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How I, a woman in tech, benefited from sexism in Silicon Valley (huyenchip.com)
321 points by florianmari on Aug 11, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 235 comments



"I have the feeling that we’ve been only addressing one side of the story. It’s the side where women are victims. I’m here to tell the story of how I, as a woman in tech, benefited from sexism and that men can be victims too."

Something that keeps bugging me - and this is in no way limited to tech - how being a victim has become an identity to many, which is almost worn as a badge. While I do what I can to emphasize with every individual who has been exposed to discrimination, harassment (and while as a white man I experienced most likely much less of this, although not nothing), a scenario in which everyone walks around all day long feeling as the victim (followed by the inevitable selective perception and confirmation bias) cannot function.

I recently listened to a philosophy podcast which started with a line which has since been stuck in my head "In a time in which being a victim offers so much social capital...". (edit: I recalled the quote slightly inaccurately, but the point was the same: "In a culture in which there is so much social currency connected to being a victim..." In case you are curious, it's episode #105 of philosophizethis.org)

I don't know what to do about it and I in no way want to diminish the harm that those who feel like victims experienced. But whenever victimhood is becoming an identity, things are getting out of hand.

(the feeling of being a systemic/structural victim can be found on all sides of the political/ideological/gender spectrum of course).


Here's an article that has some links talking about this phenomenon a few years ago.

http://reason.com/blog/2015/09/11/victimhood-culture-in-amer...

TL;DR There are traditionally 2 kinds of culture - honor, and dignity. The west tends to be predominantly Dignity culture. Asia and Africa tend to be predominantly Honor cultures. This idea is that we are seeing a shift into a culture that combines both of these - the victim culture.


Jonathan Haidt does a great job explaining Honor, Dignity, and Victimhood cultures: https://youtu.be/Gatn5ameRr8?t=27m32s (whole talk is excellent)

His take is a little different (that Victimhood culture is a result of a march through time from Honor to Dignity to Victimhood). He's referencing the same paper [1] mentioned in the reason.com article.

[1] - Microaggression and Moral Cultures http://www.academia.edu/10541921/Microaggression_and_Moral_C...


I watched the Haidt video, it's incredibly enlightening and in fact explains almost all the dynamics that played out over the past days.


That was a very good and level headed article about a difficult topic. To those scrolling by this later, it's worth the read.


The thing that strikes me about victimhood is that when it's used in a pejorative sense, it's always non-interested and often uninformed persons assigning judgment to another's highly-interested behavior.

Once you look more deeply into the situation, the story changes. A good example of this is the McDonalds hot coffee lawsuit. You should go do some reading about it if you haven't.

Generating moral outrage, as a tool for solving individual problems, isn't ever going to go away. You had it in honor cultures, dignity cultures. "Blaming the victim" is one of the costs of the strategy and if you aren't prepared for this going in, you're going to get burned pretty badly.

Or sometimes you get thrust into it. The only reason we know anything about that particular lawsuit is because McDonalds' PR team turned it into a media circus. The initial lawsuit asked only for medical costs, no punitive damages.


Non-interested and often uninformed persons like the author of this article?

FTA: I have the feeling that we’ve been only addressing one side of the story. It’s the side where women are victims.

I think you've just seen an example where "victimhood culture" was called out by someone who benefited from it.


It's a new modality of getting the upper hand if you wish.

In some contexts showing how wealthy or strong one is works, but in other contexts that doesn't work, so showing how much of victim one is works well. Even more, the interesting phenomenon is if the person can't really swing looking like a victim, they'll gain the upper hand by claiming to deeply care about other victims.


It is very important to be nuanced and honest in this discussion of "victimhood culture," as while there are legitimate arguments to be made it can also be used as another way of avoiding substantive discussion and derailing efforts for change. I've heard discussions follow essentially the following path: "Hey, we should change the lights in here -- if we switch to a softer bulb we'll get less glare on the screens." "Stop being such a victim! Victimhood culture these days...."

Some of the comments here that characterize, say, women speaking about sexism as "proponents of victimhood culture" seem to be mainly bent on making sure that if women speak up they're told they shouldn't and if they don't they're told they should have. If one is always constructing the situation so that people in adverse situations have no possible way of winning, one should admit that.


> In a time in which being a victim offers so much social capital...

