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U.S. sues Oracle, alleges salary and hiring discrimination (reuters.com)
479 points by monocasa on Jan 18, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 471 comments



That means we so far have:

* Palantir sued for not hiring enough Asians [0]

* Google sued for not turning over compensation data [1]

* Oracle sued for hiring too many Asians

While it's possible that discriminatory processes have happened at all these places, it seems these lawsuits can be targeted at whoever one wishes. It's always going to be possible to find data that indicates discrimination, unless companies hire in exact quotas (which would also be discriminatory really).

[0]: http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/news/2016/09/26/palantir-...

[1]: http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/news/2017/01/04/google-su...


>It's always going to be possible to find data that indicates discrimination, unless companies hire in exact quotas (which would also be discriminatory really).

There already are off-the-record quotas. Who in management hasn't heard discussion at least eluding the the need for a diversity hire? Probably very few people at this point.

I believe a distinction must be made: Equality of opportunity is good. Equality of outcome will lead us to the world of Harrison Bergeron's.


You know what, though? If we actually had equality of opportunity, it doesn't seem like we'd see the kind of disparity we do.

Certainly not at a big corporation where there should be enough of an employee pool to have it at least somewhat reflect the general population of the region.

But then, when I listen to the stories women in tech (for example) tell, and they do tell a LOT of the same stories, it's clear we're pretty far from equality of opportunity.

And I won't even get into those experiments people've done with sending out identical resumes, some with "white"-sounding name, some with "black"-sounding names... guess who doesn't get called in for an interview.

So I just don't buy that most people even give a shit about equality of opportunity, even those who pay lip service to it. I think most people don't want to be challenged on anything that makes them the slightest bit uncomfortable (like having unconscious biases or structural racism pointed out).


> Certainly not at a big corporation where there should be enough of an employee pool to have it at least somewhat reflect the general population of the region.

That is a drastic oversimplification.

The employee pool can only hope to be reflective of the pool of those who seek employment at that company and are qualified.

Which can only hope to be reflective of the employee marketplace for that industry at large.

Which can only hope to be reflective of the pool of people who have the right education and experience.

Which can only hope to be reflective of the people who graduated with the appropriate degree for which they're hiring (in most cases).

Which can only hope to be reflective of the people who got accepted into those schools.

Which can only hope to be reflective of those who chose that education/career path to begin with.

Which can only hope to be reflective of the population that sought out things like math and science when in secondary school.

Which only then can only hope to be reflective of the general population.

At each step there is filtration. It's affected by people's upbringing, their role models, what advertising they were heavily exposed to as impressionable children, who their friends are, who their teachers were, whether computers were popular when they were going through school, the list goes on and on.

The problem of under and over-representation in tech is a real one, but pretending that companies just need to somehow make up for all of this filtration, at the very very end of a literal lifetime-sized pipeline, is folly. Outreach needs to happen much, much, much sooner than that. At the end of the day, companies are at the mercy of who's in their hiring pool.


Since graduating college I've stayed continuously employeed at several different Bay Area tech startups, so I'm pretty sure I have at least decent technology skills. Yet I've been to several interviews where questions about race/ethnicity were brought up (and I failed to get offers from those companies that ask such questions). I can only imagine what it's like being a woman going for these positions. My point, a lot of the filters these companies put up are totally artificial.

I even had a chance to ask a well known SV entrepreneur/investor about what VCs look for, and he said one of the things is "people who look like him." I appreciated his honesty, but it certainly seems like there is a lot of talent that is ignored because people and companies are using poor hueristics.


How do questions of race and ethnicity come up in an interview? It's illegal to ask that and they can be sued so usually they're very careful to not touch the subject.


It's not illegal to ask about race, but, asking about race is a good indication you are discriminating based on race, which is illegal.

As to why they do it? I'm guessing that they either don't know not to bring up race or they don't care about discriminating based on race because they probably won't have any consequences.

I've seen plenty of casual workplace sexism and racism in my life. It happens.


It's not illegal to ask about race; it's illegal to discriminate by race. Companies usually avoid asking such questions because they can be used as evidence of race-based discrimination should the candidate decide to sue. The same applies to other fedaral protected classed (sexual orientation, religion, etc)


There is an easy way to discriminate on race without asking about race (aside from the obvious) -- pay. Lower the pay enough and only certain races (those at a competitive disadvantage in the job market) will apply.

At my previous employer, there were some positions with salaries so low that the only people who applied were foreigners who were so desperate that they were willing to take it. White Americans (and American-born Indian Americans for that matter) with computer science degrees simply had more options than to take such a terrible role at such a terrible salary. It had nothing to do with the company discriminating.


One white guy told me his buddies used the word "nigger," and why was this such a big deal? Another person started off saying "I can't ask you anything illegal, so let me ask you this," took a long pause, which was then followed up by a programming puzzle about monkeys. None of these questions were flat out illegal to ask, but from other software engineering interviews I've been in they're certainly not standard questions.


This happened at an interview? I find this highly unlikely. Maybe I'm just in my own bubble but I just can't imagine this scenario.


I'm having trouble believing anything he's said so far ...


That's not even the craziest interviews I've had. I had one at a pre-funding startup in a warehouse. When I got in there were several rifles and pistols on the conference table. Allegedly they did security contracting and were looking to "pivot."

None of what I've said has happened at large companies I've interviewed with like Google or Uber, but small startups definitely have some "interesting" practices.


As someone whose both given and taken several interviews, this is highly abnormal. (Though, I'm essentially WASP, so perhaps I don't receive them.) There is (IMO) no legitimate reason to ask questions of race or ethnicity in a interview for a software engineer or similar (as it's simply irrelevant) … especially in today's world where we're trying to fix any discrimination in the field.


I have asked "are you eligible to work in <Country>" if their current location is outside of the country or it is known they are not citizens.

Which I guess would be a question about race? in a way?

I wouldn't ask a white person who spoke swedish and had a very swedish name as I'd assume they are swedish by birth.


Race, color, national origin and citizenship are all protected classes which are illegal to discriminate against in the US.

Race is orthogonal to nationality and citizenship. Especially in countries of immigrants like the US and Canada.


OK, but if you're interviewing over skype with me and your name is Abdullah Izrahim and your address is Dubai... it's not unreasonable for me to ask if you're able to work in the EU...


I am sure this has been mentioned to death. But I always find this contradictory. Companies cannot be soley profit driven if at same time they artifically reducing supply of eligable candidates. That makes no business sense.

So if companies are rejecting someone that means as whole (read net), they are expecting more bang for the buck.


Companies aren't magic market machines, they're run by fallible people who make lazy "gut" decisions all the time.


And Oracle would be near bottom in such list. Oracle hire Indians because its cheaper not because of some altruism. At least until Indian Govt makes it artifically expensive.


I don't see any practical way for the Indian government to do that that doesn't hurt their citizens and country.


Illiquid markets, stable equilibria (that are not at global minima), and irrational decision making.

Unless your model accounts for such things, it's too simplified. Particularly when it comes to human factors. And if your model is that deficient, it's not really providing useful insights.

Modeling complex phenomena well is tough. But you need to have enough humility to understand when your toy model might be deceiving you.

If the shoe fits....


No one will give the amount of invasive data needed to verify a model. So we will never know which model works.


It's not as though the company is purposely discriminating though. People naturally discriminate and it takes conscious effort to stop yourself from doing so.

At least that's what I was told at the talk about diversity and inclusion during my orientation at one of those big tech companies.

Apparently it's because we benefited from being able to make quick judgments before civilized society was a thing.


> Companies cannot be soley profit driven if at same time they artifically reducing supply of eligable candidates.

If there is a strong shortage of supply, you can be sure a lot of people will get over their prejudice -- but in labor markets, there often tend to be more offer than demand, so companies can choose whoever they want, without hurting the business whatsoever.


Companies sell their employees to their investors. Pedigree and similarity sells.


Now, having done a few job applications myself: there is apparently a tax break or something for hiring a person of color, because race is always included in the job application, and always under the same header as questions for, say, disabled or veteran status.

However, asking in the interviews is unheard of, at least in shudder retail. And while outright denyig someone for their race isn't as common as you might think, people do instinctively like people who look like them, and they also have this bad habit of not questioning it when they like something...


There is no tax break in the US for hiring certain groups of people (at least in regards to race and ethnicity). This data is requested for reporting purposes only. This is how companies can release "diversity reports" or answer questions when EEOC investigators start asking questions.


Ah, thank you.

I seem to be lucky in that I haven't directly seen any racist hiring policies. But, then again, I've only worked hourly retail jobs; for all I know, the higher you go, the less likely a hispanic man is to be hired. And it doesn't help that there's so many variables to control for--as other comments stated, it's filters all the way down. As an example ffrom the entertainment industry, I have never owned a computer powerful enough to handle both running a recently released game and recording footage of the gameplay, which means that my dreams of becoming a Youtube Star are rather limited. And don't even get me started on capture cards. The rich kid down the block can afford it because his parents buy it for him; my parents don't, and the reason for that could extend as far back as the lessons my grandmother learned when she had to work her way to the top of the Georgia Pacific packaging plant where she made her living.


> there is apparently a tax break or something for hiring a person of color

False (as stated in a sibling comment)

> because race is always included in the job application

I have not once ever been asked my race. Perhaps because they'll be able to tell at the interview? But it's not "always included"

> and always under the same header as questions for, say, disabled or veteran status.

I've only ever been asked about disabled or veteran status after employment.


What questions? I'm sure this is illegal.


You're right, the problem is bigger than a company. It goes deep, society-deep. And I don't think anyone would say "poor black kids have a fair shake, right up until Oracle doesn't hire them". Of course not. Some groups get shafted from birth, by being born into poor communities, by being born into communities where the police split their heads for looking the way they do.

You're right, it's not just on some tech company to fix societal racism.

What I don't get is why people are always so goddamn defensive of companies and their hiring practices. "The problem lies elsewhere, don't blame the company!!"

I mean, jesus, the status quo does not need any defense. It's already winning by default.


> What I don't get is why people are always so goddamn defensive of companies and their hiring practices. "The problem lies elsewhere, don't blame the company!!"

It's because we've been in roles in companies like these, dealt with diversity and hiring policies that seemed ineffective, counter-intuitive, and bureaucratic, yet there still always seems to be this cloud over us that assumes we're all secretly just racist.

It feels like we already bend over backwards to try to hire diverse candidates and comply with policies that suggest / require that. I'm sure Google, Oracle, and Palantir certainly have them. Yet these lawsuits have these big bold headlines basically implying the companies' policies are racist based on (if you think other factors are much bigger causes) unreasonable assessments. When we see it happen to them, we know it can happen to us, and it's easy to get defensive.


Well put, moduspol


Guess what: EVERYONE IS SECRETLY RACIST.

Everyone is carrying around unconscious biases in them. It's built into being human, so bullshit if you're about to say you're somehow immune.

We're also all biased to think the status quo is the way things ought to be, so when we see a company that's mostly white folks hiring a few more minorities, suddenly MINORITIES ARE EVERYWHERE.

Look, the problem isn't that you or I have unconscious biases. That's normal. That's human.

The problem is that we insist we don't, we're doing everything right already, and there's nothing wrong. That's where the problem is. That's how this shitty status quo that has effectively locked minorities into a second-class life gets perpetuated.


> Guess what: EVERYONE IS SECRETLY RACIST.

> Everyone is carrying around unconscious biases in them. It's built into being human, so bullshit if you're about to say you're somehow immune.

> Look, the problem isn't that you or I have unconscious biases. That's normal. That's human.

Agreed, and I don't think I am (or anyone else is) immune.

> The problem is that we insist we don't, we're doing everything right already, and there's nothing wrong. That's where the problem is. That's how this shitty status quo that has effectively locked minorities into a second-class life gets perpetuated.

I'm not insisting we don't. My point is that it's easy to get defensive when it's implied that you're racist over and over again regardless of the truthfulness.

It's not even good for the people allegedly being discriminated against. When focus and resources are put on the wrong area (e.g. tech company employee racial proportions), it just frustrates those of us in the industry and ignores the actual reasons for the issue (mostly cultural). We could be spending that money and resources toward getting girls into tech at a young age, or getting more computers into inner-city schools. Something that might actually affect the hiring pool.

But we don't have that discussion because the lawsuits imply the problem is with tech companies. Whether it is or not isn't even a discussion because it appears to be rampant if you've never been in a hiring role in the tech industry. If you have, you know what the hiring pool looks like, and you know you (and other companies) are being held to an unreachable standard if you're expected to align with racial proportions that don't apply to tech.


> What I don't get is why people are always so goddamn defensive of companies and their hiring practices. "The problem lies elsewhere, don't blame the company!!"

Because the problem actually does lie elsewhere. Being a corporation is not evidence of guilt.


I totally feel you and I agree, I was just pointing out that it's really difficult to get a tech workforce that's reflective of the general population.

Maybe my defensiveness comes from the fact that I'm in a hiring position in one of these big companies, and I'm fully accustomed to how hard it is to find candidates outside the typical racial and gender mix you tend to see in tech.

Not that it isn't worth it to try, but I just think we should be careful about placing too much blame in any one place... because it's so easy to refute (since it's not 100% the company or hiring manager's fault) and then real subtleties can be lost in the discussion.


> What I don't get is why people are always so goddamn defensive of companies and their hiring practices. "The problem lies elsewhere, don't blame the company!!"

I guess because as people who are likely to be subject to those hiring practices, they like them as they currently are.


>The employee pool can only hope to be reflective of the pool of those who seek employment at that company and are qualified.

This is a weak assumption to base the rest of your chain on. It falsely posits that the company isn't in control of who seeks employment there. In reality, the company controls where and how it advertises job openings and how it markets itself towards potential employees. When a startup advertises a hackathon with incentives of "hot women to serve you beverages", they can't claim to be helpless victims of an applicant pool devoid of female engineers. And while most examples of encouraging or discouraging certain demographics aren't as blatant as this egregious-and-yet-actually-happened example, there are plenty of subtler but very strong ways companies discourage women and minorities from applying.


>it doesn't seem like

Unfortunately, in our political climate one side of this debate has people who can say, "it seems like" and that's it. "It seems like" [...] 'we have a huge problem of sexism and racism' and if you argue against that you're this evil monster, as you described:

>most people [don't] even give a shit about equality of opportunity, even those who pay lip service to it. I think most people don't want to be challenged on anything that makes them the slightest bit uncomfortable (like having unconscious biases or structural racism pointed out).

The fact is we already have things like state-sponsored racist entrance policies to our most prestigious educational programs. In law school, it can be several standard deviations worth of LSAT points-- that is a VERY big deal. Even pointing this out, though, means someone is going to flip this on its head and misconstrue it, calling me the evil monster you described.

