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The Full 10-Page Anti-Diversity Screed Circulating Internally at Google (gizmodo.com)
353 points by akalin 8 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 575 comments



I fail to understand the outrage but attribute that to the fact that few bothered to read the document before allowing themselves to be outraged by it - such is the shallow, feeling-fueled, hysteria-laden media cycle of today.

The doc presents a point-of-view, grounded in reality. Furthermore it's not "anti-diversity", but rather anti-discrimination - specifically 'positive 'discrimination which it discredits while presenting alternative policies that are more inclusive (according to the author) and reflective of inherent psychological differences.

Have I read it wrong? Somebody correct me if I missed the controversial bits.

Edit: OK, it comes off the rails a little at the "Why we’re blind" section but overall it's food for thought (and no doubt a catharsis for many Right-leaning Googlers).

Since when is dialectics grounds for ostracism?


The argument basically proceeds as follows:

1) Gender differences exist

2) ???

3) Differences in representation are explainable by gender differences

The problem with the "???" step is that it's unrigorous handwaving. "Women prefer working with people." Okay, so that's why the majority of accountants are women? That's why STEM fields that don't involve people at all (math, biology) actually have quite a lot of women, while programming doesn't have much women despite being on the social/people-oriented end of the spectrum?

It's not that people are angry about the article's conclusions despite acknowledging the strength of the logical/factual basis. It's that people won't give sloppy reasoning the benefit of the doubt when they don't like the conclusion.


I agree that "???" is unrigorous handwaving. And I don't think it purports to be rigorous; from the document: "Differences in distributions of traits between men and women may in part explain why we don’t have 50% representation of women in tech and leadership." (emphasis mine). "May" and "in part." I don't think this purports to be a proof.

Is this argument any more rigorous?

1. There is a non-50% representation between men and women in tech.

2. Unjust discrimination and societal pressures are the only possible explanation for this imbalance. Therefore we must intervene until it is 50%.

There is no doubt that unjust discrimination and societal pressures exist, and that we should fight these so that anyone with talent and interest can succeed in this field.

However, if 100% of these pressures were removed, would we have exactly 50% representation of men and women in tech? Many people appear to believe very strongly that this is true. What is the basis for this belief? Are we willing to entertain the possibility that, even without these pressures, we would have less than 50% representation of women in tech?


Who says we need 50% women in tech? Has Google released a statement on this? While I have seen some inflammatory articles on the subject I don't know that many woman care if there are 50% woman in tech. I can tell you as a female engineer, I just hope that women know it's open to them and feel comfortable joining the field. I don't care about convincing uninterested people.

Instead here are some of the issues Google seeks to address which seem plenty reasonable to me.

"Our goal is to create an environment in which every Googler can thrive. We check and recheck our people processes (including promotions, compensation, and more) to ensure fairness and equity in all things that impact Googlers. For example, we took action when we saw that women in tech were less likely to self-nominate for promotions. We’ve also long had gender pay equity in our workforce and we recently shared our approach to compensation with the hope that other organizations will adopt similar fair pay practices." https://www.google.com/diversity/at-google.html


Not Google, but there are tech companies out there that set hiring quotas significantly higher than what the CS schools are producing [~20% female for the past 10 years].

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/04/why-is-...

> Well, not quotas. You can’t say quotas. At least not in the United States. In some European countries, like Norway, real, actual quotas—for example, a rule saying that 40 percent of a public company’s board members must be female—have worked well; qualified women have been found and the Earth has continued turning. However, in the U.S., hiring quotas are illegal. “We never use the word quota at Intel,” says Danielle Brown, the company’s chief diversity and inclusion officer. Rather, Intel set extremely firm hiring goals. For 2015, it wanted 40 percent of hires to be female or underrepresented minorities.

> But since it began linking bonuses to diversity hiring, Intel has met or exceeded its goals. In 2015, 43 percent of new hires were women and underrepresented minorities, three percentage points above its target. Last year, it upped its goal to 45 percent of new hires, and met it.

https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/diversity/diversity-...

> US female new hires 35%


she now works for google


Fair question; I don't think people often come right out and say it, but I think the assumption underlies many of the things people do say.

For example, from your quote: "For example, we took action when we saw that women in tech were less likely to self-nominate for promotions."

This seems to presume that, in a just world, women would self-nominate at exactly the same rate as men, and that we should intervene until we achieve that world.

I agree 100% with this: "I just hope that women know it's open to them and feel comfortable joining the field. I don't care about convincing uninterested people." I agree with that both for entering the field itself, as well as for other aspects like getting promoted.


> Who says we need 50% women in tech?

Almost every diversity activist: https://twitter.com/sehurlburt/status/894409695057764352


Or, you are able to find at least one on the internet that does.


"Who says we need 50% women in tech?"

Women being underrepresented in tech is usually cited as an example of sexism in the system. The implication is that there needs to be equal representation for there to be no bias.


>However, if 100% of these pressures were removed, would we have exactly 50% representation of men and women in tech? Many people appear to believe very strongly that this is true. What is the basis for this belief?

We could have an even higher percentage of women, like we do in many top-notch classical outfits today. There is some history here I'm qualified to speak about as a woman who took many orchestral auditions in classical music. Most of decision makers in classical back in the day asked exactly what you are asking about tech right now. The results were stark. (see study below) My example is not intended to imply that tech is "the same" as classical music or anything--just pointing out a strong similarity in today's tech interviews to the gender/race-biased audition practices of orchestras in the pre-1970s, when it was believed that women/brown candidates were not as strong/accomplished/technically skilled/artistic/confident as their white European male colleagues. Here is a 1974 NYT article about "the change to screened auditions"; the reporter still felt comfortable calling Asian players "Oriental" at that time.

http://www.nytimes.com/1974/10/15/archives/orchestra-auditio...

The Met Orchestra is considered the overall "best orchestra" in the United States. It is a dream job in terms of pay and quality of music making. By best, I mean that winning a job at the met is like being a star player in the majors, more so than in any other orchestra. The Met's auditions are considered by classical players to be the most impartial, although they are still partial. They are the blindest, anyway, in terms of using a screen, if players can make it past the tape round. (that is another issue altogether for another time) Today, more than half of the NY Phil and 50% of the Met orchestra players are women, due to blinder audition practices. Still, most orchestras remove the screen after the first or second round today. (?) I believe the MET waits until the finals to remove the screen. (I didn't make it to the finals, but it is what I hear from players who have)

I believe that tech could learn a great deal from classical music's hiring practice innovations of the 1970s and 80s. Today, most US Orchestras are comprised of at least 50% women, up from none or just a couple in the 1970s. Today, St. Louis is majority female. If anyone in tech is interested, they could dig into this study published in The American Economic Review

http://www.academicroom.com/article/orchestrating-impartiali...


I had come across that study/story before, and consider it one of the great successes in combating discrimination that I have ever heard!

Blinding the auditions is brilliant, because it isn't a "bias for bias" approach. It doesn't attempt to combat one bias by intentionally introducing another bias. It just removes the jury's ability to be biased, by concealing the musician's sex.

Because of this, the results of that study are nearly unimpeachable. It's basically a perfect approach. If tech could do anything comparable to that, I would be 100% in favor.


I believe they could! With all that technology? Shoot. All we had was a stage and a screen to work with. I will say that in another study it was found that the sound of women's dress shoes unconsciously biased juries. So we all (even men) walk to the stage on a carpet strip to mute that sound, or we play in stocking feet or soft shoes. Taking the screen away at the end is its only flaw. I will say something that a lot of non musicians may not realize, though. If you know a player (we all have known one another from childhood, in many cases) you can pick him/her out of 100 players just like you recognize someone's voice on the phone. So, there is always that bias. So, not 100% perfect, but better. If the conductor/principal player knows you and likes you...it helps...a lot.(and they are fairly likely to know you, at least) It doesn't matter what instrument they are playing either. I could recognize any player's playing I know by their kazoo playing, just like you can instantly hear the difference between Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder. Players whose playing is nondescript don't make it to the level of taking an orchestral audition, even poorly. I'm curious, is code at the highest levels the same? I'm not an accomplished enough programmer to know this. That would be an interesting difference between coding and playing music, but I suspect you could recognize a great programmer's coding style.

Why aren't there totally blind coding interviews? I just don't get it! The science (I've read but can't remember the source now- if you know it, please share) says that in-person interviews are not helpful in helping to identify successful candidates, and are often harmful.


You might find this interesting, then. A company that does remote technical interviews as a service tried altering the pitches of interview candidates' voices through software, so they could change whether they sounded male or female, and looked at the effect it had on how the interviewers judged their performance.

http://blog.interviewing.io/we-built-voice-modulation-to-mas...

"After running the experiment, we ended up with some rather surprising results. Contrary to what we expected (and probably contrary to what you expected as well!), masking gender had no effect on interview performance with respect to any of the scoring criteria (would advance to next round, technical ability, problem solving ability). If anything, we started to notice some trends in the opposite direction of what we expected: for technical ability, it appeared that men who were modulated to sound like women did a bit better than unmodulated men and that women who were modulated to sound like men did a bit worse than unmodulated women. Though these trends weren’t statistically significant, I am mentioning them because they were unexpected..."


Yes, thank you for brining this up, sincerely. I'd read about this too. Even though it isn't statistically significant, it is a fascinating result. This study should be performed again while collecting more precise data on a bigger swath of engineers.


I can't speak to anything related to interviewing because I don't do interviews. Part of the reason I don't do interviews is because I have very low confidence in my ability to quickly tell who is good. Most of my colleagues that I respect the most (I work at Google) didn't make a strong impression on me when I first met them, or even within a few days. I feel like it takes days or weeks for me to get a sense of how much I like someone's work. So I definitely feel unsatisfied with the interviewing approach in general, but I don't have any practical ideas about how to improve it. "Work with someone for days or weeks first" isn't practical.

I get your point that there still could be biases if you can recognize a musician's sound. I should have been more clear about what I meant by "perfect". What I meant is just that this intervention (adding screens to auditions) almost certainly didn't create any bias, it only removed it. It may not have removed 100% of it, but it didn't combat the bias by introducing a counter-bias.

Can you recognize a coder's work by their style? Definitely to some extent. One aspect of working on a shared code-base with a whole bunch of engineers is that uniformity of style is a significant plus (makes code easier to read when it's consistent), so many of the differences that might show a "personal flare" are removed. But still, there is plenty that could belie a person's coding style.

I think there are way too many programmers out there, however, for this to be an issue in interviews. Estimates say there are something like 2-4 million software engineers in the US. Compare this with orchestral musicians: it looks like about 60 orchestras in the US work 40+ weeks per year; if we estimate 100 players per orchestra this is 6,000 full-time orchestra spots in the USA (you might have better numbers on this). If you specialize this by instrument, it might be more like 240 full-time orchestral oboists in the whole country. It seems much more likely that you could recognize a specific person with those odds.

(By the way, I'm a musician too. :) Though not in the orchestral world, and not full-time. I'm a singer (small ensembles mainly), though I did a lot of collaborations with orchestras as a boy growing up in Boychoir).


Hey, thanks for responding with such interesting information! I had a friend audition for a swe job at Google. (very very small sample size, I know) They had a wonderful audition experience, even though they didn't get the job.

I understood/agree with you about how you spoke about our audition removing bias without introducing a counter-bias. There is no way to be perfect here, but the orchestras who implement this screened protocol are some of the top 10 in the country, and are respected throughout classical music for making the best attempts to be fair. (most orchestras do a sloppier version of the screen, and small orchestras don't bother) After I got wise to it, I only took "top 10" auditions for this reason, because the process is an expensive burden on the player.

You are right-ish about the numbers of players in circulation. This is an interesting point about why we or our colleagues know who is playing behind the screen: 1. we know who's at the audition. 2. At any given point, there are around 20-30 of us in the group of around 200-250 per instrument (who might all show up to a top 10-er) who are "in it to win it" at a top-ten audition. We all play gigs together often or went to school with one another. So the group we are selecting from is very small. Still, I believe we each could do it out of 100 players. It would be instructive to test this. I only mentioned it because it is interesting and most people don't realize this. (people are surprised when a musician can identify who is playing on a Mozart Concerto recording within a few bars at parties, but it isn't a trick-- your ear gets trained to recognize people in that way.)

I only asked about recognizing someone by their code because there is a scene in Silicon Valley where Dinesh "falls in love" with the code of Guilfoyle, without knowing it's his. I thought that was hilarious, but unlikely, since the characters code together every day. Your comment taught me something about how teams work together on code. I'd say it is like the "house style" of a newspaper.

I agree that it would be unlikely for anyone to recognize someone's code in a blind coding interview due to the numbers of engineers out there. Very interesting comment. Thank you! Cool that you are a singer and can keep it up.


>>We could have an even higher percentage of women, like we do in many top-notch classical outfits today.

There is a difference between succeeding in difficult tasks and succeeding at tasks that are seeing very high growth in overall accumulation of knowledge.

In high growth areas its not easy to make it big without working insane hours. Or return to regular practice after long breaks.

To me tech will will see near equal representation over time. As our trade becomes normal like any other. Of course that will mean the high intensity action will move onto else where.


Can you clarify what you mean here? (not trying to be cheeky, but I'm just not grasping) What is the difference between a difficult task and a task that sees high growth in accumulation of knowledge? In terms of the classical orchestral musician/swe analogy I don't see what you are driving at.

>In high growth areas its not easy to make it big without working insane hours.

In classical music (and jazz etc.), you can't succeed at even a prosaic task such as winning an orchestra audition without working life-destroying hours. From age 10(or earlier, really) to age 40+, most classical musicians who "succeed" practice alone at least 4hrs a day, and rehearse, perform (and teach, when they are older) another another 4-6 hrs per day. There really isn't room for anything but this in their lives. That is the info I can offer to help w understanding this half of what you are saying. I think I didn't realize that this was not widely known. Coming from this life, it is easy to lose perspective on what is generally understood.


The difference is between usable and reusable knowledge.

If every few years you have to throw away a good part of what your learned and redo it, taking big breaks becomes very hard.

You can do this in music because you start exactly where you stopped. In programming we haven't yet reached a state where knowledge of tools, frameworks and ecosystem can remain the same for years. Things change pretty rapidly here.


It may surprise you to know that musicians can't take even a few months' long break without suffering professionally. Remaining in shape for an audition only lasts until the last few days before that particular audition. If you stop practicing for a few months, it takes at least that long to get back into shape. It is a lot like a professional sport that way. Illnesses are career killers, for example. Also, we have new repertoire coming in all the time by new composers-- whole new concertos to learn, new techniques to be hip to, new gear to learn... I can understand that it might look somehow different from the outside, but this is why a musician can't keep doing auditons forever. First, it is expensive and we don't get corporate sponsors like athletes do. It depends on perfect health, and many can't afford to maintain that without a benefactor. It also takes up every minute of your life to stay audition ready for job auditions and jobs themselves--no one can sustain that kind of mental,physical, and psychological stress for too long. But, while we can, men and women seem to handle these pressures equally well.


There's a level of navel gazing in large swathes of the startup community that assumes that no one else works as hard or needs as much knowledge.


The difference is that we know that unjust discrimination and social pressure exist; we know it was historically very bad; and we have a concrete theory of causation. With the biological explanation there is no theory of causation.


We have theories for why DNA makes men and women's bodies different, and how society can create power structures and discrimination.

But you claim we have no possible theory for how DNA could make men and women's minds different, or that society could create differences in how much genuine interest women have in tech?

We don't really know why some people are straight and some people are gay. Does this mean we deny that gay people exist? My father is gay and his identical twin is straight. How did this happen? According to Wikipedia, studies have shown this trend often enough to conclude that genetics alone can't explain sexuality. So do we just argue that there really is no difference between gay and straight people (ie. it's a choice), because we don't understand the precise reason for the difference?


> ...and we have a concrete theory of causation. With the biological explanation there is no theory of causation.

Even if your description of the situation is accurate, just because there's a theory on one side and none on the other does not remotely imply that theory is automatically correct and should be acted upon.


> we know it was historically very bad

For the people living in those historic eras. We don't know the effects it has on people living in the modern era.

And then you have to make the leap on why tech companies should be enacting social justice in the first place. They're not the guardians of society. Social justice is inflammatory and hiring is basically a zero sum game because "diversity" doesn't affect head count (other than for the liberal arts majors and recruiters who have made careers out of the diversity issue)


Strawman


The argument basically proceeds as follows:

1) Gender differences exist

2) ???

3) Differences in representation are explainable by gender differences

Really? I read it as

1) Gender differences exist

2) Differences in representation may be at least partly due to gender differences.

3) Differences in representation should not be taken as automatic proof of bias.


> The problem with the "???" step is that it's unrigorous handwaving.

Probably because nobody actually knows right now what actually causes the differences and how. The case that is caused exclusively by entrenched sexism - somehow driven by people graduating from the same institutions who have been fighting sexism for decades now, and by the same people who repudiate and denounce sexism on every corner - also does not sound very convincing. Sexists, of course, do exist, so does sexism, but presenting it as sole driver and concluding any deviation from 50% or whatever the population demographics would be is the ironclad indicator for sexism is as "unrigorous handwaving" as the opposite extreme.


Read what Rayiner wrote more carefully. Computer science is unique among STEM fields --- even mathematics --- in its gender imbalance. The "???" here has a name: it's called "special pleading".

It's not hard to see why people would get angry at a special pleading intended to excuse gender disparities.


The article is objecting to special pleading in a different direction. In other words, there's another train of thought:

1) Sexism exists

2) ???

3) Differences in representation are explainable by sexism

I think the original article was making a more nuanced argument allowing for an interconnected set of factors explaining the gender imbalance.


For differences in representation to be explainable by something other than sexism --- which has been rampant in other fields, in particular medicine and law, in the past and then enduringly corrected --- you'd need to establish either that CS is somehow fundamentally different from every other hard science, virtually all of which see better (usually: much better) gender parity than CS does.

In other words: you'll need to demonstrate either that it's somehow harder to write the 900th instance of the same SQL query than it is to understand supersingular curve isogenies, or that somehow we've acculturated people to believe it's OK for women to nerd out about supersingular curve isogenies but not about SQL queries.

Neither argument makes any sense. Virtually all of what software developers do, even the hyperqualified developers working at Google, is less intellectually challenging than real hard science work, and if anything it's become far more socially acceptable to work in computer fields than to be a hard scientist.

We're in Occam's Razor country here, so the charge that concern over sexism is itself "special pleading" isn't going to stick.


I feel you are misrepresenting the male/female balance of various disciplines.

Here are male/female distributions of bachelor degrees across many majors. Few of these sit right at 50%:

http://www.randalolson.com/2014/06/14/percentage-of-bachelor...

Are you arguing that every field that doesn't sit right at 50% is sexist against the underrepresented gender?

(I don't dispute that sexism in tech exists. I just dispute the expectation that representation will always be equal absent sexism.)


Writing the 900th SQL query is not hard science, it's engineering. And every engineering discipline, to my knowledge, has a large gender gap in participation. So, it is not necessary to "establish either that CS is somehow fundamentally different from every other hard science".

As I've pointed out before, that shortcut doesn't work.

If we just look at the higher level computer science your jobs, then again we will see that in the most comparable field, mathematics, women underparticiate something like 30-70.

If we ignore all that and pretend working with computers is uniquely bad for women judged against comparable careers, can we start calling out the enablers yet?

Well, bad news, there's another hurdle to jump, which is that female participation in computing is inversely related to a country's ranking on gender equality tables. I've yet to see that stubborn fact integrated successfully into the argument. It is mostly just ignored.

And that's off the top of my head. There are probably more. It's a complicated question to answer. So you must demonstrate at least familiarity with the obvious hurdles before questioning the moral worth of the people who disagree with you.


> CS is somehow fundamentally different from every other hard science,

Well the obvious difference is that CS is not a science at all. It's really more akin to engineering, which AFAIK has a similar gender imbalance.


Much of CS is more similar to economics, accounting, statistics etc. than engineering. Making a statistical model is generally much closer to CS than making the hull for a boat.


Yes, and you can see the "pleading" get more and more "special" as people, confronted with the numerical evidence, make more and more elaborate excuses for how software is different from other sciences. "It's like Lego", they'll say, "and boys play with Lego more than girls". Well, isn't that Just So?


75% of Bachelors degrees in Psychology are awarded to women, and almost 70% of active working Psychologists are female. Does it follow that Psychology is sexist against men?

Is is possible that two things are true? That (1) there is sexism in tech that must be addressed, and (2) even if women felt welcome in tech, the composition of tech could be <50% women?


You're just waiting for someone to roll out this trope. The answer is: yes, it's problematic that there are so few male psychologists, just as it is extremely problematic that there are so few male nurses.


Why is it problematic? Why does every field of endeavor have to be exactly 50/50? I'm honestly asking, because I don't believe that at all.


In the case of nursing, which is the most popular incarnation of the trope, what it also means is that our first line of health care in the United States are doctors, who are expensive and scarce. "Nurses", who really ought to be called "Associate Doctors" or something similar, do a far better job at handling that job. But the (gendered!) lower status of "nursing" both keeps us from expanding the corps of Nurses-Practitioners as far as we could, and also retards acceptance of NP's as an alternative to full MDs for routine care.


Your labeling of my argument as a "trope" is unnecessary and dismissive. If we are talking tropes, pretty much nothing is more trope-y right now than the cycle of outrage and virtue signaling that is sure to follow any push-back against the current orthodoxy of social justice. It's so predictable you can set your watch to it (witness: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2017/08/06...). So please, spare me the attitude.

I can believe that a switch to NP's as the go-to for routine care might be a good idea. But even if that is the case, you're making a very different argument here. I wonder if you notice the difference. You're arguing that more men in nursing might be beneficial for customers, not that men are being kept out of nursing by sexism.

I believe the same is probably true of tech (that more women in tech is better for customers), if for no other reason than something like half of customers are women.

But these two arguments are very different in their moral implications. When you argue that sexism is keeping women out of tech, this is fuel for the outrage machine of moral indignation, like the Washington Post article above. It is evidence that he industry is wronging its female employees and potential female employees. It is cause to criticize the industry as sick and oppressive (which it certainly is in some cases, most notably Uber).

So I think that this criticism is well warranted in many cases. The question is: where are the goalposts? Is the industry sick and oppressive towards women until it hits 50% representation? I don't think that's a fair expectation.


You asked a question. I answered it directly and civilly. You responded with a bunch of slurs. If you're wondering why the discussion stopped here, now you know.


That's not accurate at all. You took a dismissive tone with me right off the bat, and labeled my good-faith argument as a "trope", twice. Also, my "slurs" were directed at a Washington Post article, not at you. Exit the discussion if you like, but I don't think you get to plead the moral high ground on this.


> The question is: where are the goalposts? Is the industry sick and oppressive towards women until it hits 50% representation? I don't think that's a fair expectation.

It's hard to find a benign reason why the percentage of women CS majors would halve in the last 30 years while the profession as such has become more attractive.

http://www.npr.org/sections/money/2014/10/21/357629765/when-...


One possible benign reason: as society has gotten more free and open to women's choices, their preferences have been revealed. (Note that this also may explain why there are more female computer programmers in Iran than in, say, Finland. Women are more free to do what they want to do in Finland.)

Now, look, this explanation may be wrong, but, no, it's not hard to imagine alternate explanations. Nice and neat conclusions in the social sciences are hard to come by. Anybody in this thread claiming that they know exactly which explanations are the right ones is full of shit.


I don't agree that this is a benign reason in itself. Regardless if you say that women don't want to be programmers now or that women never wanted to be programmers, you have to find a good reason why they don't want to. Because women have no problem sitting in front of computers in economics, so why do they in software?

I don't think it is hard to find a good reason why someone wouldn't go into nursing (even if this wouldn't disprove sexism in nursing). It has barriers to entry by requiring formal education, which can be competitive. The working conditions are somewhat difficult having to work irregular hours and be exposed to emotional stress as in seeing people dying. At the same time it still relatively low status, not necessarily well paid and has limited career prospects.

Of course you can argue that this shouldn't be the case. That the profession should help people dealing with stress and have good working conditions etc. Still it much harder to imagine these sort of "hard" reasons, negative things that are inherent to the profession, when it comes to programming.


Is Math is a science?


Ok, we're in presence of solid research finding a) similar sex differences in toy preferences in monkeys as in human children, and b) sex differences visible within 2 days after birth (references here : https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/rabble-rouser/201707/wh...)

As you justly said, we're in Occam's razor country. So, do you think the 2 observations above are more easily explained by socialization, or biology ?


So basically here's what I see:

One side points out that gender parity is overwhelmingly better in other STEM fields, that in modern science those fields are all themselves largely defined by software and technology, that there's a clear history of women being excluded from other professions, and that those professions later and enduringly corrected those problems, and that gender parity in CS has sharply decreased over time.

The other side has something to say about monkeys.


Citations much needed for your first point, please. What I see is a list of male and female dominated fields which is a near perfect fit for what theory would predict.

I'm sorry you feel the need to trivialize my point about monkeys. Unfortunately, evidence is going to keep rubbing you the wrong way, you're going to love this new thread :

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14942022

“At the time, it seemed clear to me that any between-sex differences in thinking abilities were due to socialization practices, artifacts and mistakes in the research, and bias and prejudice. ... After reviewing a pile of journal articles that stood several feet high and numerous books and book chapters that dwarfed the stack of journal articles … I changed my mind.”

Why? There was too much data pointing to the biological basis of sex-based cognitive differences to ignore, Halpern says. For one thing, the animal-research findings resonated with sex-based differences ascribed to people. These findings continue to accrue. In a study of 34 rhesus monkeys, for example, males strongly preferred toys with wheels over plush toys, whereas females found plush toys likable. It would be tough to argue that the monkeys’ parents bought them sex-typed toys or that simian society encourages its male offspring to play more with trucks. A much more recent study established that boys and girls 9 to 17 months old — an age when children show few if any signs of recognizing either their own or other children’s sex — nonetheless show marked differences in their preference for stereotypically male versus stereotypically female toys.

Halpern and others have cataloged plenty of human behavioral differences. “These findings have all been replicated,” she says. "


This is a whole lot of words all of which are derived from monkey studies. I think it sounds like I'm being snarky when I say that, but, no, I'm not: literally, this is an attempt to reason the 82/18% CS split from the behaviors of monkeys.

You understand, right, that my side of this argument doesn't have to predict any part of human society from the behavior of monkeys? That all my argument requires me to be able to do is count?


The whole reason monkeys even enter the picture is because the society currently unfairly favors a hypothesis that it's all due to socialization, and not at all due to biology. Any study that attempts to show biological aspects only results in the supposed socialization event resulting in the difference being pushed earlier in the development.

The studies showing that female infants are more interested in looking at pictures of faces, while male infants are more interested in looking at pictures of mechanical toys wasn't enough, so researchers are one upping and studying monkeys. It does not help though, I heard from someone saying this in good faith that the sex differences in toy preferences in monkeys are due to societal norms in monkey groups.

At this point I'm seriously starting to consider the socialization hypothesis (which is obviously true to some degree, i.e. socialization plays a huge role in the observed sex differences) to be unscientific, that is, unfalsifiable.


These people never want to acknowledge the fact that programming used to be near-universally "women's work", right up until dudes decided it was cool and stole it from us. CS admissions used to be more than 40% women!

renaudg 8 months ago [flagged]

Please tell us the name of the dude who "stole" all of your girlfriends' neatly-prepared CS college applications and forced them into psychology, sociology and art history instead. Sounds like some kind of dark patriarchy superhero I'd like to meet (he still didn't manage to steal the spot of the most talented computer scientist amongst my friends, who is a woman)

Actually, there must be a similar female superhero stealing all of the boys' medical school applications as well (and overall college applications, which are majority female)

Or... could this all be the result of decades of encouraging young people to follow their heart when thinking careers ?

People, Occam's razor please.


Would you please post civilly and substantively or not at all?

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


And? How do you get from the existence of those differences to observed differences in representation? That's a huge conceptual leap.


So you reasoning is going like this:

1. There is problem X

2. Possible cause of problem X is the reason Y

3. In fields where we are sure reason Y is rampant, we have successfully solved problem X by attacking instances of Y

4. In the field F, we have had no comparable success doing the same, despite all efforts.

5. Therefore, it is obvious that reason Y is much worse in F than everywhere and we should double and triple and quintuple our efforts there, until there is success. Since we reached success in other fields, it is stupid to assume we can't do the same here.

