. It helps me sort the wheat from the chaff.


I'm not the parent poster, but I'm touched by your comment. I believe that aspiring to an accurate, honest understanding of the world is empowering. Inversely, convincing people that they are victims of oppression (to degrees that go beyond the evidence) actually hurts the people this is intended to help.


Yeah there are lots of dominance dynamics among men. But I guess we (men) are more used to it, from growing up with it since childhood.


Do you think it's funny that you titled the interview as you did and chose the first question to be "how conscious are you of being a female engineer as opposed to just an engineer"?

I do.


I do, too. This is a little cringey.


I'll give the benefit of the doubt to the interviewer and assume it's supposed to be interpreted as the presumed perspective of the average programmer.


Thanks for making the point. We've adjusted the language.


Diversity initiatives for the tech world baffle me. The tech world is already very diverse, along lines that transcend race and gender.

I am talking about national diversity. Engineering teams are composed of a huge percentage of foreign born workers who carry truly diverse experiences. The difference in experience between nationalities completely trumps the differences in experience between gender and race within the same nationality.

Looking for diversity in the form of race and gender is unproductive given the current diversity in the work force. American females have a very similar experience as American males, as do African Americans and White Americans in this context. Americans regardless of race and gender are all part of the same tribe.

The current diversity in the tech world have made in groups almost non-existent. No one nationality has had a large enough share of the engineering population for in groups to form and be problematic.

tldr: Diversity in the form of nationality is prevalent in the tech world. National diversity creates true diversity while gender and race diversity creates insignificant diversity.


> American females have a very similar experience as American males

How can you say that after reading the first question in the article? Do you think the editor was just cherry picking the most extreme anecdotes they could find?


I don't think anyone has the same experience that anyone else has regardless of the gender.

But this whole project is one big carefully edited carefully constructed exercise in social activism designed to promote the feminist narrative that the tech industry is a horrible misogynistic man cave. And also spread the idea that Male dominated professions are somehow inherently bad and need to redeemed by stuffing more Women into the industry by force.


Most women engineers seem to disagree with you.

The experience of women engineers is vastly different than those of male engineers.


Nah, they don't seem to, and it's not. Isn't intellectual debate fun?

Also, what do they disagree on - that an Iraqi bombed to death is worse off than even a poor albino woman in the US? That starving to death in Africa as a male is worse than being a female engineer wherever? Technically, you just called "most female engineers" very ignorant and selfish.


Maybe you should talk to some women engineers sometime and get their opinion.

Because I have spoken to a lot of them, and read about many of their experiences. And the vast majority of them say the same thing. That they have to deal with serious problems that their male counterparts do not.

And just because other people have things worse, doesn't mean that other important problems don't exist.


I've also spoken to a lot of them, and the majority (of them) completely disagree with you.

Maybe both of our sets of women engineers involve some selection bias?

Regardless, I find this...

> Maybe you should talk to some women engineers sometime and get their opinion.

... and the implication that you have enough information to conclude that the parent simply _could not_ have already talked to women engineers - and the further implication that your assessment of the opinions of women engineers must necessarily be canonical - to be strangely arrogant, condescending, and unconstructive.


I don't know what to tell you man. We can just look at the article. Or any of the posts in this thread that claim to be from a woman.

Every post from the article seems to support my claim and not yours. Thats only N= 4 or 5, but thats still something.

"and the implication that you have enough information to conclude that the parent simply _could not_ have already talked to women engineers "

Yes, this is indeed my implication. That he could not have possibly already talked to very many women.

I would say the same thing if someone were to claim "Racism in America is over!"

Such a person who makes this claim has clearly not talked to very many black people, or hasn't listened to them.


> Yes, this is indeed my implication. That he could not have possibly already talked to very many women.

Wait, me? Heh. That proves, as a matter of fact, that you don't know shit about me.

> I would say the same thing if someone were to claim "Racism in America is over!"

Except I didn't make any such declaration, I said what I actually said, and you deflected from those actual words by fantasizing about me based on a straw man. I didn't say everything is fair for women, I say there is way bigger unfairness on other levels, up to murder and carpet bombing, and I know plenty of intelligent strong women who exactly zero problems not only realizing that, they'd feel insulted if I didn't assume they know that. I mean, geez.


> they have to deal with serious problems that their male counterparts do not.

Who denied that? But that still leaves the question is how to react to that, and furthermore, with what motivation, and what long-term goals, if any. Which is off-topic, granted, but it's not like I mean any of this to say that "asking a female engineer is dumb, why would that even be a thing", at least not as far as I'm concerned. It's a great idea, which is why I don't see much to talk about there. When a question comes to mind, I'll pose it, until then I might still respond to tangents others went on.

> And just because other people have things worse, doesn't mean that other important problems don't exist.