As I said in another comment, you're never going to see equality of outcome. The NBA will never be dominated by people of Asian descent. Women will never be asking for equal "opportunity" working jobs in the north sea on offshore oil rigs. Women will always have longer lifespans and higher average IQs than men. Men will always have more statistical outliers existing in the "fat tails" of male distributions relative to distributions of women. People are different. It doesn't mean better, or worse. For example, I'm not that exceptionally good at maths, but my friend is -- he's not any better of a person than I, though, and no sane person would make that argument. There's nothing wrong with being different. Demanding that everyone be the same will end up with us in Harrison Bergeron's world, and in that long-run scenario everyone ends up losing except those who take joy in ruling over others.

I believe it important to ensure everyone has equal outcome with respect to human rights, civil rights, and human dignity. There is no good reason why we cannot provide everyone with these. I believe that's where attention should be focused, and we're getting off track by pretending everyone is the same and demanding that the only reason for anything else is that the NBA is racist against Asians! (or coding companies are racist/sexists against whomever it is that doesn't have coding jobs).


OK, I'll bite, why exactly do you believe women don't want the opportunity to work on oil rigs?

http://www.warrensiurek.com/blog/2015/04/5-women-claim-gende...

>The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a claim on behalf of five women against an oil drilling company in another state. According to the complaint, the women applied for jobs to work as floor hands on the oil rigs, but they were turned down. The women allegedly all had the proper qualifications to be able to perform the functions of the job.

>The women were allegedly told that females were not hired on the rig because it was populated by all men and that women would not fit into the company's "man camp" mentality. The women also claim they were turned down because they were too attractive. If they were hired, they were purportedly told they would be a distraction to the men, who would be unable to get their work done.


No sane person genuinely believes just as many woman as men want to work on oil rigs, or that it's even close. That's a very surprising case, yet very American, lawsuit though.


If it's surprising to you that there are women who want to work on oil rigs, and want that badly enough to go through the trouble of making a case out of it, then you may need to update your beliefs about what it means to be a woman.


[flagged]


I unfortunately think you are undermining your own argument here with this focus.

It's clear that institutional biases and societal biases exist, and that some of these biases may act as steering currents for certain people to go into certain careers. However, there always will be some cases of people who like to "steer against the current" and work in a field that's outside the society-traditional bias in one way or another (gender or otherwise).

A good goal, I think, is to ensure that merit is the chief qualification for employment. Statements such as (paraphrasing) "oil rigs are a man's club" and "pretty women would be a distraction" is way too sweeping -- lazy group collective thinking at its most absolute, playing on stereotypes of both women and men. Humans have a wide range of abilities and behaviors and it doesn't always divide neatly in binary form.

From a personal standpoint, I would call this biased group-think sort of hiring practices as far from optimal. If someone can do the job well, they should do it if they are good at it. I do know someone, for instance, who's a female welder. Apparently, only 5% of welders are women. Well, she's one of them and from all indications she's good at it. Luckily, the place she works at doesn't have a "welding is a MAN's job" sort of attitude.

(Note that this bias can also apply in reverse. Think of the current societal bias with men teaching elementary school, for instance.)

Now, whether or not government enforced action (eg, to what degree, and what tools, governments should use to challenge the bias) is a good thing or not, I think that's more of an open question. The truth is, in some cases, some people hold onto stereotype so heavily, that they will literally threaten people who challenge this "norm" with harassment and violence. Clearly in this sort of case, the government should be involved.

However, for something like standard hiring practices, I'm a little fuzzy as to how much government should dictate anti-discrimination policy, if any. I wouldn't mind seeing more data in this regard; at this point, I don't know how effective various tools have been at eliminating lazy hiring groupthink, or whether they aren't terribly effective at anything but increasing resentment.


>A good goal, I think, is to ensure that merit is the chief qualification for employment

I agree with you

>It's clear that institutional biases and societal biases exist, and that some of these biases may act as steering currents for certain people to go into certain careers.

We agree on that, too

>If someone can do the job well, they should do it if they are good at it. I do know someone, for instance, who's a female welder. Apparently, only 5% of welders are women. Well, she's one of them and from all indications she's good at it. Luckily, the place she works at doesn't have a "welding is a MAN's job" sort of attitude.

That's good. I would never want to work somewhere that had an attitude that "this is a man's job, only men can do it"

>Now, whether or not government enforced action (eg, to what degree, and what tools, governments should use to challenge the bias) is a good thing or not, I think that's more of an open question.

I agree with you there as well. Even though I wouldn't want to work for a company that refused to hire women due to some illogical bigotry, I don't think it's government's role to force results on to who companies can hire.

Look, we agree on almost everything, but I think you and others are missing my point because this is an emotionally sensitive topic for some people, and one that the media has also blown out of proportion. The idea that there are no differences between people is totally fraudulent. When are we going to sue the NBA for discriminating against Asians? What's the point if we don't? There are huge differences even between men and women. Serena and Venus Williams claimed they could beat any man in Tennis, and so they ended up playing a 203'rd ranked player "after he had a case of beer and a smoke," and neither could barely score a single point against him. There are differences between people and that's the way it is.

If any of these people arguing against this actually cared about human rights or civil liberties they'd have said so by now. What they really care about are their feelings. That's what this is about - that, and lawyers cashing in on new diversity laws.


You are insane if you think auto mechanics, miners, truck drivers, plumbers, construction workers, landscapers, or working on fishing vessels, or other physically demanding, laborious jobs, are not preferred more by men than women.

Yeah, and girls prefer pink... How much of this is because of how women are brought up, believing that these are mens jobs, rather than by nature? Women do plenty of physically demanding jobs, just not generally these stereotypical "mens" jobs.

Hell, if you look at poorer countries, you see women doing all kinds of physically demanding stuff like carrying water for miles. Its not that they can't or won't do them when they have to, its that when they have a choice that they don't and I believe that's because from a young age and in media these things are portrayed as very un-womanly.


In poor countries, there are plenty of women doing physically exhausting jobs, but also plenty of women pursuing engineering careers. On the other hand, in many rich countries most jobs have huge gender disparities. It all comes down to the freedom of choice given to people -- if you're rich and you're free to choose what you are going to do, you'll choose whatever you like the most.


I agree with what you say. My point is just that "whatever you like the most" is biased by your upbringing, culture and media. Hence my "girls prefer pink" comment - that's not nature, its nurture - because we're brought up to associate pink with femininity.


Did you know that young monkeys of many species (rhesus, bonobo) have pretty gendered preference when it comes to the toy choice? Female monkeys prefer soft toys like teddy bears, while male prefer mechanical toys, like cars on wheels. Google "monkey gender toy preference", there has been tons of research on it.

This means that even if preference for pink was purely by nurture (which I also consider unlikely), the data on toy preference strongly suggests that preference for certain jobs or activities is not purely nurture, and has at least some nature aspect.

Now, it is difficult to quantify how much exactly is the split between nature and nurture, one of the reasons being the fact that lots of what you would call nurture would never take place if a nature didn't provide people with preferences in the first place. However, blaming everything on "upbringing, culture and media" is certainly incongruent with reality.


Of course it is. Our country has spent 14 trillion on wars in recent years while we can't provide everyone with healthcare, or even clean drinking water. This issue is not about civil liberties or human rights. This is about people's feelings who have political representation. Lawyers who can profit off of it. And an increasingly authoritarian, surveillance, human rights abusing, police state that wants to control the people it rules over. Harrison Bergeron, we will be seeing you soon in our future.

>“War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking into the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent.”

― George Orwell, 1984

If people were really so equal, the NBA should be sued by Asians. There have been 2 (2!) women in history who have been able to dunk a basketball in a NCAA game. I could dunk a basketball in high school. Give me a break, the whole thing is ridiculously fraudulent. I would not want to work somewhere that had some bigoted, awful idea and attitude that a 'woman can not do a man's job,' I would never want to work somewhere like that -- but that's not the role of government to decide. We need people in government who are going to fight for civil liberties and human rights, people who will progress humanity off this planet and into the stars. People who will fight against corruption. Instead we get people who want to take advantage of people's feelings for their own profit or security.


"You are insane if you think auto mechanics, miners, truck drivers, plumbers, construction workers, landscapers, or working on fishing vessels, or other physically demanding, laborious jobs, are not preferred more by men than women."

Then why developers are mostly men? And why there is more and more female football/soccer players?

It might be harder for females to get muscles, compared to men but it does not mean they do not want to do and can do physically demanding jobs.


The heaviest thing an auto mechanic typically lifts is a tire. Everything else is going to be lifted by a hoist, because no human, male or female, can pull an engine out of a car. Auto mechanic is, in fact, a skilled job involving a mental model of a very complex system, diagnosis, testing, research, and tool usage.

Modern mining is done primarily by machines which are tended to by mechanics. Ever wonder why there are so few mining jobs these days? That would be automation improving the efficiency and taking away manual jobs.

Speaking of which, truck drivers... will be obsolete soon. Even so, driving is not a task that inherently favors upper body strength.

OK, so the physical argument holds no water. What's left? Prejudice and social expectations -- which is to, say a prevalent institutional bias.


You are sounding like you have never worked in a job like this. I have worked for a carpenter and an automechanic. Ever seen someone unable to even get the heat shrink wrap off a pneumatic tool and replace the lines? I saw someone unable to do it and end up gashing their hand as they were trying to cut it off. Ever work under a hot engine bay for 8 hours? Holding your hands above your head the entire time, and developing pain in your neck? Ever used an angle grinder? Should I trust you with one? Ever lifted 300lb pieces of granite, cut them to size and polish them? That's hard work. Do you think you can do it?

Besides, by focusing 100% on this physical aspect you're nearly just attack a straw man argument and ignoring the substance of everything else. Not every person is exactly the same and it doesn't matter. Get over it.


Seen someone screw up because they weren't trained: yup.

Work under a hot engine bay for 8 hours: no, but I've worked outdoors carrying construction material during heat waves, and I've worked indoors in cold data centers.

Holding my hands over my head until pain develops: yup. I don't recommend it to anyone.

Used an angle grinder: no. I have used lots of other power tools. Should you trust me with one? Not until I'm trained on it.

Lifted 300lb pieces of granite: no. We have these things called wheels, you might have heard of them? Using wheels and levers and ropes and pulleys, I have moved much heavier things. I recommend using appropriate tools. Hoists? Cranes? Block-and-tackle?


I'm curious as to how you would address the industries that are heavily female with males being underrepresented. Is there institutional bias in those instances?


Very likely.


This line of reasoning sounds just like the people who said there was no need for women's sports programs because the vast majority of women don't like sports. You are confusing cause and effect.


Nice moving the goal posts there, this is what I was replying to

"Women will never be asking for equal "opportunity" working jobs in the north sea on offshore oil rigs."

QED

I will not be engaging you further.


Use of the word 'never' opened me up to an 'exception to the rule' attack. It was not the most careful word choice, and so I stand corrected that there are 5 women who apparently wanted to work offshore. I'm not talking about 5 women. We're talking about trends. There are always exceptions.

OK, so convince me you're right. Ignoring your condescending, short-termpered, dismissive remark based on attacking some minutiae in what I said (that we can both agree doesn't change anything), we now have an example of one very American, money-making lawsuit, representing 5 people. Alright, so what substantial movement can you source to convince me that you are right that women are seeking equal representation working on oil rigs in the north sea? What about auto mechanics? Plubming? There's many entrepreneurial businesses such as those that require no hiring decision. Why are women so underrepresented there? The work is much less physically demanding or as dangerous as working on off shore oil rigs.


The first 5 women who are seeking jobs on an all-male oil rig perhaps have a form of bravery that is a couple standard deviations from the median.

But if they win their case and help to integrate oil rigs, it seems the next 5 women to seek a job on an oil rig will be easier to find. Fields that are not diverse are less attractive to diversity candidates, but that doesn't mean that diversity candidates wouldn't be interested in working in a more integrated environment.


>Unfortunately, in our political climate one side of this debate has people who can say, "it seems like" and that's it.

The joke is that everybody does that. Most people are just totally blind to their own side's issues.

Now watch as people begin commenting to say that their side isn't like that..,


> Women will always have longer lifespans and higher average IQs than men

Then why is it that on average they get paid less than men for the same job? Surely if they are inherently "smarter", they should be dominating the knowledge economy and earning more than men. The fact that they don't points to some greater opposing force that needs addressing.


What would you say about chess, go, leading physicists, e-sports, professional sports, scientific breakthroughs, notable inventions? Do we need Magnus Carlsen to step aside for a woman 3 standard deviations below him, or a woman from an underrepresented minority 5 standard deviations below him, as is done in law school admissions? What conspiracy exists among corporations, whose existence is based on nothing more than profit, that the real priority is the #1 motivation of corporations is actually to hire men over women? If women are underpaid as enormously as Cosmopolitan claims, an all-woman business would out-compete the marketplace with a fraction of the personnel costs. That's the way the marketplace works.

Every single person should be given every opportunity as every other, but we shouldn't continue this state-forced results based on people's personal politics about how they believe the world works.

Why do we have issues with providing everyone with healthcare, clean water, and safety... We're bombing seven countries, funding jihadists in Syria, creating a surveillance police state. Some US cities have murder rates higher than any country in Africa or the Middle East. We can't provide everyone with housing, and we can't successfully protect our environment. Give me a break. This issue is not about human welfare, dignity or equality. This is about people's personal politics and lawyers finding a way to cash in on laws that may have been well intentioned but since gone out of control.


Generally when you control for the number of hours worked, the pay gap mostly goes away. Women on average take much more time off to bear and raise children. The disagreement is mostly over whether this is an appropriate thing to control for. Some argue that we should take steps to ensure that taking time off for childcare doesn't hurt women's careers. Some argue that women feeling the need to take more time off is exactly the problem and we should change our culture so that childcare responsibilities are more equitably shared. I don't think you'd find anyone who has studied this issue who thinks the main source of the pay gap is still discrimination.


Men and women aren't equally incentivised to seek high paying jobs. Dating site statistics show a strong correlation to success for men and how much they earn, but not for women. Their correlation is with attributes like age and self-care.

The social ladder and ranking is also attached to the same incentives. A mans ranking is (mostly) based on his ability to support a family. A womans ranking is (mostly) based on her ability to raise a family. As sad and depressing that is, the message it sends on a cultural level is that no one wants to be near a poor male or infertile female. On the flip side, women are not punished by society for not focusing on maximizing earning potentials, and men aren't punished by society for not focusing self care and longer lifespans.

Going even darker when looking at incentives for earning and lifespans, we can look at the link between low income for men and suicide. About a factor of about 1000% according to some studies when comparing high vs low income. Suicide is also the most common cause of death for men at ages 15-50. The negative impact from unemployment (and low income jobs) effects men more, and a natural conclusion would be that the incentives to avoid it is thus stronger.


That ignores other factors unrelated to simple IQ. E.g. Women have to give birth to children, and are more likely to want to take care of them.

So yeah, sure, if you look at the scenario in simple isolation, then you could argue that there is a "greater opposing force".


> Surely if they are inherently "smarter", they should be dominating the knowledge economy

Does the CEO have the highest IQ in the company? Is the president the most intelligent person in the country?


Well, certainly not as of tomorrow!