Do you see a problem with this chain of thought? If not, let me apply this logic to another model:

1. Cough is frequently caused by bacterial infections.

2. Antibiotics treat bacterial infections with much success in many cases

3. In patient P, antibiotics did not lead to any improvement of his cough.

4. Obviously, we need to double, triple and quintuple antibiotics doses until P is finally healed.

I hope you realize here that maybe P has a viral infection instead, or maybe he needs to stop smoking, or maybe he has another one of the hundred of causes of cough there could be.

>you'll need to demonstrate either that it's somehow harder to write the 900th instance of the same SQL query than it is to understand supersingular curve isogenies,

What you mean by "harder"? Is it harder to lift 600lbs than to give birth to a baby? Why do you assume that the question is about "harder" and not, for example, "more pleasurable" or "more intellectually satisfying"? Maybe SQL queries just bore prospective biologists to tears?

BTW, among composers the gender balance is even worse. Is it harder to write a symphony than to decode human genome? What metrics would you use to compare them?

Maybe instead treating everything as a nail we should try and consider some alternative hypotheses than "CS and musicians hate women"? It might be more efficient than force-feeding antibiotics to somebody who does't have bacterial infection.


by the way, not sure if you are correct about composers. You are definitely correct about composers who are featured and given public prizes. In music school, there seemed to be an equal number of women composition students. All the composing professors were men, with one or two exceptions in certain places in the United States. The decision-makers were always men, ultimately. But that is changing today, just like it is slowly changing with conductors. The rank and file had to show it in great numbers first. Mozart's sister was by all accounts a better pianist and violinist than her brother and an exceptional composer. Still she was shoved into manual labor while he was promoted. Clara Schumann may have written some of Schumann's stuff. I do sometimes wonder about Nabokov "not being able to type" and Vera's role in "his" writing. There are countless stories like this in the arts, with the works showing suspicious authorship. It would be interesting to mount a probing investigation into these matter to mine the real data, don't you think?


You know that many professors don't actually do a lot of the nitty-gritty work, don't you? They farm that out to their grad students. So in theory all someone has to do is get a PhD and get hired as an academic.

What's worrying is I know a couple PhDs - in STEM - that were granted when they probably shouldn't have been. One lacked any originality, and the other was basically incomprehensible.


> ...other fields, in particular medicine and law

Women were literally not allowed to be doctors or lawyers, either by law or by certification boards. Programming has never been a field requiring certification.


There was persistent and powerful bias against women in medicine and the law long after women were officially allowed into the field. The fields themselves did things to correct these problems.


At least in law that's not true. There were licensed women lawyers long before it became common for women to be in the profession.


I was referring to when women were disallowed from law schools or bar associations. But there's a bit of nuance to the history of it. Women have been in court in different ways for a long time.

http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/awhhtml/awlaw3/women_lawyers.htm...


Women were allowed into the bar long before hiring them was routine. The New York bar admitted its first women in 1886. But it was in the 1970s (as a result of a class action lawsuit) that firms were forced to routinely hire women attorneys. Today, half of associates in large law firms are women. That's the legacy of affirmative action programs. The change turned out to be self-sustaining, even after the programs were removed.


My point was that the history of the tech sector and the history of the legal profession are not similar. Hopefully that's very clear at this point.


And his argument is that in this one sense they are, except that computing professions haven't yet taken the corrective steps medicine and the law have. The evidence seems to strongly support his argument.


You can isolate sexism by taking action to remove it. Then you can measure the change. Then you will have the answer to ???.

You can not remove the biological factors. So they're a dead end.

Too me, it sounds more like people claim we have nowadays removed sexism, that Google has none, and others disagree, that they are still there, while not as strongly maybe, and until they are fully addressed, we can't tell if the system is fair to biology or not.


> Computer science is unique among STEM fields --- even mathematics --- in its gender imbalance.

"In mathematics, just 15 percent of tenure-track positions are held by women, one of the lowest percentages among the sciences, along with computer science (18 percent), and engineering (14 percent)."

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/11/math-wom...


If you're saying claiming "CS is special and current gender balance is 100% explained by that" is unsatisfactory, I agree with you. But retorting along the lines "CS is especially uniquely sexist and current gender balance is 100% explained by that" is equally unsatisfactory, and double so when it's served with the side of "and if you disagree you're a bigot and you're fired".


No, it isn't unique among STEM fields in its gender imbalance. Engineering is more imbalanced.


Well, overall, the share of women in computer sciences has been decreasing for the past years, but it didn't use to be like that. Up until the mid-80s the share was in line with (or higher) than other study areas.

NPR talks a bit about the subject, including how personal computers were initially marketed at young men. It's a good read.

http://www.npr.org/sections/money/2014/10/21/357629765/when-...


I find it a bit hard to believe marketing of computers alone explains such spectacular drop in one specific area - was physics or chemistry marketed to girls in 80s? Also, how exactly marketing for boys made half of the girls drop the field - as opposed to no marketing? That sounds like too big an effect. Also, one of the ads (other one is unreachable) shows both boys and girls behind the computer and a woman leading the computer class (BTW, famous Apple 1984 ad also featured a woman in a role clearly meant to be associated with the product). How that alone should cause half of the girls to go away? True, nerd usually meant boy. But wasn't it true for physics or chemistry or biology or many other things too? I mean, to identify the key factor you need to do two things a) find that the factor is present when the effect is present (parents buy computers more for boys) and b) find that the effect is not present when the factor is not present (parents do not buy more chemistry sets, physics books, math books, etc. for boys than for girls). I don't see the second part was done. Without it, I think the link can not be established.


Perhaps because it used to be (or be perceived) more like a science back then?


> "Women prefer working with people."

IMO the biggest counter-example of the "women are better at working with people / soft skill" theory is politics.

Politics is all about who you know, who has your back, how you can get people to do what you want (the voters, other party members), how you can get people to like you, can you predict when someone's going to stab you in the back? can you predict when to stab someone else in the back? Should you support person X? What will person/group X think if you support person Y/policy Y? It's all about soft skills, it's all about reading people, it's all about working people.

You don't need maths or logic, or numbers,or rationality, or science for politics. I'm sure we all know how bad many polticians are at science/STEM.

If these theory were true, you'd expect women dominate politics in the same way men dominate tech. But that's not what you see at all. Advocates for the "women are better at soft skills, and worse at numbers" need to explain this glaring counter-example. The other theory, of institutionalised sexism against women, fits observable reality better.


Politics at the national level is made up of outliers, like sports people and actors. It's entirely possible that women are better at politics but not better than this 0.01% of people at politics, especially considering that men deviate from the norm more often.


What about local politics? Surely that's dominated by women? What about the politics of a social club, a trade union, or similar groups? Are they all dominated by women? (Answer: No).

I'm not sure how you can merge the two theories that "Women are just better at people skills" and "Women aren't better than the best". The whole thesis is claiming that women are as naturally superior at people skills as men are naturally good at tech/STEM. Google is supposed to hire the best, and it's >50% men, so why isn't something that "hires the best" (in politics) still <20% women (e.g. US Congress).


The politics of social clubs and small organizations very often are dominated by women. It's just that these groups are often very gendered, and so if you're a male and don't make a conscious effort to cross gender stereotypes in your hobbies, you'd never know they exist.

I remember my time in the Harry Potter fandom, which is ~99% female. Boy, was there politics. I can remember some truly epic [1][2] incidents of Internet drama all driven by people seeking social status through any means of manipulation possible.

[1] https://fanlore.org/wiki/The_Ms.Scribe_Story:_An_Unauthorize...

[2] https://fanlore.org/wiki/Victoria_Bitter_Wank#Further_Readin...


But what about the non-gendered "political" things, like trad unions, local political party organisations, universities, other non-gendered clubs, if women are really better at people skills, shouldn't them be dominating those areas in the same way men are dominating STEM? Can you find a group which, at the low levels is about 50:50, and yet women dominate the political/organisational level?

How much counter-examples can you ignore before you say well maybe this "women are good at people skills, men are good at STEM". It seems like people really think "well men are better at basically everything"


Most of those are gendered, but they're gendered in ways that are the "default" for society (i.e. masculine) and so you don't notice them. Traditional unions and local political parties, for example, represent industries and civic institutions that have historically been populated with men only.

In industries that actually are 50/50 or majority female, you do see a number of women in top leadership positions. For example, the president of the national teacher's union is a woman [1], as are the three co-presidents of the national nurse's union [2], as is my alma mater's (which only went co-ed in 1974) college president [3].

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Randi_Weingarten

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Nurses_United

[3] https://www.amherst.edu/amherst-story/president


It's a pretty drastic oversimplification to say "women have better people skills" but there are definitely personality differences between men and women [1]. (I don't know why this comes as a surprise to anyone)

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3149680/


I've seen this article referenced a few times now. It's worth noting that the standard deviation between is more pronounced in western countries and even then more geographically pronounced in eastern states like New York, West Virginia, Mississippi..etc, and less pronounced in western regions like Utah, Colorado, Oregon..etc. The differences are there, but the deviation is minimal if not negligible in many parts of the world.


When people see a tech company that's 90% male, they say "Oh well, men and women are different, that's the explaination."

So where are the places which are 90% women? Why isn't politics 90% women. Instead it's about ~20% and that's after years of campaigning & activism.


Nursing, teaching. I'm sure there are others, especially if you look at industries and not companies, HR for instance.


Dental hygienists (98%), Occupational therapists (92%), nurses (~92%)[1].

[1] https://www.dol.gov/wb/stats/occ_gender_share_em_1020_txt.ht...


Women in general used to have better cooking skills than men, but the majority of chefs were male and are still male.

Here's a UK survey of chefs: http://www.bighospitality.co.uk/People/Survey-finds-imbalanc...


A lot of the popular fashion designers are men too.

It's almost like there's some sort of social factors which will ensure men get to the top!


>The problem with the "???" step is that it's unrigorous handwaving.

The problem with the "???" is it's not in its proper place in the chain of logic. The syllogism instead goes:

1) Do we observe certain traits cause individuals to tend toward science, while others cause them to trend toward the humanities?

Yes. Whether or not you will enter the humanities or the sciences is correlated with whether you display a higher empathizing quotient ("preferring to work with people") vs. systematizing quotient ("preferring to work with things/numbers"), regardless of your gender.

2) Do we observe these traits vary by gender?

Also yes. Men generally have higher systematizing quotients, while women have higher empathizing quotients.

[source for both points: http://www.somersetcanyons.com/ourpages/auto/2016/3/11/48638...]

3) Therefore, some amount of difference in representation logically comes from differences in these gendered traits - whatever might have caused them to become gendered in the first place.

>Okay, so that's why the majority of accountants are women? That's why STEM fields that don't involve people at all (math, biology) actually have quite a lot of women, while programming doesn't have much women despite being on the social/people-oriented end of the spectrum?

Women represent over 60% of all undergrad university students, so we should expect fields that require an undergrad university degree to be a majority women barring other factors. Yet math, physics, chemistry, earth science, statistics, engineering - every one of them has fewer women than it should proportionately. Even biology, which for a brief time had a higher proportion of women than 60%, recently dipped back below that point. [graph: https://www.aps.org/programs/education/statistics/upload/Deg...]

Conversely, here is a list of majors that have consistently had above 80% female proportions:

Fashion Design, Interior Design, Education, Social Work, Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Art History

The specifics of why one given STEM major is more under-represented than another is an interesting question, but it shouldn't obscure the overarching trend - whether by a little or a lot, all the STEM majors have fewer women than they should. The data does indeed support the idea women prefer people-oriented professions over thing oriented professions on average.


No one is talking about "stigma" as a deterrent to study. Still not many men in "spin class" or pilates in NYC, although that is changing for the better too. If you see the community as excluding people like you, you may be less inclined to enter it. For example, there are fewer women Italian chefs and waiters. But from whom did they lean to cook?


When I graduated in 1986 a third of my class were women. Something has driven them away from programming.


The competition isn't much better. There are hundreds of these massive leaps of logic used to justify the use of race and gender in hiring. Basically every reason for why the demographics of tech is the way it is this oversight.

At the core of diversity hiring (which corporations have spent billions of dollars on), the benefits of racial and gender diversity in a workforce have never been proven.


Assuming 1) is a true premise and 2) ??? is some black box function, it's hard to reason in any way that 3) is not true to some extent. When you change the input, you would expect the output to change unless you can somehow argue that ??? is f(x) = C. You can say step 2) is egregious handwaving, but as long as you cannot prove f(x) is a constant, 3) is true.


There is bad with the good. The suggestion that men and women ARE different is taboo. The premise that the differences between them are social as opposed to literal is a much easier way to force the same point (and IMO more correct but I respect I lack the science to be certain). This person lacks tact and the way they view the entire political sphere as just left/right is ultimately of concern. Way too simplistic outlook IMO.


Yeah. I was willing to give him a fair hearing until he listed a handful of differences between men and women that he ascribes to biology without any factual support.

And therein lies the unconscious bias against which he is railing. To him, there is no question that men and women, on average, are fundamentally different in ways that affects their ability to and interest in work in tech.

I agree with him that folks shame those his viewpoint into silence. I'm not entirely sure that's a bad thing.


There are actually a few studies showing gender differences in infants and monkeys. (males preferentially looking at/interacting with mechanical things, females faces/dolls) From that, you can assume that there are at least some biological differences in behavior between the sexes - and thus differing workplace representation is not necessarily 100% derived from social pressures. And if that's the case, achieving a 50/50 Female/Male split in every profession might not be desirable.

So I must agree with the author on his assertion that men and women are mentally different. I'm not sure that those differences would cause women to be less interested in CS, but it isn't quite as unsupported a position as you'd think.

EDIT: There's also the possibility that IQ variances differ between genders - with males having higher variability - and thus more males at the upper (and lower!) ends of the range. If CS attracts primarily high IQ individuals, that would also result in a gender gap. (this is what I'd assume he meant with the reference to IQ in "Why we're blind") https://sci-hub.cc/10.1016/j.intell.2006.09.003


> males preferentially looking at/interacting with mechanical things, females faces/dolls

Then why are most politicians male?

The problem with this line of reasoning is that it can be used to support almost any status quo because there's no obvious connecting line between childhood preference for "mechanical things" and STEM career preference later on. In particular, modern software development is highly collaborative and involves no "mechanical" parts at all. It's often closer to prose than mechanical engineering - focused on structure and organization rather than numbers and analysis. Not to mention the plethora of counter-examples in the form of "technical" degrees and careers where women are closer to 50%: http://www.onwie.ca/resources-tools/statistics/canadian-engi...


Because politicians require hyper-competitiveness to reach the top of the political hierarchy. Unfortunately most women would be considered far too agreeable, or conversely gender stereotypes portray females as being out-of-character (bossy) pursuing such cut-throat roles.


I suspect the amount of hatred against the German chancellor Merkel I can hear in casual conversations here in Italy (by males and females equally) is mostly to be attributed to her being perceived as bossy just because she's a woman. An equally bossy man would be normal


Yes.

Another example, I have read research that ADHD might not necessarily be less common in women, just under diagnosed. A little boy running around the classroom and talking to everyone is potentially referred to a doctor for ADHD. A little girl running around the room talking to everyone is considered "social."


Bingo.


IQ variance might explain part of the difference in nobel prize winners, but is minuscule at average IQ in tech (~90th percentile).


Yet Marie Curie was the first person to receive two prizes. In fact, she was the only person who received two science Nobel prizes for 61 years.


That really doesn't invalidate the statistical argument. She was one person.

A better counter-argument would have been to focus on how historically women have been actively and passively discouraged from entering the sciences at practically every level of education. This more clearly has a causal role with Nobel rates and likely played a large role in the disparity.


"...The mental test applied was the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB),..."

Well, ok, then.

"Males have only a marginal advantage in mean levels of g (less than 7% of a standard deviation) from the ASVAB and AFQT, but substantially greater variance. Among the top 2% AFQT scores, there were almost twice as many males as females. These differences could provide a partial basis for sex differences in intellectual eminence."

Now if we only knew the AFQT scores for, say, computer programmers. Oh, wait, we kinda do (http://www.military.com/join-armed-forces/asvab/asvab-and-ai...).

Air Force-wise, Electronic signals intelligence requires a G72, Cyber Systems Operations and Cyber Security requires G64. The ASVAB score is a percentile,

"Thus, an AFQT score of 90 indicates that the examinee scored as well as or better than 90% of the nationally-representative sample of 18 to 23 year old youth. An AFQT score of 50 indicates that the examinee scored as well as or better than 50% of the nationally-representative sample." (http://official-asvab.com/understand_coun.htm)

So being smarter than 65-70% allows you into those jobs.

(I am, by the way, loving Fig. 1. If I'm reading this right, "Auto and shop information" is a better predictor of g than "General science" knowledge.

"Participants were administered the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) which has 10 subtests: science, arithmetic, word knowledge, para- graph comprehension, numerical operations, coding speed, auto and shop information, mathematics knowl- edge, mechanical comprehension, and electronics infor- mation."

Yeah, that's the ASVAB I remember.

"Four of the subtests comprise the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) which includes only the more general, less vocationally-specific tests: arithme- tic, word knowledge, paragraph comprehension, and mathematics knowledge."

Well, at least intelligence, as defined, is less vocationally specific.

Aha! Table 1!

Someone please correct my understanding here if I've missed anything.

The male mean AFQT89 score was 38.7, the female mean was 38.2. The standard deviations were 30.1 and 27.7, respectively. (Wait, what?) The male-female standard deviation ratio was 1.09.

So those are the kinds of numbers we're talking about.


Genuine question: is is possible some selection bias is at play if only people interested in that given career will undergo this testing?


There are all kinds of biases involved, but the ASVAB has been normalized against a (the?) general population of high school students.

I think that the ASVAB was designed as a job-choice tool is more of a problem than that it was designed as a military job-choice tool.


The SAT was shown to be a flawed test in that it is racially, gender, and income-level biased. I'd be interested to look into the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery with a keen eye to bias. I have to say that anything designed by/for the armed services makes me suspicious of bias for obvious reasons. I will see if I can find any studies on this-- would be good to know.

Found something about gender bias on this test:

"However, many widely used standardized test scores - ranging from the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) to the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) and beyond - also reflect substantial differences based on gender. Minority females suffer a double jeopardy as they often score lower than both white females and males of their own racial or ethnic group. Nonetheless, the law regarding both gender issues and combined gender and race issues is largely undeveloped. Only one lawsuit, Sharif v New York State Education Department, " has been brought to challenge any use of a standardized test on the grounds of gender bias. Legal scholars have only recently begun to devote attention to this issue and have focused on Sharif. 2 Virtually no attention has been focused on the particular issues raised in connection with minority girls and women."

This is from a paper published in 2013 in Berkeley's Journal of Gender, Law, and Science. http://scholarship.law.berkeley.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?arti...


Jumping from a few studies about infants and monkeys to "...you can assume that there are at least some biological differences in behavior between the sexes - and thus differing workplace representation is not necessarily 100% derived from social pressures." is far, far from enough evidence and extremely hand-wavy to make a scientific argument here.


There isn't really a leap. All I'm saying is that we have evidence for some gender differences that are rooted in biology, and thus we cannot assume that other differences have no biological component. Which is what asserting that 100% of a gender gap is caused by social pressures does.


It's very convenient to hand-wave away the problem as "biological differences". Until we have some direct link between biology and preference for software development I think the wiser course of action is to try to get more women interested in the field. I mean why not? That's not to mention that open discrimination against women in numerous fields is a thing that happened within the lifetimes of people that are still alive today. It seems foolish to think that's all been fixed already.


> I mean why not?

Why not have a broad-based program to appeal to all demographics? Black Americans are also underrepresented. Rural children have less access to certain kinds of resources like magnet STEM schools.


> I was willing to give him a fair hearing until he listed a handful of differences between men and women that he ascribes to biology without any factual support.

You've been punked, Gizmodo journalism at its finest!

Kate Conger withheld the factual support so that to a not-careful reader it looks like the original poster just makes stuff up.

ctrl + f: "Two charts and several hyperlinks are also omitted."

Note the passive sentence construction. If only she had written truthfully, "I omitted two charts and several hyperlinks"…


I'm missing something, but how are those two statements different. I read the first sentence "gizmodo omitted two charts and hyperlinks" my assumption was the charts and hyperlinks held company data or pointed to company websites. But how does changing the sentence to "I omitted..." Change anything? It did you assume the omission was done by someone outside of gizmodo?


I think he's suggesting that the removed charts and links were the evidence in question, and that the author purposely removed them to make the documents arguments look weaker/less supported.


Have you seen the charts and hyperlinks? I was quite puzzled that they would be left out.


Here's an article that provides some factual support for the author's viewpoint, with commentary (this was featured on HN a few weeks ago): https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/rabble-rouser/201707/wh...


Having personally experience the effects of different levels of testosterone I find it hard to believe any claim of the differences between men and woman at the population level not at least in part being biological.


There is a long way between claiming there are no biological differences between men and women (of course there are), and the specific claims of differences in the article (which are remarkably specific and tailored to areas of male behaviour the author clearly valorises, e.g. status driven = good, empathy = bad).


I did not get "status driven = good, empathy = bad" from the article.

In his section titled "Men's Higher Drive for Status", the author suggests that status-driven is bad:

"We always ask why we don’t see women in top leadership positions, but we never ask why we see so many men in these jobs. These positions often require long, stressful hours that may not be worth it if you want a balanced and fulfilling life.

"Status is the primary metric that men are judged on[4], pushing many men into these higher paying, less satisfying jobs for the status that they entail. Note, the same forces that lead men into high pay/high stress jobs in tech and leadership cause men to take undesirable and dangerous jobs like coal mining, garbage collection, and firefighting, and suffer 93% of work-related deaths."

And then in a footnote:

"Considering women spend more money than men and that salary represents how much the employees sacrifices (e.g. more hours, stress, and danger), we really need to rethink our stereotypes around power."


> I was willing to give him a fair hearing until he listed a handful of differences between men and women that he ascribes to biology without any factual support.

That's not exactly true. Jordan Peterson has quite a bit to say about science and the humanities, grounded quite heavily in science. The language is so similar to Peterson's lectures, I'm confident that it was crafted after a shallow dive into his Toronto/Harvard materials.


FWIW, it's not clear if the original writeup includes links to sources backing his claims.

FTA: The text of the post is reproduced in full below, with some minor formatting modifications. Two charts and several hyperlinks are also omitted.


> The suggestion that men and women ARE different is taboo.

Is it taboo? Or is it just taboo in this context?

The premise is also shared by some arguments for trangender rights -- that gender identity is involuntary and biological at least to some degree.


I think anything that tries to brush 50% with a hue that isn't literal biological fact is tenuous and gets people's backs up.

e.g.

> Men are more violent than women.

I mean that's somewhat factual (i.e. considering crime rates) but the very mention of the phrase is tinged with ulterior motive so it becomes taboo. Basically you're better off sticking to literal difference, avoiding sociologically and focusing on differences being social or cultural because then you won't piss off up to 50% of people and people are more likely listen to you.

e.g.

> The way we bring up men and the societal pressures placed upon them makes them more violent than women.

I think less people are gonna be mad about that and then you can use it as a stepping stone to make whatever point this was your platform for. Sure it might actually be less _correct_ then the other way of putting it (I don't know the science precisely enough to judge either way) but that's taboo for ya. Unless you're writing specific science about the biological differences between men and women it doesn't matter that you made the same point differently.


Well it does make a difference when you're talking about the countermeasures that society (or in this case a private company) should adopt to fix the problem. If you claim that the cause for male violence lies solely in the upbringing you might in the best case waste a lot of resources in the worst case cause a lot of psychological suffering so common in all our attempts to "fix" the "wrong" behaviour of kids (left-handed, homosexual, ...).


> The suggestion that men and women ARE different is taboo.

This is the assumption being made by diversity hiring and diversity advocates. That some races/genders have different perspectives and viewpoints than others.

It can quickly follow that some of these viewpoints may make a person more or less fit for certain careers.


The difficulty is whether those differences are biological, social or cultural. Its hard to tease those differences apart with our current tools.

I'll stick with the assumption that its the latter two just because its more convenient and diplomatic. Maybe the genetic data we mine in future generations will give us the real answers but I don't see any advantage in pressing the biological argument until then (as I'm not working directly in that field).


We don't need to wait for genetic data mining, this has been widely studied already.

Differences are visible within the first two days of birth : https://www.researchgate.net/publication/222673203_Sex_Diffe...

and are present in monkeys too : https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2583786/

I'll let you draw the conclusion.


Table 2: Mean percent looking times (and standard deviation) for each stimulus.

                          Face                    Mobile
    Males (n = 44)      45.6 (23.5)             51.9 (23.3)
    Females (n = 58)    49.4 (20.8)             40.6 (25.0)
That's quite a difference to be hanging the nature of society on.


Yes but to speculate that a baby's desire to look at a face more means they're less able to negotiate their pay is a bit of a leap (as opposed to that being social or cultural). Sure there are literal differences between gender but one still has to ask that if those differences are big enough to make a difference following the YEARS of nurture or not.

I'll wait till the genetic data mining transitions this from speculation to fact thank you very much.


It's perfectly all right to say that there are statistical differences between the average biological man and the average biological woman.

The problem is to then assume a gigantic pile of facts not in evidence (that the differences observed are 100% biological with no cultural influence whatsoever, that they conclusively explain gender disparities in many fields, etc. etc.) and accuse anyone who disagrees with you of being one of those terrible mean lefties who will unperson you for speaking the truth.

Generally, this type of person lasts up until the moment blind interviews become widespread.


that the differences observed are 100% biological with no cultural influence whatsoever

From what I've seen it's exactly the opposite; any suggestion that differences might be less than 100% cultural marks you as a hateful racist misogynist. See Charles Murray for example.

Generally, this type of person lasts up until the moment blind interviews become widespread.

It actually is possible that someone might have the intellectual capacity to work at Google without being a progressive leftist.


All available evidence strongly suggests that Charles Murray is in fact a racist†, so this isn't a good example. What you instead want to say is that there's limited tolerance for the "diversity viewpoint" that "whites" and Asians are intellectually superior to "blacks".

There's an intellectually coherent argument to be made that our society is intolerant towards inquiries supporting racism. (It's not a good argument, but it will hold together logically).

There are fewer good arguments that people are hyperventilating about what Charles Murray represents.

You can quibble with the terminology; if you believe "being tarred as a racist is even worse than being oppressed because of your race", you're welcome to replace "racist" with "racial supremacist".


I realize this is getting off topic, but can you explain why you think that, "All available evidence strongly suggests that Charles Murray is in fact a racist"? I've read The Bell Curve and listened to a debate where Murray argued in favor of universal basic income. I came away from both thinking that he's been totally misrepresented.

I just reviewed my notes for The Bell Curve to make sure I hadn't mis-remembered the content. Out of 22 chapters, two are on race. One begins with, "The first thing to remember is that the differences among individuals are far greater than the differences between groups." In other words: knowing someone's race tells you nothing about their intelligence.

The chapters on race contain no expression of racial superiority or inferiority, nor any policies favoring discrimination. The only definition of racism that could apply is the view that there are some statistical differences between races, though the book doesn't weigh-in on how much is caused by genes vs environment. It also reiterates that these statistical differences cannot be used to infer anything about individuals.

Supporting racism (in the sense of advocating for racial superiority or discrimination) is deeply unethical, so I'd very much like to know if Murray holds such views.


> "All available evidence strongly suggests that Charles Murray is in fact a racist"?

https://www.currentaffairs.org/2017/07/why-is-charles-murray...

> A far more illuminating piece of evidence about the Murray racial worldview is found in his little-read 2003 book Human Accomplishment, the text that substantiates point 2 on the above List Of Racist Charles Murray Beliefs: Black cultural achievements are almost negligible.

> Human Accomplishment shows that Murray has a long obsession with racial difference, and with using statistics to prove the lesser intellectual gifts of black people.

> How, in a book that is literally about people’s greater and lesser reasoning capacities, and that literally claims black people are less endowed with such capacities, can you harken back to Jefferson, leaving his racial views unmentioned, and then act shocked when people think you’re a racist? How can you not be a racist? How is there any way?

etc. etc.


First of all, are Murray's claims true? That's the important question. That article gets some things right, but it seems to imply that Murray is racist even if his beliefs are true.