No, but it's a great litmus test for differentiating between people who care about inequality where it affects them, and not so much when it affects others. For something that has morality as the sole argument, that matters. It has nothing to do with engineering either. On the one hand, John Lennon's song "Woman is the nigger of the world" is still sadly true, on the other hand, so is Ron Dellums' response to the controversy it caused:

> If you define "niggers" as someone whose lifestyle is defined by others, whose opportunities are defined by others, whose role in society are defined by others, then Good News! You don't have to be black to be a "nigger" in this society. Most of the people in America are "niggers".

-- Ron Dellums

Is that what-aboutism? Or just saying "yeah, and if this upsets you, the next thing I'm going to show you is going to make you mad, because it contains an even HIGHER concentration of what you say makes you mad about this thing!". If then people react like cork to a magnet to that higher concentration, it's not the values and principles they care about, it's that they might get something out of it. Which all sorts of people do in all sorts of areas, making them lamers in my books, nothing more, nothing less.

Yes, the victimization happened and happens, and it's unacceptable and a screaming injustice. But there is still, on top of that, this fork in the road: where the question comes up whether someone wants to find ways to STOP being a victim, or if they want to find ways to USE that status. Both approaches are used by people, and they are mutually exclusive. Being off-topic doesn't make it less true or less unsettling a blind spot. Something like Crockford getting disinvited would never ever happened with reversed genders, and we're still talking about how only women have those unique experiences? I agree it doesn't matter in scale -- women "have it worse" atm in many respects -- but it does matter in principle, and where I get a scent that it doesn't, I absolutely am out, and so are dozens of women I know.

Yes, they want a fair shot, they don't want to die the death of a thousand paper cuts, but still no, resoundingly no, they don't want a vagina pass. They want to be peers, and being more than that would be just as bad to them as being less than that. They are not corrupt people, they have character. I suspect it correlates to that, and that many females, engineer or not, actually DO notice that on top of the shitty end of the stick they receive, there are these assholes prancing around with a vagina pass, making it worse for them and everybody for personal gain. So again, while it's off-topic, and wasn't even on my radar before I saw with what rhetoric and handwaving Jacob Appelbaum was assassinated in front of our eyes, I absolutely consider it a deal breaker, an elephant on the couch, something that needs to be dealt with and nipped in the bud. I am absolutely on board with and loyal to anyone who shares this disgust of doing using victimhood to victimize - the rest can fend for themselves. Against the better part of humanity too, I dare say.


> I’m constantly aware of being female. When a coworker looks to a junior male engineer on the team for help instead of me, a senior engineer.

This sounds like it could easily be confirmation bias. There is a long list of hypothetical reasons why this might be the case, including the desire to not bother a senior person - whose time is more valuable - by pestering them with questions that a junior person could answer.

If one is inclined to assume that this is a result of sexism, they are going to see imaginary sexism everywhere.

> Or when someone corrects my code in a way that shows their default assumption is that I don’t know something rather than that I made a mistake.

By some value systems, this would be the more generous assumption. If they were always assuming someone made a mistake (rather than simply being ignorant), one could equally well complain that this (the inverse assumption) was a result of sexism.


My question is why do feel people should ask you questions as 'Engineers' when you are posing anonymously with no qualifications or specific engineering credentials?

This leads me to the conclusion that this project should be renamed as "Ask a Female". Clearly this is the intention no?

My second question then is why do you think "Ask a Female questions" is an appropriate service for an audience that is concerned with Computing,Technology and related business ventures?

This seems like rather blatant stereotyping on your part. You are making the assumption that your audience are Men that have no Woman around to ask questions.

I have plenty of Woman around to ask questions without your service. And also plenty of engineers who I know the credentials of and trust there judgement whom I can ask technical questions. The thought that I would need some anonymous Woman to answer my random questions about no defined topic in particular is a little creepy.


The most mind boggling part of this whole thread is it appears that there are many people who don't know how to begin active communication with another human. What isn't being taught in schools?


The stereotypes about hackers having learned computers instead of (or due to a lack of) social skills aren't created entirely of whole cloth.

I'm personally more surprised that there are people on Hacker News who are surprised by this (although of course it's not true for many people).


Uh, no? In schools you get taught to sit still and do your exercises. And don't you dare bother anyone or speak up.

Communication is something you learn on the job and when you go out.


I wish we could all get along like we could when we were young school kids. Kids fight but at least they know how to empathize with each other when they try.


Here's my question:

"Why do you feel the need to constantly bring up your gender?"


"Because it is clear to me that it has caused problems in male dominated environments. I find it works better to take the bull by the horns and deal with that head on than to try to pretend I am not being treated differently when I am, in fact, being treated differently.

Thank you for asking."

(I am a woman, but not an engineer, fwiw.)


I want to be treated the same as everyone else.

Unless I am feeling uncomfortable, and then I want to be treated differently.


I have covered this before:

http://micheleincalifornia.blogspot.com/2014/01/oh-my-god-it...

So I assume you don't actually know me. Because, no, that isn't my position.


I don't know you, but I agree with what you have to say.

2) Talk to people who disagree with me (definitely applies)

3) Engage in polite public hand-slapping (I have benefited from this on occasion)

I have experienced the other side of the coin. I have been in several hiring positions where I was forced to hire more female engineers out of a desire to build a diverse workforce.