Great. Now I need a hug.


maybe men on average get paid more because they need to be incentivized to take jobs because they're more likely to die on the job (20x more likely than women).


>I won't even get into those experiments people've done with sending out identical resumes, some with "white"-sounding name, some with "black"-sounding names...

There is no polite way to put it, but I would be surprised if among black applicants having a "black" name did not predict worse actual performance than having a "white" name. The same goes for white applicants with "white trash" names. If there are Asian equivalents, same for them.


You know, resumes contain other signaling information on them other than the applicants' names. It would definitely surprise me if you could predict any performance metrics with statistical significance based on name alone.

I mean honestly imagine a resume that says: graduated from Yale 2011 with a BS in Computer Science. Worked for Qualcomm for 2 years before taking a job as a PM at Google. Currently looking for a new job to move back to the east coast to be nearer to their family.

And you're telling me you can predict this person's future job performance based on whether their last name is Park, Lewis, or Johnson?


If you start with $1 million in pennies and I start with $1 million in pennies and we play a game with a fair coin: heads I win, tails you win - with the winner getting a penny, guess what happens if we play the game over and over again? Over time, one of us will have $0, and the other will have $2 million.

So, even with equality of opportunity, there can be gross disparity of outcome over time.

The pursuit of happiness is still the best policy, though.


That's not true, but I agree with you that people should work together to pursue happiness.


A fair coin means that it is equally likely for you to take a penny from me as it is for me to take a penny from you.

For instance, if we play the game 1000 times, heads might come up 505 times and tails might come up 495 times. Over time, the difference between the number of times tails comes up and head comes up will go to 0.

Therefore, over time, we'll both stay at $1 million.



> Over time, the difference between the number of times tails comes up and head comes up will go to 0.

That doesn't preclude arbitrarily-large variances in between that could add up to a Head/Tail difference > 10^6.


Asians are 6% of the population, should big companies like Google start firing people?

Palantir got sued for hiring Asians at a ratio of 20%. 4 out of 21 were Asians, this was too low given the size of the applicant pool.


> 4 out of 21 were Asians, this was too low given the size of the applicant pool.

What if they were actually the better candidates?

Bias in hiring may well reflect bias in talent.


Yeah, so that's why they are being sued. But saying that large corporations should achieve the percentage of demographic as is present in the population is wrong.


>If we actually had equality of opportunity, it doesn't seem like we'd see the kind of disparity we do.

But we don't have equality of education, equality of upbringing, etc. so it's natural that given the equality of opportunity we get unequal results.


> If we actually had equality of opportunity, it doesn't seem like we'd see the kind of disparity we do.

There are pieces of the system that don't have equality of opportunity. People aren't born with the same amount of money or into the same social circles. There are actual racists in the world doing actually racist things. Different role models. Different cultures. Everyone already knows this.

You have to fix the causes, not the outcome. Mitigate poverty with a universal basic income. Punish overt racism. Change the culture so that black children want to be coders instead of basketball players.

You can't fix it at the end. Not only does it not work, because every qualified woman or minority that Oracle hires is just one less working for Apple or Microsoft and vice versa, it also isn't justice.

Because the ones who would get the coding jobs aren't the disadvantaged ones. The consequence of inequality manifests as working on the janitorial staff. You can't help those people by making a coder out of some already college-educated person who would otherwise have been a physicist or nurse or tax auditor. And not all of the people who are stuck cleaning toilets because society has been unfair to them are women or minorities.


I was a white kid, and I wanted to be a basketball player much more than a programmer. I just wasn't any good at it.


That doesn't seem fair. Which NBA teams did you try out for?


Choose a 20 year old black man completely at random and pit him against the worst player in the NBA. What result do you expect?


What you are suggesting, but won't say explicitly is that the black kid who wants to be a CRUD developer won't be good at it; that's a rubbish argument.

The NBA is much smaller than entire industries: there are more CEOs than NBA players.


That's almost what he's saying, but the devil is in the details.

He's saying that within the Black community, there are fewer people who (for whatever reason) have the skills necessary to be a CRUD developer.

Reasons may include, but are not limited to:

- poverty and access to education

- cultural factors pertaining to the value of higher education

- cultural factors pertaining to the types of jobs that are valued (e.g.: perhaps Blacks take jobs that confer a certain status or that are seen as directly giving back to the community)

If this is true -- and I personally find it plausible -- then we would indeed expect blacks to be under-represented in software design.

tl;dr: Perhaps the bias in hiring is a reflection of a bias in competence. Perhaps Blacks are, on the whole, poorer candidates? If that's true, then the correct approach is to focus on education rather than punishing employers.


So which of the reasons did you cite is responsible for their lack of success with the NBA?

Whether it was intended or not, OP was dog-whistling the genetics argument, which I do not buy.


>Whether it was intended or not, OP was dog-whistling the genetics argument, which I do not buy.

Again, no it wasn't, and even if it were it does not change the veracity of my (more nuanced) rendition.


You are making a totally different argument - not refining OPs original one. If you think yours is a refinement of the same argument, then you could perhaps state which of your listed reasons explains OPs lack of success with the NBA?

For what it's worth - I do not disagree with your argument, but I do not think it adequately explains the situation.

OT: it's somewhat surreal for me to experience HN going all out for the status quo (regardless of subject). I just wanted to get that off my chest - carry on.


I'm clarifying what I'm 99.99% certain OP meant by his argument.


not everyone can be dirk nowitzki :(


I completely agree with you but I'm not sure that we should tackle this problem by targeting employers alone, I think it is a much wider reaching social problem.

Discriminatory hiring practices are but one of many symptoms of the disease.


Interestingly, someone pointed out in another discussion that women are more apt to be found in careers that have educational barriers to entry. Women also obtain college degrees at a rate that is meaningfully higher than men, presumably in part because they want access to those restricted professions.

Is the social problem that the discriminated are pushed to 'over achieve' while the rest have no expectations placed on them and are more likely to fall into whatever work is available? I think this definitely holds true for the tech profession where for many of us the jobs appeared as extension to hobbies, not something we actually sat down to plan to do.

If we were pressured to go to school and get a good, well respected, job above all else – which I think we can say certain segments of the population are – the path into tech would have been far less obvious. Especially when you go back several years ago, before tech was 'cool', but even now doctor or lawyer sounds better than programmer.


[flagged]


You get what you incentivize.

If you incentivize sob stories about women in tech, you get sob stories about women in tech.


Could blind hiring practices be a solution to the absence of equal opportunity? Or quotas are a better answer? What in your opinion can be done to battle hiring discrimination problem?


I wish I could upvote this 1000 times. I think the counter arguments (haven't read the entire thread yet, and probably never will) often engage in abstract thought experiments, which are often very simplified models with tons of unspoken assumptions... rather than dealing with the reality on the ground. Which is often really ugly for women and minorities.


I've been in software for ~10yrs now and can only count the number of engineers I've met who weren't white or Asian (Indians included) on one hand. And that doesn't say anything about anyone's particular ability to be engineers. It's just less likely to happen via the available applicants. Although I have noticed a spike in women, that doesn't seem to be the issue here.

It seems to me the Dept of Labor is trying to solve a problem at the hiring level that exists at a much higher level, beyond the scope of any one company.

Additionally, in that context I'm not even convinced it's a problem in itself that needs solving via state intervention. Unless there is some abstract benefit to diversity of the people behind the code in software development that I'm not seeing. Other than the fact engineers make better money than other industries and it's in demand - but that should be a sufficient incentive by itself.


State intervention depends on the cause(s). Direct intervention against the employer like this would make sense if there was deliberate discrimination in violation of the law.

I agree the state should be acting at a much higher level to solve these problems. This could take the form of education incentives to get a more diverse workforce or do something about income inequality that prevents some demographics from pursuing certain career paths.


I agree with this comment. I don't think the DOL would act unless it had information that goes beyond just over representation of certain races in the company's labor force.

Anecdotally, a friend who was interviewing with Oracle was given a lowball offer by a Oracle recruiter of the same ethnicity and told that it was "a very good offer for a person like you". At the time I believed it was just a rogue interviewer, but it sounds like this may have been more widespread.


I don't doubt your friends perception but as a white male if someone said "a person like you" to me in reference to an offer I would think they were referencing my education or work experience, not my gender or race. That may be privilege talking, I honestly don't know. Maybe I'm just naive.


I do agree, and this is what makes the Palantir case makes sense.

If I see a large software company located in an area where a lot of Asians reside and there aren't many Asians there? Then something funny is going on.


>"I believe a distinction must be made: Equality of opportunity is good. Equality of outcome will lead us to the world of Harrison Bergeron's."

People have been trying to hammer that distinction for a long time. For certain people, it just doesn't "stick". They believe there is a boogey man, and by golly they will make sure to get the state to punish any scenario that hints to its existence.

If anything, I'd argue that they are creating a boogey man. E.g. You push an agenda that promotes certain groups or genders above actual merit, and pretty soon I'd argue that people will develop a subconscious bias against individuals in those groups. I.e. They will compensate and they will discriminate in order to fix the bias that they are seeing unfold in front of their eyes. And they will probably apply it to everyone, just like a stereotype.


The idea you describe in your second paragraph is to some extent rational, too. For example, a degree from a top college means less for a black job applicant because of the heavy affirmative action advantage given to them.


What exactly makes you think that a degree "means less" for a black job applicant than it does for a white one, when a white applicant is approximately 150% likelier to have a degree than a black one is?

Are you attempting to assert causation in the absence of correlation?


I think he meant the following.

Suppose that for University X, the minimal SAT requirement for white applicants was 700/700, and for black applicants was 400/400.

Suppose that the SAT scores of all white students at X are uniformly distributed over (700-800/700-800), and those of the black students are uniformly distributed over (400-800/400-800).

Now randomly pick one white student, and one black student.

Which of them is likely to have the higher SAT score?

And which do you want performing heart surgery on your child?


That is indeed what I meant.

It's a whole lot more "obvious" here in South Africa. There are actual quotas, rather than "score" enhancements and juggling like there is in America.

With the assumption that the "range" of ability is equal in both groups. The simple fact that you take a smaller quantity of one, rather than the other, implies that you're taking a different ability range of one group over the other.

So if you have 100 black, 100 white students, and both their group scores range using a normal distribution from 500-1000. But you enforce that only 10 whites can be taken, and 40 blacks should be taken. Then you're guaranteeing that only the "top" 10 of the white students get picked, while with the blacks the top 40 get picked. This means you're going down the distribution and selecting black individuals that have lower scores.


American schools also use quota-like systems.


Your heart surgery question is ridiculous. As anyone who has taken the SAT can attest, it has nothing to do with ability to perform complex medical procedures.

As for your question about which number drawn at random from two differently distributed populations would be higher on average - yes, in this hypothetical college that admits black students with SAT scores below the black population's average but only takes white students who are 1+ STD above the white population's average, I would expect the white students to have higher SAT scores.

What I would interrogate is why you seem to be defining the worthiness of students by their SAT scores, which most elite colleges now essentially disregard, since studies have shown that it correlates alarmingly well with parents' income.

I also don't understand why so many people, when discussing the merits of college or job applicants, are so focused on the exact point of application, to the point of refusing to consider earlier opportunities and environmental effects.

Wouldn't you consider a 500 SAT score from a low-income family's student more impressive than a 500 SAT score from a high-income family's student, based on the relative availability of SAT prep classes to the two students? Shouldn't such contextual information be considered when evaluating candidates? Wouldn't you say that the candidate from the less advantageous background who has achieved identical "on paper" results is more deserving of selection, considering what they must've overcome to achieve such results? If the candidate from the less advantageous background is more deserving, why do studies find that, when presented with identical applicants, hirers will choose the one with the whiter name? [0] http://www.politifact.com/punditfact/statements/2015/mar/15/...


His heart surgery question is ridiculous, but standardized testing is clearly necessary. There are more than 30,000 high schools in the US, meaning 30,000+ valedictorians. There are ~1,500 freshmen spots at Harvard, how does Harvard choose who to admit? And which elite schools disregard SAT scores? I only did a small sample (MIT, Harvard, Stanford, Yale) and they all require the SAT/ACT.

Secondly, many elite schools pride themselves on "need-blind" admissions, meaning they do not know the applicant's financial situation when deciding whether or not to admit him/her. This is to protect poor kids from being discriminated against (since they would need extra financial aid from the school), but it also means they can't give a leg-up to poor students.

Given that family income is highly correlated with SAT performance, it's pretty perverse that the best way for a poor student to gain admission into an elite university is to ace their SAT's and masquerade as a rich kid on their application.


My post above was merely an attempt to clarify, in broad strokes, the garanduss's point ( https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13432466 )

Perhaps my use of SAT scores in particular was a mistake, but hopefully you came away with a better understanding of garanduss's original post.


You're pontificating too much on test scores when that's only part of it. Standards are generally lower for black and Hispanic applicants - they don't just receive a test score handicap. Also, they get much of this advantage regardless of the quality of their home life and previous schools.


> If anything, I'd argue that they are creating a boogey man.

The concept itself perpetuates the boogey man.

We see these lawsuits and each one subconsciously implies, "Yep, racism is still a big problem in the industry. Here's another big company being sued for it. It's a good thing we have the Dept of Labor watching out for stuff like this. Who knows what these companies would be getting away with without it."

But it's the lawsuit itself that makes you think that, regardless of how much actual racism in the industry plays into it. It's self-perpetuating.


I'd argue that most people will only pay lip service to the idea of equality until someone steps in to actually force them to walk their talk.

Most of the problems I've seen with diversity hires being "less capable" has been because they've had to work with people who are poor communicators and can't get past the idea that not everyone has the same shared background they do.

That means your co-worker from Taiwan doesn't recognize your carefully constructed metaphors based arounds star wars quotes, and they will likely try their best to understand what you meant, but you should have just communicated like an adult instead of an excited teenager.


> I'd argue that most people will only pay lip service to the idea of equality until someone steps in to actually force them to walk their talk.

Most people don't care about anything. But apathy isn't inequality unless it's applied unequally.

> Most of the problems I've seen with diversity hires being "less capable" has been because they've had to work with people who are poor communicators and can't get past the idea that not everyone has the same shared background they do.

Lack of shared background is a type of being less capable. People use Star Wars metaphors because when everybody gets them, the metaphor is more engaging and takes less explaining than the non-metaphor version.

And you're making this out to be a problem, but it's really only an advantage of cultural assimilation. Hang around coders for a while and you'll decide it's time to see Star Wars. Which you can do even if you're originally from Taiwan.


1) Don't you believe that equality of opportunity would lead to equality of outcome (plus or minus random variation)? If not, what alternative result would you predict would arise from equality of opportunity, and why?

2) Don't you see how taking steps to correct towards equality of outcome leads towards equality of opportunity (by increasing the networking / financial / inspiration opportunities for disadvantaged groups)? If you think that such correction has social disadvantages, why do they outweigh that social benefit?