Second, if you're going to use that article's definition of racism (the belief that there are statistical differences in IQ between races) then most researchers on cognition are racist. If you survey experts anonymously, the majority will say that there is an IQ gap and that genes are a significant contributor.[1]

Critics keep smuggling in the assumption that intelligence is proportional to moral worth. Murray explicitly denies this, and claims that all humans should be given equal moral worth (and equal moral agency).

1. http://emilkirkegaard.dk/en/wp-content/uploads/2013-survey-o...


You seem to have missed the thrust of the article which isn't that The Bell Curve proves Murray to be a racist (although it certainly has him winking strongly in that direction) but that his other book, "Human Accomplishment" is flagrantly and defiantly racist.

> A far more illuminating piece of evidence about the Murray racial worldview is found in his little-read 2003 book Human Accomplishment, the text that substantiates point 2 on the above List Of Racist Charles Murray Beliefs: Black cultural achievements are almost negligible.

> And what do you know, shockingly enough, out of hundreds of significant figures in Western music, there are almost no black people on the list. (Duke Ellington makes it.) Now, remember, this is a list of the objectively highest human accomplishments in music, and it doesn’t cut off until 1950.

> Do I have to explain why Murray’s framework is racist? Because Charles Murray thinks classical English composers were rooted in human experience and had intellectual depth (which we know, because they showed up more in the encyclopedias he picked), while black American composers (for that is what they are) were not.

etc.etc.


I hadn't read this piece before, and it's quite good. Thank you!


The SPLC is not a reliable source, but I think what they have to say about Charles Murray checks out.


I found https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/indi... but:

- It reads like a hit piece, in that it states facts that are technically true but designed to mislead. For example: It says "Murray advocates the total elimination of the welfare state" but neglects to mention that he wants to replace it with universal basic income.

- The SPLC accuses Murray of using "tainted sources" in The Bell Curve, but the vast majority of the data was from early cohorts of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. The "tainted source" is apparently Richard Lynn, discoverer of the Flynn effect. Anyone doing any intelligence research is going to depend on Lynn's research, and anyone doing such research in the early 90's is going to use his data. This accusation can be made even if Murray had come to opposite conclusions in The Bell Curve. Sadly, Lynn seems to have gone batty since his days as a researcher. Still, that shouldn't affect the truth value of the data he collected before his decline.

- Many of the accusations are guilt by association, such as condemning Murray for taking money from the Pioneer Fund. Apparently, the fund was started by a proponent of 1930's-era eugenics. As Murray has pointed out, the Pioneer Fund of today is nothing like its original incarnation.

- The SPLC piece never mentions The Bell Curve's conclusion that east asians tend to have higher IQs than whites. It's hard to label Murray a white supremacist when he thinks whites are not supreme.

All-in-all, I have difficulty believing the SPLC's piece on Murray. I don't have the time to vet every accusation, but the ones I have looked into seem without merit. Moreover: Every time I've given the SPLC the benefit of the doubt, they've let me down. Their hatchet jobs of Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Maajid Nawaz have completely destroyed my trust in them.


If, as you've just admitted, the SPLC is not reliable, why do you think it checks out?


What's hard about this for you to understand?


>"The first thing to remember is that the differences among individuals are far greater than the differences between groups."

All this means is that there is some degree of overlap between the two curves; that not every member of group A is more intelligent than every member of group B. Which is trivially true; even the most virulent racists would agree without hesitation that Clarence Thomas is more intelligent than a mentally disabled white person.

The height differences among Filipinos is greater than the difference in average height between Filipinos and the Dutch. Yet we can still say that on average Dutch people are taller than Filipinos, and understand that the underrepresentation of Filipinos in fields that select for height is not the result of societal oppression.


If you want to reduce white supremacy to basic statistics, you can do that, but as intellectual three-card Monte games go, this isn't a very good one: it's pretty easy to see the trick.

If you believe that, in the aggregate, "white" people are intellectually superior to any other race of people, you're a white supremacist. That's not a value judgement; it's literally what it means to be a white supremacist. I guess you could be a mild, benevolent white supremacist? I can grant you that all white supremacists do not wear hoods and burn crosses?


> If you believe that, in the aggregate, "white" people are intellectually superior to any other race of people, you're a white supremacist.

Good, then we can agree that all these people who believe that Asians are smarter than whites aren't white supremacists.


This is unfair. You want to call people white supremacists based on the literal, objective content of their views, i.e. using the phrase in a narrow, technical sense, while knowing full well that calling someone a white supremacist will rally behind you a whole train of people who are happy to free-associate all sorts of horrible things with the phrase.


You think it's unfair for me to call people who believe in the objective supremacy of one race over another "supremacists", simply because people have very dim opinions of racial supremacists?


I just want to make the syllogism you're operating with clear here:

1. If two groups have statistical differences in IQ across the population, then the group with the higher average is superior to the other

2. Person A believes that Group 1 has a higher average IQ than Group 2

3. Therefore, Person A is a Group 1 supremecist

I would want to very strongly and categorically denounce point #1 in this list.

Point #2 is just a matter of scientific observation. I don't have strong opinions on it one way or the other. But point #2 only implies #3 if you believe #1.


Handwaving.

Literally the only reason the topic of "statistical differences in IQ across the population" comes up on this site is as a defense for why there's a microscopic population of African Americans and Latinos in our industry. The reason, the logic goes, is that the supposed racial IQ differences mean that there simply aren't enough African Americans intellectually qualified for the field.

There are plenty of reasons why a cohort of US persons of African descent could have lower recorded IQ scores than US persons of European descent. I'm not the one making the logical leap that the reason is a genetic disposition towards lower intelligence, rather than socioeconomic, environmental, or methodological issues. The white supremacists are the ones saying that†. If you're not, and you're not bringing the topic up unbidden as a defense of the status quo, I'm not saying anything about you.

I'm not interested in pretending that there's a good or rational kind of white supremacist. Several people on this site, and this thread, seem determined to do so. You can, too, and I won't stop you, but "good kind" or "bad kind" I'm going to call them what they are.

(much to the consternation of some of the best-known people doing the actual science)


Before Scott Alexander started http://slatestarcodex.com/, he wrote this post http://squid314.livejournal.com/323694.html:

> I declare the Worst Argument In The World to be this: "If we can apply an emotionally charged word to something, we must judge it exactly the same as a typical instance of that emotionally charged word."

Scott's post is full of examples, many of which I'm sure you'll agree are bad arguments. You are using this tactic with the term "white supremacy". Please note that doing so undermines your position and makes it clear to others that you are not arguing in good faith.

I try to behave such that if someone who held opposite views used the same norms, we wouldn't end up feeling contempt for one another. This means interpreting charitably, trying to understand why people believe what they believe, and avoiding snark and sarcasm. Most importantly, it means not misrepresenting other people's views. Throughout this thread, you have reliably failed at all of these things.

Could you imagine how two tptaceks with opposite views would behave? I'm convinced they would never get beyond name-calling and strawmanning. Both would feel certain in their cause and vindicated by their opponent's behavior. Worst of all, neither's beliefs would get closer to the truth.

Please, for the love of all that is good, be more charitable.


There are clearly people on this thread who think that it's possible to believe in the supremacy of white people over black people without all the ugly baggage of "white supremacy".

I. Don't. Care. I don't care if a white supremacist believes that Asians might be superior to whites. I don't care if a white supremacist thinks anyone who would wear a hood and burn a cross belongs in jail. These things simply don't matter to me.

Like I said: you are free to believe in the "good kind" of white supremacist. I don't differentiate.


'There are clearly people on this thread who think that it's possible to believe in the supremacy of white people over black people without all the ugly baggage of "white supremacy".'

No. There are clearly people on this thread who don't believe that statistical population differences tell us anything about supremacy.

Were we to throw off all the baggage of the entire phrase, the word "supremacy" still has an ordinary meaning in ordinary English. A statement about population differences is plainly not a statement about "authority, power, or status."

The only person in this thread who has argued that population differences imply supremacy is you. Over and over again. This is your word. I don't know how else to tell you that I don't even support your premise.

If you were anyone else, I would already have stopped arguing with you. But you are a person of authority in this space. Your tactics here are dangerous. I'm begging you to consider that.


I don't know whether you're writing normatively about positions you actually hold or descriptively about the positions of others, which makes it very difficult to engage what you're saying directly; everything has to be written through a layer of indirection.

So let me just come out and ask: on the matter of race and intellect, what is it you believe? Can you be specific about those beliefs in the context of American "white", black, and Asian people?


Recall that this entire subthread is the result of your claims about Murray. I am not an expert in the field, so I don't have strong opinions about the competing explanations for group differences in IQ. What I'm fighting against/for isn't any particular claim about intelligence, but rather your framing of one particular claim.†

I do strongly hold the position that a genetic explanation, should one exist, says absolutely nada about policy, "supremacy," how we should treat each other, or really anything else. I also strongly believe that a good faith inquiry into this question (and acceptance of whatever the science reveals) is a pursuit orthogonal to "white supremacy. This is so obvious to me that I feel silly even rebutting it.

Again, I'm not advancing one particular explanation for group differences. I'm opposing your treatment of the implications of one of those possible explanations.

Further, as I stated elsewhere in this thread, the statement "white people are smarter than black people" as a summary of population differences is statistically and biologically illiterate. This way of talking about these issues is unscientific and obfuscatory and it has no place in serious conversations on this topic.

My personal opinion, as a non-expert, is that the differences are probably explained by a complicated mix of factors, but that genetics likely play some role. If this seems wishy-washy, it's because it is. I'm including this footnote only to avoid the accusation that I'm dodging your question. My opinions here aren't worth much. Frankly, I doubt yours are, either, unless you've got a second career you haven't mentioned in your profile.


I'm sorry, you'll have to forgive me, but I'm still in the dark as to what it is you actually believe. Help me understand the difference you see between observations about population aggregates in studies versus observations about "races".


You want to lump (a) people who simply think, as a technical opinion, that there are population statistical differences with (b) people who desperately want an excuse to cleanse society of black people. They are not the same thing, and to pretend they are is to oversimplify truth in order to make a virtuous statement.

Some people argue that this is a good thing to do, but if you do this you can't complain about the phrase "virtue signaling," as someone prioritizing virtue over accuracy.


I'm sorry, but if you're still in the dark about what I believe, then I think you're willfully so. I have to be honest: I didn't really think you were arguing in good faith in the beginning, but I was hopeful that you might be brought into a reasonable back-and-forth.

I no longer believe that's possible.

Edit: Just to make this explicit: I don't have any eccentric or unorthodox views about the differences between "races." I haven't advanced any such views here, nor do I hold them privately. tptacek's implication, of course -- and this happens in every single one of these conversations -- is that I'm concealing some detestable opinion about race. That's why there's always this persistent pleading to clarify what you actually believe. I've stated quite clearly what it is that I believe. No more or less. If I haven't been clear, then we'll just have to attribute that to my failings as a communicator and call it a day.


That is a strange response to a straightforward question, but I can't say I'm unhappy to see this weird little thread die here.


What do you want? How is '''the differences are probably explained by a complicated mix of factors, but that genetics likely play some role''' '''a genetic explanation, should one exist, says absolutely nada about policy, "supremacy," how we should treat each other, or really anything else. I also strongly believe that a good faith inquiry into this question (and acceptance of whatever the science reveals) is a pursuit orthogonal to "white supremacy"''' unclear?

Fact: IQ results differ by race, even though 'races' are a badly-defined concept. Fact: Socioeconomic factors are a lot of this. Postulation: There might maybe be a genetic factor somewhere. Assertion: This doesn't justify treating people differently by race.

What is unclear? What do you object to? You seem to find the idea that there might be any, miniscule genetic factor to intelligence that is more or less common in a specific 'race' as equal to white supremacy. Am I misreading you?

(And note I didn't say anything about which way genetic factors might go. If they exist they might be opposite the socioeconomic factors, who knows.)


How can there be a genetic difference between genetically invalid (badly defined as you say) concepts? I.e. the concept of race is completely social, there is nothing genetic about it (a person commenting on HN is well withing education threshold to be expected to know this). Yet you allow that someone who believes there might still be genetic factors "somewhere" in these differences is not a (closet) racist ... because they don't call for mass murder and insist the supposedly slightly inferior group should "not be discriminated" (just calling them genetically dumber is enough)?

I would want to very strongly and categorically denounce point #1 in this list.

Well stated and I fully agree.


It's weird to claim you're simply using a technical term to categorize someone's views, but then choose such a charged phrase. Edit: rethought comment


The term is charged for a reason. If a white supremacist feels bad that they're being compared to Richard Spencer, I think they should do some soul searching.

There's a solid argument to be made that the quiet white supremacists do far more damage than the cartoon characters do.


"White supremacy" as a movement, as a phrase in common usage, and as a matter of common sense, implies a whole host of beliefs and policy desires that aren't held or sought by Charles Murray or his defenders.

Not holding those beliefs doesn't render you a "benevolent supremacist;" it means, very plainly (and using ordinary definitions of ordinary words) that you're not a supremecist.

It is plainly misleading and obfuscatory to apply that term to anyone investigating population differences in good faith.

Perhaps you mean to say that all such investigations are evidence of nefarious motives? I think that's wrong, but it's at least a coherent worldview.


  If you believe that, in the aggregate, "white" people are 
  intellectually superior to any other race of people, 
  you're a white supremacist.
Were the 52 professors who signed Mainstream Science on Intelligence in 1994 white supremacists?① Is the APA a white supremacist organization?② If so, with 117,000 members, it would be by far the biggest white supremacist organization in the US.

Thomas, I understand that this is an emotionally charged topic, and you want to attack Damore's argument from all possible angles, but group differences in intelligence has been settled science for many decades, and misrepresenting the facts is not exactly making us look good. It's a long-running conservative meme that people who are interested in promoting equality ignore science for ideological reasons, and this is, you know... exactly that.

Group differences in intelligence are obviously bad, and they seem to be narrowing over time by Flynn effect actions, but they do actually exist. Saying that anyone who measures a difference between groups is literally promoting the supremacy of the white race is pretty wild. What measured difference makes you a white supremacist? 10 IQ points? 0.1? If you measure a difference of 0.000001 IQ points, should you instantly lose your job for being A Racist, as you've argued elsewhere?③

===

①: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mainstream_Science_on_Intellig...

②: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligence:_Knowns_and_Unkno...

③: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14953843


>If you believe that, in the aggregate, "white" people are intellectually superior to any other race of people, you're a white supremacist. That's not a value judgement; it's literally what it means to be a white supremacist.

Is this 'any' as in 'a single group' or 'all other groups'?

Either way it's not true. You can think a race has better average X without thinking it's superior. A dedicated white supremacist will take a list of advantages that are supposedly inherent to non-white people and make a just-so argument about how that actually makes them inferior.

Edit: If you downvoted, please tell me where you disagree, I'm very curious.


"You can think a race has better average X without thinking it's superior."

Ironically, what this argument tends to reveal is the degree to which the upper crust fetishizes intelligence and believes in the primacy of IQ as the measure of the person. Google practically invented the big, scary interview process that proves you're smart enough to belong.

Is it any surprise that the winners of that genetic lottery believe in the supremacy of that measure?

And once accepted as an organizing principle, you really, really need to believe that there are no statistical differences between groups, because to discover them would, by the original logic, entail grotesque conclusions.

I can only imagine the dissonance this must generate.


This is more or less the response Curtis Yarvin gives when his racism, which seems (if you can hack your way through his prose) virulent, is challenged. To paraphrase:

"I'm not saying black people are worse than white people. I'm saying that white people are smarter than black people, and that our society is biased against those who aren't as smart as white people. Oh, the unfairness of it all".

I have no idea who you are or of this is what you mean; you're just an abstraction to me, a nick on this site I have no association with whatsoever and will presumably soon forget about. But if you're interested (you responded to me upthread), it might be useful to you to know how this kind of logic comes across to me.


"Society is biased against black people" is a perfectly accurate statement, so I'm not sure what that is supposed to show.

Can't you make an objectively-true equivalent statement about height? People with certain ethnicities are taller. Taller people are treated better. It's unfair.

It doesn't seem like the way that logic is constructed reveals any racism. Just the premise of "X are smarter than Y" is the problem. Kind of begging the question.


I didn't read dionidium's post as an endorsement of the chain of logic, or of the fetishization of intelligence by the upper crust, at all. In fact, quite the opposite.

I don't know who you are either, but this comment comes across as rather harsh and over the top,


I have no idea who that guy is or why I'm being asked to defend him, so I'll speak only for myself when saying that the statement, "white people are smarter than black people" as a summary of population differences is statistically and biologically illiterate.

This is just simply not how serious people talk about populations.

Further, to conclude that such differences, should they even exist, imply anything else about the world (or how to treat the people in it) is morally incomprehensible.


Except he didn't say that the differences we observe are 100% due to biology. I'm actually pretty shocked at how much of this thread seems to deliberately mischaracterize what he wrote.


Agreed. If anything, he was objecting to begging the question in the other direction. Most of the particulars are examples of nuances that (the author thinks) need to be studied instead of ignored.


> Except he didn't say that the differences we observe are 100% due to biology.

He did, if he didn't intend to he used the wrong language. He had a section called:

> Personality Differences

Where to his credit he did say: "on average" but then he failed to distinguish these differences as cultural or social. Rather he prefixed that part of the article with a section that stated:

> On average, men and women biologically differ in many ways. These differences aren’t just socially constructed....

I don't know how to read that otherwise. My understanding is that he IS saying that biologically women (on average) are less able to negotiate pay, prefer social work to STEM, etc. Now while those are perfectly fine things to consider stating them as fact is a bit of a leap. You have to prefix your work to make it less assertion and more speculation for people not to assume what I assumed.


You have to consider that Gizmodo has acknowledged having stripped the essay of several hyperlinks, probably lending support to his claims.

This comprehensive recap could be one of them : https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/rabble-rouser/201707/wh...


Yes but that's still the soft science of sociology and the author of the OP should tread carefully before asserting this as literal fact. It remains a conclusion of incomplete results. Obviously better than complete speculation but still no stronger than the technology used by the culture this OP is rallying against.


It's arguably the culture that the OP is rallying against which relies on the "soft science of sociology" as a theoretical basis.

The OP's point on the other hand finds most of its supporting evidence in evolutionary psychology and biology.


He did mention that he is not denying diversity is important or that sexism exists. And the biological differences he mentioned are "POSSIBLE non-bias causes of the gender gap in tech".

His entire argument seems to be that we should stop denying biological differences exist too. And a non 50% representation is not conclusive proof of sexism in society.


How in the world did you determine that "on average differences" means 100% explanation? Full disclosure, I work in supply chain and statistics is part (maybe most) of what I do so maybe I'm being pedantic.


Blind interviews is a good idea that I think could/should satisfy parties on both sides. I mean it's really putting your ideas to the test. And either way you can take some comfort knowing that, if properly set up, the process will be fair. Now the correlation between a good interview and doing well on the job is another issue altogether.


May or may not be completely relevant, but seems like it's in the ballpark: a couple of months ago, a conference sponsored by GitHub was postponed because the authors of all the (blind) selected papers were male.

HN discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14480868

Reddit discussion: https://www.reddit.com/r/javascript/comments/6f8u2s/githubs_...


Yes, I can attest to this too, harkening back to the classical orchestral auditions. This is why every player is put on probation for 6 months to a year. Their colleagues then vote them into the orchestra or they get voted out. This is the part that is about how they actually do their job. Getting voted out is pretty rare, but I have known a few people who have been voted out of top ten orchestras after the probation period. I can't tell you how tragic it is for everyone involved, especially the players who vote them out, because every single player knows how hard it is just to get to the point of sitting in their chair. Players who win auditions are extremely motivated to show up with their music memorized and perfect for every single rehearsal, sectional, and concert. They are on their first date behavior. So if they fail, there is usually a great reason that has to do with showing up unprepared or being rude to colleagues on a regular basis, or playing louder than the section all the time, or in some cases, showing up to work drunk or something ridiculous. But even when people have a substance abuse problem, the orchestra usually tries to help them first. So, perhaps there could be a probation period after tech interviews the same way we have them? (Actually, my friend told me that the Boston-based company, Wayfair, does this. Do any other companies do this? I think it makes sense for both parties. It's a drag when someone has had to relocate and they don't pass through to tenure, but those are the breaks, I guess.)


"Grounded in reality?"

Could we get some sources for these claims?

In particular, I'd like to see values and standard deviations for "On average, men and women biologically differ in many ways."



That blog post doesn't go into biological reasons — read through it and for each bit of evidence, ask whether the relationship described could be explained by social expectations in early childhood. Talking about career preferences in high school students is much later than what people are talking about – socialization starts before they can talk!

I'm married to a neuroscientist and have spent a lot of time talking with other researchers. Nobody denies that there are measurable low-level biological differences (the hormone levels alone guarantee that) but I've noticed that everyone who actually does research in the area is extremely careful to point out that while you can measure e.g. statistically significant differences in the ratios of white and grey matter, nobody has linked those low level traits to higher-level cognitive abilities, much less success in a profession which combines many different cognitive skills. An additional key point which is often missed is that our brains are plastic and will change in response to what we do: if you found that, say, a group of men out-performed women on tracking moving multiple objects you would still need to ask whether that was biologically predetermined or simply caused by boys being encouraged to play sports, hunt, etc. which developed that skill and/or girls being discouraged from doing the same.


When you actually read the blog post, you'll see that it does quote research finding sex differences 1) as early as within 2 days after birth and 2) similar in baby monkeys' toy preferences as in human children.

I'll let you decide (Occam's razor is helpful) whether that is more likely the product of biology or "social expectations in early childhood" (within 2 days? in monkeys?).


You've made the 'monkeys do <x> ... draw your own conclusions' argument more than once and at this point I can't help but feel it's not an argument in good faith.

The person you're responding to went out of their way to acknowledge that there are indeed differences, so they are not in disagreement with this point.

Rather, The argument is that it's difficult to make a clear connection between these low-level 'nature' difference and the much higher-level issues we're discussing. That seems like a decent argument considering 1) how much of our world is socially-constructed, and 2) how often the argument '<group x> is inferior at <thing y>' has been used to maintain the status-quo by the status-quo, and more importantly how often it has been proven wrong.

To be clear, personally I'm in the 'genetic differences matter more than we think, in general' camp, to an extent that I don't always feel comfortable talking about it in public. And I do think there's something of a bias in the social sciences towards blaming nurture over nature.

However, first of all I'm not sure if, in practice, this bias is a bad thing for society. But even if it is, arguing that male babies act different from female babies and that somehow this explains many of or societal issues strikes me as extremely spurious and downright disingenuous when such an argument is used against people who already openly acknowledge that there is clearly a genetic element to the whole story.

Furthermore, while things might be different in SV, in my neck of the woods I'm pretty firmly in the SJW- or feminist 'circles' and I rarely meet anyone who truly believes that there are no genetic differences. It strikes me as odd that so many arguments primarily argue against the view that it's '100% nurture/cultural', when as far as I can tell very few people actually defend this point of view. It reeks of strawmanning.

(not that these people don't exist, I'm just saying they're a vocal, extreme minority in my day to day experience)


Thanks for incorrectly assuming I didn't - it really shows your commitment to honest discussion, as does ignoring the fact that those were asides while the core of the post demonstrates the conflation I mentioned in every major section.

As to that one link, one study is not conclusive – animal studies are notoriously prone to unintended experimenter influences – and that's especially suspect when e.g. it claims innate color preferences for the pink/blue divide which has been biologically predetermined for about a century.

Again, I'm not saying there aren't differences or that they can't be significant, only that the research thus far doesn't support the sweeping claims being made.


This is one of the best comments in this messy thread. Thanks for taking the time to write it.


When feminists say that women should have control over their bodies, do they literally mean that women should shape their own biology by restructuring society?


Do you really need scientific sources to notice the biological differences between two different sexes of a species?


I think the Left now does. I'm not trying to troll, but this new trend of pretending there isn't a difference has started to really bother me. Jordan Peterson attributes it to the influx of Postmodernism to Leftist ideologies. I don't know if I totally agree with him there but it's at least a starting point.


Are you asserting that height and muscle mass are significant determiners of success in technological careers?

We are discussing mental and psychological variables about which essentially all of the opinions presented in the history of humanity have been unadulterated crap. So, yes, I want scientific sources.


> Are you asserting that height and muscle mass are significant determiners of success in technological careers?

No. Well, actually, both might have some influence in social settings, but significant for success I doubt.

> We are discussing mental and psychological variables ... So, yes, I want scientific sources

There are pretty evident differences in that area you can see without any science. Gender ideologists try to explain them away, but it is not like they have any scientific basis for that. Given that the differences are obvious, a field given a convoluted theory would have to prove their theory, or rather to defend against the existing disprovals. Gender is completely incapable of doing that.

And there are quite some sources linked in this comment thread.

You know that Butler was only writing some thoughts of how she thinks it could be, right? Gender theory is not science by any definition. There can't be a scientific discussion about it.

> all of the opinions presented in the history of humanity have been unadulterated crap

There is a lot of absurd stuff floating around in that space, true. But to think that there is no difference at all because of that is just crazy.

And actually, the original story is only discussing mental and psychological differences as an aside. The google memo is about inegality and discrimination, now coming from a fascist ideology under disguise and spreading through societies. It is not about biological differences, it is not even really about any differences. It's class warfare with new means.


> There are pretty evident differences in that area you can see without any science.

Fortunate that these unnamed differences are so obvious as to not require scientific confirmation.


> And there are quite some sources linked in this comment thread.


Seriously? If you think that men and women don't differ by more than their genitals, then you have to ignore all modern science.


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Nah.

> In her preface to the first edition, Halpern wrote: “At the time, it seemed clear to me that any between-sex differences in thinking abilities were due to socialization practices, artifacts and mistakes in the research, and bias and prejudice. ... After reviewing a pile of journal articles that stood several feet high and numerous books and book chapters that dwarfed the stack of journal articles … I changed my mind.”

> Why? There was too much data pointing to the biological basis of sex-based cognitive differences to ignore, Halpern says. For one thing, the animal-research findings resonated with sex-based differences ascribed to people. These findings continue to accrue. In a study of 34 rhesus monkeys, for example, males strongly preferred toys with wheels over plush toys, whereas females found plush toys likable. It would be tough to argue that the monkeys’ parents bought them sex-typed toys or that simian society encourages its male offspring to play more with trucks. A much more recent study established that boys and girls 9 to 17 months old — an age when children show few if any signs of recognizing either their own or other children’s sex — nonetheless show marked differences in their preference for stereotypically male versus stereotypically female toys

> Many of these cognitive differences appear quite early in life. “You see sex differences in spatial-visualization ability in 2- and 3-month-old infants,” Halpern says. Infant girls respond more readily to faces and begin talking earlier. Boys react earlier in infancy to experimentally induced perceptual discrepancies in their visual environment. In adulthood, women remain more oriented to faces, men to things.

https://stanmed.stanford.edu/2017spring/how-mens-and-womens-...


Who'd a known? Repeated observations in all types of human societies everywhere for thousands and thousands of years turn out to be true.

Thank god we have science to confirm that to us!


Anyone who knows anything about biology or genetics knows that it is absurd that there would be zero phenotypic difference between males and females. There are simply different factors driving each gender's reproductive success, and therefore the XX and XY chromosomal difference will push different traits.

Sociology and anthropology depts can't handle this because they aren't interested in science.


both "myths of gender" and "delusions of gender" were written by scientists.

the fact that you still think of sex as a binary difference between xx and xy shows how far outdated your ideas about the science of sex differences are. even "biological sex" (not even gender) is a spectrum influenced by a variety of different factors


Sex is in fact a binary difference, transgender folk are a tiny proportion of the population.


"Truth values are in fact a binary difference, fuzzy logic is a tiny portion of mathematics."

"Light switches are in fact a binary difference, dimmer switches are a small portion of all switches."

"Life is in fact a binary difference, brain death patients are a tiny portion of all patients."


"Truth values are in fact a binary difference, fuzzy logic is a tiny portion of mathematics."

Metastable states[0] are a tiny portion of all logic values. They exist and are inherently unavoidable, but somehow massively complicated systems that fundamentally rely on the assumption that values are either 0 or 1 still work.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metastability_in_electronics


In the context of there being measurable differences between the sets of males and females, 99% is binary enough.


"99% server uptime is enough!"


Indeed - we design systems to operate under the expectation that services are available. We handle their not being available as an exceptional case.