I have passed over qualified candidates for unqualified ones in the name of "diversity". To me that is more damaging to the perception of women in tech than anything else, and leads to environments where women in tech are viewed through an adversarial lens.

To me it feels like a one-way conversation, where gender is a trump card that automatically gives one side the right of way.

If it were up to me I wouldn't know a candidates gender until the first day they showed up for work.


I am doing what I can to promote better stuff. Though that mostly means blogging and giving my two cents worth in places like HN.

Join me in this diabolical plot. :-)

And have an upvote.


Not trying to be sarcastic but how would the world respond if someone starts, "Ask a male engineer"?


Try rather with: "ask a male nurse".

That is more comparable, i.e.: both are perfectly normal, but both are not too common for historical and possibly other reasons.


But I'm not trying to 'balance' anything out. Equality means equal regardless of gender.

So if one can have "Ask a female athlete", why not "Ask a male athlete". Your example is valid too.

This is a genuine question. How would it be unequal for males to start such a forum for anything they want?


To add some terminology: http://imgur.com/a/hS0yk

You're asking for the left picture, others are asking for the right picture.

As for how the world would respond... some would laugh, some would get mad. But that would be like if you walked into some poor rural town afflicted by unemployment and held up a sign that said "I make over $100k working a tech job in San Francisco. Every spare bit of change helps."

Some would laugh, others would want to punch your face.


I understand that picture very well. Thanks for bringing it up.

I really think equality of opportunity should exist beyond social lines like gender, race, disabilities etc.

But equality of outcome? Why? Why should everyone have equal outcome? What is the reward for hard work then? Why be a good person if being a bad one will bring the same outcome?

When everyone starts with the same opportunities, the hardworker, smartworker, dedicated, persistent deserves more than the lazy, douchebag, not dedicated, not doing something themselves and always wanting others to do things for them. Don't you agree?


I agree that equal outcome is undesirable. But if you truly had equal opportunity for something universally desired, let's say higher education, you would expect to see in your freshman class across all colleges a distribution matching the general population in all these factors, like gender/race/disabilities, and I would add wealth too.

But when we look at these distributions we see some under represented, and some over represented. That seems to imply that there wasn't equal opportunity, or there's different desirability among the groups (e.g. maybe 90% of very tall people would rather play NBA basketball than go to college).


[flagged]


> Why would you expect this? The mean IQ of black Americans is a standard deviation below that of Asians

Kind of agree here - but (and I'm saying this as someone who scores well in th IQ system and hold a well paid, technical job):

* why is it like this? I have nothing to back it up but I have a strong hunch that this difference might at least be partially attributed to something else than biology. I don't say "white oppression in 2016" but I fear that part of it is "learned helplessness" from centuries gone.

* why is it that university should be the best option for everyone (and that includes me)? Some of the very best techies I have worked with have gone the route of assistant technician-> technician -> add maths, physics, economy etc (because now they are motivated for it) -> fantastic boss, pm, technical lead etc.


the point of "ask a female engineer" or "ask a male nurse" is that these are "minority groups" in those respective contexts and have distinct life experiences and insights as a result.

> So if one can have "Ask a female athlete", why not "Ask a male athlete".

you seem stuck on the "can have" bit, which isn't really the point.


>> you seem stuck on the "can have" bit, which isn't really the point.

Ok, so you wouldn't oppose if a man goes and creates a group called, "Ask a brogrammer?"

brogrammer = funny slang for male programmers, not meant to offend anyone but to bring male humor to other males


"oppose"? no.

though, to me "brogrammer" is a slightly derogatory term meaning a programmer with an "obnoxious frat guy" personality.


Understandable.

As a non-frat guy, I get what you are saying. Even then, I find the term 'brogrammer' hilarious. I think of it as humor for guys.

It's kinda like the series, "Vagina monologues". Many men find it offensive, but it's humorous too right?


You should do it and I hope it would be hilarious.


> This is a genuine question. How would it be unequal for males to start such a forum for anything they want?

While I do care a lot I don't identify with the typical "SJW", so I think this should be perfectly OK, only very boring so I wouldn't create it.


Boring really?

As a male who enjoys company of other males (not sexually), I have not found it boring at all. Mixed groups have definitely been socially better but I'd pick male mentoring forums any day.

Boring isn't the first thing that comes to mind when I think of male-spaces. More like brotherhood, mentorship and competition.


I see. Don't name it that way then. It just annoys people and make it sound like you can only ask questions about being a male engineer which is kind of uneventful it seems.

Truth to be told I know there are women that enjoy hanging around in almost all-male groups as well because they find it more relaxed. Possibly wouldn't have believed if one of them hadn't told me though.


Please don't compare nurse, a rather low desired job, and engineering, a rather desired job. If you want to make a comparison, I would pick psychiatrist or veterinarian which both has similar desirability and technical requirements as engineering. Both also have a much worse gender equality ratios that engineering, with a trend going from bad to worse.

