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.
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?"
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.
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.
If you are thinking about it you should probably seek a lawyer because they are not your friend.
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.
In what workplace is it not appropriate to speak to someone else?
I'm not sure what you mean by this. What's the meaning of "HR appropriate"?
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.
[dodges plate] "My coworker!"
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.)
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.
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 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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I don't care about your coffee habits. There is a conversation happening, and you're responding to only one part of it.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I wish it weren't necessary. Perhaps someday it won't be.
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.
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.
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
The idea is that you treat them like people, not like a bag of stereotypes.
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.
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.
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."
I'm with you, treat 'em like they're people. And quit distinguishing them as different, like TFA.
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.
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 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?
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.
"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?”
"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.
- 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.
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.
I guess you could say you want the implication to be clear and fairly unambiguous, but not explicit/provable.
Double entendre comes to mind.
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!"
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.
funnily, that would beat the purpose entirely.
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.
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?"
"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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
The correct response for that would be.. "Don't worry, you're not my type."
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.
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. 
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.
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."
If you ask once, and get rebuffed, at least you've done your part to not exclude.
Wanna grab lunch with me and Bob on Friday?
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.
"Hey would you like to go out for coffee professionally?"
These signal that you know something about the person besides their gender, and indicate you might actually be interesting to talk to.
"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.
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.
Try phrases like this:
Meet for coffee.
Grab a coffee together.
Let's discuss (professional thing) over coffee.
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.
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.
Your honesty is refreshing. I also prefer a greater diversity in my activities.
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.
Is that not the case? Or is it ok compared to Europe?
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?
1.) Not completely. This profession isn't appealing to a lot of women for many reasons outside of it being prominently male dominated.
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.
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.
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.
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.
> 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.
"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.
It seemed pretty clear most people considered compsci pretty low on the social status hierarchy.
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. 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.
Exactly! I know exactly how to achieve gender parity in tech, force more women to do it. But alas, that's even worse!
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.
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.
No. Not at all.
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.
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.")
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.)
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.
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 ].
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." 
Thus you'll have bias in the # of people who respond to a call for proposals.
[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...
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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?
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 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.
- "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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Those first two seem more like your personal preferences than something universally despised by women.
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.
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.
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.
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.
B) There are a shortage of labor in tech
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.
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.)
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).
Because, realistically, to achieve equal representation, people would have to forced into careers they are not interested in.
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.
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.
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?
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 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.
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 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.
If someone is asking specifically for a woman's point of view then stay out of that, but otherwise I wouldn't be discouraged.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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  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.  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. 
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
I'm not sure you actually have spoken to that many women, have you?
That is a pretty sexist and insulting statement.
So, my areas are where your statement had better chance of being true but was still wrong and sexist with a sample size of 1000+. Most women try to have a good job where they get stuff done with desirable pay and environment. Like the men do.
absolutely agree and it is obvious.This is simply about trying to expand the pool of qualified individuals to drive down the salary.
That's an approach I disagree with, especially since there are many female engineers who are willing to discuss these issues openly and would benefit from the exposure from The Macro/HN.
Eg. I imagine it to be quite hard to be primarily known for engineering work and not for "example for female in engineering"
I'm pretty sure I'm not planning to tell them I'm pregnant if I can avoid it.
1. In the same job (say, sr. developer) with equivalent qualifications, what differences in approach, behavior, and performance can one attribute to someone being a man or a woman?
2. How would you recommend responding to a peer, a subordinate, or a superior who behaves in a way that reinforces negative stereotypes about their identity?
People are who they are and go where they want. Tech is no exception.
When one walks into a car garage, one doesn't make a fuss about mechanics being all men.
When one walks into a kindergarden, one doesn't make a fuss about teachers being all women.
Have you had conversations with other people about this stuff or have you deduced it all from first principles?
I feel like gender only matters to the kind of people that gender matters to (tautologies are cool).
But I agree, being confrontational will not fix things. At the same time, it being subconscious makes it not a single person's fault. One can and should do better than that, but if sub-ideal situations happen (within reason), it does not mean the person is bad. So actions can be judged with this in mind for now, and everyone can be less afraid to make mistakes.
Someone questions my abilities to drive the heavy car for a long distance, but never the guys'? Let's have a look at what is happening, laugh about it and correct for it. But it has to be out in the open.
Could you link to this research? I'm curious to see what studies have to say.
You can not have a conversation with circular logic like this.
How does that solve any gender problems? I don't see how me not reading certain topics solves gender problems.
What does this have to do with being a female? It sounds like every meeting I've ever attended.
I don't get it. I mean, as a middle-aged white guy in an affluent society with social welfare and healthcare I've never experienced anything uncomfortable, of course. Never experienced anything unpleasant.