This seems analogous; we should design social structures (or allow social structures to emerge) that assume that individuals are male or female, but which handle the exceptional case of non-cisgendered individuals. Just like a software system that doesn't handle exceptions gracefully, a social system that lacks provisions for these is fundamentally flawed and can fail unexpectedly and potentially catastrophically.


Catastrophically how?

Society also lacks "provisions" for violent criminals[0] but it still handles them and is yet to fail catastrophically.

[0] I'm not equating these two categories of people, merely illustrating that your example of comparing software exceptions to people is deeply flawed.



The page you linked gives the proportion 1/100. Is there something I'm missing?


Sociology and anthropology being, of course, fields particularly noted for their peerless objectivity and rigor...


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No doubt you would. Why should I? Because appeal to authority? Or is there a reason why their frequently regrettable track records must not be considered an indictment of any sort?


So your comment is (rightly) getting downvoted. I think readers here tend to reject anecdotal arguments and rely on data. The critiques of sociology and anthropology are legitimate: those fields are not like technical fields and they lend themselves to weird conclusions that don't get peer reviewed in a way that's different from, say, math or physics.


Don't look at me when you say that. I have no problem with anecdotes; the problem I have is that some anecdotes are so readily considered more equal than others. We need not sidetrack ourselves into discussion of any direction we may observe this tropism to take, in order to recognize that no field may be reasonably regarded as rigorous which is so happy to discard those anecdotes which fail to conform with some apparently predetermined preference of narrative, and place value only on those anecdotes which support it.


A substantial amount of academic sociology is based on quantitative analyses of survey data. For example, here's an (open-access!) paper describing gender divides in US doctoral education: https://www.sociologicalscience.com/articles-v4-6-123/


Surveys are only useful for studying for what people believe, and only then what they're willing to admit. The discipline shouldn't make any claims about actual behavior when the only observations that could possibly support them aren't permitted.


I agree! People are very inconsistent. They change their beliefs, lie to people, are unsure about things, etc. A lot of sociologists would argue that this is a good reason to combine this kind of quantitative data with in-depth ethnographic observation of real behavior (e.g. https://shamuskhan.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/talk-is-cheap...). When we want to see how someone's opinion actually plays out in a real situation, that's usually our best tool.

Also, a lot of survey data captures demographic characteristics, not just individual beliefs-- think censuses. Surveys are generally considered a robust instrument for measuring things (like income, occupation, gender) that are relatively fixed over time.


that's because data isn't 100% appropriate for social sciences. you can't measure everything. shocking as it may be for STEM majors (full disclosure: i have a physics degree), people's feelings and subjective experiences matter, and forms of reason that are not-numerical (ie, philosophy, politics, law, etc) are rigorous and have value. it's weird that this is a radical perspective in this culture.


I'm not sure what the whole deal is about "STEM majors" and "computer science majors", but can it maybe not be such a thing? I don't see why it matters one way or another, and having never gone to school, I can't imagine how whatever intellectual canalization you seem to be hinting at would be applicable here in any case. It just seems to be adding a lot more heat than light, and I'm really not seeing what it brings to the conversation that makes that in any way worthwhile.


I was a STEM major (physics) and I work in tech. I'm attacking from inside, not outside. I think that there is a specific culture in STEM whereby white men who are incredibly gifted and successful in math/science/whatever think that their natural brilliance gives them the ability to speak on all social issues with authority, and that they can speak from a purely rational perspective. My point is that things like your upbringing, your social group, your race, gender, class, etc all have an important impact on how you think, and STEM people should keep that in mind. They should have more humility, and be more open to listening to the stories of people instead of just trying to think of things in terms of Numbers.


I mean I don't even know what you're attacking.

> They should have more humility, and be more open to listening to the stories of people instead of just trying to think of things in terms of Numbers.

Throughout my entire career, which now approaches the close of its second decade, I have known exactly one person who might even possibly match this description. Last week, he filed the initial paperwork to declare his candidacy for the House seat in his district, whose longstanding incumbent is probably going for a Senate seat next year. He's running as a Democrat, and his entire platform revolves around improving social welfare by eliminating inefficiencies without cutting benefits rolls - indeed, while expanding them. He's advocating a tax-neutral, net-positive-payout plan for a universal basic income!

He's doomed, of course. Even in Maryland - even in Baltimore, he doesn't stand a chance, because he is a man of unusual personality who does not make friends easily or quickly inspire confidence in strangers. But I love him for trying. And I have no idea in the world what you're talking about with this "numbers over people" culture among people in our field and those adjacent. I don't doubt your observations, although I do find them wildly at odds with my own experience. But my own observations do not in any sense bear out your analysis that is culture arises specifically from "STEM-ness" of people instead of some other quality, and I'm not interested in abandoning my observations for your own, either.

Are you sure that your analysis of this phenomenon's origin is not wildly off base? Because, you know, I think maybe your analysis of this phenomenon's origin might be wildly off base.


Stop mischaracterizing what I'm saying. I'm simply noting that biology is real, and informs a lot of what we do. I'm sorry, but "stories" don't mean anything to me, and again I think it's really strange that people who work in tech, who ostensibly should be more acquainted with data-based decision making, seem to use anecdotes to make what are basically political arguments.

I think I'm pretty much done with the Left at this point. I find this rejection of basic scientific inquiry to be really strange and dangerous.


> I think I'm pretty much done with the Left at this point. I find this rejection of basic scientific inquiry to be really strange and dangerous.

That's funny. I can totally see the same kind of comment in a thread about other topics that are unpopular in the Right.

Perhaps there is a pattern here.


>I'm sorry, but "stories" don't mean anything to me

are you human


Yes, and I'm a human who thinks that it's unwise to make policy based on anecdotes. A heretic, I am!


No, the critiques (at least that I've seen here) are ridiculous; HN is generally conservative STEM majors who have never studied anything seriously outside their tiny box of CS/engineering and possibly math/physics and think everything they don't understand is beneath them. It shows in this thread, it's almost painfully cringe-inducing to read. In order to make a reasonable critique of a field, you must first understand it, something which nearly zero HNers even make an attempt to do. They dismiss it out of hand without argument because it is not STEM and therefore not "rigorous" enough to even be considered by their superior STEM brains.

Are there problems in these fields? Sure, there are problems in every field. But I haven't seen a single reasonable point here or otherwise that provides a good reason for mistrusting the vast consensus among a wide variety of very smart people who have spent their entire lives studying these issues and instead trusting JavaProgrammer37 who stomps his feet and insists women just aren't smart like him, smart enough to write SQL queries.


Well, the author's personal feelings of being shut out of conversations around diversity (and the resulting irony) stand on their own unless we think the author is lying or deluded about that somehow.


Here's a wikipedia article titled "Sex differences in psychology" [1] that might have some of what you're looking for.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_differences_in_psychology


Are the biological differences between men and women not rather straightforward?


Not really. There are claims that for example men are better at spacial reasoning (imagining/navigating a 2d/3d space, constructing physical things in their head before acting on it). Women are supposedly better at putting themselves into the perspective of other people, both emotionally as well as logically. Or so I've heard.

I'm sure there have been studies on these topics though, and I think that's what your parent comment is asking for?!

Although, making these out to be biological differences could be a stretch.


Boys are encouraged to build and to play ball. Girls are encouraged to perform and to play tea. Why would we expect the stereotypical difference to be biological at all? I'm sure there are some differences in tendencies, but I'm not at all sure they'll avoid being swamped by environmental effects, socialization, and individual variation.


Because it happens even in monkeys : https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2583786/

I've posted it elsewhere in the thread already, but this article is a good recap of research on the topic : https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/rabble-rouser/201707/wh...


That is not a "good recap of research", it is a motivated collection of cherry-picked data points put together to suit the author's political purpose. Dig a bit on the author of the piece and you will get a feel for his objectives, and dig a bit into the actual points he is, poorly, attempting to make in the article and you will see that they seem to hand wave over a bunch of questions that any real researcher would examine further. Please provide real research rather than spamming this blog post as though it was actually a useful contribution to the conversation.


> a motivated collection of cherry-picked data points put together to suit the author's political purpose

How very ironic you should say that, given the author's interesting demonstration (with figures) in that very same post of the propensity of the other side to over-cite weak studies that fit the desired narrative, and under-cite inconvenient ones with orders of magnitude better sample sizes and methodology.

> Please provide real research.

Indeed...


That's a rather ad-hominem response/dismissal. Care to address the blog post's arguments?


Toy preferences are innate. I'm seriously struggling to understand how people can obviously realize that different breeds of dogs have different innate behavioral characteristics but somehow deny that humans (we're just another mammal!) can have the same kind of inherited characteristic patterns.

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/icd.1986/abstract...


Lots of studies have shown that girls that happen to have received prenatal male hormones show strong preferences for more typically boy's toys and play behavior in spite of any degree of social pressure.

There are lots more but here are a few:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12760514

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15693771

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12414881


> Boys are encouraged to build and to play ball. Girls are encouraged to perform and to play tea. Why would we expect the stereotypical difference to be biological at all? I'm sure there are some differences in tendencies, but I'm not at all sure they'll avoid being swamped by environmental effects, socialization, and individual variation.

Yes, I think individual variation is the key here.

I know quite a few girls that didn't like to do activities things meant for girls and the same for quite a few boys. No matter how much pressure (from parents, teacher and peers) they received they just followed their nature and did whatever they liked more (e.g. the girls played soccer and the boys "played tea"). I have examples of that from my experience both as a child and now a parent and uncle.

Wouldn't this mean that perhaps there is something in the tendencies and predisposition that is not rooted in social coercion?

Often when people think about biological cause they think in terms of what a male or female brains should be, just by virtue of being labeled a male or female biologically (e.g. by some physical quality, including tests involving chromosomes)

But what if you, as an individual just don't match?

Does that make your abilities or tendencies less hereditary or less caused by biology?

The biology of the individuum is what affects the individuum, along with upbringing and literally everything else, including others prejudices!

Personally, a big advantage of this current wave of reverse bigotry is that individuals who would have been just put aside without even giving them a chance now can fare better because society e.g. is being trained at the fact that women can be just as good.

Often, that's what matters. I often hear that the end justifies the means; that if we actually try to have a nuanced conversation about this complex topic we'd just give misogynists and xenophobes a way to pursue their agendas.

And we definitely need more work if we want that people have less bias when confronted with a person of a gender that "doesn't match".

I wonder when will come the time that being fully open, objective and honest will be the most practical way of achieving this goal.


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Would you please not do this here?


Would you feel the same way if the author--instead of focusing on sex differences instead chose to focus on eugenics? What if s/he argued that the reason blacks/African-Americans were under-represented in tech/at Google was because of eugenics?


It would honestly not surprise me that it would be A-OK here. We've already had someone defending Charles Murray.


> and no doubt a cartharsis for many Right-leaning Googlers

And this is where I kind of break down on the whole argument. I've already made similar comments below, but I sort of what to expand on this sentiment. I do not think that the views of the author of this piece were political in any way shape or form. They are purely idealogical, and the ideology that he professes has no basis in reality. This is what we may criticize.

I will employ an extremely gross simile to illustrate my point. Suppose that some item exists in the world called a "whizzer". A whizzer spins extraordinarily fast. So fast in fact, that we can't even tell which direction it's spinning for sure. We can use rough guesses to determine the spinning, and support it with some evidence from the environment. If I claim that the whizzer spins left, and you claim that the whizzer spins right we have reached a state of deadlock. Would you call our disagreement in this case one of politics? Suppose I had some information that hinted the spinner spins left. (Analogous to evidence that women are actively stopped from entering technical fields due to sociological rather than natural factors, which exists in multitudes.) There is still no evidence that the whizzer spins right. Arguments that the situation of the United States' gender divisions are natural rather than sociological can easily be dismissed by looking at clear evidence. Women are not as discouraged from entering fields like biology, or medicine. These are just as technical and difficult as other STEM fields. This implies that the factors that affect this are sociological rather than "natural". This evidence is not indisputable and it does not tell the whole picture, but it points in a general direction.

If we return to the whizzers, let's suppose my evidence is very similar. It's not all-knowing, or all-answering but it provides a general direction. There's nothing "political" about this. The "other side" is simply not providing an actual basis of evidence. Your argument does not hold up to any burdens of truth. It's as if the person with no evidence that the whizzers spin right is furious that I should try and make decisions that assume the spinner spins left. That's what all the evidence points towards!

The argument that the email's sender makes is inherently flawed. There exist issues with the conclusions that they make because their reasoning is flawed. I am not demonizing a political opinion, or attempting to police your ability to think or express your opinion. The email fails to convince anyone because it lacks an accurate argument.

I am not trying to demonize you. I don't think this has anything to do with Right / Left. Look at the facts. Look at the data. Listen to women from the industry who time and time again have stories of all the crap they've had to wade through. When all this overwhelming evidence claims something and the only thing the other side can produce are appeals to cognitive bias and naturalism, arguing that this is "just how the world works" it makes no sense because there is no sense in the argument.

If this were "how the world naturally works", how could we have possibly normalized so quickly? Women were only allowed to vote very recently in this country, black americans were only recently systematically segregated. There are people currently alive who have seen both of these greatly disruptive forces in direct action. What argument can possibly claim that those forces have completely dissipated in the United States? What about the United States allows such forces to be dissipated so quickly? Why are these issues more prevalent in places like Silicon Valley than other countries when the United States was one of the latest to adopt the different policies?

The argument simply does hold up to intellectual rigor. It fails to answer those questions in a consistent and convincing matter. If you believe that those questions are flawed, then why is that? Again, there exists no refutation except one born from cognitive bias and a flawed world-view. That's why people are opposed to it. It just doesn't make any sense. The conclusion is not a logical continuation of the premise, and that is why people are upset. I don't know or care where you lie on the political spectrum - all I see is a flawed argument.

Specifically you say "reflective of inherent psychological differences". What inherent psychological differences? Do you truly claim that you can generally predict the way your daughter will think differently than your son from the moment they are born? Do you think that these are in way accurate or determinate of your son or daughters future interests and achievements? Do you actually believe that they will have a "fair shake" regardless of whether they are male / female / white / black? That their life will be entirely based on the way they live it, and not on the way the world looks at them? Do you further believe that we shouldn't try and correct such distinctions?

If you actually want to engage in argument, then attempt to address these issues. Instead all I see is a further appeal to bias by just grouping this as a "right-leaning" opinion. What makes this right-leaning? All this does is further divide idealogical issues as if they have to be "one side vs another". It's nonsensical and all it does is further group or divide people rather than address the objective quality of the argument.

EDIT: May I ask why I'm being down-voted? It seems that no one is even willing to acknowledge these questions, let alone address them. I'm attempting to engage with people at a fair and even level. I don't intend to lecture or degrade, but simply discuss. A resistance to this is concerning.


I didn't downvote, but if you want a "peer review":

* This is a longer post, which should be fine, but there is little organization to the different thoughts in it; this makes it harder to digest. Maybe do a bit of signposting or provide headings for your subsections.

* Since it's longer, your post would probably be better served as a top-level comment. Or a full-on blogged response submitted to HN as an article.

* Since it's longer, it's probably getting less attention; a few detractors are enough if everyone else is disinterested.

* You ask more questions than can probably be answered coherently in the HN format. It's possible that some are rhetorical, but it's not clear which.

* Some of your thoughts are strong, some are fine, some aren't all that strong at all. It's not worth breaking them all down. But, for example, you ask what inherent psychological differences exist. It's fairly easy (compared to debugging a core dump) to search around a little bit and get a cursory understanding of that position. Some people might consider that enough to downvote and move on. Given the length of your post, you might just leave that sort of thing out in the future.

* You seem to reject that gender issues don't include a right/left schism. I think that's an interesting position, but the burden would be on you to support it.

My reply is already longer than it should be, but I hope some of that is helpful. If not, it was meant well at least.


"Women are not as discouraged from entering fields like biology, or medicine. These are just as technical and difficult as other STEM fields"

It is not about being difficult. Biology and medicine require a vastly different kind of intelligence than Physics and Math (and computer science). Also, doctors work with people, while engineers work with machines. And the author argues that women, on average, prefer working with people. This can pretty simply be explained by the difference in estrogen and testosterone.

So no, it's not fair to say that there is no evidence that the whizzer spins right. And the author never denied that there are cultural factors. He is saying that there are biological factors too, which should not be ignored.


> Also, doctors work with people, while engineers work with machines.

You won’t get very far in your engineering career if you think this way. Are you going to argue women don’t use computers next?


Using computers and wanting to understand computers are completely different interests.

How about this. Doctors are more interested in people. Engineers are more interested in machines.

Of course, as one becomes a manager, they deal with people more. But am just stating the initial interest that gets one into the field.


One issue is that acknowledging potential differences between the sexes can setup prejudice that acts to fulfill those prejudices. This can lead to widening gender gaps possibly more that any real gap in performance.

So many do not blindly advocate equality because they believe it completely but do so to avoid the overly negative and reinforcing effects of prejudice.

Think of this as a form of "Noble lie"


You mean it's a falsehood cynically advanced by a power elite to maintain a social order which would otherwise be uprooted, and those responsible torn toe from nail, by the vast majority upon whom it inflicts grave injustice toward some greater goal whose tangible benefits somehow never make it as far as them?


You'll have to explain the missing logical steps as I do not see how you got to this conclusion.


There are no logical steps to miss. None are required. The concept of the "noble lie" originates in Plato's inexplicably popular power fantasy The Republic. Its purpose there is as I describe it here; I differ only in choosing terms rather less congratulatory than the old fraud used himself.


The world I live in is filled with various Noble lies and self deceptions and mass deceptions. It does seem necessary to me for the modern world that isn't constantly at war with itself to exist.

There is so many that I do not know where to begin and I am not going to begin. This one seems on balance like one of the less harmful ones.


Are you sure the modern world isn't constantly at war with itself? I am not. Nor am I sure that a culture of constant deception - inward and outward, individual and en masse - is less, rather than more, likely than the converse to produce such a regrettable state of affairs.

Certainly I envy you this confidence! I have not seen it borne out in practice. But I doubt we inhabit very similar-seeming worlds.


> Are you sure the modern world isn't constantly at war with itself? I am not

In the Western world in North America and Europe we are doing pretty well. The many big issues are here such as climate change and low reproduction and lack of economic growth and the widening gap between rich and poor is problematic but it isn't leading to any major violence locally. There are problems but society is generally safe.


At the moment, with relatively rare and relatively small-scale exception, yes. Does that mean a world filled with lies need not end in fire, and those excrescences of violence we do observe are aberrational? Or does it mean only that the war has yet to go from cold to hot?


> Does that mean a world filled with lies need not end in fire, and those excrescences of violence we do observe are aberrational?

Living in a world of lies does not by itself beget violence or unhappiness. Nobles lies in and of themselves do not beget violence.

I read once the book "world on fire", which seems somewhat relevant. I'd recommend it. Her other book called "triple package" is also very relevant.

> Or does it mean only that the war has yet to go from cold to hot?

I am not sure it is building up right now in any big way. I am unfamiliar with the war you keep mentioning.

Netflix and other mass distractions help us live peacefully as it allows us to accept our lot or be mostly in denial of it.


Chua tries simultaneously to document the destructive effects of neoliberal globalism, and argue that these effects are not inevitable. She succeeds in the former, at least. I see no reason to imagine that we in the West are immune from similar pathologies of our own - more resilient, perhaps, but I think not perfectly so.

Your unfamiliarity is clear in your prior comments - which is not the judgment it may initially sound like. You would claim Netflix as the opiate of the masses. It is not. Opiates are. You want to see a world at war with itself? Every headline about the opioid epidemic is showing it to you, if you will only choose to see. Those who die of overdose are among the battlefield casualties of the war I describe. Those who have not yet done so are among its walking wounded. There are many other sorts of casualties in this war, of course. But rather than complicate the issue, let's concentrate on these.

I doubt you are at all personally familiar with the effects of strong illicit opiates. I am only passingly so familiar myself, a happenstance for which I regularly make time to thank an evidently benevolent God. But even my little experience is enough to know very clearly that these are not drugs to which one turns because one is weak or stupid or deceived, or because one's life gives one scope for ambition or hope for self-improvement.

These are not drugs you take when you're happy - because their effect is to make you feel nothing at all. If you were happy, you no longer are. If you were sad, you no longer are. If you were pained, or angry, or bereaved, or guilty, or ashamed, or hopeless, or frustrated, or stifled, or desperate, or anything else in the world - you no longer are. You only are. You exist, and nothing in the world can touch you. Nothing in the world can make you suffer. For a while. Then the world comes back, twice as hard as before.

These are drugs to which you turn in a final bid for solace, against a world in which you can find no way to make a place for yourself - a world so full of lies, so polluted and corrupted and stuffed chock-full with them, that it has no space left for you. These are drugs you use to approach the solace of the grave as closely as it is possible to do while your heart still beats and your blood still flows. Sometimes, people overshoot, and we read "opioid epidemic" news articles about them. Mostly, people don't, and the world continues not to care about them. Only when they turn up dead do they become of interest.

I'm sure such experience is as alien to you as it is to me. We've both been assiduous in taking advantage of the opportunities that we've been able to find or make in life, and have consequently been about as successful as our talents and diligence make it possible for us to be. That makes it easy for us to ignore those aspects of life with which we have little or no direct experience - and I'm not talking about yacht ownership here. That makes it easy for us to tell ourselves, for example, the lie that the same opportunities open to us are open to all, or the lie that "society is generally safe". Yes - for us. Not for all. What is there noble in this lie? Do you imagine it's believed by those who live whole lives among the evidence of its falsehood? Do you imagine they are so much less than human that they fail to recognize this lie? Do you imagine they are not angry about it? Do you imagine they should not be? Even if you don't care for such people in their own right, which is your choice entire however you choose to make it - do you imagine there is enough heroin or fentanyl in the world for this anger forever to be without consequence?

The other day an NPR article linked here on Hacker News made mention of a Baltimore community organization distributing naloxone kits and training in how and when to use them. In the week I have free between leaving my prior professional role yesterday, and commencing my next on the 14th, I mean to attend one of this organization's meetings and ask if I may participate in this program, for the same reason I now carry glucose tablets in my personal first aid kit despite not being diabetic - that is, because it is not unprecedented in my experience to come upon someone in desperate need, about whom a world absorbed with constant lies has chosen not to care. There is that about choosing to walk and take buses and trains, rather than to drive: one may not so easily maintain a comfortable isolation from the world in which one moves.

You will therefore forgive me if I decline to agree that, on top of all the lies that have brought us here, adding one more to the mix is likely to help solve anything, or that there is anything noble in one more lie. I do not doubt your intentions are good. But in this world we are judged not by intentions but by results, and the result of all the lies that have made the world around us is not the steady, if deeply and pervasively delusive, state that you and Plato would have it be, but rather a positive feedback machine whose every gyration brings it closer to toppling than the last. We have seen this pattern before in history. It has proven extremely unlovely in its outcomes.

Are you sure this time will be different from all the others? Or is that just another "noble" lie?


I fail to understand the outrage but attribute that to the fact that few bothered to read

Rather than assuming those who disagree with you are shallow and hysterical (a contentious word choice, given the subject), perhaps consider why others might be outraged, you could try some empathy (though I know the article warns us against empathy).

The doc presents a point-of-view, grounded in reality. Furthermore it's not "anti-diversity", but rather anti-discrimination

I think it is explicitly anti-diversity in that it sees nothing wrong with the current order of things, if that order can be justified by failings in the weaker vessels that surround the author like empathy and neuroticism (as the author clearly thinks it can).

It does seem a remarkable coincidence that the natural order of things so neatly reflects the author's place at the top of the pyramid though, almost as if the rules had been written by people just like the author.

Since when is dialectics grounds for ostracism?

I doubt the author has faced ostracism, he certainly seems confident enough in expressing his disdain for a large number of the people he works with, without apparent fear of consequences. Since dialectics is usually taken as a search for truth, here are some things that the author believes which are not true:

Women are not more neurotic than men

Women are not less scientific than men

Women are not more interested in feelings and aesthetics than ideas (a curious dichotomy)

Women do not innately prefer jobs in social or artistic areas over say engineering


> I doubt the author has faced ostracism

Here's one of his colleagues threatening to quit "if HR does nothing in this case" : https://twitter.com/rakyll/status/893287112732291072

> here are some things that the author believes which are not true

You've left out "on average" (which is stated no less than 7 times in the document). It does seem to be all supported by research : https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/rabble-rouser/201707/wh...


That's not ostracism.

The research you linked talks about girls not women and is worryingly slanted. Here's a rebuttal based on other research:

https://www.slideshare.net/mobile/slideshow/embed_code/key/3...


Sorry, but there's a whole host of psychological research that has long established behavioral differences between male and female. I find this new rejection on the Left of what are simply basic observations of biologically formed behaviors to be extremely bizarre. I'm really struggling to understand it because to me it seems like the same kind of science rejection we'd see on the Right if we were talking about climate change.


Sure, there are differences. For men, no one ever expects those differences to limit what they can do. Men can be firefighters, loggers, hairdressers, florists, politicians, engineers, interior designers, party planners, chefs, teachers. There aren't many professions where people would question why a man was doing the job instead of a woman.

What the left and feminism wants is for the same consideration to be given to women. That despite gender differences, if a woman can do the job, then there are no second guesses or carping about gender. That she's allowed to just be, just like men are. That there's a recognition that while gender differences exist, men can do jobs once considered traditionally feminine, and can do them well. And that we can recognize women can do jobs once considered tradtionally masculine, and can do them well.


"For men, no one ever expects those differences to limit what they can do"

Actually there are plenty of fields and jobs that are considered feminine. And where men are underrepresented and underpaid.

A study has shown that with the same qualifications, a woman is twice as likely to be picked for the same job than a man. And the longer we keep it politically incorrect to criticize feminism and the left, the larger that gap will become. Am not saying those aren't needed. But I also think it is time we have an opposing voice (like this article) to keep both in balance.


As a woman, the way I feel is whatever the differences are - are hard to prove and isolate outside of our society. Whatever they are makes no difference to me. Every person has a right to pursue their own happiness with their choosing. But delineating or using these differences to justify behavior does not feel appropriate in a work place. If a company could not find many female engineers to hire (I am one) then ok. No need to create a table on why / why not that stands on weak ground anyway.


Except they aren't difficult to prove, and this is what really really bothers me. We've got hundreds of thousands of years of innate, biologically formed behaviors that we have because they were evolutionarily advantageous. I'm not saying we should use these differences to discriminate, what I'm saying is that it's pretty easy to observe that they inform behavior and career preference.


They are difficult to prove because they are exceedingly general and abstract. Try this one from the article:

"Openness directed towards feelings and aesthetics rather than ideas. Women generally also have a stronger interest in people rather than things, relative to men (also interpreted as empathizing vs. systemizing). These two differences in part explain why women relatively prefer jobs in social or artistic areas."

I have to say there could be other reasons for this. A big one is that people gravitate toward things where other people like them already are. They have a tendency to emulate. It takes unique people to break out of molds and do things that others don't expect of them. Or that aren't familiar or socially comfortable to do. Same for men.

Now it could be true this is related to an innate trait. But who cares? We're talking about 50% of the population and the differences between people are aplenty. Companies have no business in deciding what's the right thing for any group anyway. Whatever people's motivations are - biological or something they came up with yesterday ultimately isn't anyone else's business.


Try this one from the article:

Sure, it has been studied to death. Here's a good summary:

http://sci-hub.cc/10.1111/j.1751-9004.2010.00320.x

Check out the Table 1 on page 1104, for summary of different studies. Of particular interest is the people-things orientation the parent poster mentions, with mean effect size across multiple studies so large (d = 1.18) that it almost never occurs for non-tautological research questions.


Do you have any peer reviewed citations for those claims? If this is as certain as you're assuming, it should be easy to point to the underlying mechanism and evolutionary underpinnings.


Ha. The Evolutionary Psychology wiki is probably a good start, but if you're skeptical of evolution I'm not confident anything I'd link would convince you.


Skeptical of evolution? That's a telling misrepresentation — ask for scientific evidence for random unsupported speculation and be accused of not believing in science?

Again: do you have any citations? If this was as well as established as you're claiming they should be easy to provide.


Sure, let me google that for you...

Quit being weird and pretending males and females are the same.


Why? Evolutionary psychology (even if true) is completely unenlightening.

Anyone can be an evolutionary psychologist!:

"Men do [thing] because they evolved to."

"Women think [this] because women who didn't did not pass on their genes."