"Ask a male psychiatrist" would be a interesting idea to push for more gender equality, except that A), males with mental health issues (which such channel would be associated with) are generally treated as the lowest on the cultural pecking order, B) male psychiatrist is basically becoming a extinct concept.


Thanks! Please note though that I am not American and your experience might be a bit different than mine.

Around here nurses and engineers have exactly the same number of years in school. A veterinarian is two more years I think.

Edit: and you are making things worse by saying that being a nurse is an unattractive job.


Not an American also, as my view is based on the Swedish work market and culture.

When I say nurse is a less desired job, I mean that in the number of student applications and average grade requirements. That is not to say that nurse profession is an unattractive job. It just that all professions are not equally desired, and statistics on student choice and student competition reflects that.

Btw, nurse profession in Sweden is commonly 3 years, which is common for hands on professions like welders, plumbers, painters, musicians, carpenters and so on. Engineering is commonly 4 years, similar to veterinarian. Its the difference between master degree and bachelor's degree.

I do not think its a major leap that professions with master degree requirements is generally considered to be more desired, has generally a higher pay rate, and is generally fought over more harshly. As such, comparing two professions with master degree requirements makes more sense.


In Norway next to Sweden, nurse is three years "høgskole" after three years "videregående". Same goes for engineer (except "sivilingeniør" which is another two years on top of that).

Welder or carpenter is two years of "videregående" and then 2 (or more?) years as apprentice.

So

Nurse or engineer: 6 years study.

Welder, carpenter etc: 2 years study + 2 years as apprentice.


> engineer (except "sivilingeniør

Civil, which stands for civilian, is in contrast with the other form of engineer which is military engineer.

Maybe you are thinking of technician and not engineer. That is 4 years in Sweden, with 2 additional years to make it to technician specialist or civil engineer within a specialist area.

Engineer, medical doctors and specialists: 6 years or higher.

Nurse, technicians, plumbers, and the vast majority of professions covered under higher education: 4 years.

"yrekshögskola (YH)": 2 years or less.

The title of this discussion is "ask a female engineer", not "ask a female technician". My initial statement stands that we should compare master degree professions with other master degree professions, and bachelor's degree professions with other bachelor's degree professions. Further more, looking for similar educational requirements within each group would further narrow down suitable professions to compare.


For some reason I know a bit about Norwegian education and engineering degrees especially. ;-)

The degree I'm talking about is the Norwegian "høgskoleingeniør" which typically gives you a Bachelors degree, "sivilingeniør" is typically a Masters study. The nurse study also gives you a Bachelors degree in Norway (and can be used as a foundation for the midwife study which typically gives a masters degree as well IIRC.)


If it were a genuine attempt to maturely discuss gender issues in the workplace from a male point of view, the world would probably be okay with it.

If it were a knee-jerk "what about the menz?" fuck-you, then it'd be shouted down.

There are lots of books and magazines out there that maturely examine men's experiences from a man's point of view, and no-one is shrilly protesting them.


>> If it were a genuine attempt to maturely discuss gender issues in the workplace from a male point of view, the world would probably be okay with it.

This is genuine. Thanks!


The more attention you draw on diversity, the less diversity you receive. Diversity is supposed to be impartial and tolerant, yet it seems the prescribed approach is to carve out separate "spaces" for different feelings and situations. How is this building bridges in the so-called "gender divide"?

True diversity is complete and utter impartiality. Why are we focusing on all these useless, pretty, inspirational solutions (interviews, diversity name-and-shame, putting females in a zoo) when we really need to be attacking the mental characteristics that lead to sexist thought?

It's interesting she mentions voice so much. We men need to check our emotional responses to stupid inputs like "sound of voice" or "shape of body" or whatever. These things DO NOT MATTER. All that matters is ability. Nothing else!


I usually "explain" that to people by writing something like: There are all kinds of idiots. There are male idiots. There are female idiots. There are chinese idiots. There are black idiots. There are slovenian idiots. There are afganistany idiots. There are tall idiots. There are short idiots. There are american idiots. There are white idiots. There are ginger idiots.

And so on till i run out of ideas.

All prejudice are the same. In fact the only actual study i found that shows an actual difference between women and men when it comes to technology is by microsoft and it says that women have better spacial awareness with widescreen while it doesn't matter that much for men.

What i concluded myself is that all this PC crap is dehumanizing people and thus will probably lead to more misery then actual sexism (on average, that is). That partially comes from the fact that most older women like to be called "girl(s)", while the PC people find that derogatory.


It makes me wonder if all this nonsense is a conspiracy to continue discriminatory practices ("preserving the boys club") rather than correct them. Lots of people trying way too hard makes me suspicious.


I go by "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity".

I'm sure some are in it for personal gain (maybe even on bout sides), and that some are in it for actual social benefit (India comes to mind). But in general, no. It's just the usual chatter about social themes.

edit: Just to note, i find this here thread OK (but wish there were more actual engineering questions).