Not just social capital, but literal financial capital too. There's a growing number of people who are leveraging their 'victim status' in Patreon backers and donations, or trying to move from being the centre of a controversy to a public speaking role.


I've seen many of these people, nearly all women, and it's amazing to me that they can electronically panhandle and make multiple times what a gainfully employed person can make. They don't even do anything for the money other than continually tweet out how they're victimized.


Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

- Viktor E. Frankl, holocaust survivor and author of Man's Search for Meaning



Possibly because once you label one group a victim everyone else naturally goes "what about me?" I think they're right to as well, because pretty much everyone is oppressed to some degree; if you're short you're oppressed, have you seen Tinder? "I'm 5ft8 so tall guys only", if you need glasses you're oppressed, obviously, those things are expensive! If you're homosexual you're oppressed, disabled, poor, have a mental illness, a dietary requirement, if you're ugly, it never ends, and how do you weight that? Who gets to decide?

I'm in part paraphrasing Jordan Peterson here, which might become a cliche soon, but I think he has a great point https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-XvI6Y5Yq8o


> In a time in which being a victim offers so much social capital

I think this only applies to specific subgroups and not the general population.

I don't think many people would care about a hedge fund manager that was bullied in school for example.


I think everyone has their own ideas on who's the victim.

People seem to care about a 70 year old billionaire getting "bullied" by the media for example.


I would have put quotes around a different, longer b-word.


Whether or not this is in dispute, what you're doing here is injecting Trump and an inevitable culture war about him into a thread that's already likely to be contentious.

Unless Trump has specific relevance to this dispute, which I don't think he does, bringing him up is going to just add heat and fuel, not understanding. I think the mods would rather you didn't.

Just a thought. :)


Is his billionaire status up for debate?


Anything he says about his wealth without also releasing his latest tax returns is up for debate. Whether the debate happens or not is a different question.


Does the requirement of viewing tax returns apply to anyone attempting to claim to be a billionaire or is there specific criteria for which to apply this extra safeguard?


A self-admitted[1] serial liar with a history of failed businesses would require extra scrutiny before anyone should trust their claim of being a billionaire.

[1] The Art of the Deal: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/07/25/donald-trumps-g...


Just this guy. And anyone else who barnstorms a country asking to be in a position of power. Asking for vote? Show tax returns, thanks.


Saying someone should show tax returns to run for a high office seems quite a different thing that saying that we should doubt someone's wealth unless they show tax returns.

Are we saying that running for political office is reason to require someone tax returns to prove a claim level of wealth?


I'd generalise a bit and say that anyone running for political office should show evidence for claims of fact, purely because supporting claims with evidence is a critical part of running a rational and informed society.

If you don't want to provide proof, don't make claims.


Yes.


I see, thanks for clarifiication. Although even with released tax returns, he could have benevelontly committed fraud there as well, to increase his tax contributions. /s


Not so much on who's the victim but who can be a victim in the first place.


Mainly because it's a bit late caring 10+ years after the fact.

Most people care about a kid getting bullied.


I use a metaphor of "getting stuck on the stairs". There's a party on the second floor, but you're in a wheelchair and there's only stairs.

Our goal is to get you to the second floor, so you can party. To do that we have to deal with stairs with a wheelchair.

But we don't want to stay on the stairs; dealing with the wheelchair isn't the point; getting to the party is the point.

When you adopt victimhood as an identity, you're stuck on the stairs.

(note: it might not be your choice that it's part of your identity, but anecdotally, those people don't really get stuck on the stairs).


> things are getting out of hand

I think this is interesting because we have to ask ourselves: what is it that we're worried about? What do we imagine will happen when everybody thinks of themselves as being victimised? Some kind of cultural apocalypse? I doubt it. Our culture will be "weakened" in some ill-defined way and we'll be "beaten" or "taken over" by some other, more confident culture? I don't buy it.

Being a victim is not a purely objective matter. It is part subjective assessment and part social consensus. Social consensus actually determines most of how we react to it. I think at the moment the consensus is undergoing a major change and that feels uncomfortable for those who felt the balance was OK.

When the consensus stabilizes then people who claim victimhood that is without merit will be ignored. Sadly, some legitimate grievances will also be ignored. And the cycle will doubtless continue.

In the meantime probably the great majority of people will continue to NOT think of themselves as victims.


> Some kind of cultural apocalypse? I doubt it.