Not going to engage further if your summation of Evolutionary Psychology is that it's "unenlightening".

I can't stand this bizarre trend on the Left that holds up "science" as a vanguard in one context but dismisses it in another if it's politically convenient.


The fact that you whine about anyone disagreeing with you being some bogeyman you call "the Left" (which does not exist of course) is telling; instead, you should consider your discussion partners as people instead of the enemy, perhaps then you will provide arguments that are not you just stating the thing you desperately want to be true over and over again and we can all learn something.


Because Evolutionary Psychology is not science. It makes no predictions. It has no theories. It is untestable. It entirely relies on just-so stories.


What you keep referring to as "biologically formed behaviors" others see as "formed by society".


Right, I know, and my response is that those people are wrong. Yes some behaviors are socially formed. Of course. But "Society" has existed for a trivial amount of time relative to human history. Again, this is weird to pretend behavior isn't informed by biology. I just don't understand it.


I think you have a penchant for turning probabilistic norms (women do score higher than men for neuroticism, on average from puberty onward, for example) into straw men.

> Women are not more neurotic than men

That's not the same thing, so no.

> From what I've seen it's exactly the opposite;

Finland is a case study in cultural gender equalization leading to gender gaps becoming more pronounced over time. You might want to look up Jordan Peterson, who is rather high profile, in regards to this topic. I think it's obvious that this document was formed after seeing a bit of his youtube material.


Women are slower and weaker then men, demanding separate sports rankings to be able to compete. Seems almost dualistic to think their minds would be 100% identical.


This comment isn't complete without the observation that society can survive a near-complete annihilation of men, but not women.

Equality is a meaningless term unless we specify what needs to be equal. In my worldview, men and women ought to be valued and respected equally because both are equally created in the image of God.


I notice a lot of misrepresentation of views on both sides, almost to the point of strawmanning. I think a charitable interpretation of the author's best points can be summarized as follows:

- Racism & sexism still exist, even at Google. This is bad. (On the bright side, the problem seems to be getting better over time.)

- It's good (and good for business) to eliminate discrimination based on gender, race, sexual preference, etc.

- There are many benign reasons why a completely unbiased company can still have skewed demographics. One possible reason is that women & men tend to differ in psychological makeup. (Unfortunately, it looks like links to some studies supporting this claim were removed from the post, along with some charts.)

- Therefore, Google should focus on eliminating bias & discrimination, not on getting employee demographics to match the nation as a whole. In short: focus on equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome. If sex-specific psychological differences exist, the only way to get equal outcomes would be to lower the hiring bar for women or raise the bar for men.

- If men & women tend to be psychologically different, Google should be aware of that and change work practices to better accommodate women. For example: More pair programming, as (to use the language of the author) that allows more working with people rather than things. Though for competitive positions requiring long hours (usually management), such changes may not be possible.

These points seem to be put forth in good faith by a frustrated employee who lacks tact. Moreover, I don't think these topics should lie outside the realm of debate. Either they're not true, in which case they can be dismissed with counter-evidence. Or they are true, and Google is wasting tremendous resources trying to solve these problems in the wrong way.


Thanks, I really appreciate this distillation. If we've learned anything, it's that trying to write stream of consciousness screedy manifestos like this is super hard and people should probably just stop trying. Still though, despite some of the questionable logic and missing evidence (which I'm surprised it's not a lot worse given the way these kinds of things get written -- middle of the night after some last straw), this person seems to be sincerely trying to spark a dialogue of mutual benefit to both sides of the debate and the company as a whole. Yet so many of the comments in this thread are just intensely dismissive and uncharitable. They aren't like, "ok so he fucked up here and here for this reason, I can see where he was going with this point and that point and there are some kernals of truth there, let's engage with this, etc." No, they are more like "this guy got this and this wrong, therefore it's all wrong, and therefore he should just stop now and recognize what a piece of shit he is." It really does feel sometimes like the chilling effect tactics of past rightist regimes has now been weaponized by us on the left out of some sort of unconscious spirit of payback or settling past debts of oppression. It's not a good look.


As a female engineer I don't resonate with the proposed changes for woman working with other people etc. I'm a very independent worker and that's partly why I've thrived in this field. In short, I don't think companies should make any adjustments based on gender. Just ignore it - that part I agree with - let people self select what and where they want to work themselves. And I also don't agree with quotas though I see how they might have served a purpose at one time.

If other woman are anything like me, the bullet list comparing two different points of view are cringe. People are so hard to define. And woman in particular I think generally don't feel like their potential is known yet because their presence in the workplace is so young relatively. So the last thing anyone wants is to be categorized by old stereotypes.


I also thought the pair programming example was odd, as I've never noticed different propensities for pairing based on gender. As far as I can tell, it is equally disliked. :)


Maybe it's supposed to be more like a tutoring? I don't know if such policy exists in Google but many American companies having their software houses in Poland give woman extra points during recruitment only for their gender, in order to help them start a real work even if for various reasons they miss some experience, not because of their gender but because there is much less experienced female programmers than male programmers. I don't suggest that the tutoring should be obligatory for females and made by males but simply a help from a more experienced employee would help all newcomers. I was lucky enough to get my first job in a quite small company with quite small teams and many very experienced employees(10 years in the same company wasn't that uncommon) and I took enormous advantage from such informal tutoring.


> If men & women tend to be psychologically different, Google should be aware of that and change work practices to better accommodate women

I'd rephrase that more like:

"If we want diversity of thought and disposition, we should make room for diversity of work styles (pair programming, remote work, etc.). If the women-work-differently hypothesis has merit, it will help address the gender imbalance while making room for other kinds of excluded people."


> ...who lacks tact...

It's worth pointing out that "tact" is a cultural construct and highly subjective.

It's also worth pointing out that emotional arguments are generally better received than dispassionate ones. People tend to think emotionally at least as much as they reason, so sanitizing thoughts in the wrong way would neuter the position.


It’s interesting that the author considers the conceptual framework of microaggressions spurious, while describing his negative experiences as a conservative Googler in terms of what a feminist might describe as microaggressions. To further undermine his own point, he asserts that several harms against conservatives have been caused by these microaggressions.

The difference between effective negative feedback and harassment/microaggressions is the former encapsulates a desire for the person receiving the feedback to succeed. Or, in the feminist lexicon, empathy.


I think the author is implicitly referring to more than simply unpleasant interactions at work.

As someone who is neither American nor conservative, I have to give it to them that there is a level of virulence from some on the left that is far beyond mere microagression, but is not acknowledged as such: there are continuous attempts to ban some speeches on campuses. If a ban fails it is picketed (which is OK), sometimes violently (which is not): speakers may receive death threats, and so can attendees. At first nobody cared because it was happening to far right hate-clowns (not that this would be a good reason to ignore this in thebfirst place), but this has drifted toward anything non-left, and now is even happening to people who do not toe the line, however liberal they may be (cf. the edifying story of Bret Weinstein).

Are there conservatives whining at things that are in fact tiny microagressions, and the hypocrisy is funny? Absolutely. But there is also a legitimately more dangerous phenomenon that is slowly growing, and the worrying part is that it is not being acknowledged by the 'moderate' left. The fact that political crusaders on their side routinely attempt to ban free speech, or send death threats, should be very much a concern to progressives. Instead it is oddly glossed over, and/or lumped in with microagressions or counter-demonstrations.

During Obama's first term people on the left could not understand how the American right could tolerate the crazies from the Tea Party and were looking the other way whenever their insane ideas were uttered. But today we are seeing the very same behaviour on the left when these psychotic episodes pop up. That is not normal. Regressive and authoritarian tendencies should be acknowledged and denounced, regardless of what side of the political spectrum they come from.


So what you are saying is that there should be safe spaces for conservatives to express themselves? That conservatives should be welcomed for their diversity? That conservstives should be given a participation trophy and honored for their special snowflake ideas?


I am going to pretend my previous post was poorly written so as not to offend your sensibilities.

When political activists, regardless of who they are and what they're against, want to ban a meeting because someone they disagree with is going to make a speech there, when they invade a venue with bullhorns so loud people have to leave, when they're sending death threats, or starting physical altercations, or setting things on fire, they're not behaving like progressives or conservatives, but like fascists. Regardless of what side of the aisle they're claiming to be from. Physical suppression of opposing speech is in fact textbook fascism.

There are legitimate ways to protests people and ideas you disagree with in a democratic society: boycotting an event. Writing against it. Picketing or demonstrating/counter-demonstrating. Rest assured you don't have to give them any trophy.

But what adults do is, and I know this is going to sound shocking, they talk to each other. Noam Chomsky debated William F. Buckley. William F. Buckley debated Gore Vidal (and famously lost in the eye of the nation by precisely failing to uphold civilized discourse). Malcolm X debated Martin Luther King Jr, and Martin Luther King Jr debated James J. Kilpatrick. Here in 2017 Cenk Uygur debated Ben Shapiro (...yes, this does not have the same ring to it as 1960s debates).

It is quite embarrassing that, almost 60 years ago, Doctor King could debate a segregationist on live television, while a visible segment of today's youth is reduced to hysterically yelling into a bullhorn (or worse) until people are forced to leave, just because of the perceived slight that someone is going to give a speech.

As a European who knows political trends tend to spill over across the ocean (both ways. We're still sorry for having given you a case of Acute Thatcherism, America), I am quite worried to see fascists not being opposed and denounced by the left simply because this time they are advancing under the mask of progressivism.


>We're still sorry for having given you a case of Acute Thatcherism, America

I've never heard a European apologize for this and didn't realize how much I wanted to until I did; thank you, we hope to one day recover.

And I agree with you to some extent. But many 'conservatives' today are not approaching these issues with any kind of intellectual honesty or a willingness to respect their opponents. When I think campus protests I think Milo, who spews hate with every turn and is in no way intellectual or thoughtful. I think of Richard Spencer, who should be shouted down. Our society hates neo-nazis and while we shouldn't be violent towards them, the clearer it can get that they are universally loathed the better. I should not have to sit and listen to someone advocate gassing minorities, for example, and sit there and politely debate. Their positions aren't reasonable and acknowledging them as a serious intellectual position and putting them on a stage is doing them a favor they should not get.


> So what you are saying is that there should be safe spaces for conservatives to express themselves? That conservatives should be welcomed for their diversity? That conservstives should be given a participation trophy and honored for their special snowflake ideas?

Good grief. Diversity of every imaginable kind is good except for diversity of thought apparently. Whatever happened to "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.", which used to be one of the core principles of liberalism? Has the identity politics-driven faction of the left fallen to the point where that has been abandoned too?

And even if principle weren't a consideration (somehow), consider that even if one chooses to ignore conservative speech and attempt to deny conservatives platforms from which they may speak, they do not magically wink out of existence. In fact, it may galvanize them, as the Democratic Party found to its sorrow in recent elections. Continuing to exclude and deny the beliefs of half the country is a recipe for political suicide, so the sooner that the mainstream left expels the identity politics faction, the better.


A simple "yes" would suffice. All you have to do is admit that diversity is good and you'll get your diversity of ideology there for free. All you have to do is admit that creating safe spaces can be good or necessary, and you can argue for safe spaces for conservatives to speak their minds.

The point isn't that you shouldn't be allowed to express yourself (you should! There should be a safe space for conservatives on campus! There are many in fact, they're called the local frat house, young republicans club, economics study group, bible study) the point is that when you argue that you should be able to do so you use the same arguments conservatives so nastily deride like diversity, participation trophies, snowflakes, safe spaces, etc.


> A simple "yes" would suffice.

Kind of you to put words in my mouth but I'm quite able speak for myself. My answer is a resounding "NO". As a liberal, I say we should all find the notion of "safe spaces" odious and contemptible; while we are not required to accept all ideas, there is no idea that may not be discussed and analyzed out in the open, no matter how wrong or unpalatable it may be.

What will it take for your particular faction to comprehend that you cannot _exclude_ your way to power? How many more elections must you lose before it sinks in?


If you think Trump winning had anything to do with safe spaces or whatever gamergate alt-right concerns the 18-34 tech male demographic cares about instead of blatant abject failures of the Democratic party (nominating a horrible candidate and running a horrible campaign), well I've got a bridge to sell you.

Nobody should let Trump winning convince them "well, maybe we should have been more racist".

Safe spaces are not contemptible at all; people who deny them are. Who are you to say I cannot organize with my friends in a place where I let people talk about their problems free of criticism and hate for a moment? Maybe a rape survivor wants to spend a while talking about her experiences with people who are willing to be supportive without having alt-right protesters screaming at her calling her a slut and telling her she deserved it? You can pretend this is about intellectualism, but we all know it isn't; they are about hate and harassment and vile people spewing vile vitriol at others.

And I don't advocate excluding ideas, rather refusing to give ideas that don't deserve respect or attention respect or attention.


It's not a yes. A safe space is a safe free from criticism. Conservatives don't want or need safe spaces. They need spaces free from literal violence and from social violence (calls to firing, disruption of free assemblies, ostrichsization, etc.). Trying to equate these things does not make you clever.

> All you have to do is admit that diversity is good and you'll get your diversity of ideology there for free.

You seemed to have missed the point. The author of the treatise lives in an environment where diversity is widely seen as good and does not feel that he enjoys diversity of ideology. Your point is already disproven by OP.


>A safe space is a safe free from criticism. Conservatives don't want or need safe spaces. They need spaces free from literal violence and from social violence (calls to firing, disruption of free assemblies, ostrichsization, etc.).

No, they don't want a safe space. They want something much more than that, they want a platform to be given to them. Conservatives are free to sit in private in a frat house or country club and talk about how women are dumb all they want (they do, in fact, all around the country!). But of course they want more. They want to be able to say whatever they damn please, no matter how nasty or non-intellectual, and have people listen to them. They want universities to pay for their security and host them in huge lecture halls, giving a tacit endorsement of them as intellectual figures. They want to be able to publish a manifesto at their work describing how they think their coworkers of a certain gender are too stupid to be here and before you call me sexist look at these statistics I am citing while having no qualifications to talk with any expertise about any of these issues.

I actually don't particularly agree with his firing, because I fundamentally disagree with allowing for the tyranny that is the non-unionized American workplace. Imagine if he were poor and couldn't immediately sprint into the alt-right women-hating neo nazi youtube circuit (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TN1vEfqHGro) and immediately apply for another tech job. In that case, speaking his mind politically would be suicide (perhaps literally, as he'd lose his health insurance).

So yes, I too disagree with allowing business to fire their employees without cause -- google shouldn't be able to fire its workers for their political positions, and this should be solidified explicitly in a union agreement or government regulation. Google also shouldn't be allowed to force their employees to submit to drug tests, for example. Or to fire their employees for not working weekends. Or for "not stepping up enough" or for a lack of "culture fit".


Summers was put in a struggle session and fired for pointing out an obvious hypothesis that has psychometric backing.

Your ideology is ascendant. Congrats. But please don't tell me destroying someone's earning capacity is a micro aggression.

And know, this can't last. This strange moral fad will pass: our modern Lysenkoism is about to be killed by cognitive genomics.

The lies require constant maintenance while the truth drips in from every pore.


Thank you for introducing me to the term Lysenkoism.


I don't see what's micro about losing your job for wrongthink.


> I don't see what's micro about losing your job for wrongthink.

I admit this is my first time hearing the term "wrongthink" but I assume this means something along the lines of "thinking the wrong thing".

If that's true, then nobody loses their job for wrongthink. What they lose it for is actually acting on it, which i guess you could call wrongdoing.

Take for example, sexual harassment. It's okay to find your coworker sexually attractive, and also okay to think about them in a sexual manner, but to openly say something without regard for whether it would make them uncomfortable is not okay.


Wrongthink is a play on some of the Newspeak terms in George Orwell's 1984, it roughly equates to a thoughtcrime.

Sexual harassment, discrimination, racism and personal attacks absolutely do not belong in the workplace.

The usual advice is to keep politics out of the workplace, but "progressive" ideals are often the default with nobody batting an eyelid. You run the risk of being marked as a non culture fit if you ever voice opposition to or question "progressive" talking points or assertions. I'm not even talking about actionable slights against other staff here, just a difference of opinion which people seem to interpret as a personal attack.

An example would be somebodies thoughts on affirmative action or other methodologies to try and create a more "diverse" environment. Regardless of your intentions, I still see it as a kind of discrimination. I dread to think how uncomfortable I would be knowing that I was a diversity hire, and some arbitrary box I fit in was the reason for my hiring rather than my skills and experience. Its why I have kept it quiet at work that I'm gay, I don't want people walking on eggshells around me, thinking I'm going to flip out at some perceived slight.

I personally also see the diversity-friendly hiring practises as a bit of a bodge, if you believe that under-representation of certain groups is not the correct, natural equilibrium of how things should be, wouldn't it make more sense to try and fix it at the root cause, during peoples social development and education? I understand the value of role models but it seems like there are probably more direct factors at play.

As a child I can't think of anything that would make you more of a social paraih than an interest that is considered "nerdy", from my experience boys get it a bit easier with such interests and attract a bit less derision. Girls seem to be even less understanding when it comes to that kind of interest, especially from other girls. I can very easily see how that kind of social feedback would make you think twice about pursuing certain interests. I didn't really have that many friends growing up, and largely didn't give a shit about what other people thought of me, so I pursued whatever I found interesting and useful.

Sorry if this comment is a bit scatterbrained, its a bit difficult for me to collect my thoughts on the subject, there is a lot to talk about and I feel the need to try and justify my views before I get pecked apart for being a bigot.


I work for Google, opinions are my own.

I completely agree that affirmative action kind of backfires in some ways. I'm not entirely sure what the solution to that is.

> I dread to think how uncomfortable I would be knowing that I was a diversity hire, and some arbitrary box I fit in was the reason for my hiring rather than my skills and experience.

This was actually brought up by a woman at one of the TGIFs at Google and the response was that we don't hire people just because they fit into some arbitrary category. I do think that we make an attempt to get a more diverse group of people into the application pipeline, but you certainly wouldn't be hired just for the sake of diversity. That doesn't stop people, even within the company, from being misinformed however.

> As a child I can't think of anything that would make you more of a social paraih than an interest that is considered "nerdy", from my experience boys get it a bit easier with such interests and attract a bit less derision. Girls seem to be even less understanding when it comes to that kind of interest, especially from other girls. I can very easily see how that kind of social feedback would make you think twice about pursuing certain interests. I didn't really have that many friends growing up, and largely didn't give a shit about what other people thought of me, so I pursued whatever I found interesting and useful.

I think that Google does try to do this. This is why we have many programs encouraging women to get into CS majors and the such, because like you say, it's difficult to get more diverse hires if the application pool is not diverse.


It's from Orwell's 1984: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thoughtcrime

>nobody loses their job for wrongthink

By definition, to use the term to describe a behavior at all implies that someone (specifically who depends on the wording, of course) considers that behavior termination-worthy.

[Edit: I'm having trouble putting this into words. Let me try again.

The point of using this term is to remind your listener of the novel and imply that the situation being discussed is similar, i.e., that there exists an near-omnipotent authority that is willing and capable to punish you for actions that any reasonable person would consider innocuous.

In 1984, it would be Ingsoc punishing people for thinking party-proscribed thoughts. In the current context, it might be BigCo punishing people for expressing their thoughts about hiring practices.

One could go on all day about there being a difference between thinking a thought and emailing your company, whether that difference is quantitative or qualitative, and whether the comparison to the novel is valid. But then one would be missing the point, which is simply that whoever used the term considers the comparison valid.]


actions that any reasonable person would consider innocuous.

What is said in the post is certainly the kind of thing it's reasonable to lose friends and possibly family members over, and certainly acquaintances. The kind of thing you hear at a party and decide not to make friends with someone. Despite it being -- or maybe because it's -- not even very well argued, if it's even possible to do so, which I don't think it is.

It's funny that work is pretty much the only place it's proposed that the words not entertain a reaction. This person affects hiring decisions and performance reviews!


> nobody loses their job for wrongthink

Except, of course, that people actually do. We have laws against termination for political viewpoints in this country and hundreds of cases are successfully prosecuted every year. People do lose their jobs for wrongthink and sometimes they win lawsuits and their former employers are prosecuted for it. Of course, as these things go, some people also probably lose their job for the same reason and fail to pursue or win a lawsuit.


...or being officially stereotyped (privileged, overrepresented). Or being explicitly excluded (mentioned several times in the article).


Do you believe in the term, "culture fit?" How Google responds to this describes theirs. If you say that "it's different," or, "it depends on the department," then that's just a difference of degree, not of kind.


Not personally, no. But the majority of workplaces do, and one has to act in accordance with that and self censor.

I'm more interested in outcomes rather than the way somebody works and thinks.


Who has lost their job for wrongthink?


Nobel Prize winner James Watson

Nobel Prize winner Tim Hunt

Harvard President Lawrence Summers

are the three that immediately come to mind.



I've heard from several people who knew James Watson personally that he was completely off his rocker. He lost his position because he was a total embarrassment, this wasn't the PC police at work. No opinion about the other names.


I believe it, although that makes me think they should have found a more dignified way to retire him than turn him into a pariah.


Brendan Eich.


When extremely powerful people like that lose their jobs, everyone else gets the message.


What message? That you either think what the majority tells you to think, or they'll ruin you? Not exactly winning hearts and minds.


Summers lost his job as university president because he alienated a significant portion of the faculty by making dramatic political decisions without buy-in from the rest of the community. (Firing popular administrative staff, diverting budget from long-running projects with internal political support, getting in aggressive fights with influential faculty members, etc.) Overall he made for a divisive and relatively ineffective leader of the university. His poorly considered sex differences comments were just a convenient excuse to put someone more politically savvy and charismatic in as a leader.

Additionally, it’s hard to feel bad for him as the way he “lost his job” was by being offered an extraordinarily prestigious named professorship (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvard_University_Professor), giving him the ability to work on pretty much whatever he wants for the rest of his life, with a great salary, benefits, etc., and with few required duties.


Do you think he would not have been fired for his comments if he had been popular / well-regarded in his role as president? What does it mean that you can basically be terrible at your job but not get fired until you express a minor deviation from orthodox thought?


Yes, that is correct. I don’t think the same comments would have gotten him removed as president if he hadn’t already otherwise lost political support from many in the faculty. Obviously even a widely supported and popular university president making such tactless comments would have still created a public firestorm, but I don’t think it would have been an insurmountable problem.

I think he would have been removed (or removed himself) as university president sooner or later regardless given his other political blunders, but it might have taken a few years longer. As I mentioned, the comments about sex differences provided a convenient excuse and rallying point for his critics.

I wouldn’t say he was “terrible” at his job. Naïve, undiplomatic, and bull-headed, with good intentions but without enough political skill to persuade his opponents to follow him or enough empathy to understand their objections and moderate his positions.

Disclaimer: I was a first year undergraduate at the time, and my understanding comes from talking to various people at Harvard during and after the controversy, including both critics and supporters of Summers. I wasn’t well enough connected to be the ideal first-hand source about this topic.


There was also that scientist involved in the Mars landings that wore an anime shirt.


I only know of the case of a Matt Taylor, who was part of the Rosetta project (land a probe on a comet) that was branded a sexist for wearing a shirt given to him by a woman.


Yes! You're right. We are speaking about the same person. My mistake.


PyCon 2013 joke incident might also qualify. Everyone lost there - both the accuser and the accused lost their jobs.


I think there's a bit of a difference in conservatives complaining about their ideas not being honestly considered and being excluded because of (perceived) groupthink, and claims like saying "America is the land of opportunity" or wearing a sombrero or making a burrito while being white as "aggression", micro or not. If the question were about some people, out of sexist or other considerations, would exclude feminists from being considered the part of intellectual discourse, that complaint would not get much pushback. Most reasonable people would agree that feminists should have equal chance to present their case, and for it to be considered on merits. What gets significantly more pushback is widespread attempt to use "microagression" framework to police everyday conduct and "micro"-criminalize or shame routine behavior - food choices, activity choices, clothing choices, even how a person sits - it all can be "microagression". Microagressions are[1]: "Where are you from?", "America is a melting pot", "I believe the most qualified person should get the job.", presence of liquor stores in certain neighborhoods, commenting on certain behaviors (note there how telling person of one race about being loud and another about being quiet is aggression, but the reverse is not, because obviously everything depends on the race!) posting a funny picture about Obama[2], or "Statements that indicate that a White person does not want to or need to acknowledge race" and "statement made when bias is denied"[3]. I think there's a bit of a difference here between the complaints.

[1] http://sph.umn.edu/site/docs/hewg/microaggressions.pdf [2] http://time.com/32618/microaggression-is-the-new-racism-on-c... [3] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/201...


I noticed that as well. I find it interesting that the alt-right has started to embrace so much of modern feminist/liberal terminology and tacitly accepted so many of the premises.

The modern alt-right conservative: "I don't believe in safe spaces, but please stop bullying me!"


This is incredibly disingenuous. Much of the left considers simple disagreement to be micro-aggression, while at the same time finding it perfectly acceptable to launch hate-filled screeds of animosity and hatred at anyone who doesn't toe the line, e.g. "You're a fucking animal that deserves to be put down!!"

Your comment implicitly supports this sort of misbehavior, implying that any complaint by an "alt-righter" is just whining and carries no legitimacy.

Both the far left and alt-right have adopted extremist positions and in general have nothing good to say about each other. Please don't legitimize hateful, unacceptable behavior from the left just because the alt-right has learned to play some of the same games.


As an actual leftist, and the type of person who is on HN, I'd like to say that what you are describing is not "the left" or "far left" by any reasonable definition. You are describing neoliberal centrists, which can still contain extremists (are we calling this the "alt-center" now? I'm not sure, it's kinda dumb). Political spectrum and how extreme the tactics one uses are orthogonal.


> This is incredibly disingenuous.

> Much of the left considers simple disagreement to be micro-aggression...

Tone down on the hypocrisy. If you want your side's arguments to be evaluated fairly, don't make ridiculous oversimplifications of the other side's positions.


Reading the lists of micro-aggressions, like this: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/201... one can not fail to notice that some of them are clearly political disagreements and that disagreeing with the left tribe dogmas is declared to be micro-aggression there. I can agree that this is ridiculous, but apparently whoever wrote those lists does not think so.


Have you tried actually disagreeing with leftists?

Many can handle it fine and have a decent discussion. But many will explode in self righteous rage and do all the things people blinded by hate do.


This is my experience as well. On the right, extremists tend to sort of "clam up" and just stop engaging in meaningful dialogue. On the left, they tend to attack the person challenging them.

I say this as as extreme libertarian, so I have my share of disagreements with both.


It's hardly a 'simplification' when people on the left regularly use the kind of speech I described to attack people who disagree with them. The right is just as guilty, but the comment I responded to was giving the left a pass on it, which is what I object to.


They weren't giving the left a pass on it, they said the offended-right was using the same language.


To be fair, it was a reply to a comment pointing out hypocrisy with at least a bit of snark.


I'm not surprised by it at all, because I think it's not that they have started to embrace the premises but always did and used them as the foundation for their ideology.

It is, to generalize, a group of white, middle class people who were raised in this modern feminist/neo-liberal framework that struggled to translate very academic ideas into a pop culture suitable form. Those poor approximations got mutated by internet forum culture (tumblr and 4chan most famously, but it happened everywhere).

The alt-right people looked at this incoherent pop-ideology and, not totally unfairly, saw it as saying that race and culture are the same and are very real, unless you are white. Sex and gender are the same, are real for men but a constructed form of oppression for women. It's not a fair description of the actual ideas, but the pop-ideology was and is an incoherent mess. So a group of mostly middle class, mostly white and mostly men rejected the parts they didn't like and used the incoherent aspects that benefited them as weapons. The parts they did like remain unexamined, so while they ridicule the language used by their "enemies" they still think inside that ideology.


Could you explicate the last part a little more? I'm interested in understanding the argument but I don't quite follow.


I just commented about this elsewhere, but my take is that some people who previously resisted identity politics finally threw up their hands and decided to accept it, as someone being attacked. So the hypocrisy and contradictions are better understood as protecting their own people from aggression.

As in, the substance of the argument is less important than the parties involved.

As in, "So women have special interest groups and dedicated clubs? Fine. Then it's OK for men to work to get their seat at the table, too." This explains a lot of the eagerness for leaders who know how to "fight". It also explains the lack of caring around ideological hypocrisy. It's like lawyer logic on some level:

"My client was not in town that night. And if he was in town, he did not borrow the mower. And if he did borrow the mower, it was with the consent of the plaintiff. And at any rate, the mower was already broken. And if it wasn't already broken, it broke itself."