I think that getting women involved in STEM does exactly this:

> attacking the mental characteristics that lead to sexist thought

It's a forcing function. I really think that the current plan is the most logical approach given the current situation; though, we do need to eventually move away from it. Exactly when is going to be hard to nail down; too soon and everyone will revert to their sexist ways, too late and it's ceremony - not change.

In lieu of what you are saying, everyone needs to come to the table. This type of thing also needs to go away:

> Ada: [...] Otherwise I get home at night and realize I haven’t heard another woman’s voice all day.

I understand where she's coming from, though. As a trailblazer it might be hard when you realize that you are alone.


The "involved in STEM" can also go too far. For example more than half the bachelor degrees in biology are earned by women these days[1], which is nice.

But why do we still need special girls/women events to promote biology to women, when in fact we should promote biology to all?

Also, where are the programs to get boys interested in education or psychology, both of which are over three quarters female? This simply does not happen, at least not at scale, because the idea that it is women and women alone who must be "interested" in various things is too prevalent at the moment, for the right reasons but the wrong outcomes, if you ask me.

[1] http://www.randalolson.com/2014/06/14/percentage-of-bachelor...


> I think that getting women involved in STEM does exactly this: > attacking the mental characteristics that lead to sexist thought

I agree, but only as long as the end result is the best candidate for the job being hired. Granting special consideration to a group is just as bad as shutting them out.


Exactly:

* It becomes impossible for women to measure their growth. "Did I earn this promotion because of my gender?" As a man I face this reality all the time and it sucks.

* It becomes impossible for society to measure progress in terms of the overall moral compass. "Are people only hiring women because they are forced to?"


Doesn't matter in the end, once you get equality, then you can stop the positive bias, and also the problems of existing bias should reduce to near zero


How utopian.


Being equal doesn't mean being the same.

I assume that the intend is to acknowledge differences and educate people about that these arent signals for the actual work.

Don't really like to judge/opinonate about this topic b/c i have never been on the negative spectrum of this problem but to reply to your point and why my above comment relates to it.

The sexist thoughts imo in the end come from the fact that we aren't exposed to alternatives, build our value systems with this skewed reality and judge with this biased value system.

As in: I have never seen a successful female XYZ => I am looking for the patterns i saw in the successful (male) ones => I judge the candidate based on the patterns i saw => I created another skewed reality/example for the next person to build their value system


> As in: I have never seen a successful female XYZ => I am looking for the patterns i saw in the successful (male) ones => I judge the candidate based on the patterns i saw => I created another skewed reality/example for the next person to build their value system

"I have never seen a successful female XYZ" <-- why does 'female' or gender even need to be in that sentence? That's what I can't figure out. People are purposefully inserting gender considerations where they plainly do not belong. That's what needs to stop. Because WTF does being man or woman have anything to do with computers? Assuming one knows how to talk to computers, they don't care.... why should we?


of course we shouldn't but how do we get there with no inbetween steps?

we should have a perfectly unbiased point of view and never subconsciously skew ourselves/be skewed in our opinion

the only problem is that the same thing (our brain) we use to decide if we are unbiased is the same thing that creates the worldview that decides what bias is for us.


> i have never been on the negative spectrum of this problem

To the extent that underrepresentation of the group that I identify with is a "problem", I think you and I probably both have. Programming as a profession is dominated by Asians, specifically Indians. When I completed my master's degree in computer science at an American university, I was one of only a half-dozen non-Indian citizens in the entire program (and one of only two white men). There were lots of women, but they were all from India. In my professional work as a developer, I've seen the same massive overrepresentation of Indian programmers.

Of course, I don't see this as a "problem" that my fellow, downtrodden white men need "diversity initiatives" to "overcome": Indian people, for whatever reason, just appear to have more interest and motivation in pursuing programming education and careers. The only time it grates on me is when I see somebody from $APPROVED_OPPRESSED_MINORITY_GROUP insisting that not only their group's representation, but specifically their group's representation in comparison to that of white men, is somehow a problem that I brought about.


The more attention you draw on diversity, the less diversity you receive.

Yeah, they are doing it badly. But no one seems to have an actual good solution. You know the saying: Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.

You gotta start somewhere.


“Ask a Female Engineer”

Why leave other important engineering characteristics out? Are you fat,skinny,tall,short,ugly,pretty , white,or black?

I really don't see the importance of sex in relations to engineering.

Nor understand the desire to get more fat,skinny,tall,short,ugly,pretty , white, black , male or females involved in engineering.


I'm short and skinny. (I wouldn't normally describe myself as ugly, but, who knows? I guess that's not up to me to say...).

It seems to me there are a ton of short skinny guys in the software engineering industry, so I rarely feel out of place on those particular grounds. If you have a specific question about that experience, though, I'd happily answer it.

I have noticed that the paucity of women is undeniable and pervasive, and it does at times lead to a dude's club atmosphere. Not every minute of every day in every way, but it's around. Overt sexism isn't generally tolerated, because, well, it's overt, but the environment is definitely experienced differently by many women than for men, in a million small ways, which can add up to big feelings.