I have personally received death threats multiple times after making "controversial" changes to an open source project I work on (as in: good in the long term for the project, bad in the short term for users). And I stopped counting the number of times I've read I should "kill myself". But guess what, instead of writing long blog posts explaining I'll quit open source development because of death threats, I just ignore them and continue doing what's best for the project. So far I don't think I've died yet, so that seems to be working pretty well.
There's also the long tail of death threats you won't even find out unless you look for them specifically (like, going on 4chan to read users talking about your project there). I've seen some other contributors to similar projects getting personally insulted, called "greedy jews" because they asked for donations to buy research hardware, and also being heavily encouraged to kill themselves. They also don't make drama about it, and in fact they'd probably be quite unhappy that I'm even mentioning it publicly.
So yeah, if I were looking to create drama I'd have more than enough material to do so, and I also could probably get "hounded out of my industry" if I was willing to.
I also think that TheSpiceIsLife has a point. Somewhere along the lines of championing equality it became unpopular to show empathy for males. For instance within my team we are now required to make sure that we ask everyone what their opinion is on any given matter just in case someone was too shy to speak up. I like the intent but to be honest being forced to do it kind of implies that we were not doing this previously. I'm sick of being treated like the bad guy simply for being a man.
I got the same thing growing up as a poor white kid. My problems were some how not real problems because it was easier for me being white..
As I said before, I do not like identity politics. Some may think that a laughable statement from a white man. Perhaps it is less so from a homosexual man. I hope not, because I'm perfectly happy to have people who would disregard what I say, solely because I fail to check the right boxes on their little lists, filter themselves out of the discourse in which I participate. They are beneath me. They are beneath you. They are beneath all thoughtful and sensitive people, and it is well they behave in accord with their station.
I also don't think one need lend any credence to identity politics in order to regard such harassment as that under discussion as contemptible and disgusting in its own right. It's not that this is bad because it happens to women. It's bad because it happens at all. And there are men, too, who have been hounded out of our industry. The tactics differ, but the end is the same. An industry in which such things happen to anyone is not worthy of any of us.
I have a lot of sympathy for what you're saying about feeling attacked just because you're male, or that your problems are dismissed just because you're white. I know those feelings, too, quite well. I understand why you feel that way, because I feel that way sometimes too. Sometimes we are attacked just because we're male. Sometimes our problems are dismissed just because we're white. When that happens, it's very easy to overlook nuance. But it's very important that we refuse to do so, because nuance of any kind is anathema to those who hew strongly to identity politics and employ its false model of humanity and interpersonal relations as a tool in their quest for power.
In that quest, no one is sacred. I know that those who engage in it claim otherwise. Evaluate their actions, not their words. I've had opportunity to do so in their treatment of homosexuals like myself. These people have claimed for years to be fighting on our side. "We are for you," they have said. "No one else is. You can trust us. We want to help." On the strength of these lies they have driven through laws and forcibly engineered social changes which would have been unimaginable only a few decades ago. Many of us believed these changes to be entirely to our benefit. Many of us still do. They are not. In the short term, it's true that these changes have offered some gay people better lives than they would otherwise have. In the long term, it is very probable that we will all find ourselves much worse off than we would be, had we not been exploited by the cynical and power-hungry. The changes I describe did not arise organically. They were enforced. Those upon whom they were enforced are angry about this. There are many of them, and few of us. I do not think it safe to assume such a bill will never be presented for collection. But when that happens, those who incurred it will be nowhere nearby. They have what they wanted from us. We'll be the ones to pay its price.
But it's not the same for a straight man - it's worse, in the short run at least. You can be of no use to them, so they have no cause to show you even false and bitter kindness, and the most for which you can hope is that you be permitted to abase yourself in exchange for some minimal sufferance. Or you may be swept away. And the decision is not yours to make.
That, at least, is the world they would create. They have not yet succeeded. They need not succeed at all. But they only become more likely to do so when we permit them to dictate the terms of engagement. We need not surrender so. Indeed, we must not. And part of that is retaining our grasp of nuance, of subtlety - of the fact that there is no such thing as collective humanity, that we are every one of us special - and that none of us is.
You do not deserve to be attacked, to be dismissed, as you are. Kathy Sierra did not deserve to be hounded from our industry, as she was. Men do not deserve to be mistreated because we are men. Women do not deserve to be mistreated because they are women. Those who do the former are the same as those who do the latter. They differ only in their tactics and their targets. This is a subtlety. It is easy to overlook in a world made less subtle by the day. But, if we're to have any hope of a better future - for everyone - than that to which we'd be consigned by those who love only power, we must take care to see clearly.
As a result, I did get a great many rape threats and violence threats because they thought I was female -- form people whose identities were not hidden at all, in fact (eg: CTOs of startups in SV with more than $40M in venture capital behind them were threatening me with rape).
These were the "feminists" threatening a perceived female for defending a male, who was not being sexist, but who was the current target of 5 minutes of hate.