1) Equality of opportunity will never lead to equality of outcome. Our current politics around equality are fraudulent. Different people have different attributes. It doesn't mean one group is better. It just means people are different. For example, the NBA will never be dominated by players of Asian descent. Another: you will never see women asking for equal opportunity for jobs like working in the north sea on offshore oil rigs.

2) We can use words until the end of time to weigh the merits of state-forced equality. Same could be said about anything else that is non-scientific in nature: i.e. we could also argue about the relative merits of state-forced equality in communism vs capitalism in the same way. You can never prove anything this way in non-scientific fields, and at best all that can be done is hope to convince the other person that your reasoning is superior. However, before we got to that point, I'd even reject it on moral principle: it is immoral for government to enforce racist or sexist policies that discriminate against certain groups of people. Yes, it's in the name of moral outrage (equality), but note government-sanctioned use of force always comes with an argument of moral outrage, even if it is almost undeniably immoral, i.e: (America funding Jihadists in the Syrian War, Vietnam, Nazi Germany, the Opening of Japan, the Inquisition, etc., etc.).

Further on #2, one of the insights of modern economic theory has been that it can many times be actually better to make adjustments to free market outcomes ex post rather than use heavy handed regulation to force an arbitrary result ex ante. If I were king, I'd much rather see everyone with free access to healthcare, housing, transportation, and education than focus on how many women are working in male-dominated roles like offshore oil drilling in the north sea (or coding, whatever arbitrary field it happens to be).


As mentioned earlier, women do in fact protest against discrimination in the oil rig industry[1].

1.http://www.warrensiurek.com/blog/2015/04/5-women-claim-gende...



Do you both really believe as many women as men want to work in the oil rig industry, or that it is even close? There will always be exceptions, especially when huge sums of money motivate the exceptions.

What about as auto mechanics, or plumbers? Those businesses can be very entrepreneurial, requiring no hiring decision, yet women are still underrepresented. Would you still say there are not more men than women prefer those jobs?


I like how you are so sure that not even a single woman could possibly ever want to work on an oil rig that you bring it up in two comments without first attempting to Google it. Hint, they do want to work on oil rigs, they do work on oil rigs, and they have used legal action against those who wouldn't let them work on oil rigs because of their gender.

That made up example is especially bizarre because I can't think of a reason why women, as a group, wouldn't want to work on an oil rig, other than concern about possible sexual harassment.

Women want, and have fought (and won) to have equal opportunity in even combat positions.

https://foreignpolicy.com/2014/04/24/do-military-women-want-...

Your worldview does not match the facts.


You are insane to believe just as many women as men would want to work on oil rigs. There are many other examples: auto mechanics, miners, movers, truckers, construction workers, jobs on fishing vessels. I didn't "cherry pick" one example. Any gritty, dangerous, physically demanding job that assaults your senses is going to attract more men than women.

Just citing a single lawsuit as your evidence that the opposite is true, and extrapolating that to say "the facts don't match your worldview" is an assault on logic and reason.


> You are insane

Let's not do this here, please. Also, you're discrediting yourself and your arguments before I even get to the substance of your comment.


It was not intended as an ad hominen. It's intended to be reflective of the facts available in the world.


1) You've carefully chosen two examples of jobs that depend highly on physical attributes with well-understood genetic causes (height, muscular development), and you've extrapolated this out to technical employees at Oracle, whose skills are hardly defined by such well-understood genetic markers. This is faulty logic.

2) Just so we're clear, you literally just compared affirmative action to Nazi Germany and the Spanish Inquisition. I would call this "false equivalence", but I suppose it's useless to try to "use words until the end of time" (unless, apparently, those words are "moral principle").


>you literally just compared affirmative action to Nazi Germany and the Spanish Inquisition.

No, I didn't. That's your misunderstanding. Go back and read what I wrote. No one is saying they're equivalent. What I did say is that government sanctioned force always comes with an argument of moral outrage, even if what they are doing is undeniably immoral.

I should expect more of these straw man, incorrect, borderline-troll-bait attacks. It's easy to just agree with what's politically correct. It's hard to fight for what's right and this is what you run into when you do.


Ah. My apologies for misreading. I went back and re-read what you wrote. Please correct me if the following interpretation is wrong:

First, you said that moral outrage is the motivation for "racist" policies such as Affirmative Action. Next, you said that moral outrage also motivates state-sponsored violence. (I suppose this does not constitute a comparison per se.)

I'm sorry, but I really don't see the point of bringing up the Nazis, if not to tar "state-forced equality" programs with the same brush of "moral outrage leading to moral impropriety". Can you help clear up my misunderstanding?


That's also not my intended meaning. I don't know how else to say it and feel that I'm being baited. I guess I'll quote myself:

>I'd even reject it on moral principle: it is immoral for government to enforce racist or sexist policies that discriminate against certain groups of people. Yes, it's in the name of moral outrage (equality), but note government-sanctioned use of force always comes with an argument of moral outrage, even if it is almost undeniably immoral, i.e: (America funding Jihadists in the Syrian War, Vietnam, Nazi Germany, the Opening of Japan, the Inquisition, etc., etc.).

This is not about doing what's right. This is about lawyers and political correctness. There are plenty of opportunities to make the world a better place and I don't see that many Glenn Greenwalds, Laura Poitras's, or Snowdens. In fact, the government has worked to undermine at least 2/3 of those people. We can't even provide everyone with healthcare or clean drinking water. We're funding jihadists in Syria. We have cities with murder rates higher than any country in Africa. The CIA has been caught distributing crack cocaine and the reporter who revealed it "died of suicide by 2 gunshot wounds to the head." The political correctness around equality all sounds and feels great, but the reality is that it's textbook Harrison Bergeron stuff leading us closer to that kind of dystopian future. It's hard to see that, harder yet to have the guts to say it, and much easier to just be politically correct and ignore reality.


>Don't you believe that equality of opportunity would lead to equality of outcome (plus or minus random variation)?

Why should it? This reflects a very strong a priori position that people are exactly the same and don't systematically vary in their interests, cultural values, etc.

Where's the positive evidence for this (latent, implicit) positive claim?


I suppose I simply hold some truths to be self-evident.

Sorry, sorry, too easy :P . To more seriously and substantively address your point, variance in cultural values in part constitutes inequality of opportunity, no? A culture that values such-and-such Silicon Valley principle less offers less opportunity for development of Silicon-Valley-hirable skills. And variance in interests is caused in part by inequality of opportunity, no? I might not have been interested in computer science if my scientist parents had not encouraged me at a young age.

So in response to my asking "wouldn't equality of opportunity lead to equality of outcome?", you have challenged me to defend the assertion that equality of opportunity exists. Which is not my assertion.

I will also note that it's very easy to call someone else's claim positive and Russell's Teapot them to death. The assertion that variation in the skills that make a good Oracle employee correlates with heritage could also be called a strong positive claim. (In fact, I see that poster sidlls has done just this, about twenty posts further down.)


>you have challenged me to defend the assertion that equality of opportunity exists

No, I most definitely have not.

I challenge you to demonstrate that interests, cultural values, and other factors that influence professional qualification to be evenly distributed.

This is a sine qua non condition for the claim that "equal opportunity begets equal success" to be true.

If you want to define "equality of opportunity" as all groups being identical in:

- their culture

- their values

- their intellectual interests

- their views on education

...then I ask you: is this really what you want to argue?

Do you really want to deny the existence and legitimacy of these idiosyncrasies that minorities quite vocally cherish? If I were mean-spirited, I might even ask you why you 'hate diversity', but I won't stoop to your level.

If you're instead arguing that the hiring process should be less concerned with competence, and more concerned other things (like skin color, gender and national origin), expect people to disagree with you.

---

Edit: some empirical evidence for you to chew on [0]. It points to systematic differences in the professional interests of men and women. I suggest you dismount from your high horse and start looking at cultural differences in professional orientation, as well. Literature abounds.

[0] http://psycnet.apa.org.sci-hub.ac/journals/bul/135/6/859/


I do want to define equality of opportunity that way. As you originally asked me to consider (before editing your post), the consequence that I believe would follow would be equality of outcome, give or take random sampling variation.

To respond to your newly edited (four times! ack! I am scrambling to keep up) comment: I do not want to argue that all groups of people are the same. You have already challenged me to prove the nonexistence of such difference. I have already refused. Your new phrasing has not made your challenge any more reasonable or relevant to my original post.

I'm honestly not even sure what you want me to say here...? "Yes, there are differences between ethnic/religious/cultural/racial groups. These differences contribute to inequality of opportunity, which... exists." Does that somehow nullify the question that I asked wallace_f?

EDIT: On something like your third or fourth edit, you took out the ad hominem attack at the end of your post. I will leave my response in brackets after this note, if only so that comment-readers don't feel like they are losing their minds. [You seem very touchy about this topic. Why do you feel compelled to say such mean things about my posts? What part of them made you feel accused of being a bigot? I don't understand, but I would like to.]


>I do want to define equality of opportunity that way.

You can't have it both ways.

Either all groups are (statistically) the same in their values, preferences, etc, or the claim "equal opportunity => equal representation" does not hold.

Again, this latent assumption in your reasoning is the object of my criticism.

>You seem very touchy about this topic. Why do you feel compelled to say such mean things about my posts?

I apologize if I came off as mean. I did indeed edit my text to remain as civil as possible. The informational content has not changed significantly (it's mostly formatting and tone).

I am, indeed, touchy because it's all too easy you to insinuate bigotry where there is none. It's perfectly normal to be upset when baseless, unfair and dishonest insinuations are used to attack one's character.

But let's be honest: you know this. Frankly I find it disingenuous to act surprised at such a reaction.

With that, let's return to the matter at hand: can you demonstrate that the aforementioned factors are homogeneously distributed between, say, ethnic groups?


Again: I cannot demonstrate that "aforementioned factors" like "values" are homogeneously distributed between ethnic groups, because it is not true. I don't understand why you keep asking me to try. You have repeatedly said that this somehow disproves the assertion "equal opportunity -> equal outcomes". I do not agree.

Here is where I think we differ: we are using "opportunity" to mean two different things. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that when I'm saying "equal opportunity", you're hearing "at the point of hiring, equally qualified candidates are equally likely to be hired". I am taking a much longer view of "opportunity" - one that considers cultural context, childhood exposure, and socialized gender differences like the ones represented in the paper you linked. To me, if one candidate went to engineering camps growing up, and another did not, they did not have "equal opportunities" to develop into equally strong engineering candidates, who would eventually reach the point of hiring. The "aforementioned factors" you're talking about (e.g. cultural values, income inequality across ethnicities) are baked into my understanding of "opportunity".

This is why I haven't believed you when you've told me that the existence of cultural difference proves me wrong. To express my position in propositional logic terms, I'm saying that I believe A ("equal opportunity") implies B ("equal outcomes"). From my point of view, with how I'm meaning "opportunity" - which I don't think is how you're understanding it - you're trying to get me to admit that in the real world, "equal opportunity" is False. I have admitted that repeatedly. A is False. This does not contradict A -> B. [edited to hopefully clear up this confusing analogy]

You've told me I'm "playing with words to insinuate bigotry", but this is what I've meant by "unequal opportunity" the entire time. Because this is what I think "opportunity" means, in terms of becoming an employed engineer. I tried to explain that in my very first reply to you. I'm sorry if I didn't explain it clearly.

I can't control what you feel is disingenuous, so I won't try, but I really think our disagreement here is just a matter of verbiage.


Good point, but please keep the conversation polite. It's one of HN's best qualities.


I don't think I'm being impolite.

Edit: perhaps you caught one of my earlier versions. I did indeed edit for tone. I'm quite happy with it now.


Historically, that's not how it's happened when artificial barriers have been removed. The Jewish population in top universities in the US, for example, rose to extreme levels of over-representation within a single generation of the removal "Jewish-quota" policies. Nearly the same thing happened again with Asian populations a few decades later.


This is why merit based evaluation is the only sane hiring practice. I'd love to see legal protection for companies that can provide evidence they strictly adhered to the merit based hires.

You can also apply this rationale to your own projects, by including the Code of Merit into your projects[0][1].

[0] https://github.com/rosarior/Code-of-Merit/blob/master/CODE_O...

[1] http://code-of-merit.org/


Until the idea of meritocracy is considered too messy in the real world.[0]

> GitHub’s Julie Ann Horvath, a designer who also founded the company’s all-female lecture series Passion Projects, said the rug first became a problem when photos of it made their way into feminist discussions online.

> The false idea that the tech industry is a meritocracy hurts everyone. It allows Paul Graham to continue thinking that the founders who make it into Y Combinator are the best of the best, not just the best people with the most privileges. It also furthers a culture of entrepreneur worship.

Make of it what you will. But it seems GitHub at least doesn't want their floors to reflect a meritocracy.

[0] http://readwrite.com/2014/01/24/github-meritocracy-rug/


Meritocracy is great. Just when everyone has equal access to education.


I'd argue that it's not the jobs of universities or employers to try to "fudge the difference" between actual outcomes and what they believe outcomes should be. By that I mean, just because not everybody has equal access to education doesn't mean employers and universities should be lowering their hiring standards (like it or not, this is what affirmative action necessitates) for people belonging to groups that on average come from disadvantaged backgrounds. Not only is it bad for business or the academic reputation of the university, it can also do more harm than good by placing people from disadvantaged groups in environments they are not prepared for, harming their growth and unnecessarily exposing them to discouraging failure.

So by that I mean, why can't we just evaluate individuals based on their own merits? If you want to stop inequality, fight to stop inequality of opportunity. Stopping inequality of outcomes makes little sense.


I get what you mean, and I don't think we're doing a terrible job at giving fair education for most. I would hope that companies use merit as primary measure in hiring candidates. However, there should be more than just merit that employers should consider. "Fit"ness may be one. Maybe the job doesn't require overqualified candidates. Merit doesn't always have to equal technical excellence.


Equal access to education can never produce fully equal abilities or equal candidates. Two people are essentially never identical in their capabilities regardless of education. One person will always be 'smarter,' more creative, better at math, have a better memory, write code better/faster/cleaner/etc, whatever-pick-your-thing-here. Most of the world's population could never be capable of being a top 1% programmer, by sheer mental capabilities at birth. Education can never fix the fact that people are not all equally capable of the same things mentally.


Agreed, but I think the point here is that when access to education is the problem, suing the employer is a bad solution.


It'll never work. Because it is accepted that "diversity" is a good thing, without question. So you could argue with stats to prove you're doing merit-based hiring only. But then they will force to you "measure" that merit against a nebulous term or benefit such as "racial/gender diversity".

Edit. Removed stuff about types of diversity; not relevant.


This is why merit based evaluation is the only sane hiring practice. I'd love to see legal protection for companies that can provide evidence they strictly adhered to the merit based hires.

Maybe something like that could work if we ever figure out how to consistently and accurately measure productivity. Assuming that productivity is in fact how you intend to measure "merit".

.

Also, from your link...

The project creators, lead developers, core team, constitute the managing members of the project and have final say in every decision of the project, technical or otherwise, including overruling previous decisions. There are no limitations to this decisional power.