"but the environment is definitely experienced differently by many women than for men, in a million small ways, which can add up to big feelings."

absolutely agree, but that goes both ways and can be both positive and negative for both sexes.

A fat, ugly, short male or female engineer will likely have a different experience than a skinny,attractive, male or female engineer.

personally I think looks has more of an impact than sex or even color when it comes to discrimination and no I dont consider myself ugly or fat.


For some things, looks matter a lot. For other things, gender matters a lot. Of course, the way we evaluate looks is itself highly gendered. These are all things worth talking about! That at some particular time, someone wants to discuss one thing doesn't mean dismissing all other concerns or conversations.


wasn't suggesting that you were dismissing all other concerns.

I just didn't see the point of stating your sexuality when that by itself really means nothing.

Not all women and men are created equal and other factors such as looks,weight,height,color can make all the differences on experiences.Even among same sexes.


While your request is a little unreasonable, this is actually important. A younger, attractive male teacher at a primary school likely has a very different experience from an obese, older man.


I don't see why it was unreasonable to ask why only state sexuality over other equal characteristics that get discriminated against on the topic.


For those that are down voting, care to expand on why?

Or perhaps explain why the following characteristics are irrelevant or less important when it comes to engineering:

fat,skinny,tall,short,ugly,pretty , white,or black?


You're welcome to start your own "ask a fat engineer" page. Other people don't have to cater their topics to your personal interests.

Here, you can start an "ask a tall engineer" page with some comments from me: office chairs are too small and I have to shift posture constantly; communal desks are too low; and there's nowhere high enough to try a standing desk.


Nice, why the hostility? Nobody said anything about catering .

I was curious on the importance of defining the individual as female , but leaving other non engineering characteristics out?


> Nice, why the hostility?

Because your original comment wasn't innocent or genuine, and you already know the answer to it. It's a comment that gets made every. single. time. something like this comes up, has been answered a million times before, and it's not worth pandering to.


[flagged]


> Or maybe you can't justify the value of simply stating female in the topic heading.

Stop it already: point is it should be OK for anyone to start any group they want but some are bound to be more interesting than others.

You are starting to annoy even me and I'm definitely a non-"SJW". (although I do care and will sometimes make an effort to fix things, just not in a "SJW" style blame-society-and-all-white-men way)


Sounds like you got some issues if you are letting someone annoy you, in a forum where you are not forced to participate.

So according to you the point is that it should be OK for anyone to start any group they want , however its not ok to ask any question.

On a good note despite your hypocrisy on allowing any subject to be created while controlling the questions that can be asked, you atleast have been consistent.

You have been consistent in making personal attacks and dodging the questions on the value of stating "Female" engineer. Good job!

I never said it was wrong to start the thread with that title, I just questioned the purpose or value to include female the in title.


i can't downvote but:

> I really don't see the importance of sex in relations to engineering

that expression is too vague to really say anything about. there exist "minority groups" in various fields (such as "male nurses"), and said groups sometimes have distinct life experiences and insights as a result, including their relationship with the "majority group".

> Or perhaps explain why the following characteristics are irrelevant or less important when it comes to engineering

this seems non-sequitur or a strawman. the mere existence of "ask a female engineer" does not necessarily imply anything about other potential "ask a _ engineer" q&a's.


"that expression is too vague to really say anything about"

The same goes for "Ask a Female Engineer" hence I wanted more information about other non engineering characteristics such as her height,weight, color, height, etc.

"this seems non-sequitur or a strawman"

Its not a strawman it was a valid question , why did she only decide to single out her sex. Why not disclose her weight,height,color,etc?


> The same goes for "Ask a Female Engineer"

non-sequitur. it's a q&a with a particular segment of individuals. if you're not interested in the experiences and insights of a segment of the workforce, you don't have to ask anything.

however, asking about "the importance of sex in relations to engineering" requires explanation of what you mean by "importance" and "engineering". otherwise it's a bit of a weaselly question.

> Its not a strawman

you said: "explain why the following characteristics are irrelevant". nobody said they were.

> why did she only decide to single out her sex

did you not even look at the link? even the first paragraph? there isn't a "she" who "decided to single out her sex". it's a content publisher/blog (?) that took questions and then posited them to a group of female engineers.


[flagged]


> Its not a weaselly question or a strawman. Its a fair and valid question.

it's not, because it's unclear, and i demonstrated why it's unclear. you refuse to clarify.

"important" in what way? the mechanical exercise of job functions? individual qualia? cultural aspects? something else?

"to engineering" in what way? the position requirements of a job? the industry economics? the workforce as a body of humans? the state of the art? social climate?

this is what i mean - it's not immediately clear what you're asking, so any answer is dismissable.

> versus stating other non engineering characteristics

what is an "engineering characteristic"?

> what is the value of stating they are female when not all females are the same

there is no "value" in "stating they are female". it's a statement of fact. so, the question is unclear. you also haven't explained why the notion of "not all females are the same" implies anything about a so-called "value of stating they are female".