Given the amount of harassment anti-gamergate people have engaged in, and the fact that every single thing they claim gamer gate does, they are doing (while I've not really seen gamer gate do it) and the rape threats I got... I think the harassers are the SJWs.
I am talking about national diversity. Engineering teams are composed of a huge percentage of foreign born workers who carry truly diverse experiences. The difference in experience between nationalities completely trumps the differences in experience between gender and race within the same nationality.
Looking for diversity in the form of race and gender is unproductive given the current diversity in the work force. American females have a very similar experience as American males, as do African Americans and White Americans in this context. Americans regardless of race and gender are all part of the same tribe.
The current diversity in the tech world have made in groups almost non-existent. No one nationality has had a large enough share of the engineering population for in groups to form and be problematic.
tldr: Diversity in the form of nationality is prevalent in the tech world. National diversity creates true diversity while gender and race diversity creates insignificant diversity.
How can you say that after reading the first question in the article? Do you think the editor was just cherry picking the most extreme anecdotes they could find?
But this whole project is one big carefully edited carefully constructed exercise in social activism designed to promote the feminist narrative that the tech industry is a horrible misogynistic man cave. And also spread the idea that Male dominated professions are somehow inherently bad and need to redeemed by stuffing more Women into the industry by force.
The experience of women engineers is vastly different than those of male engineers.
Also, what do they disagree on - that an Iraqi bombed to death is worse off than even a poor albino woman in the US? That starving to death in Africa as a male is worse than being a female engineer wherever? Technically, you just called "most female engineers" very ignorant and selfish.
Because I have spoken to a lot of them, and read about many of their experiences. And the vast majority of them say the same thing. That they have to deal with serious problems that their male counterparts do not.
And just because other people have things worse, doesn't mean that other important problems don't exist.
Maybe both of our sets of women engineers involve some selection bias?
Regardless, I find this...
> Maybe you should talk to some women engineers sometime and get their opinion.
... and the implication that you have enough information to conclude that the parent simply _could not_ have already talked to women engineers - and the further implication that your assessment of the opinions of women engineers must necessarily be canonical - to be strangely arrogant, condescending, and unconstructive.
Every post from the article seems to support my claim and not yours. Thats only N= 4 or 5, but thats still something.
"and the implication that you have enough information to conclude that the parent simply _could not_ have already talked to women engineers "
Yes, this is indeed my implication. That he could not have possibly already talked to very many women.
I would say the same thing if someone were to claim "Racism in America is over!"
Such a person who makes this claim has clearly not talked to very many black people, or hasn't listened to them.
Wait, me? Heh. That proves, as a matter of fact, that you don't know shit about me.
> I would say the same thing if someone were to claim "Racism in America is over!"
Except I didn't make any such declaration, I said what I actually said, and you deflected from those actual words by fantasizing about me based on a straw man. I didn't say everything is fair for women, I say there is way bigger unfairness on other levels, up to murder and carpet bombing, and I know plenty of intelligent strong women who exactly zero problems not only realizing that, they'd feel insulted if I didn't assume they know that. I mean, geez.
Who denied that? But that still leaves the question is how to react to that, and furthermore, with what motivation, and what long-term goals, if any. Which is off-topic, granted, but it's not like I mean any of this to say that "asking a female engineer is dumb, why would that even be a thing", at least not as far as I'm concerned. It's a great idea, which is why I don't see much to talk about there. When a question comes to mind, I'll pose it, until then I might still respond to tangents others went on.
> And just because other people have things worse, doesn't mean that other important problems don't exist.
No, but it's a great litmus test for differentiating between people who care about inequality where it affects them, and not so much when it affects others. For something that has morality as the sole argument, that matters. It has nothing to do with engineering either. On the one hand, John Lennon's song "Woman is the nigger of the world" is still sadly true, on the other hand, so is Ron Dellums' response to the controversy it caused:
> If you define "niggers" as someone whose lifestyle is defined by others, whose opportunities are defined by others, whose role in society are defined by others, then Good News! You don't have to be black to be a "nigger" in this society. Most of the people in America are "niggers".
-- Ron Dellums
Is that what-aboutism? Or just saying "yeah, and if this upsets you, the next thing I'm going to show you is going to make you mad, because it contains an even HIGHER concentration of what you say makes you mad about this thing!". If then people react like cork to a magnet to that higher concentration, it's not the values and principles they care about, it's that they might get something out of it. Which all sorts of people do in all sorts of areas, making them lamers in my books, nothing more, nothing less.
Yes, the victimization happened and happens, and it's unacceptable and a screaming injustice. But there is still, on top of that, this fork in the road: where the question comes up whether someone wants to find ways to STOP being a victim, or if they want to find ways to USE that status. Both approaches are used by people, and they are mutually exclusive. Being off-topic doesn't make it less true or less unsettling a blind spot. Something like Crockford getting disinvited would never ever happened with reversed genders, and we're still talking about how only women have those unique experiences? I agree it doesn't matter in scale -- women "have it worse" atm in many respects -- but it does matter in principle, and where I get a scent that it doesn't, I absolutely am out, and so are dozens of women I know.