Well, at least you're honest about being a dictatorship. :) OTOH, just saying doesn't make it so. Hostile forks are a thing, license changes without copyright assignment are not a thing, etc.

All members have the same opportunities to seek any challenge they want within the project.

Congratulations, you're biased in favor of people with more outgoing and assertive personalities. ;)

Authority or position in the project will be proportional to the accrued contribution. Seniority must be earned.

Proportional requires that contributions be quantifiable. I'm not aware of any accurate, objective way to do that. (If there was, it would also be a solution to the "how to measure productivity" problem.)

Software is evolutive: the better implementations must supersede lesser implementations. Technical advantage is the primary evaluation metric.

What does "technical advantage" include? Switching costs imposed on users? The level of skill required from contributors? IDE-computable code metrics?

This is a space for technical prowess; topics outside of the project will not be tolerated.

Non technical conflicts will be discussed in a separate space. Disruption of the project will not be allowed.

These sound like an excellent way to let the trees blind you to the forest.

Individual characteristics, including but not limited to, body, sex, sexual preference, race, language, religion, nationality, or political preferences are irrelevant in the scope of the project and will not be taken into account concerning your value or that of your contribution to the project.

So, there's no such thing as "reasonable accommodations"?

There is no room for ambiguity: Ambiguity will be met with questioning; further ambiguity will be met with silence. It is the responsibility of the originator to provide requested context.

Wow, working only on clearly-defined problems must be nice. What happens when the ambiguity is part of the problem space?


> Well, at least you're honest about being a dictatorship. :) OTOH, just saying doesn't make it so. Hostile forks are a thing, license changes without copyright assignment are not a thing, etc.

Hostile forks do not change the project, they create a new one. License changes are of course restricted by law, as are all other ‘decisional powers’ (as any reasonable person would assume).

> Congratulations, you're biased in favor of people with more outgoing and assertive personalities. ;)

Not my problem, a technical project is not a therapeutical session for people who can’t speak their mind.

> Proportional requires that contributions be quantifiable. I'm not aware of any accurate, objective way to do that. (If there was, it would also be a solution to the "how to measure productivity" problem.)

You only need a good enough comparison to differentiate two people if there is a dispute. This is often a very clear-cut case. If it isn’t, let the rest of the project decide in whatever way is appropriate.

> What does "technical advantage" include? Switching costs imposed on users? The level of skill required from contributors? IDE-computable code metrics?

I don’t see why different projects could not have different metrics there, to be decided upon by the project/core team? If it’s a fun-in-your-free-time project, you can expect as much as you want from future contributors and don’t give a shit about your users, conversely, if you try to sell it, you may need to take switching costs into account.

> Wow, working only on clearly-defined problems must be nice. What happens when the ambiguity is part of the problem space?

If your problem space is not well defined you have bigger problems than a code of merit you may or may not like. Do more research first until the problem space is defined. Apart from this trivial tidbit, the sentence obviously aims at ambiguity in communication, where there is never any place for it. Not using words ill-defined words or ambiguous constructs seems like a decent idea in general.


Not saying that I agree with quotas as a solution to problems like discriminatory biases in hiring, but how is a quota system "discriminatory"? What race, sex or age group is discriminated against by a requirement that appropriate proportions of those demographics make up the companies employees? (Heck in most cases quotas are simply a low bar, they are not even proportional to the population demographics.)

I can understand how it perhaps seems unfair if someone is not hired purely on perceived talent alone, but they are not being discriminated against. That's not the right word for that.


Google has actually released a paper on codifying what discrimination looks like for lending (https://arxiv.org/abs/1610.02413 + blog post: https://research.googleblog.com/2016/10/equality-of-opportun...). It can be trivially extended to discuss hiring.

Basically a fair hiring process as defined by the above would be:

P(hire | features) = P(hire | race=1, features) = P(hire | race=2, features)

This may sound a bit silly or unnecessary, but unless this formula is specifically enforced, if a race were correlated with expected profit of a hire, a hiring algorithm might accidentally infer race from the other features. You can see the paper for an extended discussion.

With that background out of the way, let's consider hiring based on quotas. Since hiring takes place continuously across time, in order to maintain a quota across time we would need to change P(hire | race=1) based on the current composition of the company. Therefore P(hire | race=1) != P(hire | race=2) at least some of the time. Therefore it's discriminatory according to the above definition.

Of course, you may not like the definition. I would be very interested to hear an alternate formalization of non-discrimination!


Unfortunately this isn't enough. Discriminatory rules such as "don't lend to any zip code that's over 75% black" will pass this test if you include this variable as a feature. The same logic applies to less obvious cases such as purchasing behavior.


A particularly hairy case is where you use variables as features which are themselves generated through other potentially-discriminatory processes. For example, including a "has committed a felony" feature seems like a no-brainer for a hiring or lending application, but now any racial or other discrimination present in the criminal justice system has now "infected" your hiring process, so that the outcomes of your hiring process are now racially biased even though your process itself was not.


But at some level, doesn't that just mean reality is biased, and since we don't live in utopia, trying to model one in the small is a sandcastle?


What do you mean by "reality"? Society is pervasively biased, yes, that's the point. That makes it difficult to fight against that bias, but it is necessary if you want to live in a more equal world.


> What do you mean by "reality"?

The thing scientists (especially physicists) are trying to model.


You're not the person I was asking, and I didn't ask for a definition.

In case you missed my point, we aren't talking about physics here, but about society, which is a reality we create.

Appealing to "reality" in a discussion about bias amounts to throwing up your hands and dismissing the problem as just "the way things are".

It's like if you described a complicated social problem you've observed and I shrugged and said "physics, eh?".


> Appealing to "reality" in a discussion about bias amounts to throwing up your hands and dismissing the problem as just "the way things are".

Yes, that was how I read GGP's comment. I think you are overstating the degree of control that we have over society.

For example, I have often heard the case that society influences young women into roles that eventually prevent them from becoming engineers. Gendered children's toys are often used as an example of this. However, gendered toy preference exists before socialization has occurred (it has been demonstrated in 3-8 month old infants[1]). The same gendered toy preference that exists in humans has also been demonstrated in vervet monkeys[2] and rhesus monkeys[3].

[1] http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10508-008-9430-1

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2643016/

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2583786/

With those references now provided, I think it's safe to say gendered toy preference in humans is much bigger than simply a question of which toys we encourage children to buy -- there seems to be a considerable amount of genetics involved.

Hopefully now you are understanding what I meant when I defined reality for you. As I said I believe this is also what GGP was referring to.

So with that background out of the way:

> In case you missed my point, we aren't talking about physics here, but about society, which is a reality we create.

> It's like if you described a complicated social problem you've observed and I shrugged and said "physics, eh?".

A. How do you know it's a problem with the "reality we create" and not a problem with the reality we are stuck with? (Again, this is how I read GGP)

B. If we can trace the problem to something akin to male vervet monkeys preferring to play with Tonka trucks... what are we to do about it beyond ensuring that P(loan | race=1) = P(loan | race=2)?

I ask B because the idea of forcing my life choices onto someone else makes me feel ill. It reminds me of being forced to join the basketball team in high school, which I hated (though others seemed to love). The sick feeling compounds when I consider doing it purely on the basis of their race or gender in contexts where their race or gender is causal... and that's usually the course of action people on your side of this discussion recommend.


There is plenty of evidence that people have conscious and unconscious biases. There is ample evidence that the American criminal justice system, for example, is biased at several levels. I see where you're coming from: at any discussion of bias, you would rather blame it on genetics, which means we as a society are not responsible for doing anything about it.

I'm sure the people that have been forced into high-paying fields against their natural inclinations appreciate your feeling ill on their behalf, though. /s


> There is plenty of evidence that people have conscious and unconscious biases.

Agreed. I didn't say otherwise, I just also pointed out that there's evidence some of those biases are genetic.

> There is ample evidence that the American criminal justice system, for example, is biased at several levels.

I believe this should be fixed! I'm the person who linked the google formalism for modifying a model to be non-racist. This whole thread came from that.

> I see where you're coming from: at any discussion of bias, you would rather blame it on genetics, which means we as a society are not responsible for doing anything about it.

No. My position is that I want bankers to use a race-blinded models when deciding on loans. In general, where there is bias (especially where there is genetic/non-correctable bias), I believe the biased human should be replaced by a computer programmed to not have a bias.

I want this because I think the problem is real, I would like it solved, and I believe the other methods people propose (bias training, etc) are unlikely to work.

I also believe replacing as many humans as possible will not fix all the problems I imagine you are currently attributing to societal bias (ie I believe that some life decisions may well have a large genetic component). I do not view those "problems" as things to be solved, so much as deeply disturbing indications that free will does not exist. That in some sense you and I might be discussing optimization methods for player happiness in a zero player game. That in as much as happiness exists, I worry it is primarily found by embracing our genetic biases.

> I'm sure the people that have been forced into high-paying fields against their natural inclinations appreciate your feeling ill on their behalf, though. /s

People used to make arguments like this in defense of arranged marriages you know. Letting the heart decide isn't stupid.


While I agree that `P(loan | race=1, black_zip) = P(loan | race=2, black_zip) = 0` does indeed satisfy the condition, I think the kind of discrimination it creates is in some sense out of scope.

This is because if P(loan | black_zip) is profitable > 0, any bank primarily motivated by profit will approve such loans. [this is the statement I believe you meant]

If P(loan | black_zip) isn't profitable > 0 after correcting for race, this would mean is that the neighborhood itself signaled something about the person's likelihood of paying back the loan. Perhaps theft is very common, employment is very sparse or seasonal, vandalism/arson of property is common, etc... because we already corrected for race it amounts to saying "don't approve housing loans for neighborhoods where people regularly burn down houses" or similar. This doesn't seem discriminatory to me.

So while I do agree there are discriminatory issues not addressed by the formalism, your example seems to be handled by using the normal economic models for what decisions a bank should make given a model P(loan).


Of course if all banks do that, how is society to deal with this pit/failed neighborhood?


Through products and services not offered by banks?


Ensuring model safety is indeed a massive pain and is completely non-trivial.


I can think of many situation outside of employee distributions where quota would be discriminatory and wrong, so maybe a better question is what make hiring process so unique?

To give a few examples where quota would not work, lets talk about lotto winner. Why should winners not be on a quota so that winners are proportional to the population demographics? How is it fair that winner demographics don't match the population in race, gender and location?

Or what about having quota on roads in order to create equal road maintenance based on population. You drive through a unpopulated area and suddenly only one car per hour can drive through.

Or say that the police would use a quota system when deciding which crimes to investigate. Would it be fair to base how many murder investigations should be done by cities proportional population to the country? What about police budgets?

It would be nice if we could talk about what other systems that we want quota on and see what commonality there is between those and what distinguish them from the others.


Your examples are interesting:

Lottos: are known to give each ticket a fair chance based on a published set of rules. I think if that existed for hiring then many of the issues we see here would be gone. Unfortunately for many jobs it is difficult to give a test which is a fair sole determiner of suitability for work. And if I understand correctly also illegal in some jurisdictions, more or less because it can be abused.

Roads: maintenance does in fact vary by the wealth of the supporting area. Try driving from Nebraska to Kansas on US77 for a stark example. In addition, roads are networks and thus it makes sense to subsidize maintenance of connections to increase overall network value.

Police: some people do indeed advocate a form of this because they say police already relatively over-investigate crimes of minorities. That is, a white person has a higher chance to get away with any one given crime (for some categories)


While each ticket has a fair chance there isn't a 1:1 relationship between tickets and people. I think what's being asked is whether we should correct the outcomes of lotteries in response to opportunity inequality: force a 1:1 relationship.

While road funding may be distributed based on usage data after the fact or density projection before construction, should we throttle traffic flow so that roads wear evenly?

But should a murderer go free? And what of the scenarios where a given minority group collectively _does_ commit more crimes? It may in fact be nurture not nature (although it doesn't really matter) that yields such an outcome yet we would ignore such behavior because it feels overbearing to subject the group to "more" scrutiny relative to other groups that requires less.

I think the point is that it is confusing to entertain such diversity policy when applied outside of a socially hot topic such as the tech labor market. But also a challenge to find a scenario where equality of outcome is objectively desirable and draw parallels.


Sure people with the right skills are being discriminated against if they aren't in one of the favored groups. There is also no quota for white people or men. In my company these groups seem pretty underrepresented in some departments. Maybe they should do blind tests like government often does.


White people are underrepresented at most large tech companies[1]. So is almost every other race.

The exception is Asians. Asians are vastly overrepresented. I don't think this is a bad thing. It is meritocracy in action. But it violates the common notion that meritocracy and equality are the same thing.

[1] http://www.unz.com/gnxp/silicon-valley-has-an-asian-people-p...


You're saying that Asians are more meritorious of positions at large tech companies than people of other ethnicities. That's an extraordinary claim.

By the way, if Asians comprise about 30% of the workforce in the Valley, I wouldn't say they're over-represented. They're probably under-represented, in fact.


I think this is similar to the "equality" vs "equity" argument. Making sure a company is forced to hire a percentage of every single demographic is not fair even though it seems fair, and it also is discriminatory in the sense that instead of making it to where race / gender / etc don't factor into whether you get the job, it completely factors in.


"We can't hire any more black people, we have too many as is, if your white friend was to apply we would hire him in a heartbeat we have trouble getting enough of those"

Seems pretty discriminatory to me.


Or worse yet: "Sorry, a group of our employees recently went back to Mexico to start their own business there, we can only hire Hispanic for the foreseeable future."

Bonus question: should the HR department be allowed to ask for ethnicity ahead of time or would noneligible applicants have to sacrifice precious time in futile interviews?


Every quota is also a limit. If you say "there must be at least 30% women", it is equivalent to saying "there must be at most 70% men".

Rephrase every demand for quota as a limit, let's see how that would go down.


Example: The NBA institutes a rule requiring 50% of players to be non-Hispanic and white. This is well below 62%, the proportion of the population that is non-Hispanic and white. This rule discriminates against every black athlete who would have made the cut but didn't because a less-qualified white player was hired instead.

Discrimination means to select one thing over another because of some criterion. It is precisely the correct word for this. Racial discrimination means selecting one person over another using race as the criterion. Racial discrimination is always immoral and is, thankfully, illegal.


I feel like "Asians" is too broad a grouping. I think if we split "Asians" into Indians and the Chinese the stats would be a lot more illuminating. Microsoft, for instance, seems to have a much larger percentage of Indian workers than Google does. It could be because Microsoft hires a ton more contractors (some of which convert to FTE) or it could be something else. In any case, much finer grained stats are needed to gain better understanding.


microsoft has a large office in india and many transfer over to US offices


Could be why. You can't really "transfer over" to US offices easily, however, even if you are already an employee. You have to have an H1b.


I'm pretty sure they use the L1 Visa[1].