...the important part of the argument is the defense of that particular client, not the logical coherence of the narrative.


There is that disingenuous aspect to it for sure. But there are true believers as well.

To take racism as an example, if you grew being told that racism means race-based prejudice and it is wrong and that one can be racist against anyone but a white person, you say "that's ridiculous".

The actual idea behind that is that racism is more than simple prejudice and crucially includes a societal power differential between two groups. And that race is a constructed concept and very important because society is structured around it, valid or not.

The pop explanation implies we are engaging in collective punishment against whites and men because of current and historical wrongs. That's wrong, but a lot of people on every side believe it. You almost couldn't have designed a situation better to create a new white nationalist and anti-feminist movement if you tried.


Fair point, I was trying to keep it short as no one wants to read essay length comments. Which aspect of that last part? The messy pop-culture version of academic discussions of race/gender, the alt-right use of them, both?


> I find it interesting that the alt-right has started to embrace so much of modern feminist/liberal terminology and tacitly accepted so many of the premises.

The alt-right, to some degree, is a movement that has accepted the framework of progressive identity politics and has decided that they better start fighting for themselves, too. The complaint about safe spaces is an argument about equality and power ("If I don't get safe spaces, nobody does!") than an argument from principle.

I find the whole thing distasteful, but I can understand why if someone finds identity politics a foregone conclusion why they would start fighting on the battle lines they think were drawn for them.

So I'm not sure how to get out of this mess, but I think a first step is trying to understand people, even if they're wrong.


There's a difference between asking not to be fired because somebody overheard and misunderstood your conversation as being "microagression" and asking mentioning anything that might upset you to be proscribed. In fact, the persons doing the latter are very likely to be the perpetrators, and not the victims, in the former. So it's completely logical - what they are saying is "we do not believe in declaring everything that we disagree with is violence and should be purged from existence, and we do not want to be purged from existence because we think so". I think there's nothing wrong in such opinion.


Many on the right now use that terminology to implicitly underscore contradictions in those belief systems.

I think it would be a mistake to believe that they subscribe to those viewpoints. Rather, a core characteristic of conservativism is a desire for rules to be followed and equally enforced. Pointing out places where the left is inconsistent is their way of discrediting those views.


What surprises you about this? Historically speaking, it seems high time for a synthesis to arise.

I'm not sure what you find incompatible in "I don't believe in safe spaces" and "please stop bullying me". Hiding from bullies is a tacit concession. Confronting them is not. You might confront a bully and lose, but you might confront a bully and win, too.

Many at least - I think most if not all - who embraced the "alt-right" label, before its cynical and unjust equation by their enemies with Nazism, perceive themselves to be and have been bullied by those with whom they have the intolerable temerity to disagree. But those safe spaces which they have attempted to establish have not been permitted the conventional inviolability, but rather been gleefully invaded and their inhabitants shamed and castigated without scruple. Why "believe in safe spaces" when you are not permitted to have them, but rather encouraged with great firmness to accept that only once you have surrendered your dissent, and publicly abased yourself in hope of expiation for the sins you now forswear, will there be even a chance you may be allowed to feel safe?

As in every case where bullies run rampant and are unchecked by any impartial force majeure, the only passive defense has been invisibility, and it is very hard to remain unseen indefinitely. Your enemies only have to be good, or lucky, for a moment. You have to be good, and lucky, all the time. When you inevitably slip, or when your good fortune inevitably runs out, you are at their mercy. The social, educational, vocational, and even legal consequences can be severe - and, worse, it is not in your power whether they will be or won't be. But, like any bully, they're probably going to work you over that much harder for making them go to the effort of catching you, instead of politely submitting yourself for violation like a good little victim.

And as with any bully, there's no merit in what they do to you. No doubt every bully imagines himself enforcing some sort of right ordering upon society, in whatever sphere his power enables him to encompass. But this is a lie. The bully does what he does to his victim because his victim cannot or will not be what the bully demands he be. But even this is a lie. In truth the bully does what he does because he can, and because it's easy, and because it brings him pleasure.

Some grow out of this over time. Not all do. And power is seductive. It can easily betray you into doing things to others which you would never suffer upon yourself. It can give you any number of reasons for the former to seem virtuous even though the latter is iniquitous. The danger comes in the difficulty of differentiating this betrayal from reality. There are times when it truly is virtuous to, for example, break someone's nose, and times when it truly is iniquitous. Standing up to a bully, for example, bears virtue. Imagining one stands up to a bully, while in fact behaving as a bully oneself, does not. It is vitally important for everyone, but especially everyone with the power to crowdsource the sort of vengeful mob that can so easily destroy someone's social and professional and educational life, to bear this distinction sharply in mind. To fail in so doing risks erring into shameful, unjust, indeed frankly abusive behavior. And I suspect there are few on any side of any political divide who would be willing to argue that abusive behavior merits tolerance from those whom it would make its victims.


The intellectual contortion required to get from the premise to the conclusion is actually quite impressive.

> On average, men and women biologically differ in many ways. These differences aren’t just socially constructed because:

> They’re universal across human cultures

Except the gender ratio in science/engineering is anything but universal across cultures. 70% of science/engineering students in Iran are women: https://www.forbes.com/sites/amyguttman/2015/12/09/set-to-ta.... Indeed, in many parts of the world that are not known for being "liberal" with regard to gender equality, women make up a significantly higher percentage of the scientific workforce than in the U.S.: http://www.catalyst.org/knowledge/women-science-technology-e... (44% in Latin America, 40% in Eastern Europe, 37% in the Arab states).

In the Soviet Union, a majority of engineers were women; after the fall that proportion went way down (from 60% to 40%): http://www.asee.org/public/conferences/20/papers/6985/downlo....

> Openness directed towards feelings and aesthetics rather than ideas. Women generally also have a stronger interest in people rather than things, relative to men (also interpreted as empathizing vs. systemizing).

If this were true, shouldn't women's interest in CS be going up now that the web is all about feelings/aesthetics/social? Programming, in my view, is actually in the middle in the "people versus things" spectrum. It's much more about people than, say, math. And of course, 45% of math majors are women, so I'm not sure how that fits into the author's theory.

> Women on average are more cooperative

Maybe, but does the degree of that effect explain the observed differences in representation? Tech is actually very cooperative. Compare, for example, litigation, which is all about confrontation and acrimony. But a third (and growing) of all litigators are women!


> Except the gender ratio in science/engineering is anything but universal across cultures. 70% of science/engineering students in Iran are women: https://www.forbes.com/sites/amyguttman/2015/12/09/set-to-ta.... Indeed, in many parts of the world that are not known for being "liberal" with regard to gender equality, women make up a significantly higher percentage of the scientific workforce than in the U.S.: http://www.catalyst.org/knowledge/women-science-technology-e.... (44% in Latin America, 40% in Eastern Europe, 37% in the Arab states).

Later in the document he goes on to point out that gender disparities are greater in more liberal countries (e.g. great disparity in US than Iran, greater disparity in Finland than in the US). Interpreting this as our culture being somehow more oppressive (and then Finland's even more so) requires an "impressive level of intellectual contortion" - if anything it seems to be evidence that there are differences in preferences, and therefore greater freedom -> greater divergence.


Thing is, even within STEM area's, there are huge differences in m/f ratios. Computer science and engineering? Here in Belgium that sits at 10% female. Maths and other sciences make up for that when you only look at the big "STEM" picture.


> 70% of science/engineering students in Iran are women:

The Forbes site you reference cites a Quora post, which quotes a Wikipedia article. What the Wikipedia article actually says is that 373,415 out of 1.5 million engineering students in Iran are women, which is 24.9%, not 70%.

This is not that different from the 19-20% of engineering degrees awarded to women in the U.S.


Right now Wikipedia says:

One in four (26%) Iranian researchers is a woman, which is close to the world average (28%). In 2008, half of researchers were employed in academia (51.5%), one-third in the government sector (33.6%) and just under one in seven in the business sector (15.0%). Within the business sector, 22% of researchers were women in 2013, the same proportion as in Ireland, Israel, Italy and Norway.

Quoting this UNESCO report: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0023/002354/235406e.pdf

Looks like Forbes preferred to quote anonymous response on Quora instead, clearly considering it more authoritative source. After all, this is what distinguishes established press from amateurish projects like Wikipedia - they do thorough research and rigorous fact-checking before publishing something. Don't they?


The Forbes article is talking about majors, not practicing researchers.


OK, you are right. Seeing https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science_and_technology_in_Iran... however also does not reveal anything about 70%:

The most popular in 2013 were social sciences (1.9 million students, of which 1.1 million women) and engineering (1.5 million, of which 373 415 women). Women also made up two-thirds of medical students.

Also, practicing researchers probably would be much better metric than students - if the student graduates as STEM major but then does nothing of the sort, then it's not really so relevant for participation anymore. If we had such situation in US, we would reasonably ask what is preventing those student from entering the labor market and consider situation where the distribution is 70/30 outside of university and 25/75 on the labor market abnormal.


Thanks for checking it. Wikipedia accepts publications like Forbes as sources though, so misinformation in one can still end up in the other.


But what does the Wikipedia article cite? It isn't a source itself...


Agreed, it is a common trap of people who are 'smart' to assume their own reasoning is valid even without external confirmation. I appreciated that they included sources for their reasoning but I expect that if that was posted to the politics list inside Google it was probably sliced and diced several times. It apparently generated quite a bit of conversation there and my guess is a couple of 'centithreads' at least. It would be interesting to see the full discussion.

There were two very interesting discussions with similar sorts of intellectual gymnastics when I was there, one involved whether or not getting rid of bottled water helped the environment and the other how the phrase 'free tibet' was such a trigger for Chinese nationals.


Agreed, it is a common trap of people who are 'smart' to assume their own reasoning is valid even without external confirmation

Increasingly identified as "Engineer's Disease."


> Indeed, in many parts of the world that are not known for being "liberal" with regard to gender equality, women make up a significantly higher percentage of the scientific workforce than in the U.S

Because, unsurprisingly, they're also not very liberal with regard to women choosing their field of studies. Frequently, their parents decide for them.


Frequently, their parents decide for them.

As someone coming from Eastern Europe, that is sometimes the case, but it's not the biggest factor, which I believe is that life's harder there, and smart women chose whatever is going to give better income and job security. When women are free to chose whatever, because they believe their life will be fine regardless of whether they get that higher paying job in IT or that fun degree in Literature, they chose according to their real preference.


This is an interesting point. A harsher way to phrase this is, judging by empirical evidence thus far, it takes controlling, illiberal attitudes in order to hold the gap closed.


> 70% of science/engineering students in Iran are women

I know very little about gender issues in Iran, admittedly, but I would be very very careful making any social/cultural conclusions driven on a material from totalitarian and semi-totalitarian regimes where decisions of members of society are not free. I mean, how do we now that 70% figure is a result of a cultural choice and not some governmental program driven by whatever ideas the ruling caste has? You can not say it is about culture if it could be just a direct or indirect result of some or other edict from Powers That Be.

Update: also looks like 70% figure is a complete baloney, not based on anything but anonymous Quora postings. Wikipedia has different data (see my comment above) on par with data in other countries. If somebody has any respectable source for the 70% figure please quote it.


Graduation rates in CS have declined in US, from 37% in the 80's to 18% in recent years. http://www.randalolson.com/2014/06/14/percentage-of-bachelor....

18% percentage of graduates correlates quite well with the percentage of women in tech roles at large American-based corporations. Especially if we take in account the explosive growth of the field, which makes the numbers dominated by recent grads.

Google, 20%, https://www.google.com/diversity

Microsoft, 17.5%, https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/diversity/inside-microsoft/d...

Apple, 23%, https://www.apple.com/diversity

Amazon, ???, https://www.amazon.com/b/ref=tb_surl_diversity/?node=1008009..., no "tech-role" category.

Facebook, 19%, https://fbnewsroomus.files.wordpress.com/2017/08/fb_diversit...

A whole different discussion could be had around ratios within the foreign-born slice of the workforce, which further skew the numbers one way or another. Alas, I could not find the data.


What do you know about women in CS in Iran? How many of them end up working in CS? I wouldn't jump to conclusions just because you find such outliers. Some weird mechanisms might be driving such numbers (like people not being given a choice what to study, people being forced to study something useful because they can't afford to study literature or gender studies for fun, women studying just to meet men to marry, men having mostly died in a recent war, and so on...).

Edit: I am not allowed to comment anymore, so this Eintagsfliege (mayfly) will die now. Bye.


- you mean political and sociological forces that unnaturally perturb so called "natural trends"? If you claim Iran could potentially have such factors that encourage women to enter the field in "above-average" numbers, what allows you to wholesale eliminate similar factors when examining the situation within the borders of the United States that could cause women to enter the field in "below-average" numbers? What allows you to directly assume that one viewpoint is inherently more palatable besides your biased worldview?

Furthermore, your comment essentially only exists for you to cast doubt on the opposing viewpoint while bringing up common reactionary points of view that also have no evidence. You have no evidence that women in the United States "study literature or gender studies for fun" [1] or that "women just study something to meet men to marry". Not only are these ideas incredibly flawed, but you appear to have brought them up for no other reason that to further cast suspicion on the parent poster without actually addressing any of their claims. You just threw out ideas that people are likely to get up in a huff about.

[1] While I majored in CS in college, I also pursued a minor in critical theory. The people in that classroom were not taking those courses "for fun" any more than programmers took to their classes. They felt it was incredibly important to be able to dissect the immense amount of media we have in the world today and what it means. What are video games trying to say? Or modern films? What ideas do these share with bedrock pieces of literature that we've studied in critical theory again and again? Is it really so bad to enjoy that? Furthermore, gender studies is filled with people itching to try and discuss (and come to good conclusions about) THE VERY THINGS WE ARE ARGUING ABOUT RIGHT NOW. Isn't the fact that we spend so much time discussing such things nowadays evidence that it is a very real and important thing to study and discuss?


You make many assumptions here, on many different levels. Regarding parent's comment:

1. Iran was but one example of the uneven rates of participation in science. Of course there may be many interesting reasons for this. There are many reasons for most things.

2. Parent didn't actually jump to many conclusions as far as I can tell. You may be projecting. What conclusion did they make based on the 70%?

Finally, your list of factors that might influence the % of women studying science in Iran is weirdly general. Are those factors more prevalent in Iran than other places? Literature and gender studies are not alternatives to "useful" fields of study, they are useful. Culture matters. It's not just fun, it's hard and filled with contradictions and challenges. But you are right that it's not lucrative, and becoming less so. Maybe studying the arts is not so big in Iran as other countries and the sciences are more of a default choice?

Now maybe I'm the one projecting, but it feels like you want parent commenter to discount the 70% on the basis of some weak hypothetical guesswork about possible reasons to do so. This is how cognitive bias works. Answering the 70% question is interesting, and we should see what we can learn about it, and how that compares to our instincts.


> Literature and gender studies are not alternatives to "useful" fields of study, they are useful. Culture matters.

I believe "useful" in this context refers to having a higher chance of being able to land a job with a decent pay.

It's not unheard of parents of non affluent families trying hard to convince their children to pursue career paths that would give them certain economic self sufficiency rather than something they might like more, when economic success in that field is (perhaps incorrectly) perceived as a gamble.


That makes sense. So that WAS me projecting ;)


> I wouldn't jump to conclusions just because you find such outliers. Some weird mechanisms might be driving such numbers


Well do you know anything about what is going on in Iran? Then please share.


He's pointing out that you can use your argument as a counter-argument to yourself. As a result, your point is more or less moot, and all that remains is an appeal to cognitive bias (women enter these fields for "fun" or to find a husband, while men do it for the "real reasons" or something like that [1])

[1] The beauty of your vagueness is that it allows someone to inject whatever they believe is the "real cause" of the problem in the United States, perfectly allowing them to project their own bias upon your post as well. It also makes it difficult for someone else to counter it since they're not entirely sure what you're trying to say at all. An intriguing approach I must say.


I've had dozens of Iranian friends, most of them women engineers.

All of them in it for the love of science and engineering.


> The intellectual contortion required to get from the premise to the conclusion is actually quite impressive.

I read the whole thing differently than you did. What is the conclusion you are objecting to?


>> Openness directed towards feelings and aesthetics rather than ideas. Women generally also have a stronger interest in people rather than things, relative to men (also interpreted as empathizing vs. systemizing). If this were true, shouldn't women's interest in CS be going up now that the web is all about feelings/aesthetics/social?

Because they prefer to become nurses than CS working in front end.

I think you should think beyond CS and think about careers. There are things more cooperative and empathic than CS.


>> Openness directed towards feelings and aesthetics rather than ideas. Women generally also have a stronger interest in people rather than things, relative to men (also interpreted as empathizing vs. systemizing).

> If this were true, shouldn't women's interest in CS be going up now that the web is all about feelings/aesthetics/social?

It's the managers and marketing people that decide to make a website feeling/aesthetics/social oriented, and the graphics designers and artists and content writers that figure out what needs to be done to do that. From a CS point of view, a feelings/aesthetics/social website and a cold/ugly/inhuman website are pretty much the same--it's just a different set of assets they are given to display.

> Programming, in my view, is actually in the middle in the "people versus things" spectrum. It's much more about people than, say, math. And of course, 45% of math majors are women, so I'm not sure how that fits into the author's theory.

We like to pretend that CS and math are similar, or even that the former is part of the later, and perhaps that is even true when by "CS" we mean what, for example, Donald Knuth does. But for most of us working in industry, even if our degree says CS, we are really more technicians than scientists. I would expect the influences and abilities that might make one choose math and the influences and abilities that might make one chose CS at most schools to be fairly different. (At schools where the CS program is highly theoretical and rigorous, I'd expect more overlap).

Has there been any research on the kinds of math that male mathematicians and female mathematicians tend toward? There's quite a bit of research showing women are better at verbal tasks and men better it spatial visualization tasks. I wonder if that translates into men tending more toward geometric kinds of math and women toward symbol manipulation kinds of math? (I'm using both "geometric" and "symbol manipulation" very loosely).

(Math preferences are kind of weird anyway. There is a fairly strong documented correlation between whether a mathematician is an algebraist or an analyst, and whether that mathematician eats corn on the cob in rows or a spiral. WTF?)

BTW, I'm still not convinced that people are asking the right question when they ask why aren't there more women in programming. I think the right question might better be why are there so many men in programming? Looking at the Wikipedia article on "Sex differences in cognition" [1], and the one on "Sex differences in emotional intelligence" [2], and just concentrating on the ones where they cite reasonably solid looking peer reviewed research, it looks to me like women actually come out ahead overall. What I mean by that is that the things women are better at seem to be things that will be more widely useful. E.g., good verbal ability helps with far more jobs than good spatial visualization.

I'd expect that in an ideal world that is free of discrimination, where people are limited in careers only by what they are interested in and their abilities compared to others competing for the same jobs, women would have more viable choices than men.

I suspect that programmers can be broken down into two groups:

1. People who are reasonably well rounded and have a variety of serious interests. They are into programming as a means to an end. It is a tool that can be used to help with their other interests. They might enjoy programming, and strive to be excellent at it, but it is not the main focus.

2. People who are interested in programming itself as their main interest. What their programs actually do is not all that important--it is the challenge and complexity and cleverness of the code itself that matters.

My guess is that the first group is going to have a much closer to balanced male/female ratio. The second group, for reasons similar to why males are much more prone to autism, is going to be overwhelmingly male. I also guess that this second group is fairly large, and this accounts for a non-trival amount of the male/female imbalance in programming as a whole.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_differences_in_cognition

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_differences_in_emotional_i...


Oh dear, this seems like a bit of an unwise thing to have written. Whether or not it's true, it's something you're Not Allowed to reason about, where "Not Allowed" is in the sense of PG's http://www.paulgraham.com/say.html .


This was an excellent read about how to deal with the irrationality and repression of mobs. Thanks.

Perhaps this is where anonymous speech is important as it allows the discussion of ideas without giving importance to the persons behind them. Of courae, allowing for the fact that nothing can be truly anonymous :)


> Perhaps this is where anonymous speech is important

I'd like to rebut that point as we have anonymous, mainstream means to socialize nowadays. Chaotic (4chan) and moderated (mediums like Hacker News).

Users speak truth to power all the time on these platforms, is it effective? eh.

IMO there is a lot of value in these words coming from someone (from google) who is clearly switched-on, yet has A LOT to lose. Either the discussion is presented to the general populace and we accept it and learn from it, or the google employee becomes a martyr.

Either way, the fallout of this document is what interests me.


I agree that giving someone an unfair advantage because of their gender or race is a form of discrimination. Gender and race are just two of many factors that individuals might struggle with when it comes to their career and life.

If you're an introvert, short, fat, nerdy-looking or you have a weak posture; there's no support group to offset your shortcomings and all the insidious ways in which they will sabotage your career! It's no coincidence that CEOs look like and talk like CEOs - We live in a superficial world and we are animals; there is no need to moralise things; it might just come across as hypocrisy.


When you have a culture where more than 40 million people live below the poverty line and even wealthy people can be bankrupted by medical conditions, debates about workplace privilege seem like a niche form of special pleading.

The US economy is a monstrous engine powered by discrimination and inequality. Discrimination against (mostly) college educated women who might want to be developers is barely a footnote in the much wider political picture where access to high quality education, business development opportunities, housing, and health care, are so strictly rationed they might as well not exist for a depressingly large percentage of the population.

If discrimination is wrong, then it's wrong for everyone. If it's only wrong when some people are affected by it, then it's still discrimination - and the argument is really about which kinds of discrimination are socially acceptable, which aren't, and to whom.


Very true, it's completely arbitrary in the grand scheme of things and it doesn't deserve so much limelight. If it's a problem in one company, then the discussion should be kept within the confines of the one company instead of making it everyone's fault and everyone's problem. It's preemptively biasing us to overcompensate in areas that are already very well compensated.


While I agree with you, the article did not mention that any unfair advantage was being given to women yet I've seen so many claim this.

Instead it says "the author argues that women are underrepresented in tech not because they face bias and discrimination in the workplace, but because of inherent psychological differences between men and women. "

So instead it just seems to be arguing that there is no disadvantage in what may appear to be unfair.

It also says "Google’s political bias has equated the freedom from offense with psychological safety, but shaming into silence is the antithesis of psychological safety."

That seems super subjective unless the author has some concrete examples. While they may be right, if we policied everything other people said so that any one person would feel comfortable expressing an unpopular opinion... I don't think the author wants to open that can of worms?


> the article did not mention that any unfair advantage was being given to women yet I've seen so many claim this

It does mention promotion preferences and special groups.


According to Google "For example, we took action when we saw that women in tech were less likely to self-nominate for promotions."

Sounds more like recognizing an imbalance than special promotions


Don't give unfair advantages based on gender/race, but do prioritize finding individuals of diverse gender/race whom meet your criteria. It will make you more successful in the long run.


I was talking to coworker who recently transferred from China to the US. He told me that China is will dominate the US because diversity is the greatest US weakness.

Kind of shocking because our company is about 1/3 White, Indian and Chinese. But he doesn't see that as diversity. I think that is the answer that he can't see. Once groups accept each other as equals diversity becomes a non-issue. It does take work and there are lot of people who are not ready.

In addition, China is not one culture. It has many but maybe they are not as visible? I suspect secretly they are still very active behind closed doors.

In general, I feel that many immigrants have come from societies that are much more homogeneous. When they see US racial or gender problems some think that it's a weakness. I think that these problems can (and will) be solved but I can understand that given their upbringing they see it as an unsolvable problem.

Unfortunately, I don't think mandatory "busting unconscious bias" training will work for everyone. For some, their bias is just too deep. In time, I think many come around but some will never change. Unfortunately, they do hold a lot of power and when you report to one, you can find yourself setup to fail before you know it.

I've said this before: Women, please don't put up with stuff and don't give up. Please seek out a mentor who can help you become an executive in the company. The best way to fix this is to rise above it. It is not easy but please don't give up.

And for the "people against affirmative action", there are other ways to address your concerns. You can ask harvard to accept donations to increase class sizes. When some all-male colleges started accepting women, they doubled the class size. Please don't make it a race war. Harvard really only cares about money (and reputation). Find out what they want in order to get what you want. You don't have to take slots from people escaping a 300-year cycle of poverty. No it is not your fault, but it is your country (for better or for worse).


I appreciate everything you said. It was tough for me studying an engineering degree in college but since then working has been a breath of fresh air. I feel I owe a lot of that to the spirit of professionalism within companies.

It's interesting your Chinese friend said that. I recently found out that unless you are ethnically Chinese, even if you are born in China you aren't a citizen.. correct me if I'm wrong. I feel like a big reason why America will continue to thrive - because it values innovation over particular attributes of the people involved.

More than 1/3 of top tech companies in the US are started by immigrants. http://www.businessinsider.com/top-tech-companies-founded-by...


How many tech companies are started by women?


> I was talking to coworker who recently transferred from China to the US. He told me that China is will dominate the US because diversity is the greatest US weakness.

Has said coworker seen the research which suggests diversity increases company performance? http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-...


The study doesn't control for companies are probably much more likely to have Diversity Programs if they are doing really well.

Sounds like a study that finds people who buy Rolexes live longer. It's not the Rolex: it's that only rich people who have money to take care of themselves well can afford a Rolex.


Or perhaps bigger companies that have better financial results simply get extra cash to spend on hiring people that they don't need in terms of directly solving business problems, but that improve the company's public image.


There is that study that indicates that facts don't change opinion.

(There is a scene in BSG where Six tells Guys that maybe Boomer doesn't know she is a cyclon; what will happen (to you) when she finds out? I've tried and boy it can get seriously painful very quickly. Sometimes it is better to leave the fixing to the professionals. The other name for freedom fighter is terrorist.)


Can anybody explain to me why it is called "anti-diversity" or even "sexist"[1]? Never in the whole document the author argues against diversity.

[1] https://www.recode.net/2017/8/5/16102476/google-diversity-vp...


It's a product of the left/right divide in modern American politics. It's mostly a dog whistle so the other side knows he is ok to unperson.


Well, this is an issue that I would never have dared to tackle, myself, mainly because I do not have the political skill to do it safely. So, I offer a thank-you and a salute to the less inhibited guy who rose up and drew the first bullet. Now that I have had a chance to read this and observe the public reaction, my own views have developed further.

I was already of the opinion that the various -ism movements each represent a form of discrimination themselves, towards the inverse set of people that they represent. That starts to become a problem when there are people in the intersection of many inverse sets of -isms. This time, let's not create another -ism; let's not make "counterminorityism" just another thing to bash people over the head with.

Instead, it is time to design a continuous reintegration process for our network of distinctive identity groups, to ensure that they do not become incompatible over time. We need a social/psychological framework for identifying and rectifying arbitrary imbalances of resources and social power, because that is a common theme in the root causes of all of the -isms. We need to acknowledge our culture's memes [1] as an increasingly powerful force, worthy of serious study and possibly even regulation or open engineering; take a close look at the psychological manipulation of advertising, to see why this is needed.

This true unification, for lack of a more specific word, would likely be every bit as disruptive to current social and economic structures as the decline of slavery; most powerful organizations would prefer to play meaningless games with the -isms, perhaps even play one minority off of another [2] to prevent a unification. It is something that we will have to develop from the ground up, and develop over time, with collaboration from all fields and all identities. As you can see, at this point, my (our?) feelings and thoughts on the matter are still rough, unpolished, in a state of growth. We need to start seriously thinking about these things, lest we find ourselves on the losing side of a new -ism.

[1] Ideas, beliefs and themes that persist in our collective psyche, not animated gifs.

[2] We are all in a minority. If you aren't, then that is your minority, and you get no love, no assistance, because of what you are. Welcome to the minorities.


I'm amazed that people are seriously upset by someone publishing that.

Somehow, most of the women I know don't complain about harassment much. The one who does complain mostly gets it from her female boss. The one in SF tech says that Uber people tend to be jerks but the rest of the industry there isn't bad. The one from France has more problems with age than with sex. The lawyer has had some annoyances, but finds it useful to be underestimated by the other side. The ocean lifeguard fought her way onto the L.A. County lifeguards (competitive with no special allowances for women, and few women make it; this is the real-world Baywatch) and is proud that some macho guys apologized to her.

This probably reflects that they're all horse people. Once you're used to dealing with somewhat pushy half-ton animals, microaggressions aren't a big deal.