Yes, they want a fair shot, they don't want to die the death of a thousand paper cuts, but still no, resoundingly no, they don't want a vagina pass. They want to be peers, and being more than that would be just as bad to them as being less than that. They are not corrupt people, they have character. I suspect it correlates to that, and that many females, engineer or not, actually DO notice that on top of the shitty end of the stick they receive, there are these assholes prancing around with a vagina pass, making it worse for them and everybody for personal gain. So again, while it's off-topic, and wasn't even on my radar before I saw with what rhetoric and handwaving Jacob Appelbaum was assassinated in front of our eyes, I absolutely consider it a deal breaker, an elephant on the couch, something that needs to be dealt with and nipped in the bud. I am absolutely on board with and loyal to anyone who shares this disgust of doing using victimhood to victimize - the rest can fend for themselves. Against the better part of humanity too, I dare say.
This sounds like it could easily be confirmation bias. There is a long list of hypothetical reasons why this might be the case, including the desire to not bother a senior person - whose time is more valuable - by pestering them with questions that a junior person could answer.
If one is inclined to assume that this is a result of sexism, they are going to see imaginary sexism everywhere.
> Or when someone corrects my code in a way that shows their default assumption is that I don’t know something rather than that I made a mistake.
By some value systems, this would be the more generous assumption. If they were always assuming someone made a mistake (rather than simply being ignorant), one could equally well complain that this (the inverse assumption) was a result of sexism.
This leads me to the conclusion that this project should be renamed as "Ask a Female". Clearly this is the intention no?
My second question then is why do you think "Ask a Female questions" is an appropriate service for an audience that is concerned with Computing,Technology and related business ventures?
This seems like rather blatant stereotyping on your part. You are making the assumption that your audience are Men that have no Woman around to ask questions.
I have plenty of Woman around to ask questions without your service. And also plenty of engineers who I know the credentials of and trust there judgement whom I can ask technical questions. The thought that I would need some anonymous Woman to answer my random questions about no defined topic in particular is a little creepy.
I'm personally more surprised that there are people on Hacker News who are surprised by this (although of course it's not true for many people).
Communication is something you learn on the job and when you go out.
"Why do you feel the need to constantly bring up your gender?"
Thank you for asking."
(I am a woman, but not an engineer, fwiw.)
Unless I am feeling uncomfortable, and then I want to be treated differently.
So I assume you don't actually know me. Because, no, that isn't my position.
2) Talk to people who disagree with me (definitely applies)
3) Engage in polite public hand-slapping (I have benefited from this on occasion)
I have experienced the other side of the coin. I have been in several hiring positions where I was forced to hire more female engineers out of a desire to build a diverse workforce.
I have passed over qualified candidates for unqualified ones in the name of "diversity". To me that is more damaging to the perception of women in tech than anything else, and leads to environments where women in tech are viewed through an adversarial lens.
To me it feels like a one-way conversation, where gender is a trump card that automatically gives one side the right of way.
If it were up to me I wouldn't know a candidates gender until the first day they showed up for work.
Join me in this diabolical plot. :-)
And have an upvote.
That is more comparable, i.e.: both are perfectly normal, but both are not too common for historical and possibly other reasons.
So if one can have "Ask a female athlete", why not "Ask a male athlete". Your example is valid too.
This is a genuine question. How would it be unequal for males to start such a forum for anything they want?
You're asking for the left picture, others are asking for the right picture.
As for how the world would respond... some would laugh, some would get mad. But that would be like if you walked into some poor rural town afflicted by unemployment and held up a sign that said "I make over $100k working a tech job in San Francisco. Every spare bit of change helps."
Some would laugh, others would want to punch your face.
I really think equality of opportunity should exist beyond social lines like gender, race, disabilities etc.
But equality of outcome? Why? Why should everyone have equal outcome? What is the reward for hard work then? Why be a good person if being a bad one will bring the same outcome?
When everyone starts with the same opportunities, the hardworker, smartworker, dedicated, persistent deserves more than the lazy, douchebag, not dedicated, not doing something themselves and always wanting others to do things for them. Don't you agree?
But when we look at these distributions we see some under represented, and some over represented. That seems to imply that there wasn't equal opportunity, or there's different desirability among the groups (e.g. maybe 90% of very tall people would rather play NBA basketball than go to college).
Kind of agree here - but (and I'm saying this as someone who scores well in th IQ system and hold a well paid, technical job):
* why is it like this? I have nothing to back it up but I have a strong hunch that this difference might at least be partially attributed to something else than biology. I don't say "white oppression in 2016" but I fear that part of it is "learned helplessness" from centuries gone.