[1]: http://www.immihelp.com/l1-visa/


like the other poster said, they use L1 which isn't as hard to get


> Oracle sued for hiring too many Asians

You mean Indians not East Asians, right? From the OP:

> Oracle was far more likely to hire Asian applicants - particularly Indian people


Classifying East Asians and Indians in the same group is redundant to begin with. The difference in culture, languages, etc. between East Asian and Indian immigrants is much higher than the differences between white (European) and Hispanic immigrants and Americans.

On that point, the entire racial taxonomy, especially when used in the context of "diversity in tech", is elementary and useless. The average black American has more in common with an Asian American than an Asian American and an Asian immigrant or a black American and an African immigrant.

If you want diversity, you have it in the tech world. True diversity (in terms of communication style, beliefs, culture, etc.) is found in the taxonomy of country of origin. The tech world has a high immigrant %.

Ironically, the group of people who are most vocal about "diversity in tech" are less diverse than people in tech since most people who are advocating for "diversity" are American.


No, they're just using a different definition of diversity. Many people oppose mass immigration for reasons other than xenophobia.

Speaking personally, I found that work environments with lots of new or unamericanized immigrants had little collaboration, little in-office comraderie, and no socialization outside of work (e.g. pub nights). It was boring and I pined for a culturally American setting. Sometimes "multicultural" just means the subset of all cultures involved.


> Speaking personally, I found that work environments with lots of new or unamericanized immigrants had little collaboration, little in-office comraderie, and no socialization outside of work (e.g. pub nights). It was boring and I pined for a culturally American setting. Sometimes "multicultural" just means the subset of all cultures involved.

It sounds like you just wish they were more like you? Isn't this the kind of mentality that prevents diversity?

I actually hate when teams go to pubs because it just marginalizes people who can't/don't drink, god forbid there are any recovering alcoholics or people allergic to it.

While I can understand the frustration, I feel like you are in a position to get people to come together and feel more comraderie. After all, if these people are coming from other countries, their English is probably not that great, and it's likely difficult for them to communicate what they are thinking. I can see how they would want to go home and be able to speak in their native tongue, not to mention enjoy the things they used to.

It's our job to make them feel welcome and like they can express themselves in this country. Of course that's just my opinion and I'll admit I'm biased because I feel like I'm usually the one who doesn't fit in.


>It sounds like you just wish they were more like you? Isn't this the kind of mentality that prevents diversity?

Using your definition of diversity, yes. I think that part of the point in making is that people maintain diversity as the ultimate goal. If it's directly harmful to the more characteristic goals of your grad program or company, is it really worth it? (I'm not advocating for discrimination, but using fewer visas isn't discrimination.)

>I actually hate when teams go to pubs because it just marginalizes people who can't/don't drink, god forbid there are any recovering alcoholics or people allergic to it.

Meh. I don't think drinking should be the only group activity, but a little alcohol goes goes a long way in getting people comfortable with one another.

>It's our job to make them feel welcome and like they can express themselves in this country.

I generally agree with this. However, many of these people seem to have little interest in American culture, and wealthy leftists seem intent on pumping as many immigrants into the US as possible. For example, many STEM grad programs are completely overrun by Southeast Asian and East Asian students who did undergrad in their home countries. IME, these programs have a small minority of Americans and are absolutely abysmal socially. The professors tend to be SJW's, which makes me think that they don't want to acknowledge the consequences of this, although it may just be hard to find qualified American applicants.


> Using your definition of diversity, yes. I think that part of the point in making is that people maintain diversity as the ultimate goal. If it's directly harmful to the more characteristic goals of your grad program or company, is it really worth it? (I'm not advocating for discrimination, but using fewer visas isn't discrimination.)

I missed this point in your original comment, so I appreciate that you took the time to respond and point it out to me. That's a very interesting point.

> Meh. I don't think drinking should be the only group activity, but a little alcohol goes goes a long way in getting people comfortable with one another.

I can only speak from my own perspective as someone who doesn't like being around alcohol, but this seems like it'd make it so that some people felt like became closer to the team while others felt left out. I suppose my bias in this matter is obvious.


so what kind of discrimination is this then i wonder? hiring people from cultures / places who tend to do more computer science? ie. white guys, indians and east asians?


Indeed. Just by normal statistical variance, we should expect that at least a few companies would have employee distributions that aren't exactly in line with the applicant population.

When the government looks at everyone's employment data and seeks out people who are deviating from the mean, they are guaranteed to turn up spurious results. This is known as "Data Dredging" in science, and it is very bad.


When you say, "...lawsuits can be targeted at whoever one wishes" it is evident that you are male, white. A bit of background on who and why may help...

It is the Federal government suing these companies. Blame Obama. But not to worry, Trump will redeem male whites.


What's even worse is how easy it is to keep moving the goal post.

"Oh, you have 50% female workforce? Well, what about women of color? Not enough of them = you're discriminating!"


>While it's possible that discriminatory processes have happened at all these places, it seems these lawsuits can be targeted at whoever one wishes.

That's no accident.


> unless companies hire in exact quotas (which would also be discriminatory really).

Ironically, that's probably the safest.


> While it's possible that discriminatory processes have happened at all these places, it seems these lawsuits can be targeted at whoever one wishes.

I think you're jumping too far to that conclusion. The only conclusion we can draw along those lines is that if there's evidence of discrimination the DOL will investigate and take action if it finds enough supporting evidence.

It's entirely possible for different companies to discriminate against several different groups in several different ways.

A major function of the DOL is to investigate discrimination claims, and they don't jump straight to a huge lawsuit because one or two people claimed discrimination. By the time they file these lawsuits they've probably had a lot of complaints, done an investigation and found supporting evidence.


> Palantir sued for not hiring enough Asians

Was the evidence against Palantir simply the rate at which they hired Asians? Or was there some other evidence that indicated discrimination?


unless companies hire in exact quotas (which would also be discriminatory really).

Quota hiring is usually considered a safe harbor under the law. Non-discriminatory policy and equal opportunity, on the other hand, can still create liability under the civil rights laws. That's why quotas are so popular.

But you can't run a tech company with strict quotas. There aren't enough decent engineers available at any price in many of the necessary categories.


The Google one is interesting. Page 4 points 9a-c outline what the DOL wants. Point C says they want names and contact information for Google employees.

https://www.dol.gov/sites/default/files/newsroom/newsrelease...


Oracle was sued for hiring too many Indians, and for paying not-(white and male) employees less than white male employees of the same job title, seniority, and experience.


[flagged]


Rather daft comment.

And these companies haven't "gone crazy". There is zero evidence for that.

Also, exact quotas is discriminatory by definition. You are, by definition, hiring and/or not hiring somebody because of their race, which itself is becoming a rather tenuous concept in itself due to globalisation (mixing of races).


Without these sorts of rules than it's a free for all. I have zero evidence except life experience to say that if people could hire their preferred tribe, they would. The homogeneous work culture alone would probably be very effective. But wow, what a horrendous world to live in. I mean, seriously, you kids have no idea.


That's discrimination based on culture, not on race, though.


Couple points:

First, this is where the meat is: https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/ofccp/ofccp20170118-0

Second:

"...Oracle nevertheless preferred Asian applications over other qualified applicants in the Professional Technical 1, Individual Contributor Job group and in the Product Development job group at statistically significant rates." [1]

[1] https://www.dol.gov/sites/default/files/newsroom/newsrelease...

---

Perhaps I'm naive, but I'll say it again and again until someone with influence hears me: large companies should do anonymous interviewing. I've interviewed with Oracle, Cisco, and many of the "old corporate-y" companies. There's ZERO reason the interview process can't be completely anonymized. Their interviews (from my limited experience) are completely impersonal and done on an ad-hoc basis anyway.

That being said, it seems this issue may be more of an H1B1 issue, which inherently cannot be made anonymous.


When you say anonymous, how do you mean it? As in: the interviewer meets face-to-face without a resume in front of them, or the interviewer has a resume but the interview is done over the phone, or a phone interview with no resume?


Well, for one, you can hide contact info from a resume (which is still stored in a system somewhere, with a unique ID).

And you can also make the early stages of your interview email or text-chat based (or just a Google Doc, like some companies do), to eliminate any potential bias in things that can be inferred from voice like accent, region, and gender.

Obviously once they're on-site for an interview, you can't anonymize much anymore, but anonymizing every stage before that seems like a win-win to me (excluding potential costs of implementing the system).


It's difficult. I remember coming out of school, employers tried to anonymize for various things, especially with respect to things like race. Black students would, in an anonymized resume with contact info removed for example, state that they were "Treasurer for the Black Students Association" or "NAACP Volunteer", or things to that effect.

My point is that I think that an Asian person, applying to a company known to be favorable toward Asians in hiring, would signal their ethnicity somehow in their resume. At least, that would be the smart play for that person.


Build a loop into the workflow for "You're insufficiently anonymous, resubmit", with a special way to enter "significant award/position/membership with deanonymizing title, X level of prestige/selectivity/membership"? Might be valuable anyway so you don't accidentally get peoples' personal biases into play - different people will weight "NAACP award" very differently.


If you anonymize it and make it completely chat based how do you make sure that the person you are chatting with is really the applicant and not someone else?


You'd need a third party that you both trust. If you both don't trust anyone, there are ways around that too...


Blockchain for hiring/interviews?


Blockchain + machine learning



Well, I can tell the way sentences are formed in many cases if I'm dealing with a native speaker or not.


Would you kindly do the willingly and explain how? :)


You mean do the needful?


Maybe add </s> next time, although the smiley should have been a dead giveaway.


It's pretty easy, but also pretty rough - if you're good, you can certainly distinguish between an American, a British or an Indian English-speaking person writing.


I could be missing the mark here, but I'm pretty sure you were replying to satire. Based on the grammar used and smiley face.


Explaining the human brain's ability to pattern match will take more than a few sentences.


But whether someone is a native speaker is a trait that someone can legally and rightfully discriminate over. It's perfectly reasonable to reject someone if you think their English skills aren't sufficiently good. It's not reasonable or legal to reject them just because they were born in a different country.


I find it pretty easy to distinguish between people educated in the US and those not educated in the US after a fairly small sample of writing.


Interesting. Any telltale signs? I'm assuming it's not the difference between native English speaker and ESL, but specific words or grammar patterns? Can you tell from my comment history whether I was educated in the US?


I spent <5 minutes on it. I'd guess that you're not US educated (or at least not a native US English speaker).

The "tell" that I'm primarily relying upon is that you often drop articles where a US-native speaker would use them. Just one example: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13197570 (that was as far back as I went) I think most native US speakers would use "the gun industry" and "the film industry". Several later comments drop an "an" or "a" article as well.

You also have a habit of using a comma splice rather than a semi-colon to join sentences, but that one is harder to place geographically, as it's a somewhat common trait within the US as well. In my experience, it is often a trait of European native speakers who learned English as a second language, but is less reliable than dropped articles.


Dropped articles is a good indicator of (most) Slavic language speakers, but not of most European languages. E.g., French would not have dropped those definite articles either.

Definite article rules do vary a little bit, though, so extra definite articles would be a good indicator of European native speakers...


Correct on both counts, although it's not quite clear how much of the difference is from place of education rather than native language. Math is the same no matter where you study it, at least in theory. Probably need a bigger sample.


That was an incredibly obvious example. My favorite telltale sign for native English speakers is the rampant misspelling of trivialities like it(')s, you(')r(e), etc. I've seen so many well educated peers fail at basic grammar, or misspelling common words (e.g. electrisity, from a CS undergrad) that I'm comfortable making this generalization.


My favorite sign for native English speakers is "could of" instead of "could have"/"could've".

I have never witnessed that mistake with non native English speakers.


The question was not whether I'm a native English speaker (obviously not), but whether I was educated in the US. I believe the latter is a much harder question.


communication skills and personality can be really integral to the hiring process. many would rather have a good communicator than a slightly better engineer. your way removes this.


I applied at Treehouse learning and they have a take on 'anonymous' hiring. It's 'anonymous' in that they don't see the resume you submit, or so they claim, until after reviewing short essay answers to some questions.

No knowledge of tools used, name, DOB, companies you have worked at previously, is where Treehouse starts in assessing your application materials.

These were silly simple questions, like assign an empty array to a variable in Python, then append N items to it, and print it on the screen. No FizzBuzz at this stage anyway.

More like "describe how you would handle situation X" or "walk through how you'd solve this real problem we recently saw, given this information".

My intuition suggests they are assessing communication skill first. stuff like tone and clarity in writing. I can't say if that's accurate or they were looking for a "right answer" type response, however.

FWIW, it was actually the easiest application process I've been through. Something about the anonymous part made me feel more relaxed. Like I'll be judged on my own words, not a bullet list of skills. That said, didn't hear from them. :-/


I think they're referring to something like the blind auditions orchestras used to deal with their own gender disparity issues.


We built voice modulation to mask gender in technical interviews.

https://blog.interviewing.io/we-built-voice-modulation-to-ma...


Your project is something I had in mind as a potential idea for a long time, and the fact that you went as far as doing that is insane, in the best possible way. Kudos, guess you've just gained a new newsletter subscriber.


Native English speakers would then need to fake an "asian" accent?


I hope your anonymous interview system can authenticate applicants properly. Because we get cheating attempts in the online screening test we use for hiring. Recently, we got five submissions from recent grads of universities around the country. They were modified trivially (with different indentation and variable names) but clearly drawn from the same work. There is no way of knowing if someone was hired to do the test, and didn't share the results. We have also gotten people in on-site interviews who were not the same as the person in the phone interview.


"...Oracle nevertheless preferred Asian applications...at statistically significant rates."

I would be very wary about what counts as 'statistically significant'. If I flip a coin 10 times and it lands heads 10 times, is that 'statistically significant'? Not if I'm going through a jar with 1000 coins.

And splitting Oracle's workforce into 'job groups' makes it much easier to find spurious rates of discrimination. Eg. there is discrimination in the 'Professional Technical 1' group but not the 'Professional Technical 2' group...etc.

(This discussion reminds me of this Dilbert cartoon: http://dilbert.com/strip/2001-10-25 )


Yes, or the xkcd with the jelly beans.


Government civil service was like this. You'd take a test and the top 3 scores were hireable.


There are plenty of affirmative action organizations that would be very upset with anonymization of applicants.


Out of curiosity: do you know of any organizations that have voiced such opposition?


No, because I don't know of anyone who has made a serious suggestion that such anonymization be carried out.

There are plenty of advocacy organizations that badger, and attempt to shame, companies into buying their "consulting" services. Services that consist primarily of coming in, counting your employees by the hue of their skin, or whether their genitals are innies or outies. Then, after you've paid them stupid amounts of money, they provide a seal of approval. See Project Include or the Rainbow Coalition.


One reason why I believe it won't matter is such: Companies require a real name. Most require social profiles or a website. If you refuse to give your real name and supporting materials, you will be passed over.


Of course you don't submit an anonymous résumé; companies handle this. HR departments can have specific people outside the selection process hold the table matching candidates' realnames and candidate ID #.


I've never heard of a company that requires a social network profile or website.