> nor do they automatically have the same experiences simply because of their sex

"experience" isn't a fixed unary number. it's a manifold of many things. it's a trivially true observation that two individuals will have individual experiences of life. this says nothing of overlapping or commonality.


I clarified, you are just BSing. Sometimes a question is a question.

There is no value or purpose added by stating you are female in the title. Clearly all females don’t think alike or have the same experiences.

There is nothing wrong with asking why was "Female" added to the title , but not other characteristics such as height,weight,age,color,weight, etc.


there is no specific answer to such an open question, beyond minority genders have distinct experiences (like male nurses). you could just as well be asking why engineer was "added to the title" but not other characteristics.


Some research shows for women, the prettier you are the easier it is to get ahead maybe the halo effect ? For men there is research that shows the taller you are, the more money you get.

The stuff you mentioned should probably be a separate conversion, but I do think there is probably overlap with the gender issue.

Its not about just technical ability, but social and economic power through jobs.


> For those that are down voting, care to expand on why?

Because you're challenging the feminist manifesto.


Cue defensive comments from male readers...


Please don't post like this here. It adds noise and, if it has any other effect at all, probably increases the odds of such defensiveness.


I don't understand how anyone can read this thread and not think HN has many "defensive" posters.


Thank you for noticing and commenting.

But, it would be more helpful to women here if more men engaged us in a meaningful manner. Post our articles. Say non vacuous things about us or this problem space. Upvote us. Talk with us.

Commenting on how some men mishandle it puts more energy into the wrong things. If you want to see real change, give that energy instead to constructive actions that involve women.


Boy oh boy, so many. Any time a woman dares to lament how maybe her experiences in tech are colored by that minority status, Hacker News pounces en masse with little self-awareness.

Not everyone on HN, of course. But, overall, threads like this are... distressing to read.


I think there's quite a bit of self-awareness and honesty in questioning these types of initiatives.

So many of these "women in tech" discussions are thiny veiled power plays to take economic and decision making power away from developers. In the past few years we've seen feminists call for Linus Torvalds' head, attacks on the _concept_ of meritocracy, codes of conduct forced down many open source project's throats, masses of women only networking and hiring events, diversity drives that favor hiring women over men, many social media witch hunts against engineers of all levels...

At some point you have to step back and question the narrative that's being pushed. There is not, and never has been anything stopping women from learning to code. All you need is a computer, an internet connection and self motivation.


> At some point you have to step back and question the narrative that's being pushed. There is not, and never has been anything stopping women from learning to code. All you need is a computer, an internet connection and self motivation.

I think the narrative is more focused on women being treated differently (whether that is intentional or not) in existing social / work settings in the industry. I did not get the impression this article was referring to learning, but perhaps I missed those points.


> I think there's quite a bit of self-awareness and honesty in questioning these types of initiatives.

Sometimes "self awareness" is code for "willingness to limit oneself to 'approved positions'"


The vote total on this went quite a bit up, and now has crashed all the way down. It'd be cool to see upvote/downvote splits instead of having to deduce them by paying frequent enough attention to track history in this way.


Yes. This.

Most of my career was in electrical engineering and electronics design. Until one month ago, after finally transitioning into a 100% software role with a 100% software shop after 15 years in tech, I work with a female engineer. 15 years, a dozen companies. One, lone female engineer. It is this experience that helps inform me to the problems of inequity in tech. It also has exposed me to many, many defensive colleagues who are all good people...but cannot divorce their own personal worth from the topic. They are hypersensitive to perceived criticisms.


Yes... I came into this thread wanting to comment about how I relate strongly to Jules, but then was disheartened at the many comments diminishing these experiences. Oh well. the "DGAF" attitude mentioned at the bottom of the article works wonders for worrying about things like HN ;)


True.

HN never seems more like Reddit than when we're discussing diversity (gender, race, economic). All the bad habits (mansplaining, straw man arguments etc.) you find elsewhere seem to suddenly rise to the surface.

Distressing indeed.


If you want people to take your opinions on gender issues seriously, it's probably best not to use sexist terms like "mansplaining".

Edit (for some reason, locked from commenting further):

> It describes a specific behavior almost entirely practiced by men

Um no it doesn't. Possibly the word your looking for is condescending (that's usually what people mean when they say "mansplaining"). I don't see that here though. This is just a thread with men and women voicing their opinions (very respectfully I might add).

Men are allowed to have thoughts and feelings. It's not right to shame them for it and it's not right to gender an attack of any kind. If someone is being a jerk, call out that individual, don't blame a whole gender.


It's a bummer you couldn't comment further, this thread is going to look a little out of order.

But let's get real here.

This isn't about male victimization. This is about the inability of a privileged class to see it's own privilege. Read this whole thread and what you see are many men who don't recognize their own privilege, men who are blind to individual and structural biases. And because they don't see it they wonder what all the fuss is? They wonder why we keep bugging them with "initiatives" and blog posts.

You get this same behavior with race, gender, money, class etc. The excuses are also the same: "it's not about gender, it's just people being condescending to each other sometimes", "it's not about race, it's just people being mean to each other sometimes". It's an easy trick, it's absolution.