* why is it that university should be the best option for everyone (and that includes me)? Some of the very best techies I have worked with have gone the route of assistant technician-> technician -> add maths, physics, economy etc (because now they are motivated for it) -> fantastic boss, pm, technical lead etc.
> So if one can have "Ask a female athlete", why not "Ask a male athlete".
you seem stuck on the "can have" bit, which isn't really the point.
Ok, so you wouldn't oppose if a man goes and creates a group called, "Ask a brogrammer?"
brogrammer = funny slang for male programmers, not meant to offend anyone but to bring male humor to other males
though, to me "brogrammer" is a slightly derogatory term meaning a programmer with an "obnoxious frat guy" personality.
As a non-frat guy, I get what you are saying. Even then, I find the term 'brogrammer' hilarious. I think of it as humor for guys.
It's kinda like the series, "Vagina monologues". Many men find it offensive, but it's humorous too right?
While I do care a lot I don't identify with the typical "SJW", so I think this should be perfectly OK, only very boring so I wouldn't create it.
As a male who enjoys company of other males (not sexually), I have not found it boring at all. Mixed groups have definitely been socially better but I'd pick male mentoring forums any day.
Boring isn't the first thing that comes to mind when I think of male-spaces. More like brotherhood, mentorship and competition.
Truth to be told I know there are women that enjoy hanging around in almost all-male groups as well because they find it more relaxed. Possibly wouldn't have believed if one of them hadn't told me though.
"Ask a male psychiatrist" would be a interesting idea to push for more gender equality, except that A), males with mental health issues (which such channel would be associated with) are generally treated as the lowest on the cultural pecking order, B) male psychiatrist is basically becoming a extinct concept.
Around here nurses and engineers have exactly the same number of years in school. A veterinarian is two more years I think.
Edit: and you are making things worse by saying that being a nurse is an unattractive job.
When I say nurse is a less desired job, I mean that in the number of student applications and average grade requirements. That is not to say that nurse profession is an unattractive job. It just that all professions are not equally desired, and statistics on student choice and student competition reflects that.
Btw, nurse profession in Sweden is commonly 3 years, which is common for hands on professions like welders, plumbers, painters, musicians, carpenters and so on. Engineering is commonly 4 years, similar to veterinarian. Its the difference between master degree and bachelor's degree.
I do not think its a major leap that professions with master degree requirements is generally considered to be more desired, has generally a higher pay rate, and is generally fought over more harshly. As such, comparing two professions with master degree requirements makes more sense.
Welder or carpenter is two years of "videregående" and then 2 (or more?) years as apprentice.
Nurse or engineer: 6 years study.
Welder, carpenter etc: 2 years study + 2 years as apprentice.
Civil, which stands for civilian, is in contrast with the other form of engineer which is military engineer.
Maybe you are thinking of technician and not engineer. That is 4 years in Sweden, with 2 additional years to make it to technician specialist or civil engineer within a specialist area.
Engineer, medical doctors and specialists: 6 years or higher.
Nurse, technicians, plumbers, and the vast majority of professions covered under higher education: 4 years.
"yrekshögskola (YH)": 2 years or less.
The title of this discussion is "ask a female engineer", not "ask a female technician". My initial statement stands that we should compare master degree professions with other master degree professions, and bachelor's degree professions with other bachelor's degree professions. Further more, looking for similar educational requirements within each group would further narrow down suitable professions to compare.
The degree I'm talking about is the Norwegian "høgskoleingeniør" which typically gives you a Bachelors degree, "sivilingeniør" is typically a Masters study. The nurse study also gives you a Bachelors degree in Norway (and can be used as a foundation for the midwife study which typically gives a masters degree as well IIRC.)
If it were a knee-jerk "what about the menz?" fuck-you, then it'd be shouted down.
There are lots of books and magazines out there that maturely examine men's experiences from a man's point of view, and no-one is shrilly protesting them.
This is genuine. Thanks!
True diversity is complete and utter impartiality. Why are we focusing on all these useless, pretty, inspirational solutions (interviews, diversity name-and-shame, putting females in a zoo) when we really need to be attacking the mental characteristics that lead to sexist thought?
It's interesting she mentions voice so much. We men need to check our emotional responses to stupid inputs like "sound of voice" or "shape of body" or whatever. These things DO NOT MATTER. All that matters is ability. Nothing else!
And so on till i run out of ideas.
All prejudice are the same. In fact the only actual study i found that shows an actual difference between women and men when it comes to technology is by microsoft and it says that women have better spacial awareness with widescreen while it doesn't matter that much for men.
What i concluded myself is that all this PC crap is dehumanizing people and thus will probably lead to more misery then actual sexism (on average, that is). That partially comes from the fact that most older women like to be called "girl(s)", while the PC people find that derogatory.