Technically, they don't even need a name or any other personal info until they're ready to make an offer.


No reason, I agree! This sounds like a website some startups can design to automate the interview process and anonymize candidates info so the employer can't be biased.

I'm sure that even conversations can be encrypted so the job seeker and the interviewer can see, but nobody else can.

Just make a Chat web client based on the FTP servers or whatever works for everyone.

This would be good for those of us who are 40 and over and have a lot of experience and skills.


But how would you guarantee to meet the quotas with anonymous interviewing? There was for example a study showing women did worse in (phone) interviews when they were masked as men (digitally replacing the voice). So the assumption that everybody would do equally well with anonymous interviewing seems to be wrong.


I worked at Oracle in 1992-1998. I hired a white male employee who complained later that I was hiring too many indian employees. I went backed to look at the applicants and noticed that 90% of them were indian and that I'd contacted every non-indian applicant. I'm not white or indian so I was very eager to make sure I was being fair. My non-scientific conclusion after working at a lot of other companies is that very successful companies paid a lot better and had much more interesting work than Oracle (remember oracle missed the .com shift in a major way); I feel oracle gets so few the applications of whites because most of them had much better jobs and opportunities. In that situation, it might require oracle to pay more to retain white employees.

I left oracle in 1998 and returned in 2003. I did notice a dramatic shift in the employee demographics at that time. Areas that used to be mostly white or mixed were now entirely indian. I'm not sure of the reasons but I've worked at places that are much more successful than oracle and I suspect it is not oracle that is discriminating as much as it is a lot of better companies enticing talent away. I've seen many of oracle's brightest employees working at more successful companies.


> Areas that used to be mostly white or mixed were now entirely indian.

I've worked in a company where this shift happened in front of my eyes.

Basically I concluded that they have very clear people/employee hierarchy therefore Indian who is in top-position will rather deal with another Indian as a lower worker because he will be able to order him around like a puppet. Therefore he will vouch to hire more Indians.

This may sound like a generalisation and it probably is, but I've seen this exact shift of company having less than 10% Indian to 80%+. And i've seen how they treat each other.


> how they threat each other.

Do you imply something here or is it just a slip?


No, it was typo. Sorry


It might also just be that it is a bigger and older company, which entices a different group of people.

I have noticed some ethnic bias in hiring for test/quality engineering roles. My working theory is that, for cultural reasons, some people are mostly looking to work for a big firm, and are thus happy in such a role. The rest think of it as too dull sounding.


"Oracle was far more likely to hire Asian applicants - particularly Indian people - for product development and technical roles than black, white or Hispanic job seekers."

Can the DOL back up this claim with salary data to see if Oracle is abusing the H1-B visa system by purposefully keeping wages low?

Most of the time it is just easier to hire Asian/Indian employees because they are readily available (larger proportion of population entering tech filed via education or change of career).

It would be interesting to see how far DOL can stretch this.

Edit 1: Improvement


" Most of the time it is just easier to hire Asian/Indian employees because they are readily available "

- I doubt that. It's "easier" to hire because they "agree" to lower wages and its easier to retain them, because their visa status is tied to the employer. The employers have H1B workers on a leash.

The process of hiring an H1B worker in short.

- Hire an immigration lawyer.

- Post an LCA.

- Apply petition to USCIS.

- Pay petition fees (higher for fast track process)

- Respond to USCIS queries.

- Get petition approved.

- Done

- Its a different game if the employer wants retain the H1B worker after 6th year of H1B.

So hiring is not easy. But retaining and paying them is "easy". So why do these corporations take this much pain in hiring H1B workers ? No its not the skills they are after. (after all H1B is lottery based not skill based right ? )


You're missing the part where the employer is required to:

- Post representative salary data, including the last few (5?) hires to this position.

- Publish the job position locally, so it can be filled by local workers preferentially, and then only by H1B if unfilled.

- Ensure the worker is initially paid a salary similar to other existing hires in that position.

I don't understand how people make the leap that H1B is used to lower wages. It's an awfully complex, risky and inefficient way to suppress wages. You would need to lie about "prevailing wages" in order for this scheme to work, which is illegal and would put you and your company into deep trouble.


The prevailing wage comes from a chart: you don't just do research or come up with it. Figuring out which prevailing wage to use among the existing job descriptions is already a matter of judgement, and you can just aim for the low one.

Publishing the position locally is easily skirted: It's not published in places that people look at, it's not written in a way that makes it sound appealing, and often has some nonsensical requirements: In practice, you don't get local workers applying to them.

Then, there's how you hire for positions as junior as possible, and you keep the person there for 6+ years (the green card process can take pretty much forever if you are mean enough to your employee).

I was an H1B. My compensation was pretty fair when I started compared to the US employees around me, but as years went by, I kept taking on more responsibilities, but my salary didn't change to match. Once the green card process started, changing jobs became extremely unappealing, not just because risks of having to restart the green card process, but because to apply for a green card, my employer asked me to agree to pay attorney fees and costs if I left before the green card was awarded plus one year. Any job worth applying to would have been higher responsibility than the paper job I had been hired for originally, so would I be able to transfer by PERM filing across employers in the first place? Not guaranteed. So I kept the job: Being European in the early 2000s, there was a signifiant green card backlog for me, but not a decade long, so I could wait. All in all, I was an H1B for 8 years.

In the next 3 years after I got the green card, I changed jobs a couple of times and my salary more than doubled: I went from being called a plain engineer that just happened to report to the CTO to becoming principal engineer at a Fortune 500 corporation. It's 5 years later, and last year I made 5 times what I was making in my last H1B year: That level of catch-up doesn't come from me improving that much in the last few years, but total catch-up from where I started from.

Imagine what the big outsourcers, who handle many thousands of H1B applications a year, can do to suppress wages further.


Thank you for your insightful comment - I wish people like you would testify in front of congress on the abuses of the H1B process that are clearly widespread.

It's depressing to think about the stress and anxiety this might cause someone who is literally facing deportation if he doesn't "suck it up" and keep working at a sweat shop for the same salary they were hired at 5+ years ago.


I'm on an H-1B, and the thing that infuriates me about the dialogue on this is that they are effectively trying to ban skilled immigration, and exclude people like me from coming.

If you don't qualify for the family-based or refugee route, employment-based immigration is the only viable pathway. The amount of hate I see piled on people trying to come here via the employment-based immigration seems insane to me. These people make it seem like employment-based immigration is not as respectable or legitimate, compared to refugee/asylum and family-based immigration.

The problem with requiring higher wagers is that for people like me, who were students in US -- it's very hard to get an ultra-high salary for the first job out of college. I was a student (on an F-1 visa), and my first job out of college offered me $60,000/year. On my first job on my H-1B visa (in NYC), I was offered $85,000 a year (got slightly over $100,000 with bonuses). Then, just about a year and half later, I was paid (mostly through lucky bonuses) slightly over $200,000 in a single year.

If you raised wage requirements, you'd basically be not allowing people like me to continue to stay and work in the US (after graduation from college), and would instead only allow people from outside who have lots of experience (and skill) and can command a much higher salary upfront.


I mean when it comes down to it choosing a neurosurgeon over an entry level software developer makes a lot of sense.

What is wrong with wanting to prioritise people who have lots of experience and skill?


Why even prioritize? The need to prioritize assumes the existence of arbitrary numerical limits on immigration.

I think we should just eliminate the limits on employment-based immigration entirely, with the only restriction being that such immigration does not depress US wages (which is already implemented as the LCA today). At the very least, use qualitative limits, not quantitative limits.

But even better, just let peaceful immigrants in. Before 1921, if you were white, there were no restrictions on you moving to the US. So, let's go back to the pre-1921 immigration policy, with the slight modification that non-white people are not banned. The Libertarian Party makes a good argument: https://www.lp.org/issues/immigration


> I think we should just eliminate the limits on employment-based immigration entirely

> But even better, just let peaceful immigrants in.

How would the US absorb the hundreds of millions who would come?


Immigrants are only going to stay in this country, if they can be successful here. For example, if they can open up a business and generate enough revenue to live a better life, or if they can find a job that affords them a better life than they had in their previous country.

Obviously, only a fool would stay here if their condition of living is worse here. If their life is worse here, they'll just move back! Duh! Immigration dropped sharply during the Great Recession, and large numbers of immigrants were actually leaving the country.

The one restriction I support personally is: No welfare or any kind of public support for immigrants. We don't want moochers. Also: don't allow them to sleep on the streets and stuff. We don't want the poor from the whole world flooding our streets, and asking for hand-outs. Kick them out. If someone can't be economically successful in this country, and make enough money to support themselves (i.e. through a job or a business), don't allow them to stay here. That's a reasonable restriction.

Economics will become a natural regulator of immigration. Those who can be successful here will stay. Those who can't will leave. I can predict that, under such welcoming immigration laws, the country's total GDP will grow massively.

On another note, people with facetious concerns about there only being a limited supply of jobs should read up on this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lump_of_labour_fallacy

We had an insane level of immigration during the 1880-1921 period, and have we been poorer as a result for it? The US per capita GDP is exceeds that of most Western countries. (I guess one of the downsides is that NYC is now littered with pizza stores everywhere. Thanks Italian immigrants who flooded this country in the early 1900s!) This book covers this history in detail: https://amazon.com/gp/product/0809053446

I'm utterly and thoroughly opposed to those anti-free-market half-loosers who want to "protect" their jobs by preventing competition from others. This is just like the folks who want to require a license for everything, and want to use the power of the state (i.e. the threat of violence) to limit competition from others. With respect to immigration, I very reluctantly (partially) support mandating that immigrants be paid at least as much American workers, as this will prevent wage depression (even though this is an un-libertarian position). Our existing immigration laws already require this with every employment-based visa application. It's called the LCA (Labor Condition Application).

However, from a principled libertarian point of view, if another person else is willing to do your job for less money, well then, that's how much your work is worth. It's bad for society on the whole, for you to artificially inflate your pay grade by limiting the supply of available workers in your field.One of the reasons why medical costs are so high in the United States is that the supply of doctors is severely curtailed by regulation. It drives up cost for everyone, and it a net drag (or a tax) on the rest of people who need medical care. Government-imposed regulatory limits (on professional licensing, trade, immigration, the right to work, etc) protect various small interest groups at cost to everyone else, and are generally bad on the whole.


> Obviously, only a fool would stay here if their condition of living is worse here

The problem is hundreds of millions of people have a very low standard of living; an order of magnitude lower than the average American.

5 people living in the same room earning half of the current federal US minimum wage is a huge increase in quality of life for hundreds of millions of people.

You aren't explaining how an increase in supply for low level jobs, an increase in the demand for housing, an increased demand on infrastructure (police, roads, etc), etc is a benefit to US citizens and will result in a better quality of life for them.

> However, from a principled libertarian point of view

And why should we care about a principled libertarian point of view?

They tend to be ideologues who care more about reasoning from principles than actual real world outcomes.


> earning half of the current federal US minimum wage

As I stated before, I support requiring that immigrants be paid at least as much as U.S. workers for the particular job they take up. For example, if an immigrant is going to do X job, require that they be paid at least as much as what U.S. workers doing that job earn. Our existing immigration laws already require this with every employment-based visa application. It's called the LCA (Labor Condition Application). In terms of where the wage data comes from--the Bureau of Labor Statistics conducts wage surveys of almost every job in the country.

To clarify: I'm stating here that I support the principal underlying the LCA, I'm not talking about its implementation. Implementing the LCA properly, and ensuring that it isn't circumvented is not the topic of discussion. Some unethical employers circumvent the LCA today by using a lower-wage job title (like calling a senior developer a QA person) to pay a lower wage. But that's a problem of implementing the law--the law itself is fine, it's the onus of the Executive Branch to make sure it is implemented properly (and not circumvented). We're not discussing that here.

> You aren't explaining how an increase in supply for low level jobs, an increase in the demand for housing, an increased demand on infrastructure (police, roads, etc), etc is a benefit to US citizens

This is one of the most idiotic and brain-dead things anti-immigrant people say. You are assuming that new roads cannot be constructed, new houses cannot be built, and most of all (the biggest mistake people make) that there is only a fixed number of jobs in a country. Please read up on: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lump_of_labour_fallacy

Since the founding of this country, we had a century and half of mass immigration from Europe. Just think of what's happened. New towns were built, cities expanded, and new infrastructure was built to support the booming population. The economy expanded. Your theory implies that the number of jobs, houses, roads, etc would remain fixed to the number they were in 1789. What an idiotic theory.

The least bit of economic investigation shows that it is false. A bit of common sense also shows it is false. Immigrants typically add to the economy of the country. Numerous studies have measured the economic impact of immigrants on the U.S. economy, and have shown it to be a huge net benefit for the native (US citizen) population. For an excellent study, see The Economic and Fiscal Consequences of Immigration by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine: https://www.nap.edu/catalog/23550/the-economic-and-fiscal-co...

This stupid fucking theory is so brain-dead, and has been used over and over by anti-immigrant people (like Jeff Sessions) as an argument to effectively ban all immigration, that it makes me want punch the face of the person repeating it. At this point, I automatically assume that the person saying it must be using it knowingly as a straw man argument to ban all immigration, and their real motivation is not based in economics, but rather in xenophobia and/or racism.


> For example, if an immigrant is going to do X job, require that they be paid at least as much as what U.S. workers doing that job earn.

We have strong evidence that price fixing doesn't work. You can't double or triple the supply and use a half baked law to keep the price high.

I don't know why you think basic economics doesn't apply to labor.

> But that's a problem of implementing the law--the law itself is fine

That is naive. The truth is these kinds of laws are very expensive to enforce.

Should each immigrant put up a $20k bond?

> You are assuming that new roads cannot be constructed, new houses cannot be built, and most of all

Stop creating strawman arguments.

Adding and expanding infrastructure to a dense city is incredibly expensive. It cost my local government $100 million to widen a few hundred meter stretch of road.

> and most of all (the biggest mistake people make) that there is only a fixed number of jobs in a country

Again, stop creating strawman arguments.

I am arguing that a lot of the working poor will be worse off under your economic free for all. You haven't provided a shred of evidence as to why that won't be the case.

I don't believe there are a fixed number of jobs but I also understand how difficult it is to change fields even as a well educated reasonably wealthy individual.

We have a huge amount of evidence that the working poor struggle to adapt to changing labor markets.

The way you jump to claims of racism and xenophobia despite having put up a very weak argument is telling.


Your desire to justify immigration restriction using even the weakest arguments possible was very frustrating to me, and I responded with fairly strong language in my earlier comment, and it was flagged as a result. So I'll comment again without the strong language:

> Should each immigrant put up a $20k bond?

Compliance with wage requirements is the duty of the employer, not the employee. According to your logic, we would punish U.S. workers who are not paid the $7.25 federal minimum wage by asking them to pay $20,000 instead of taking action against the employers who fail to comply with the minimum wage law. So your statement is illogical and invalid.

> Adding and expanding infrastructure to a dense city is incredibly expensive. It cost my local government $100 million to widen a few hundred meter stretch of road.