> Somehow, most of the women I know don't complain about harassment much.

It does not seem productive to trivialize and disregard people's issues only because we haven't witnessed them ourselves.

Indeed this attitude is actually why an internal group where people can report sexist, racist, and other inappropriate behavior is called "Yes at Google", because so many people thought this kind of thing doesn't happen, or at least it wouldn't at Google.


It does not seem productive to trivialize and disregard people's issues only because we haven't witnessed them ourselves.

There's a difference between trivializing or disregarding particular complaints, vs questioning just how representative they are of the broader situation.


yes-at-google had some really ugly stuff when they started out, but then everyone run out of stashed stories, and it's been almost exclusively petty issues for the past few weeks, and most of which look like people acting in good faith, just genuinely unaware of the impact having on the reporting person. Looks like the really bad stuff doesn't actually happen all that often.

Thing is, life in general is filled with stuff that makes people uneasy, but you always have to judge the intent before you can condemn the behavior. The y-a-g format is completely opposite of this.


A 2011 Norwegian documentary series had an episode called "The Gender Paradox" that examined this very issue in depth with interviews with evolutionary biologists, neuroscientists, psychologists and sociologists. It arrived at the conclusion that employment disparities increase in many professional fields due to natural divergent proclivities when socio-economic opportunities become equal for the sexes.

ON AVERAGE in Norway (one of the top 5 most equal countries), females prefer more people-oriented fields such as medicine and males will favor more systems-oriented fields such as engineering. Again, this is ON AVERAGE. There are major overlaps in many fields (e.g. arts and research sciences) - and in some fields there is virtually none (e.g. nursing vs sanitation). This is not controversial amongst scientists who do their best to suspend ideological or wishful thinking.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5LRdW8xw70


He started out well, but about halfway through meandered into bullshit. Bad data, cherry picked data, incorrect incorrect understanding of the science, incorrect conclusions -- he even referenced the Cultural Marxism Conspiracy theory: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankfurt_School#Cultural_Marx...

By the time we hit "why we're blind" he's gone fully off the rails.

I sympathize with him -- and even agree with several points, but he did himself a huge disservice here.


Why do you call Cultural Marxism a conspiracy theory? Have you actually read through any of the papers being pumped out by humanities departments in academia? Not only is marxism on full display, it's actively promoted. Hell, it's one of the foundational elements of Critical Theory.


Nutter indeed.


Google (and other tech employers) wants to discriminate in favor of hiring more female engineers, because teams with a little bit higher ratio of female engineers work better overall, even if individual female engineers are not the best individual contributors on their teams.

However, openly stating that Google wants to discriminate in favor of females - is illegal.

So Google uses double-speak and encourages hiring more females under "affirmative action" and "diversity" guidelines.

Not everyone understands double-speak, so there is disconnect between what Google is trying to do and opinions on the ground ("why do we discriminate against males in favor of females?").

That disconnect results in internal popularity of "Anti-Diversity" papers like this.


Or maybe Google wants to hire more female engineers because they realize that 19% representation does not reflect any kind of natural proclivity and therefore must reflect some kind of discrimination. One might plausibly argue that innate differences - more in preference rather than ability - could account for a small difference. 55:45? OK, I can believe that. 60:40? Beginning to wonder. 81:19? Absolutely not.

Where discrimination clearly exists, Google could quite reasonably want to compensate for it. No, not by lowering the bar or setting quotas. Legality aside, we should all know by now that hiring less able candidates isn't good for anyone - often least of all for the candidate who is being set up to fail. Other approaches include casting a wider net, training interviewers to avoid unconscious bias that could lead to false negatives, increasing retention by providing support and additional training (e.g. in negotiating techniques at performance-review time).

None of these lead to anyone less qualified overtaking anyone who is more so. They drive people like the "echo chamber" author nuts only because those people refuse to acknowledge that the problem exists (or matters) in the first place. Because they can't conclusively pin either the problem or solution down to one place in our social code, they decide it's a feature rather than a bug. It's the very same tendency that makes them - and anyone who enables or defends them - crappy engineers. I'll bet "echo chamber" guy was on the way out already, for reasons unrelated to political beliefs. It's not "brave" to manufacture an excuse for getting canned that doesn't require acknowledgement of one's own insufficiency.


TL;DR

Some guy not only speaks his mind, but has the balls to actually write his thoughts down.

The completely predictable response from "forward thinking progressives" follows.


Are not those people also just speaking their mind?


I assume they are .. however, they take no risks with their shaming.


I'm really wondering if those removed hyperlinks are pointing to sources for the stuff that's stated as facts. I really miss any references of some of the claims he's making and I find it hard to believe that the writer added none at all.


Good on him.

We should appreciate our differences and understand them rather than bury them under "equality".

I hope some good comes of this.


We had this discussion years ago on my Harvard class list, back during the Larry Summers flap.

Obviously, no one would be/could be against women choosing whatever field of study and work that fulfills them the most. (I say that with 6 daughters in mind!)

However, perhaps the lower representation of women in STEM is simply because they find other fields more interesting (law, medicine, what-have-you). STEM (at least the academic path) is a fairly single-minded grind, and that wouldn't appeal to many people. Apparently it appeals to fewer women than men, and I don't blame them! What's so great about STEM, honestly? It's just another field of human endeavor, with no particular reason to value it more highly than others. (Certainly, it's clearly valued by the HN community, but we're a tiny slice of the real world.)

(I did learn (sadly) from that discussion that women have been grossly discriminated against in certain scientific fields in academia--one of my classmates is the astronomy head at a midwestern university, and she had plenty of examples to share, getting there.)

Aside: Seems to me that the public outrage is at least partially just virtue-signaling.


When I see someone mention virtue signalling, I dismiss them as posturing for their community of opinion. Is that fair?


I don't really understand why this is getting so much attention. It's just some guy's opinion.


Yeah, I assume it's the gossip aspect. Tech people love to mock tabloids and celebrity magazines, but they (we) still flock to this kind of "leak" and the takedowns of whoever is the current tech messiah.

As for the document itself, you can read literally the exact same bullshit posted on HN several times a day (and then the same kind of responses that were in the motherboard piece), so I'm not sure what's worth writing home about.


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Thanks for proving his point.


> It's a toxic set of opinions that's unfortunately very representative of large numbers of white male tech employees.

Do you have any data on this?


> I’m simply stating that the distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and that these differences may explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership. Many of these differences are small and there’s significant overlap between men and women, so you can’t say anything about an individual given these population level distributions.

What are your opinions about this? Do you think biological differences leads to social differences (not only gender but race, height, etc)? Do our "intelligences" [1] differ based on our gender? [2]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_multiple_intelligenc...

[2] https://www.elsevier.com/connect/can-brain-biology-explain-w...


Some US sports are very non diverse, but it's ok because it's majority non white, and everyone agrees is mostly meritorious - Athletic performance is hard to fake (outside drugs).

Yet even suggesting that minds are subject to the same kinds of differences is considered heresy. It's almost dualistic - as if we're all born with a mind/soul of the same capability.


It's not heresy. Sports represent a closed ecosystem of relatively straightforward traits->skill benefits. Professions are not bounded the way athletic roles are. The fields of law and medicine removed various sexist barriers to women participating, and female participation increased; I've seen no one suggest that the professions have significantly shifted in nature due to an influx of female brains.

Against that, we have a long history of pseudo-scientific arguments that biological differences matter and thus justify discrimination. And we have a long history of ending discrimination and proving those arguments to be bullshit, so we're now rightly sceptical of the sort of biological determinism that the manifesto author wants to resurrect.


> I've seen no one suggest that the professions have significantly shifted in nature due to an influx of female brains

Here you have it: https://youtu.be/cVaTc15plVs?t=1851

Most people in the video are scientists and work in the topic.


I see that it's an extended attack on the nurture side from the nature side based on the fact that, despite years of concerted government effort, significant gender divisions remain at the professional level in Norway. I'm not disputing these facts.

I'm not seeing that it asserts that the influx of women into the medical or legal professions has substantially changed how those professions are practiced. If women think differently than men, wouldn't a significant increase in the number of women in a profession show up as a change in the general model of the profession?

The author of the manifesto actually suggests changing the practice of software development at Google (e.g., more pair programming) to make it more friendly to women's natural inclinations, as a way of achieving better gender balance instead of affirmative action programs.


> If women think differently than men, wouldn't a significant increase in the number of women in a profession show up as a change in the general model of the profession?

It makes sense but I think the problem is that women do not get leadership roles very often, so they cannot change things. The two theories about why this happen is, first, the oppression of the women and the glass ceiling [1]; second, the women avoid confrontation and stress which are typical in leadership roles.

I like the idea of changing things to include more diversity. I don't know if it can apply to everything but I think it should be an option to explore. Pair programming is a good idea, another good idea is to have more meetings to discuss the processes and getting feedback from projects. Definitely a more emphatic mind will help a lot for this. I don't think this is economically viable in small companies, but Google could give it a try.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glass_ceiling


It is one thing to debated the veracity of a view, it is another to declare that that view should not be debated. For every point there is a counterpoint; every argument a counterargument. Arguing that the reasoning is flawed is not sufficient to ban it from discussion.


If there's one thing decades of arguing on the Internet has taught me, it's that debate is highly overrated.

And if there's anything decades old social science research has taught me, it's the Overton Window: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overton_window


I believe that most arguing over the internet doesnt qualify as debate, and consider it somewhat of a lost skill. Critical thinking/analysis is not undertaken by most people, particularly on the internet.

Debate is a cornerstone of democracy - to take the climate change example, anyone should be able to question it, and the evidence for it should be what persuades the majority of people, leading to a decision. In these cases, debate is a very effective mechanism. Unfortunately, people don't tend to engage and debate properly.

A good, reasonably relevant read (5 min) is Isaac Asimov's A Cult Of Ignorance, which I think goes some way to explaining the lack of engagement with debating.


So, would you also agree that the existence of climate change should still be up for debate, even though there is overwhelming scientific evidence in one direction?

NB: I do not know what the scientific consensus is on cognitive differences between men and women.


Yes, because I want a place to read articles about measuring its nature, shape, and effects. I want to be able to talk about countermeasures, so I have to be able to advocate theories of detailed causes---and I need to hear the best possible arguments about why those are wrong.

I'd love to have similar conversations about how nature and nurture affect outcomes, including how race and sex tendencies are or are not swamped by a lifetime of socialization, but our society has absolutely no way to do so without hurting a lot of people. We have other good work to do, so we can defer those conversations—maybe past my lifetime. Maybe try having them in smaller settings, with a framework of trust and love?


I think that, if a random Google engineer wrote an essay about why climate change isn't real, it would be weird and inappropriate to insist something be done about it.


That's a straw man reply. You cherry picked one of the most easily defensible claims and then implied that the OP would disagree. What gives you the right to implicate them in this way? Or did I miss another post in this thread where the OP did, in fact, express skepticism of climate change?


What stops me from implicating them in this way? The OP made an unqualified assertion - "for every point" - which means it would apply even to the most extreme example.

Edit: And I didn't ask the OP if they are skeptical of climate change. I merely asked if they would be in favour of letting those that are skeptical express their opinion.


>The OP made an unqualified assertion - "for every point"

No, it is possible to defend every point imaginable. Look up "Hempel's ravens". It is trivial to generate evidence supporting or opposing any claim you like.


"Scientific consensus" is a term I dislike, as it seems more opinion-based and authoritarian, and less evidence-based.


I get what you're saying, but I don't know of a better phrase. "Whatever the most studies published in reputable journals seem to suggest" doesn't quite roll off the tongue.


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>tech bros who have never taken a soft science course in their lives

Can someone here comment on the veracity of this statement? I was never smart or disciplined enough to attend college but I do have the good fortune of working with a large number of engineers. Many of them attended extremely highly ranked universities and it seems, from my talking with them on the subject of college education, that all of them took at least some introductory courses in the humanities/social sciences. Some of them are extremely well read and passionate about a number of non-science related topics. Even my coworker that attended Caltech, about as STEM focused a school as you'll find based on what I've heard, double majored in ME and History. I admit I could just be working in a unique place, but I find it hard to believe most people working in tech have no exposure to collegiate level soft science courses, or that they are singularly focused on tech related issues.

Slightly off topic but regarding the whole tech bro term, this has never really sat well with me. For one, it seems to be used to disparage a particular demographic , which I generally find uncivil, but it also doesn't seem very accurate to me, particularly in this instance. For better or worse, when I think tech bro, I usually imagine the more frat-like college educated guys flocking to tech for the pay, but probably not working in the actual tech side of things. I usually imagine more finance and biz dev types. Maybe this is equally unkind on my part. Ironically, I image those people come from a more humanities/soft sciences background.


[flagged]


For example, somebody detected (and published) a 53% extrasensory perception effect (ESP, predict the future), using "methodological sound" social sciences techniques, https://slate.com/health-and-science/2017/06/daryl-bem-prove....

The field is marred with systemic issues, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Replication_crisis#Replication...

> A report by the Open Science Collaboration in August 2015 that was coordinated by Brian Nosek estimated the reproducibility of 100 studies in psychological science from three high-ranking psychology journals.[35] Overall, 36% of the replications yielded significant findings (p value below .05) compared to 97% of the original studies that had significant effects. The mean effect size in the replications was approximately half the magnitude of the effects reported in the original studies.

> The same paper examined the reproducibility rates and effect sizes by journal (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology [JPSP], Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition [JEP:LMC], Psychological Science [PSCI]) and discipline (social psychology, cognitive psychology). Study replication rates were 23% for JPSP, 38% for JEP:LMC, and 38% for PSCI. Studies in the field of cognitive psychology had a higher replication rate (50%) than studies in the field of social psychology (25%).


>bunch of middle class white male tech bros who have never taken a soft science course in their lives discussing racism and sexism in tech doesn't sound very productive to me.

This is a strawman unless there is more data to back it up.

Anecdotally, I'm aware many CS bachelors have a "general education" requirement, which includes soft sciences and humanities.

Let's also not forget soft sciences are just that -- soft. They are not as scientifically rigorous as hard sciences, and face similar problems that economics does (another soft science). This includes over-simplifying with unaccountable variables and a wide-spread dissonance and lack of agreement within.


There's already extensive discussion of this here, with the full text linked as the top comment:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14934581


That post is 12 hours old, the comment with the link was posted 30min ago.


And most people in that post had not seen the document. They were commenting on the biased reporting from an article, who themselves got a biased interpretation from an employee. That's 2-3 levels of indirection there.


Most of the people on that page hadn't read the document.


My son was in the hospital recently and the head surgeon was a woman. Her primary assistant was a woman. The anesthesiologist and her assistant were women. There was a male nurse or two.

I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have encountered this situation 25 years ago. I'm sure "biological factors" mean "most women don't go into medicine" because of the years of hard work separated from their families, and they aren't excited by the technical bits. Even if you wanted to hire women doctors, they don't bother going to medical school.

I'm sure a thousand male doctors wrote a thousand letters just like this one as they saw their workplaces changing. And guess what, it happened anyway, and the state of medical care across the world is better than ever.

The field of software engineering is still crawling out of the stone age.


I think it's more a cultural problem where certain jobs and studies are very polarized and tied to a specific gender. This is not just software engineering/it, but a lot more common than you would think, also the other way around.

When talking about masters, where consistently over the last 10 years or so, 56% of the students is female here in Belgium, law, medical and chemistry studies are currently 60%+ female and some studies, like language, biology, crime, pharmaceutical are 70%+ female, arts and psychology 80%+ and pedagogy and logopedic/audiologic over 90%. That are pretty huge gaps, and yet that's not something you hear about that often.

These stats are taken from multiple reports (in Dutch) from a few universities here in Belgium in years ranging from 2010 to 2013 [1] [2], and one report I only have on paper (all with pretty similar results)

Yes there are also many areas where it's more equally divided (surprisingly, mathematics and economics), but I don't think it's necessarily the 'software engineering' field, it's for a large part society. My gf for example studied chemistry, and even if she's a bit of a geek sometimes, she never even considered software engineering/it as a study. And when I asked her why, she said it just doesn't have any appeal to her, although when I taught her to write small scripts in python and some basic HTML she thought that was awesome.

And I know quite a few geeky girls just like her, doing stuff ranging from having studied sexology, veterinary, economics, law, chemistry, ... Only 3 of the ones I knew started in software engineering and 2 never finished. One became a cop, the other switched to medical, and the one that finished her degree now teaches mostly math since she didn't see herself writing software her entire career.

The only way I see to get more women interested in engineering in general, is to get girls interested from a young age. You can't just wave your magic wand around and wish there's a even a 70/30 male/female ratio when only 10% of the software engineering students in the first year is female, and many of them drop out over the years.

[1] https://www.kuleuven.be/diversiteit/pdf/20130927%20Gender%20...

[2] http://www.ugent.be/nl/univgent/waarvoor-staat-ugent/diversi...


> Microaggression training

wat? They now train people in microaggressions at work? Is the "training" mandatory?


It's not mandatory. However, when I was at Google several years ago, it showed up on my calendar, it was not optional, my manager said that I was expected to attend, and I attended. But it's not mandatory.


So is it ""not mandatory"" then ?


[flagged]


Like we've asked you before, if you're about to post unsubstantive inflammation like this please don't post at all.


You sound like a real high performer.


I am very lucky to be in an environment where pretty much everyone just wants to get stuff done. It's peaceful, barely any politics.


Of course it's mandatory ... unless you don't care about silly little things like bonuses and promotions.


It's not mandatory.


It sounded like it was a mandatory part of managerial training.


He, and it is a 'he' has missed the point entirely. It is not that we do not recognize that people are different, it is that we value that diversity and therefore endeavor to remove from our community such impediments to achieving a balanced social group. It is a classic dominant social group position that the incomers fit in rather than the group dynamic have to change to accommodate. It is surprising to have a Google thought-leader with such low-brow views. If you think you are in an echo-chamber or bubble perhaps it is simply because nobody agrees with you.


Well I'm fully on board with the notion that (workplace) diversity is overrated nonsense but this document could only be described as counter-productive at best. So things like this will only be used to justify the very thing he claims to be objecting to.


"...(ignoring or being ashamed of its core business)..."

This deserves its own "manifesto".

In case of any misinterpretation, I interpret "core business" to mean the ever exciting business of selling online ads.


How is this not on the front page btw? It has almost 200 points an comments in 2 hours and it's placed 37 at the moment. This seems like a failure of the HN ranking algorithm. @dang (or someone else) could you explain what's up here?


Another article along similar lines seems to have received similar un-accounted-for down-modding: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14834758


I hear a lot of complaints about conservative ideas being shunned and bullied, but I disagree completely. Why haven't I read a 10 page pro-diversity creed circulating at google?

I haven't heard or read about progressive ideas in a long time, a long long time.

I'd be willing to bet a pro diversity creed would get much stronger bullying against it too.

Anyways, I'm tired of this issue, and people trying to pretend there's an optimal truth. This is a human made field, if we wanted, we could change it. We just need to agree on what to optimize for, and there lies the problem, I don't think we know or care what we ultimately optimize for. Too me, it seems we're currently optimizing for the stock market. And until it's clear that women make a big impact on that, people will be cautious to fray too far from what's been tried and worked in the past.


First of all, let me lead with: I'm a neoliberal democrat type person, I support diversity initiatives, reaching out to and supporting under represented communities, making changing to work culture to help people who haven't succeeded historically (IE mothers who leave to take care of their kids) etc. I disagree with most of the points in the guys doc.

> Why haven't I read a 10 page pro-diversity creed circulating at google?

The corporate culture in SV is pretty far to the left (all things being considered), you don't see things like a 10 page pro-diversity creed circulating internally because for the most part, those type of documents are official company policy. IMO, this is a good thing.

I think open discussion of ideas like the one in this document would be beneficial because they are easy to refute and all people involved can take it as a learning or educating experience. The guys conclusions aren't "morally bad", but they are "demonstrably wrong" and its easy to see why if honest discussion was permitted. The problem is, open discussion is not permitted because the culture of the left seems to confuse "demonstrably wrong" with "morally bad" and thus makes having bad ideas a sin, instead of say, an opportunity that one can be educated on an enlightened.


How many people in SV join Google and spend time thinking about why those policies are in place, what underlying principle and reasoning has warranted them? How many explanation is there for why the current Google status quo leans left or appears to do so? Is that open for discussion too? I don't think so.

Now, I also find it ironic that status quo is considered progressive. The underlying principle of progressivism is change, continuous improvement through conscious change, measured by the impact on the lowest common denominator and the sum of all value. That is, you want to make the pie bigger and the smallest piece of pie bigger too.

I'm open for conversation, but you need to hear all data points to make an informed decision, one way discourse is possibly worse then no discourse.


> The corporate culture in SV is pretty far to the left (all things being considered)

I'd disagree there. To attach a couple of names to it, I wouldn't say the corporate culture here is Bernie. I'd say it's Hillary. [1] And if you think Hillary is pretty far to the left then I have an ICO I just gotta tell you about.

[1] https://techcrunch.com/2016/06/07/silicon-valley-shows-its-p...


I have one simple ask here. To those who agree with any of this article beyond "we should be able to discuss this openly", please read this. People have all read this document, and if you agree with it, you value diversity of opinion. I'm not asking anyone to debate it - there's plenty of that here which doesn't seem to be going anywhere, as usual, which you can and should join into to try to reverse that. But read this first.

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/04/why-is-...


The author has a point. One suggestion to hire people without bias is to make the interview online for the most part and then conduct very few face to face interview with multiple rounds and getting an averaged feed back of the interviewees in text format and judge based upon it.


Is this being downmodded? (230 points, 3 hours ago, 298 comments, and already on page 4)


#290 6 hours later. This must have been down-modded. Before we ascribe political intent, however, consider that they may downmod controversial posts regardless of political leaning.


I’m very sad to see this happening to a great company like google. I first encountered the new culture at Google I/O extended event I attended a few months ago. It disturbed me very deeply but I couldn’t figure out exactly why since I didn’t actually disagree with anything that the diversity proponents wanted to achieve. I’ve had some time to process it though, and here’s the deeper issue that I find so disturbing about what seems to be happening at google ...

How we habitually respond to “uncomfortable situations” in life matters a great deal. As individuals, it strongly influences our trajectory in life. In companies, the predominant tendency strongly influences the trajectory of the company.

One option is to habitually respond by “getting curious” and by “identifying that part of our predictive model of the world which is weak and seeking to understand the situation more deeply with the intent of strengthening our predictive model.” When we choose this option we tend to want to listen intently to those who believe differently than us, to seek to understand the deeper needs that are driving them, and to strive to pursue win-win (or “positive sum”) solutions to problems. The option tends to leads to a strengthening of “moonshot thinking” because our confidence in our ability to solve problems grows in direct proportion to the strength of our predictive model of the world.

Another option is to habitually respond by “being offended”, ”to sink into victimhood, powerlessness, learned helplessness”, “dividing into us vs them”, “initiating conflict”, “appealing to authority to protect us from the threat of them”. When we choose this option, we tend to disconnect from those who believe differently than us, to be unaware of the deeper needs that are driving their behavior, and to sink into pursuing win-loss (or zero sum) solutions to our problems. This option tends to lead to a strengthening of a downward spiral of “victimhood thinking” which decreases our confidence in our ability to solve difficult problems by skillful means.

edited: What I find so tragic about this is ... we have 7.5 billion minds in this world growing ever more connected to each other and to vast sums of knowledge by the internet. From a first principles perspective these minds represent more than enough resources to solve the most challenging problems that affect us all. If we would only fight each other with win-loss intent LESS and instead direct our aggression towards solving the difficult important problems that affect us all, we could solve these difficult problems so much more quickly. Why would we choose waste time fighting each other, when we could, for example, be building a piece of the puzzle that helps researchers cure the leukemia that my friend’s young son was just diagnosed with? Why would we make that choice?

Presumably this was the hope of the google founders who established the mission of “organizing the world’s information and making it universally accessible.”?

I propose that >the tendency to “get offended” and “seek win-loss” solutions to problems should be targeted for extermination. We are better than this. > the tendency to “get curious” and find “win-win” solutions should to take its place.


I believe the gap is more cultural-made than sex-made. Basically there are the same differences of capabilities between two random males and between a random male and a random female.


If you are talking about IQ the data would support you, the problem comes when you look at standard deviation and we see men have a slightly higher standard deviation which leads to the extremes on both sides being overwhelmingly male. It's not something we need to worry about much in day to day interactions because you wont notice it but in hyper selective environments it might become an something people notice.


How do we now this isn't something that is being caused due to the female being suppressed in our history? This studies are biased due to the fact that females haven't been treated equally for centuries and this affects on how the female see the world, affecting the real purpose of the study.

It's like taking a male that you have treated emotionally bad and you tell him thru all his life he can't do this and that and a male where you tell him he must be strong, he must do this and that. Boths are males and I bet you will find the same differences between these two males and between a male and a female.


The first ever computer programmers were women.Ada Lovelace, Grace Hopper, etc did pioneering work in the field. Women can absolutely be great programmers.


Wow, refreshing. The truth will set you free.


It seems that my receiving my SWE Lifetime Member pin about a week ago is a bit fortuitous.


Wow, I didn't know I could cringe that much in such a short time.


The only thing cringe worthy IMO was that he didn't appear to cite any studies or data to back up his claims. Or did that publication of the document omit things like that? If he had done so, would it still be cringe worthy?


From Gizmodo's summary:

> Two charts and several hyperlinks are also omitted.

I'm guessing the author did link to studies (or at least summaries of studies), but these were removed by Gizmodo or the leaker.


Yes. I'm seeing now many reports that the Gizmodo publication, which was billed as the "full 10-page" memo, was, in fact, abridged and omitted links to data that the author had cited to support his arguments.

Very disingenuous.


This guy claims that women are more neurotic and talkative than men; and that they prefer thinking about aesthetics; and that women are more "cooperative."

The subtext is that this is the reason we shouldn't support women becoming software engineers.

Uggghhh.


You either fail at reading comprehension or you are being dishonest.

Nowhere does the author say we "shouldn't support women becoming software engineers". His argument is simply that women are, on average, less inclined to become software engineers because of innate psychological differences, which explains the unbalanced gender ratio in tech. He suggests we should stop all forms of "positive" discrimination in the form of employment quotas that are aimed to correct the gender imbalance, and instead select individuals based on their merit.


> employment quotas that are aimed to correct the gender imbalance, and instead select individuals based on their merit.

That is itself misrepresentative enough that your own snark about reading comprehension or dishonesty rebounds on you. Quotas aren't the issue. Echo Chamber Guy is railing against all measures to increase diversity, including many that would improve the correlation between merit and hiring/promotion.


There's a lot wrong with the screed, but its use of "neurotic" is being overplayed. It's clearly not being used in either a clinical diagnosis or pop-culture sense. Rather, it's a reference to the "five factor" personality model, in which "neuroticism" is not an unqualified negative. Also, to the extent that it is a negative and is more prevalent among women, it's likely to be a social construct for which we should correct, not (as the echo-chamber author) an immutable fact that we should use as an excuse for inaction.


As a former Googler: dude is _so_ getting fired and blacklisted. I've seen people driven out just for saying someone else looks good in a bathing suit. Not a direct or indirect report, mind you, a person completely outside the chain of command, at a team event in (IIRC) Hawaii. A small minority of people takes victim mentality and makes it near religious internal dogma. The rest just go along with it due to fat paychecks and the lack of desire to get fired for not being PC enough.


> A small minority of people takes victim mentality and makes it near religious internal dogma. The rest just go along with it due to fat paychecks and the lack of desire to get fired for not being PC enough.

As a current Googler I am surprised to hear this. I think most of the people I work with would agree that while it might be normal to think something like that, you should keep it to yourself.


You say you're surprised, and then confirm my opinion almost to the letter. Truth is, it's dangerous to not "keep it to yourself", so people don't talk about it.


Perhaps I didn't express myself well but I certainly did not intend to confirm your statement.

> Truth is, it's dangerous to not "keep it to yourself", so people don't talk about it.

I meant people don't talk about it out of respect for their coworkers, not because they are afraid to get fired. I'm sure there are some who are just afraid to get fired, but I sincerely believe they're the minority.


Can't tell if you're one of those people who get people fired for differences of opinion or you just honestly don't see it. So I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume the latter.