I'm sure some are in it for personal gain (maybe even on bout sides), and that some are in it for actual social benefit (India comes to mind). But in general, no. It's just the usual chatter about social themes.
edit: Just to note, i find this here thread OK (but wish there were more actual engineering questions).
> attacking the mental characteristics that lead to sexist thought
It's a forcing function. I really think that the current plan is the most logical approach given the current situation; though, we do need to eventually move away from it. Exactly when is going to be hard to nail down; too soon and everyone will revert to their sexist ways, too late and it's ceremony - not change.
In lieu of what you are saying, everyone needs to come to the table. This type of thing also needs to go away:
> Ada: [...] Otherwise I get home at night and realize I haven’t heard another woman’s voice all day.
I understand where she's coming from, though. As a trailblazer it might be hard when you realize that you are alone.
But why do we still need special girls/women events to promote biology to women, when in fact we should promote biology to all?
Also, where are the programs to get boys interested in education or psychology, both of which are over three quarters female? This simply does not happen, at least not at scale, because the idea that it is women and women alone who must be "interested" in various things is too prevalent at the moment, for the right reasons but the wrong outcomes, if you ask me.
I agree, but only as long as the end result is the best candidate for the job being hired. Granting special consideration to a group is just as bad as shutting them out.
* It becomes impossible for women to measure their growth. "Did I earn this promotion because of my gender?" As a man I face this reality all the time and it sucks.
* It becomes impossible for society to measure progress in terms of the overall moral compass. "Are people only hiring women because they are forced to?"
I assume that the intend is to acknowledge differences and educate people about that these arent signals for the actual work.
Don't really like to judge/opinonate about this topic b/c i have never been on the negative spectrum of this problem but to reply to your point and why my above comment relates to it.
The sexist thoughts imo in the end come from the fact that we aren't exposed to alternatives, build our value systems with this skewed reality and judge with this biased value system.
As in: I have never seen a successful female XYZ => I am looking for the patterns i saw in the successful (male) ones => I judge the candidate based on the patterns i saw => I created another skewed reality/example for the next person to build their value system
"I have never seen a successful female XYZ" <-- why does 'female' or gender even need to be in that sentence? That's what I can't figure out. People are purposefully inserting gender considerations where they plainly do not belong. That's what needs to stop. Because WTF does being man or woman have anything to do with computers? Assuming one knows how to talk to computers, they don't care.... why should we?
we should have a perfectly unbiased point of view and never subconsciously skew ourselves/be skewed in our opinion
the only problem is that the same thing (our brain) we use to decide if we are unbiased is the same thing that creates the worldview that decides what bias is for us.
To the extent that underrepresentation of the group that I identify with is a "problem", I think you and I probably both have. Programming as a profession is dominated by Asians, specifically Indians. When I completed my master's degree in computer science at an American university, I was one of only a half-dozen non-Indian citizens in the entire program (and one of only two white men). There were lots of women, but they were all from India. In my professional work as a developer, I've seen the same massive overrepresentation of Indian programmers.
Of course, I don't see this as a "problem" that my fellow, downtrodden white men need "diversity initiatives" to "overcome": Indian people, for whatever reason, just appear to have more interest and motivation in pursuing programming education and careers. The only time it grates on me is when I see somebody from $APPROVED_OPPRESSED_MINORITY_GROUP insisting that not only their group's representation, but specifically their group's representation in comparison to that of white men, is somehow a problem that I brought about.
Yeah, they are doing it badly. But no one seems to have an actual good solution. You know the saying: Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.
You gotta start somewhere.
Why leave other important engineering characteristics out? Are you fat,skinny,tall,short,ugly,pretty , white,or black?
I really don't see the importance of sex in relations to engineering.
Nor understand the desire to get more fat,skinny,tall,short,ugly,pretty , white, black , male or females involved in engineering.
It seems to me there are a ton of short skinny guys in the software engineering industry, so I rarely feel out of place on those particular grounds. If you have a specific question about that experience, though, I'd happily answer it.
I have noticed that the paucity of women is undeniable and pervasive, and it does at times lead to a dude's club atmosphere. Not every minute of every day in every way, but it's around. Overt sexism isn't generally tolerated, because, well, it's overt, but the environment is definitely experienced differently by many women than for men, in a million small ways, which can add up to big feelings.
absolutely agree, but that goes both ways and can be both positive and negative for both sexes.
A fat, ugly, short male or female engineer will likely have a different experience than a skinny,attractive, male or female engineer.
personally I think looks has more of an impact than sex or even color when it comes to discrimination and no I dont consider myself ugly or fat.
I just didn't see the point of stating your sexuality when that by itself really means nothing.
Not all women and men are created equal and other factors such as looks,weight,height,color can make all the differences on experiences.Even among same sexes.
Or perhaps explain why the following characteristics are irrelevant or less important when it comes to engineering:
fat,skinny,tall,short,ugly,pretty , white,or black?