If your city overspent on roads, that's a result of corruption and/or government inefficiency -- a different and unrelated problem. The cost of increasing infrastructure is paid for by the taxpayers. Immigrants pay taxes, and thus increase tax revenue. If there is a gap in the additional cost and the additional tax revenue generated by immigrants, that is a result of government inefficiency and possibly corruption.

The solution to that problem is to fix government inefficiency, the solution is not to ban immigrants. So your argument here is also invalid.

> I am arguing that a lot of the working poor will be worse off under your economic free for all.

According to your theory, the working poor should have been decimated by the mass immigration from Europe that occurred during much of US history. It wasn't.

Immigration contributes to economic growth. The poorest and least-skilled US workers might be impacted, but that is not the issue at hand here. We're discussing the immigration of educated, skilled immigrants.

For evidence on how immigration contributes to economic growth, see this study: https://www.nap.edu/catalog/23550/the-economic-and-fiscal-co...

---

To recap: you made a straw man argument about your city's extreme inefficiency at building roads. Then you mentioned something about putting up a bond, perhaps as a joke. That's why I brought up the possibility of xenophobia and/or racism, since these sort of comments make me wonder what the real motivations behind this is.

From a libertarian point of view, the problem I have with immigrant-hating people is that they're advocating for the use of violence (i.e. "immigration enforcement") against peaceful immigrants. Libertarians believe the use of violence against peaceful immigrants is wrong: https://www.lp.org/issues/immigration The Libertarians whom you dismissed as "ideologues" are people who are motivated by a strong sense of right and wrong. I know people who were brought here as young children, who've lived here their whole lives. Not that I think this makes them more deserving of being allowed to stay -- any and all peaceful persons should be allowed to stay. But anti-immigrant folk want to send men with guns into their homes, drag them out forcibly at gunpoint, throw them in a cage at some detention facility, and then ship them off to some random country. And for what? They were living peaceful and productive lives here. These anti-immigrant people want to use violence to destroy the lives of peaceful immigrants. I find this evil and immoral.


[flagged]


There are many instances of name calling in these comments, and the guidelines ask us to leave these out. I acknowledge that this is a controversial issue and these threads tend to heat up fairly quickly, but we have to do a better job of discussion and offer more resistance to this tendency.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


Well, unless they are flagrantly violating labor rules/constitutional rights of the person by monitoring them at all times, there's really nothing (except the green card process I guess) that stops a worker on H1B from scouting for other opportunities that would pay better. Not all H1B's work for sweatshops, but I understand the system has been abused a lot.


> The prevailing wage comes from a chart: you don't just do research or come up with it.

Interestingly, companies can provide their own wage surveys in order to justify the salary on an LCA. They aren't required to use the DoL wage data. [0]

"For the H-1B, H-1B1, and E-3 programs, employers have the option of using one of three wage sources to obtain the prevailing wage: (1) requesting a prevailing wage from the NPWC; (2) using a survey conducted by an independent authoritative source; or (3) using another legitimate source of information."

Larger companies are using #3. Since it is so vague and there isn't any oversight within the program they are able to manipulate the survey to provide results to their benefit while still claiming "We pay the prevailing wage! (according to our shady wage survey)"

[0] https://www.foreignlaborcert.doleta.gov/pwscreens.cfm


The companies have these "schemes" in place. If you look at an LCA posting, these scheming companies will post a salary range, eg : 75k-110k. 75k being the prevailing wages from the DOL for that area. This range means the company can pay the employee 75k and its legal. What does it take for the company to pay 110k to the employee as per LCA ? "Depends on relevant skills & relevant experience of the candidate" so that's the blurry line companies use to suppress the salary and its perfectly legal.


Because the H1s that are lowering wages are from Accenture, Tata, etc. Companies hire them at a lower costs that hiring their own workers. You also have companies like Disney firing existing workers to replace them with lower cost H1s. The fired workers even had to train their lower cost replacements. The prevailing wage for an H1 is lower than a US citizen. That's just a fact.


> You would need to lie about "prevailing wages"

Yeah, we all know a huge corporation would never lie, especially not such a shining beacon of progressive virtue as Oracle, where profit always takes a backseat to human decency. I mean, it's not like such a huge company can spare a few hours of paperwork drudge to set up such a scheme; they certainly don't have legions of Romanian dudes ready to file any form they're told to file to keep their job.

TBH, you don't even need to lie. How many government bureaucrats are deeply familiar with wages of a Fusion Enterprise Foobar for Middleware Cloud Baz Devop Ninja, a position that likely exists only in Oracle itself? Just make sure the position is properly "jailed" internally so all hires are consistent ("we don't have any DBAs here, we only have BigData Deployment and Maintenance Specialists for the Cloud Grid, totally different thing") and publish the job "locally" in places nobody will ever pay attention to, or on an intranet job-site where no application will ever be reviewed or actioned.

> It's an awfully complex, risky and inefficient way to suppress wages.

I agree that there are easier ways, like relocating all your operations in cheaper countries - something Oracle has already done almost 100%. But half the developing world seems to be on fire at the moment, and the other half "suffers" wage inflation at increasingly rapid pace, so watchagonnado...


>I don't understand how people make the leap that H1B is used to lower wages.

It's because immigration has been politicized in the U.S., and the average citizens' understanding of immigration is what they read in the news.

Which is fair, because immigration is a bureaucracy that the average citizen doesn't need to be an expert at, but this complexity makes it easier for misinformation to spread about it.


Correct. The H-1B process is incredibly complex and is not a matter of simply applying and bringing a person in.


My employer posts these notices in a public place. In taking to my coworkers, nobody looks at them to determine if the posted salaries are in the correct range.


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You forgot the part about rejecting all current U.S. nationals as unable to work the position. This is often by requiring X+Y years of experience with an X year old buzzword, and then telling your recruiter exactly how to lie on the resume. But it may also be by giving people actual interviews and then either offering them a wage lower than what is intended for the H1B import, or rejecting them for unspecified reasons.

Whenever I get dicked around in the interviews by a potential employer, I start to suspect ulterior motives. One time, for my own amusement, I asked to see their H1B public records. The company immediately got very defensive, and got their lawyer involved just long enough to hastily research what I was talking about, assemble the records, and set up all the flaming hoops I would have to jump through in order to see them. It was almost like they were hiding something. I didn't actually want to see the records, I just wanted to see that they were willing to show them (or that they didn't have records because they didn't have any H1B employees).

It was a lot like asking a toddler who ate the last cookie in the jar, and watching them hide their hands from you as they say, "Maybe it was the invisible ghost ninjas." I don't need that level of immaturity in an employer.


They responded that way because that's such an absurdly strange thing for the candidate to ask, not because they were hiding anything or had ulterior motives.

I suspect there are other reasons why you're being rejected. This seems like paranoid thinking. Most companies won't provide a rejection reason as a matter of policy.


...which promotes paranoid thinking.

I only asked after it was already clear I was no longer being considered, and I (politely) asked for some feedback on the interview. They wouldn't say one thing about it, good or bad--wall of silence. So, as is common with whiteboard interviews, I threw out something unexpected to see how they would react. The fact that they reacted so poorly made me feel better about their rejection. It's not me; it's them. I didn't just fail to impress. Instead, I unknowingly avoided a future disaster.

I naturally proceed under the assumption that there is nothing actually wrong with me, as a person or as a candidate for employment. From my perspective, I am a normal person, and a competent software professional. I can be pleasant and sociable. I have been on enough interviews to get a sense of what is "normal" and what is strange--even strange for a tech interview. Usually, that determination only happens after the fact, or very late in the process, but I can still eventually tell when something was out of place.

So when I haven't done anything that would make it clear to me that I have blown the interview, and the company won't give me a reason for rejection, or even suggest one thing that I could improve upon, I naturally take that to mean that there is something wrong with the company. At the least, they are simply too rude to give a candidate any kind of (possibly helpful to them) feedback afterward. But they could also be concealing an unethical hiring practice behind a wall of corporate policy and plausible deniability. There's no way for me to know, and I don't really care by the time I get to that point. There are way too many other companies out there willing to go out on a first date to sit and stew over the ones that won't return your phone calls.

I can't even remember the name of the company now. Which is unfortunate, because I'd have to search through old e-mails to avoid accidentally applying to them again.


Their H1B records would be posted here: http://h1bdata.info


I know that. I even knew it at the time (though it might have been a different site). They might even have known it. I wanted to see how they would react to my reasonable--albeit unexpected--request for records that are supposed to be viewable by any person who walks in off the street.

At the time, I was toying with the idea of using a company's public H1B records as a way to give me an advantage in salary negotiations. After seeing the reaction of this one company, I decided not to do that.


H1B workers can, and routinely do, switch companies.

Their new employer has only to file the paperwork to transfer their visa, so your assumptions about retaining H1B workers are not very accurate.


I've mentioned this elsewhere before, but I've had experiences at both ends of the H1B chain.

In one workplace & location in the US: The H1B workers were...not very good. Adequate, and hard working, but not highly skilled and they were brought in mainly because the location didn't want to/couldn't pay wages good enough to hire skilled US-based talent. There the H1B workers were (in general) fearful and unwilling to complain, because they knew their personal odds of getting another US gig were NOT guaranteed. This left me understanding the various H1B complaints, as the workplace was terrible.

In another workplace in a different US location, the H1B workers were equal or better than any US-citizens working there. The workers were highly sought after and were interested in speaking up to make the workplace better. Switching jobs for them WAS a hassle, but a very doable hassle, so the workplace had keep them as happy as non-H1B workers. This left me understanding the OTHER side of the H1B issues, as these workers raised up rather than lowered their workplaces.

I've had multiple friends spend months uncertain if their visas would be renewed (Most companies seem to employ offshore lawyers to handle the visas on the other ends, and I've heard some horror stories about those lawyers sometimes vanishing, or misfiling). Also, I've had friends that had to stay put in a job during a certain phase of getting their green cards - a change in job title would reportedly move them back to the end of the queue of that step. (No idea about the specifics)

All in all, I've found it pretty hard to generalize about H1B workers and the process as an entire whole.


This may be my bias, but the experience you had is explainable.

The former H1B workers probably were in the US as an onsite assignment or through a consultancy/contractor. Most Indian consultancies view people as warm bodies on the chair. Which is why you find people with fewer skills.

The latter workers are most likely people who relocated to the US for education or were hired from India from a US employer because of their skills.


I think creating a separate visa category for students graduating from US institutions would be useful. Currently F-1 students who intend to stay back and work in the US get lumped together with incoming H1B workers. I am not saying that foreign educated workers are worse, just that it is a useful distinction to make.


or possibly Indians didn't get the diversity memo and are more likely to hire other Indians than the analogous instinct in white managers?

It's odd that the suit alleges that white people are discriminated against relative to Indians yet those that are hired are paid more.


More often than not you will find opposite to be true.


Opposite of which?


Indians treating other Indians favorably. In most cases I found they are more harsh than to other people. In general I have found Indian and Chinese to be much more harsh.


Harsh in personal interactions perhaps. People generally feel free to be blunter with close people relative to strangers. The issue here is hiring practices


It's all about the H1Bs. Oracle wants cheap labor and Asians (Indians) are statistically more likely to be H1B than non-Asians. Thus the higher aggregate salaries for whites (likelihood to be H1B is minuscule).


The time when an immigrant gets their H1-B the first time is based on a lottery. Subsequent job changes while on H-1B is not via any lottery.


As a point of fact, an H-1B is a non-immigrant visa.


> Even though the H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa, it is one of the few temporary visa categories recognized as dual intent, meaning an H-1B holder can have legal immigration intent (apply for and obtain the green card) while still a holder of the H-1B visa. Effectively, the requirement to maintain a foreign address for this non-immigrant classification was removed in the Immigration Act of 1990.[22]

Citations from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H-1B_visa


> It's "easier" to hire because they "agree" to lower wages and its easier to retain them

Wow. Why do you think someone on H1B will agree for a lower wage assuming he/she has a good skill set to get into oracle or similar company?

Changing to a diff job on H1B involves some paper work which everyone is used to do now. If we are talking about Indian consulting companies getting low wage employees, it might be partially true.


Changing jobs always carries risk - the new company might not be a good fit, and you may not last there very long perhaps for reasons beyond your control. Likewise, there are many jobs - e.g. early startups - where the risk of the company itself going under may be significant.

People in the country on an H1B lose their lawful status immediately after their employment ends, which means being unemployed for any period of time carries risk of deportation. Most people don't want a change in their work situation to translate into being forced to leave their country of residence.

Between these two points, I'd expect people here on an H1B to have a narrower field of jobs that seem attractive - high-risk startups aren't going to be appealing to most, and to generally be less mobile than those who don't fear deportation if a new position doesn't work out. Because of this decreased mobility, employers can get away with paying less.


Because some of us live in the real world and see this literally happening every single day?


Every single day? May be you should come out and meet more people, just saying. Again, you might come across certain incidents where this might be true and there are cases, where they are more educated than an average American and get paid more. But to generalize very broadly is something won't help people properly understand the issue.


Someone on H1B usually is also waiting for employment-based green card or promise to file for one. Going to another employer means that this multi-year process needs to be restarted.


You forgot that there is a lottery. So there is more than just applying for one applicant.


> abusing the H1-B visa system by purposefully keeping wages low?

I hate this argument. All immigration has a first-degree effect of lowering wages, because it increases the supply of labor.

Believe me, foreigners do not like H1Bs, its a piece of shit, and would wish for free passage or as easy as it can be. And if that happened, that would lower wages of everyone, and raise theirs. Reneging that h1b allows to hire cheaper people is reneging immigration.

You want to raise the wages of foreigners, just give them more freedom to change companies, so the parent company will not have as much leverage. But thats not the compnies fault, thats the governments fault. Its the government that suppresses wages in a very negative way.


I can see the difference between wanting the jobs to go to new Americans (who happen to be Indian landed immigrants with a long-term intent to spend the rest of their lives in the West) and wanting the money to go to people who're going right back to India when the project is over, even if the depressing effect on salaries is equal.


However, the H-1B visa is a non immigrant visa.


That's not true. It's a dual intent visa - otherwise one would not be allowed to file for green card while being on H1 visa


You would think, from your comment, that this case involved immigration and/or the H1-B Visa system. But it doesn't. Immigration isn't mentioned whatsoever in the document.

> Can the DOL back up this claim with salary data to see if Oracle is abusing the H1-B visa system by purposefully keeping wages low?

Readers should note that this is purely your own conjecture. The H1-B visa system is not relevant to this story.


your comment : "Oracle was far more likely to hire Asian applicants - particularly Indian people - for product development and technical roles than black, white or Hispanic job seekers."

vs

what it says in https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/ofccp/ofccp20170118-0

"The suit also challenges Oracle’s systemic practice of favoring Asian workers in its recruiting and hiring practices for product development and other technical roles, which resulted in hiring discrimination against non-Asian applicants."


That comment is literally a direct quote from the reuters article


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