I find it amusing that I only have to concern myself with "respect for my coworkers" if my opinion is different from the liberal side on some cause célèbre. I.e. if I comply with liberal dogma and say that having lower hiring bar (or other kinds of preferential treatment) for women is OK, I can say so publicly without fear of it being a career limiting move, but if I believe the opposite and say so publicly, I'm 100% guaranteed to receive a ping from HR reminding me to STFU and never mention it again.


> I find it amusing that I only have to concern myself with "respect for my coworkers" if my opinion is different from the liberal side on some cause célèbre

I can see why you would think this because as far as I can tell a large majority of Googlers are liberal, but I don't believe this is the case? I'm pretty sure if you went around saying Trump supporters are racists or something you would also quickly get reprimanded..

Indeed I had to call some people out for being really insulting to conservatives because that is really not okay either =/


> Indeed I had to call some people out for being really insulting to conservatives because that is really not okay either

Slightly off-topic but I don't understand this viewpoint.

The conservative stance, as best I can tell from following politics, generally involves enriching the 1% whilst actively wanting to hurt the less well off and minorities. To me, that does not warrant politeness and pleasantries.


Aren't those Republican voting miners from Ohio or something (I'm from Europe) part of those conservatives? If not, who exactly are those conservatives you're talking about?

As an outside observer I always equaled conservative with Republican. Can you explain why this is not the case?


You are mindlessly parroting liberal talking points. I'm not going to try to change your mind here, but do try to hear the actual conservative POV from an actual person offline, not what the democrats tell you it is.


> You are mindlessly parroting liberal talking points.

Of course.

> do try to hear the actual conservative POV from an actual person offline

What about living for decades under conservative rule in the UK? Or watching what the GOP have been doing for the last 20 years? Do those count as hearing the "actual conservative POV"?


LOL. Trump supporters are totally fair game in the valley.


> I meant people don't talk about it [saying someone else looks good in a bathing suit] out of respect for their coworkers, not because they are afraid to get fired.

There is nothing disrespectuful about saying saying someone looks good in a bathing suit. It's normal social interaction. In fact the supression of various forms of normal social interraction, either by some explicit rule or law, or by some sort of chilling effect is what's causing all these crazy problems.


I'm pretty sure that remark isn't why Vic Gundotra was driven out.


At this point, firing him would be a huge PR mistake for Google.


Would it? Imagine the think pieces and clickbait it would generate. The guy would get an interview on Tucker Carlson and the Joe Rogan podcast but the whole thing would be over in 2 weeks.


ok, you were right.


Aren't blacklists supposed to be illegal in the US?


Fat paychecks are rather nice and I've been fired. If you believe in something, you shouldn't be unwilling to risk that. Also, I'm unaware of any blacklist. Google looks good on the res and there's plenty of jobs out there.

Colin Kaepernick believed in something and he's paying the price. If you're expecting me to feel sorry for this cupcake, that ain't gonna happen. I have a sliver of respect for him for writing it and zero respect for what he wrote. I sure don't think I'd want to work with him.


> I've seen people driven out just for saying someone else looks good in a bathing suit.

understandably, as that is extremely unprofessional and sexual harassment


I'm sorry, saying to someone "you look good" is not "sexual harassment" no matter how much you want it to be.


I think the exact wording and context is important here.

"Hey Googlette, you look really good in a bathing suit" is a comment about how the woman's body looks in a revealing outfit. I'd say this is generally unprofessional, though in some contexts (perhaps she'd just been expressing a lack of confidence in her body), it could still be appropriate.

"Hey Googlette, that bathing suit looks really good on you" is a comment on the particular bathing suit and how the combination works well. It's potentially more of a comment on her good choice and fashion sense than on her body. If the bathing suit is particularly risqué then it might be inappropriate but if it's just a normal bathing suit I don't think it'd be any more inappropriate than "your new haircut looks really good" or "is that a new top? It looks really good".


a good rule of thumb is just to never make any comments about a female coworker's body. it's very easy to cross over to unprofessional territory and make someone feel uncomfortable or degraded. that's the rule I've followed my entire life.


In what context is it not unprofessional to comment on a coworker's body?! I feel like I'm on crazy pills.


First situation that comes to mind is in a conversation where the coworker has raised the subject in conversation:

"I've been working out a lot the last few months. I managed to lose a lot of weight and I think I look good."

"Yeah, you looks great, that work definitely paid off."

The coworker brought it up, which indicates that they're comfortable talking about it and the comment is a celebration of the coworker's achievement rather than any kind of expression of sexual desire.

And then of course there are professions where the body is directly relevant to the work, like acting, modelling and sports/atheleticism.

All this really depends on context though. In a corporate office where everyone's barely more than strangers, I don't think even the situation above would be appropriate. In a small business where a "coworker" is as much a close friend as a colleague, I think the threshold for what's acceptable is very different.


The Google example is none of those.


> The Google example is none of those.

Right. Its a comment on a thread, it has zero context. You don't know whether it was or wasn't appropriate based on the context.

You're jumping on the "unprofessional" bandwagon without investigating further. An "affirmative stance" if you will.

You don't see the irony?

This is why I avoid gender politics like the plague, the debates are not grounded in logic and rationality.



You asked for an example after already seeing that one, clearly giving it to you again would just lead to pointless debate so it makes sense to give you a new one.


Your comment was one of the points argued in the memo.

It's important to understand and prioritize intention or else: >increases [in our] our sensitivity, which is not universally positive: sensitivity increases both our tendency to take offense and our self censorship, leading to authoritarian policies.

This means distinguishing between a well-meaning comment and a maleficent or predatory remark.


Usually if it takes work to distinguish it's not worth it within a work environment. That's why professional environments are effective and make a pleasant place to work for all.


I'm not sure I understand what you mean.

Could you elaborate on

>Usually if it takes work to distinguish it's not worth it within a work environment.


By the overloaded term "work", OP really meant "effort"


I understand that part, but I don't understand how that sentence relates to the second:

"That's why professional environments are effective and make a pleasant place to work for all."

If there's a missing "if" before the "it's" in his first sentence, I can only assume he means it takes effort to restrain oneself from being unfiltered, but there's an uncanny taste of an insult I can't pinpoint.


(I'm not the OP, so I might be misrepresenting taysic's views here.)

I think for clarity I'd add a comma:

> Usually, if it takes work to distinguish, it's not worth it within a work environment.

Such that it's read as:

> Usually, if it takes work to distinguish [whether it's worth it,] it's not worth it within a work environment.

The idea is that in a professional environment, part of "being professional" is avoiding those situations where your comments might be read as unwelcome. With a viable rule of thumb being to just err on the side of assuming they'd be unwelcome in any case where you have to think about it.


Thank you.

I see now looking through that lense it makes sense. After re-reading my comment he was replying to I think I understand exactly what the OP was trying to convey.

"If you have to consciously figure out if comments are malevolent or not, you should find a new workplace."

And that "that's why professional environments are effective and make a pleasant place to work for all," implies more real work is done when you're not playing office politics, and everyone comes out happier because of it.

In retrospect, it seems like a silly thing to try and figure out.


your intentions don't excuse inappropriate behavior.

if you really didn't intend to say something that made someone feel disrespected, your response should be "Oh, I am so sorry, I won't make that kind of comment in the future", not "Well you're wrong for being offended." that kind of response is basically saying "your feelings don't matter, all that matters is what is going on in my head and not what I actually did and how it actually made you feel"


Intent is vital in the deliverance and sentencing of criminals (as well as severity).

You'll find that the U.S.A's EEOC does not label one-off remarks as sexual harassment.[0]

[0]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_harassment#EEOC_Definit...


There's a difference between "sexual harassment" and "sexual harassment to a level that's criminal". I think it's reasonable to say that something is simultaneously inappropriate at work and not something you should be arrested for.


Is the primary authority's (EEOC) definition of sexual harassment: It is unlawful to harass a person (an applicant or employee) because of that person’s sex. Harassment can include “sexual harassment” or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.[0]

And is the primary authority's (EEOC) definition of harassment in general: Offensive conduct may include, but is not limited to, offensive jokes, slurs, epithets or name calling, physical assaults or threats, intimidation, ridicule or mockery, insults or put-downs, offensive objects or pictures, and interference with work performance.[1]

Neither of which make the remark in-question constitute of sexual harassment or harassment in-general. I'm sure there is a proper word that accurately describes unwanted remarks about a person's body, but by calling it sexual harassment you are marginalizing the serious cases of sexual harassment that fit under the legal definition.

[0]https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/sexual_harassment.cfm [1]https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/harassment.cfm


Mind you, by that definition it's easy to construe it as borderline "unwelcome sexual advances" or "verbal harassment of a sexual nature".

That said, I acknowledge it's very situational whether something might be read as unwelcome. Which is why avoiding these things in a professional context seems pretty wise.

Anyway, since we're replying here to door's comment... I think they're right regardless of whether we want to call it "sexual harassment". If you offend someone in a way which feels creepy / harassing to them, even assuming that you absolutely meant it in a non-sexual non-flirtatious entirely-platonic matter, your should apologize, maybe clarify your intentions, and say you'll do better in the future. Attempting to argue that you didn't mean it that way so they shouldn't be offended is counterproductive.


I agree with you there. If someone unintentionally offends another, an apology, followed up with extras (e.g clarification) where needed, is the correct course of action.

My only gripe was with semantics, which have the potential to do more harm than good.


As a person of grammar, I'm offended by the fact that you don't capitalize the first word in your sentences. It doesn't excuse your inappropriate behavior that you may not have intended it.


If that were true and significant, it would mean the company would bleed talent and become such an uncomfortable place to work that a competitor would gain advantage. That's why the market works. For the record, I've heard the exact opposite about the google work environment.


> internal meme network

i really want to believe that at Google there is a massive distributed cluster dedicated solely to facilitating meme throughput



There most likely is, I know an engineer that works on it.

Apparently they were one of the teams piloting Tensorflow for Android...have no idea why though....


Sometimes the best places to swing for the fences, technologically, are places far away from the core business, where the impact of a half-baked idea is minimal.


this is true. Source: I work at Google


Recently left Google and I can confirm, Memegen is real and draws significant resources to operate.


So reading the article above it didn't make clear - are these memes generated by AI or is it just an internal meme creation / sharing site?


the latter


How is it sexual?


At some point this becomes indistinguishable from trolling and in my opinion you hit that point. Please don't post like this.

We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14938471 and marked it off-topic.


With all due respect, I am concerned that people are over-sexualizing things, as a form of moral panic. My solution is to dispassionately discuss the problem, so that it can be de-escalated.

Kudos to the mod team for their handling of the larger affair over the past week, it is truly unfortunate what we are all dealing with right now.

(10 minutes later) Ok, I can see that the original comment should have included my follow up point, in order to avoid creating the "tripping hazard" that set the stage for Door's response.


straight men commenting on the attractiveness of women's bodies is pretty blatantly sexual. what other reason is there to make that kind of comment? "pure aesthetics"? like Wow Jessica from accounting's body is consistent with Greek Ideals about Archetypal Female Beauty. come on.


Commenting on someone's bathing suit is not inherently sexual, because we do it in non-sexual contexts; for example, I complemented my nephiew's new swim trunks earlier this summer.

A particular complement might be sexual, but we shouldn't assume that. For all we know, the guy is gay, and we are now discriminating against that.

Furthermore, commenting directly on the awesomeness of someone else's body is also not inherently sexual. Have you never admired a female athlete, the way you admire a male athelete?


> Commenting on someone's bathing suit is not inherently sexual, because we do it in non-sexual contexts; for example, I complemented my nephiew's new swim trunks earlier this summer.

The person wasn't commenting on the bathing suit but on how a coworker's body looked in a bathing suit.

I suppose without additional context we will not know whether it was indeed sexual or not, but if it didn't make anyone uncomfortable I don't see why anyone would bother reporting it.


>Furthermore, commenting directly on the awesomeness of someone else's body is also not sexual. Have you never admired a femal athlete, the way you admire a male athelete?

I am bisexual so the analogy doesn't quite work lol. and yes sometimes that can be non-sexual, but a workplace is not a place to make those kinds of comments because it is a VERY thin line and can easily make someone uncomfortable. and 99% of the time men commenting on women's bodies is sexual or has sexual undertones so it's really a corner case here. when's the last time you heard a straight man say something like "wow she always has super cool outfits and I love what she does with her makeup" or whatever lol.


> 99% of the time men commenting on women's bodies is sexual or has sexual undertones

Stereotyping is ok, as long as we do it for the right reasons!

> when's the last time you heard a straight man say something like "wow she always has super cool outfits and I love what she does with her makeup" or whatever lol.

The same time the same straight men wasn't called sexual harasser for such comment. So you basically say "men complimenting women coworkers are sexual harassers" and then ask "why don't men compliment women coworkers more in non-sexual context?". I hope you can see a case of circular reasoning here.


no i made a distinction between commenting on the attractiveness of a woman's body and something that is purely aesthetic and non-sexual (clothing and makeup)


I used to have conversations like that with a female roommate, and since then, have developed some interesting ideas about human-born artwork.

It sounds to me like the phenomenon you are describing is a form of dysfunctionality that is not universal to all men. It is incorrect, specifically sexist, to insist that all men can only see woman for their sexual potential. Please stop, you are doing us all (including women!) a great disservice.


You know why I don't complement women's outfits in public? Because I am terrified to do so!


that's good, most women don't really want unsolicited comments from strangers on their appearance, and frequently experience unwanted comments. I know women who literally every time they go out get catcalled.


How did you know this was a straight man talking about a woman?

> "pure aesthetics"

You do not think people can appreciate the beauty of human body without wanting to immediately have sex with it? Ever been to a museum? Especially classical section? A lot of skin there. Apparently, those people were real maniacs and sexual predators...


"Viewpoint diversity is arguably the most important type of diversity and political orientation is one of the most fundamental and significant ways in which people view things differently."

As an experiment, I'd like to see if HN upvotes or downvotes this statement from the memo.

I'm willing to put my karma score on the line to find out what HNers believe (this will help me decide if HN is a community worth investing further time in).


You might be getting downvoted by people who don't like this kind of experiment. Or your use of scare quotes or something. I'm not sure you can draw a lot of conclusions from the score on your post.

But, yes, most of the HN community lives in a bubble. If we're honest, we all do, but people who take pride on their education and intelligence are especially challenged when finding that kind of humility.


Good points. I have removed the scare quotes (not intended as such)


The HN community lives in a very large ideological bubble.

The technical articles are good, though.


It's a pity isn't it? I hoped the HN community would still see the value in "diversity of opinion" - even if said notion was uttered by a "haram" individual.

The leftist, tribal mindset is clearly a powerful and poisonous thing for all sorts of communities. Let me know if you find a better one for discussing new tech.


That's kind of an "us vs them" statement. Tribalism in any camp is counterproductive.


"this will help me decide if HN is a community worth investing further time in"

If that is the question, then the answer is "no".


[flagged]


We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14938179 and marked it off-topic.


Hillary feared losing her mandate by winning the electoral college and losing the popular vote, so she over-campaigned in states like California and New York which would be a lock for any Democrat. She "won" the popular vote but lost the only real race that was being run.


49% is still millions of people, i.e. a lot of support. Surely you wouldn't just discount a (large) minority.


Actually, 46.1% of a 55.4% turnout. And yes, I'll dismiss anyone who voted for Trump for whatever reason that they voted for Trump.


I hope you're not just multiplying those percentages, because that would imply that 0% of the non-voters would have voted for trump if that had voted.

Point is, he got millions of people. One has to consider why. I think that the whole spectacle around political correctness and telling white people in lower social strata that they're inherently privileged resonated negatively with them and is one of the things that drove them into trump's arms. It's not a great sales pitch for diversity.


I'm accurately citing the popular vote win count, the percentages and the turnout, none of which you did.

Now if you think you somehow won a great victory, you didn't. And since from your writing it appears that you voted for Trump, yes, I and people like me think much less of you and people like you. If from the FA, this classifies as alienating conservatives then so be it.

I should add that as each day goes by it looks more and more like you and people like you won your great victory with the help of Putin. Y'all have a nice day.


None of the exact numbers were relevant to my argument. I was only interested in the total amount of people voting for him. Which is millions. That's all that matters. Millions of people who felt uncomfortable and excluded and looked for the loudest and most visible outlet for their discomfort.

You only latched onto the very last sentence of my whole post upstream. Let me quote myself: Anyway, I do agree with the googler that the current overton window is heavily slanted to the point where quite a big fraction of the population feels uncomfortable and excluded, otherwise trump would never have gotten that much support. Do note that I never said he got a majority. "Much support" simply means a large absolute amount of people voting for him. Enough to not be easily dismissed.

> Now if you think you somehow won a great victory, you didn't.

I neither claimed nor implied that in any of my posts.

> And since from your writing it appears that you voted for Trump

Appearances can be deceiving.

> yes, I and people like me think much less of you and people like you.

That's the crux of "the culture wars".


[flagged]


The fact that you thought "CEO" when you read "men" is the point. By definition, most men aren't leaders of companies, but they get lumped in with them as equally tainted, overpaid power-misers.


No, I thought "CEO" when I read "high paying, high status". Most leaders of companies are men, right?


But most men are not leaders of companies. In fact, most men have nowhere near that level of income, power, and status.


You misunderstand. The point is that high-status men are judged positively, just as highly attractive women are.

Low status men and women considered unattractive are the ones who suffer from the judgement.


Well, "pushed" and "forced" aren't exact synonyms. I assume he meant internally pushed by some kind of innate force.

Anyway, there were things I disliked about this document, but on this point you could just as easily turn that on its head. He could be saying that women are less likely to be sucked in by the dubious value proposition of becoming an unhappy workaholic in order to upgrade an already very high tech salary to an even higher salary.

When your salary is high enough to very comfortably meet your needs yet your free time is very scarce, the marginal utility of more money is low but the marginal cost of less time is high. So there's limited practical reason to fight for a promotion/raise, though you might still do it if there's another thing about your salary that's important to you, which is that it should be higher than others' salaries.


[flagged]


The existence of sexism and the existence of sex-specific biases in interests are not mutually exclusive. Also note that biological biases does not mean behavior is hard-wired, nurture (societal influence) and nature can both play a role at different weights.

If such a natural bias exists and all and sexism is eliminated then there will still be a gender gap among the employees. And forms of affirmative action that aim for 50:50 balance will either have to attract an unusually large number of above-average talent for that specific gender (this strategy can only work locally but not globally) or will result in equally-talented people being disfavored based on their gender.

And if there is an assumption that the gender gap is caused by sexism but it is also arises due to natural biases then some people may feel slandered as sexists when they're already acting as gender-neutral as possible. This can breed resentment when you (or your group as a whole) get blamed for something that you're not causing.

Disclaimler, this post contains little original thought, most arguments are stolen from https://slatestarcodex.com/2017/08/01/gender-imbalances-are-...


[flagged]


> Well you see, brand-new account created to hide from those scary terrible lefties who'd obviously ruin you otherwise

I am not exactly hiding my intent here, so I am not sure what there is to gain from pointing out the obvious. And no, I do not think that there is someone out there hellbent on ruining my life. It's just a simple countermeasure against a low-probability, high-impact event.

And real life conversations are naturally ephemeral, the internet on the other hand does not forget and may randomly amplify whatever I am saying beyond the level I am comfortable with. Throwaway accounts restore some of that natural communication.

> It is simply unreasonable to expect that all consequences of it have been perfectly eliminated by now

I did not say that this is the case. Sexism and natural biases can exist at the same time. But some people might find it more difficult to be a good and tolerant citizen if the sexism hammer gets wielded against the whole group on every occasion even though only some fraction of the group is actually sexist and another part of the issue stems from natural causes.

You also have to consider that some people may agree that sexism is a problem but disagree on what exactly constitutes sexism. Are crude, offensive jokes made in private sexism? What if it is accidentally overheard by the other gender, even though it was not meant to? Like video games some people may enjoy those jokes but never act on the surface message conveyed by the joke in real life. And thus they do not consider it sexist. Others disagree, that much is obvious, but if that disagreement can not even be discussed openly then there's a problem.

Anyway, I do agree with the googler that the current overton window is heavily slanted to the point where quite a big fraction of the population feels uncomfortable and excluded, otherwise trump would never have gotten that much support.


Well you see, brand-new account created to hide from those scary terrible lefties who'd obviously ruin you otherwise

Is this supposed to be funny? Google employees (not to mention lots of other folks) are publicly calling for the author's firing. This is not a topic you're allowed to disagree about in good faith.

I am nervous even saying this much, for fear that you'll attack me as a defender of what you imagine to be the worst ideas of your opponents.


I took it as more of an argument against intentional, institutional discrimination (e.g. affirmative action) than an endorsement of the current system or an argument that we should leave things as they are.


I think your tone is a little smug but completely agree. To be frank I empathize with the writer of the article a bit. He worked very hard to achieve his position, and with that hard work comes a belief that the system he achieved in was inherently fair. It's difficult to call the situations we benefit from unfair - it's important for our self-worth that we value our accomplishments.

But the key is that the author's achievements in this unfair world are no less impressive. They still achieved great things given their lot in life, yet they should still be willing to acknowledge the many advantages they've had every step of the way. They're slight in many cases, true. But they exist and we are all aware of them.

It's a shame the author of the email feels that these policies are based on a political agenda rather than an idealogical one.

EDIT: I think it's also important to note that since this is an idealogical decision, I think it's totally within Google's power to make broad and impactful policies like this. They aren't beholden to all idealogical viewpoints within their company. They should attempt to respect political differences, but I don't think that this issue is political in any way. It's an issue of how you see the world you live in. Is it a fair world that needs no correction (or should not be corrected for some reason) or is it world that needs to be steered in a different course. Google is within their power to choose an idealogical direction for the company on such an issue, and it's up to the employee to decide if that matches with their worldview.

I may not have used entirely the correct terminology for political opinion vs. ideology (I would defer to a sociologist for this), but I think the point that remains is that Google is not aligning themselves with a viewpoint on governmental policy, but instead adjusting the way their corporate environment works to better match the company's view of how the "world works". Every company has to have such a thing due to the immense amount of power we grant large corporations in this country (imo of course).

EDIT 2: I would further encourage the parent poster to not get too reactionary themselves about the issue. Mainly people on the so-called "other side" believe that they are being demonized for a political opinion, when in reality they are being criticized for something that we believe is a very flawed way of looking at the world. Take care not to address them as much as an enemy, but as someone who has seen very different parts of the world than you. Give them a guided tour, not a lecture with snark. I empathize with your intense emotions - I myself get very emotional about this due to events in my personal life - but if you let them dominate the conversation, then people will just try and claim that you're being "too emotional" further reinforcing their flawed reasoning.


> believe that they are being demonized for a political opinion

I have an acquaintance who occasionally reacts with outrage, shouting and questioning my human decency when I voice conservative points of view. Even mentioning biological differences between sexes is anathema to him and bringing up IQ makes him uncomfortable because it shows that not all people are born equal.

I have explicitly told him that at times I may argue points that I do not agree with for the sake of debate and yet he still shakes his head and complains how I can even say such bad things that only "they" would say.

It feels quite quite demonizing in ways when just debating a topic is treated as an unspeakable act. But to give him credit, he's generally a decent guy and does not act like a SJW stereotype, there are just some short outbursts.


I do agree with your initial comment but I would rather suggest that the author tries to look at the disadvantages that others have while reaching the same point that the author has. Yes, the author has done a lot to get to the position they're in but others in the face of racism or sexism have to work a hell of a lot more.


> ...others in the face of racism or sexism have to work a hell of a lot more.

That's not necessarily true. Everyone has a different story. For all you know, the author was an orphan, was wrongfully convicted of a felony, has a disability, and survived three kinds of cancer.


Yes but this is looking from the micro-POV. The point is to look beyond your own achievements, since in the grand-scale they are really only yours. You should be proud of overcoming your challenges because YOU overcame THEM rather than evaluating them on the merit of their relative differences between other people. This allows you to maintain a sense of self-worth while recognizing that IN GENERAL people like "you" had it "easier" than people like "them".

The micro-scale achievement is not invalidated by the macro-scale injustice.

If I am an excellent businessman, who makes several cruicial business decisions that save my business from disaster - it doesn't really matter whether my industry is in a good position right now. I still survived my own disasters. And it still allows me to empathize with business leaders in failing industries who were able to turn themselves around as well. They may have had it a little harder, but we both still kicked ass and that's what matters. It just means I might be more empathetic to that business leader when something comes up down the road. I think this is analogous.

Your issues and tribulations are still meaningful and important. We're just trying to make macro-scale decisions for macro-scale groups. It doesn't invalidate your accomplishments, seriously. There doesn't have to be a hierarchy. Since there is no way to evenly evaluate every single injustice someone has overcome in their lives, we can only make vague estimations and attempt to correct for them as best as we can. An insistence on maintaining the status quo, would only maintain what is already a flawed situation for many people.


> ...while recognizing that IN GENERAL people like "you" had it "easier" than people like "them".

The problem with this is the legitimacy of the framework for who counts as "like you" and "like them".

If you were born Amish and deaf, you wouldn't see a Manhattan native as being like you at all. But according to the prevailing framework, you're assumed to be more privileged than the Caucasian daughter of a Columbia professor who attended a STEM magnet high school.

It's worth pointing out that generally progressive logic is very pro-self-identification. Except here.

> The micro-scale achievement is not invalidated by the macro-scale injustice.

This point is well taken. Though it misses the point from the article, that people do invalidate and have explicit preferences on the micro scale based on the prevailing framework.

> There doesn't have to be a hierarchy.

Again, I think the objection is that prevailing logic in big corps, including Google apparently, does presume there's hierarchy.

> An insistence on maintaining the status quo, would only maintain what is already a flawed situation for many people.

I haven't seen anyone arguing for the status quo, including the author of the original post. Everyone would love to see more women in tech. The question is what the best way to go about it is and when we know we're done addressing the imbalance.


Yonatan Zunger, a (recently departed) distinguished engineer at Google, wrote a very good response: https://medium.com/@yonatanzunger/so-about-this-googlers-man...


chroma's summary above does a much better job understanding the manifesto than that medium post imo (cf https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14938457 ). Yonatan just hones in on that one botched idea and then berates the author for the rest of the post.


Chroma's summary is a "charitable interpretation" (his words), and shouldn't be considered necessarily accurate or representative of the manifesto author's intent. A straight faced reading of it yields something not nearly as constructive as what Chroma presented.

Yonatan isn't simply berating the author. He's explaining in detail why the manifesto is problematic in many ways that have to do with context and circumstance. What the author presents as ideological intolerance, Yonatan describes as the host of practical considerations to running a business and a workplace that, one suspects, the author wouldn't have a problem with if he weren't feeling constrained.


Wow, this paper is a textbook example of begging the question. The author makes a number of completely unfounded generalizations about women and men, then goes on to use those as a basis for protesting against Google's corporate diversity programs.

I wonder if the author would like to keep walking out on his very weak limb, and claim that African-Americans are under-represented in tech because of their genetic characteristics.


Also ridiculously racist. Really!

Amidst his rambling "evolutionary psychology" argument concerning the gender gap he also protests racial diversity programs.[1] And his explanation for that? Are black people also bad at programming because of evolution? It's buried here:

"Left tends to deny science concerning biological differences between people (e.g., IQ and sex differences)." (emphasis mine)

So non-whites are doing worse in engineering because they're dumber, according to science. Seriously, does dressing these views up in pseudo-academic prose make them any less racist?

[1] "Stretch, BOLD, CSSI, Engineering Practicum (to an extent), and several other Google funded internal and external programs are for people with a certain gender or race"


I can't speak for software engineers as I'm not really one myself, but I have seen evidence that guys in the development and IT fields are legitimately scared of interacting with women and in the process violating some rule they didn't know of [0]. Reality may be different from what they perceive, the but point is that some men do actually perceive this "threat". The motivations of this internal letter, whatever they are, seem to be almost certainly highly emotional.

Whenever a difficult, nuanced topic like the one HN is discussing here comes up, its important to consider the medium by which all of us are communicating. Your quote with emphasis added is a perfect example: it may have been something this particularly frustrated individual threw out without much thought (the entire letter going public at all shows a lack of thought), but it could very well have been dog-whistling to racists.

The thing is, we can't know. Unless we're in a forum (in the Socratic sense) where thoughts can be clarified, I propose we take things at their face value. That's all we can confidently do.

[0]:http://www.scottaaronson.com/blog/?p=2091#comment-326664




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