Here, you can start an "ask a tall engineer" page with some comments from me: office chairs are too small and I have to shift posture constantly; communal desks are too low; and there's nowhere high enough to try a standing desk.
I was curious on the importance of defining the individual as female , but leaving other non engineering characteristics out?
Because your original comment wasn't innocent or genuine, and you already know the answer to it. It's a comment that gets made every. single. time. something like this comes up, has been answered a million times before, and it's not worth pandering to.
Stop it already: point is it should be OK for anyone to start any group they want but some are bound to be more interesting than others.
You are starting to annoy even me and I'm definitely a non-"SJW". (although I do care and will sometimes make an effort to fix things, just not in a "SJW" style blame-society-and-all-white-men way)
So according to you the point is that it should be OK for anyone to start any group they want , however its not ok to ask any question.
On a good note despite your hypocrisy on allowing any subject to be created while controlling the questions that can be asked, you atleast have been consistent.
You have been consistent in making personal attacks and dodging the questions on the value of stating "Female" engineer. Good job!
I never said it was wrong to start the thread with that title, I just questioned the purpose or value to include female the in title.
> I really don't see the importance of sex in relations to engineering
that expression is too vague to really say anything about. there exist "minority groups" in various fields (such as "male nurses"), and said groups sometimes have distinct life experiences and insights as a result, including their relationship with the "majority group".
> Or perhaps explain why the following characteristics are irrelevant or less important when it comes to engineering
this seems non-sequitur or a strawman. the mere existence of "ask a female engineer" does not necessarily imply anything about other potential "ask a _ engineer" q&a's.
The same goes for "Ask a Female Engineer" hence I wanted more information about other non engineering characteristics such as her height,weight, color, height, etc.
"this seems non-sequitur or a strawman"
Its not a strawman it was a valid question , why did she only decide to single out her sex. Why not disclose her weight,height,color,etc?
non-sequitur. it's a q&a with a particular segment of individuals. if you're not interested in the experiences and insights of a segment of the workforce, you don't have to ask anything.
however, asking about "the importance of sex in relations to engineering" requires explanation of what you mean by "importance" and "engineering". otherwise it's a bit of a weaselly question.
> Its not a strawman
you said: "explain why the following characteristics are irrelevant". nobody said they were.
> why did she only decide to single out her sex
did you not even look at the link? even the first paragraph? there isn't a "she" who "decided to single out her sex". it's a content publisher/blog (?) that took questions and then posited them to a group of female engineers.
it's not, because it's unclear, and i demonstrated why it's unclear. you refuse to clarify.
"important" in what way? the mechanical exercise of job functions? individual qualia? cultural aspects? something else?
"to engineering" in what way? the position requirements of a job? the industry economics? the workforce as a body of humans? the state of the art? social climate?
this is what i mean - it's not immediately clear what you're asking, so any answer is dismissable.
> versus stating other non engineering characteristics
what is an "engineering characteristic"?
> what is the value of stating they are female when not all females are the same
there is no "value" in "stating they are female". it's a statement of fact. so, the question is unclear. you also haven't explained why the notion of "not all females are the same" implies anything about a so-called "value of stating they are female".
> nor do they automatically have the same experiences simply because of their sex
"experience" isn't a fixed unary number. it's a manifold of many things. it's a trivially true observation that two individuals will have individual experiences of life. this says nothing of overlapping or commonality.
There is no value or purpose added by stating you are female in the title. Clearly all females don’t think alike or have the same experiences.
There is nothing wrong with asking why was "Female" added to the title , but not other characteristics such as height,weight,age,color,weight, etc.
The stuff you mentioned should probably be a separate conversion, but I do think there is probably overlap with the gender issue.
Its not about just technical ability, but social and economic power through jobs.
Because you're challenging the feminist manifesto.
But, it would be more helpful to women here if more men engaged us in a meaningful manner. Post our articles. Say non vacuous things about us or this problem space. Upvote us. Talk with us.
Commenting on how some men mishandle it puts more energy into the wrong things. If you want to see real change, give that energy instead to constructive actions that involve women.
Not everyone on HN, of course. But, overall, threads like this are... distressing to read.
So many of these "women in tech" discussions are thiny veiled power plays to take economic and decision making power away from developers. In the past few years we've seen feminists call for Linus Torvalds' head, attacks on the _concept_ of meritocracy, codes of conduct forced down many open source project's throats, masses of women only networking and hiring events, diversity drives that favor hiring women over men, many social media witch hunts against engineers of all levels...
At some point you have to step back and question the narrative that's being pushed. There is not, and never has been anything stopping women from learning to code. All you need is a computer, an internet connection and self motivation.
I think the narrative is more focused on women being treated differently (whether that is intentional or not) in existing social / work settings in the industry. I did not get the impression this article was referring to learning, but perhaps I missed those points.