But the inequalities persist. The biases persist. They are unconscious and they are subtle. They are structural. They are written into laws, into company policy, into city ordinances, and work place culture.

We shouldn't be afraid to name these behaviors. We shouldn't get tired of fighting them. And I say we, because I (yes, i'm one of you men) am also guilty.


Let me respectfully suggest that if you wish to be part of the solution instead of paet of the problem, you go thoughtfully engage some of the comments made here by people self identifying as female instead of arguing with a man in this way. Your arguments here are part of the problem because it promotes a "what about da menz" environment while also giving the man you are arguing with reason to dig in his heels. This is likely yo make his position more entrenchedcrather than less.

And, in theory, if I had any sense, I would probably be doing this as a blog post rather than as a reply to you, which risks being experienced by you as an attack. But, in practice, being too careful seems to amount to being ineffectual.


I don't see your comment as an attack (criticizism is aok), but i do want to understand it.

Are you saying that i am simultaneously minimizing gender diversity in tech ("what about da menz") AND encouraging more folks to do so by being too blunt?

If you are (again, i'm not sure what you're saying), i'd say the first point is a wrong reading of my comments. The second point is a little better. I am being blunt, but that's just what the doctor ordered here.

EDIT (can't reply to your comment):

That is better, thank you for clarifying.

I had not thought about silence as the biggest problem for women in tech. I don't know the gender of the first poster i replied to, but maybe i should have made a point to engage with one of the female engineers in the thread.

Maybe it's a blind spot, something i have to keep an eye out for and be better at. Will be thinking about it for sure.

I still believe in my comments about some of these attitudes that are popular on HN. We should all talk about them.


I am saying that actions speak louder than words. I am saying men already talk to men plenty, even debate them in a meaty way. The biggest problem women have in STEM is the deafening silence that greets them at every turn.

I am saying if you really want progress, talking with women solves the problem of deafening silence in a very immediate way while setting an example to follow. Examples are generally more effective at fomenting positive social change than criticism of those claiming the problem is not real.

Is that clearer?

Thank you for replying.

Edit: I saw your update. Thanks.


I think my usage of "mansplaining" is pretty ideal here. It describes a specific behavior almost entirely practiced by men and which is being practiced right here and now.

The interesting part about "mansplaining" (as it were), is that it's usually slathered in "appeals to reason", logical fallacies, declarations of impartiality etc. etc.

But it's easy to spot.


> usually slathered in "appeals to reason", logical fallacies, declarations of impartiality

If you think that other posters have engaged in logical fallacies, why not quote the text, name the fallacy, and explain how you think it applies?

Re: "appeals to reason", we absolutely should strive to be reasonable in our evaluation of claims and positions. I believe this is the main reason that various kinds of ideologues get strong pushback on HN.


[flagged]


Please don't do this here. Adding uncivil/unsubstantive comments to a difficult subject just makes things worse for everyone.

Fortunately this thread attracted a wealth of substantive original contributions in addition to some of the usual predictable stuff. I've enjoyed reading many of the comments, which is... not exactly typical for such subject matter.


It is good to see YC trying to use its platform to move this discussion forward, but I think that the title of the series is inherently troublesome. Referring to women software engineers as female software engineers is reductive and dehumanizing. Men are not usually referred to as “males”. Frankly, it sounds like a Ferenghi.


That's a bit of a knee-jerk, I think. Men are referred to as "male software engineers", because "men software engineers" sounds absolutely ridiculous.

The asymmetry you're thinking of is when people refer to women as "females" and men as "men". That's a super offensive one, because we usually only use "female" and "male" as nouns when speaking about animals. Better, more specific words exist for humans.

In the current situation, though, "female" is being used as an adjective, which is correct. The only alternative is to (ab)use "woman" as an apposite noun, which sometimes works, but can go terribly wrong as a general rule: "Ask a Man Nurse" vs. "Ask a Male Nurse"

All that said, due to common usage "woman" works as an apposite in many places where "man" does not ("woman president" is fine, "man president" sounds weird).

See http://www.slate.com/blogs/lexicon_valley/2016/02/18/when_yo... for more on all this.


I completely disagree. "Female" and "male" are adjectives. "Women" and "men" are plural nouns. "Women software engineers" isn't even grammatically correct.

[noun profession]: man painter - someone who paints a man.

[adjective profession]: male painter - a man who paints.


Wrong way around. 'Female' is the adjective, 'woman' is the noun. We don't speak of 'man drivers' or 'man politicians', and I've never heard the series of words 'man engineers'/'man software engineers'. We talk about male and female athletes, but not man and woman athletes.

(yes, female can be used as a noun by itself, but usually it's an adjective modifying a noun)


> Men are not usually referred to as “males”.

citation needed, i guess. perhaps it's a background thing, as i've heard and used the terms "male" and "female" more frequently than "men" and "women" in my adult life. the latter set seems marginally "less serious" to me personally, though otherwise identical.





Applications are open for YC Winter 2018

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | DMCA | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: