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Introducing “Ask a Female Engineer” (themacro.com)
174 points by cbcowans on Sept 8, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 458 comments

> 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."



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.


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:


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:


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.


- 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.


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."


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?"


"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:


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.


- "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.



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:


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...

"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.

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