Sometimes "self awareness" is code for "willingness to limit oneself to 'approved positions'"
Most of my career was in electrical engineering and electronics design. Until one month ago, after finally transitioning into a 100% software role with a 100% software shop after 15 years in tech, I work with a female engineer. 15 years, a dozen companies. One, lone female engineer. It is this experience that helps inform me to the problems of inequity in tech. It also has exposed me to many, many defensive colleagues who are all good people...but cannot divorce their own personal worth from the topic. They are hypersensitive to perceived criticisms.
HN never seems more like Reddit than when we're discussing diversity (gender, race, economic). All the bad habits (mansplaining, straw man arguments etc.) you find elsewhere seem to suddenly rise to the surface.
Edit (for some reason, locked from commenting further):
> It describes a specific behavior almost entirely practiced by men
Um no it doesn't. Possibly the word your looking for is condescending (that's usually what people mean when they say "mansplaining"). I don't see that here though. This is just a thread with men and women voicing their opinions (very respectfully I might add).
Men are allowed to have thoughts and feelings. It's not right to shame them for it and it's not right to gender an attack of any kind. If someone is being a jerk, call out that individual, don't blame a whole gender.
But let's get real here.
This isn't about male victimization. This is about the inability of a privileged class to see it's own privilege. Read this whole thread and what you see are many men who don't recognize their own privilege, men who are blind to individual and structural biases. And because they don't see it they wonder what all the fuss is? They wonder why we keep bugging them with "initiatives" and blog posts.
You get this same behavior with race, gender, money, class etc. The excuses are also the same: "it's not about gender, it's just people being condescending to each other sometimes", "it's not about race, it's just people being mean to each other sometimes". It's an easy trick, it's absolution.
But the inequalities persist. The biases persist. They are unconscious and they are subtle. They are structural. They are written into laws, into company policy, into city ordinances, and work place culture.
We shouldn't be afraid to name these behaviors. We shouldn't get tired of fighting them. And I say we, because I (yes, i'm one of you men) am also guilty.
And, in theory, if I had any sense, I would probably be doing this as a blog post rather than as a reply to you, which risks being experienced by you as an attack. But, in practice, being too careful seems to amount to being ineffectual.
Are you saying that i am simultaneously minimizing gender diversity in tech ("what about da menz") AND encouraging more folks to do so by being too blunt?
If you are (again, i'm not sure what you're saying), i'd say the first point is a wrong reading of my comments. The second point is a little better. I am being blunt, but that's just what the doctor ordered here.
EDIT (can't reply to your comment):
That is better, thank you for clarifying.
I had not thought about silence as the biggest problem for women in tech. I don't know the gender of the first poster i replied to, but maybe i should have made a point to engage with one of the female engineers in the thread.
Maybe it's a blind spot, something i have to keep an eye out for and be better at. Will be thinking about it for sure.
I still believe in my comments about some of these attitudes that are popular on HN. We should all talk about them.
I am saying if you really want progress, talking with women solves the problem of deafening silence in a very immediate way while setting an example to follow. Examples are generally more effective at fomenting positive social change than criticism of those claiming the problem is not real.
Is that clearer?
Thank you for replying.
Edit: I saw your update. Thanks.
The interesting part about "mansplaining" (as it were), is that it's usually slathered in "appeals to reason", logical fallacies, declarations of impartiality etc. etc.
But it's easy to spot.
If you think that other posters have engaged in logical fallacies, why not quote the text, name the fallacy, and explain how you think it applies?
Re: "appeals to reason", we absolutely should strive to be reasonable in our evaluation of claims and positions. I believe this is the main reason that various kinds of ideologues get strong pushback on HN.
Fortunately this thread attracted a wealth of substantive original contributions in addition to some of the usual predictable stuff. I've enjoyed reading many of the comments, which is... not exactly typical for such subject matter.
The asymmetry you're thinking of is when people refer to women as "females" and men as "men". That's a super offensive one, because we usually only use "female" and "male" as nouns when speaking about animals. Better, more specific words exist for humans.
In the current situation, though, "female" is being used as an adjective, which is correct. The only alternative is to (ab)use "woman" as an apposite noun, which sometimes works, but can go terribly wrong as a general rule: "Ask a Man Nurse" vs. "Ask a Male Nurse"
All that said, due to common usage "woman" works as an apposite in many places where "man" does not ("woman president" is fine, "man president" sounds weird).
See http://www.slate.com/blogs/lexicon_valley/2016/02/18/when_yo... for more on all this.
[noun profession]: man painter - someone who paints a man.
[adjective profession]: male painter - a man who paints.
(yes, female can be used as a noun by itself, but usually it's an adjective modifying a noun)
citation needed, i guess. perhaps it's a background thing, as i've heard and used the terms "male" and "female" more frequently than "men" and "women" in my adult life. the latter set seems marginally "less serious" to me personally, though otherwise identical.