I don't believe there will be a cultural apocalypse necessarily, but I am afraid there will be a gradual degradation of our culture. I'm afraid we will move away from a society that tries to be meritocratic towards one that accepts all sorts of norms so nobody gets offended. That lack of social continuity would lead to everyone walking on egg shells all the time to avoid offending everyone, thus destroying any chance of a sense of community forming.

I'm also afraid of historical wrongs committed by my grandparents being used to further legitimize racism against whites and sexism against men, simply because of "white privilege". I'm afraid of a culture forming that says they're for "diversity," "equality," and "multiculturalism" while completely suppressing any person who varies culturally in the wrong way, or who questions diversity systems that were designed in a different time when blatant racism and sexism was much more commonplace.

> Social consensus actually determines most of how we react to it.

At one time, it was a social consensus that blacks and whites were segregated. At another time, perceived socialists were pushed out of the labor pool just because of their viewpoints on what a society should be. Social consensus is a terrible metric on whether or not something is right or wrong, and people who raise legitimate questions on the current social consensus(that only seems to reflect the cultures of the east and west coasts of America, btw) shouldn't be fired or forced out of the labor pool for discussing those norms in a polite, rational manner.


>At one time, it was a social consensus that blacks and whites were segregated. At another time, perceived socialists were pushed out of the labor pool just because of their viewpoints on what a society should be. Social consensus is a terrible metric on whether or not something is right or wrong, and people who raise legitimate questions on the current social consensus(that only seems to reflect the cultures of the east and west coasts of America, btw) shouldn't be fired or forced out of the labor pool for discussing those norms in a polite, rational manner.

This. Society changes fast relative to a human lifetime. Creating a society where PCness becomes the target metric is an invitation to return to the practices of casting people out based on hearsay and rumors like was done in the McCarthy days.


>what is it that we're worried about?

To give a concrete example in the US, the male/female narrative concerning who has power and who is a victim had led to a deafening silence discussing sexism in the justice system. One of the issues Hillary spoke about during the 2016 US election was how poorly the justice system treated women, she (or at least her campaign website) purposed a number of changes to make it easier on women.

So the victim narrative not only led to us ignoring an issues of sexism, but of making it much worse, because the actual victim of sexism in this instance isn't the victim according to the narrative. It also leads to an issue logical inconsistencies like how socially acceptable certain statements are.

Consider the following statement:

Men are over-represented in prison because they are more violent than women.

Now, switch from sex to race, keeping it inline with actual data, and measure how socially acceptable the resulting phrase would be.

I think of this as a significant harm. No, it isn't as bad as a world war or genocide, but it still leaves to countless lives being ruined.


Recent example coming to mind:

Emma Sulkowicz being 'made' (as far as fame is important for artists) by turning victimhood into an art project. It gained international acclaim although her victimhood was neither proven nor the accused found guilty. She started a witch hunt on the accused and was allowed to use this "performance" as her graduation thesis.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mattress_Performance_(Carry_Th...


Something that has been disturbing to me has been the rise of the phrase "freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences."

On some level, this is true. People can of course legally react in certain ways to someone's speech, such as deciding not to associate with them.

However, I feel like the phrase is a bit deceiving because it seems give the impression that "freedom" and "consequence" are unrelated. It's designed to give people the feeling that they are justified to impose more and more "consequences" (such as blacklists or even threats of violence).

Here's the definition of the phrase from the dictionary: "the right of people to express their opinions publicly without governmental interference, subject to the laws against libel, incitement to violence or rebellion, etc"

In this definition, "freedom" is directly identified with protection from a certain consequence, i.e "governmental interference." I think it should be obvious that "freedom" isn't really about the ability to move ones' mouth and make noises, but rather the freedom one has is DIRECTLY related to ones' protection from consequences. Extralegal actions to increase the "consequences" of certain types of speech directly reduce free speech.

This isn't a black or white thing, but based on what I've been seeing in social media, the possibility of some people internalizing the mantra "freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences" to the point that they justify violent action against speech they dislike doesn't seem implausible.


> what is it that we're worried about? What do we imagine will happen when everybody thinks of themselves as being victimised?

That resources that should be spent growing the pie for everyone will instead be used to fight over how to divide up the then-smaller pie.


When everyone thinks they're a victim, nothing really happen (except that it's freagin annoying to listen to).

When everyone thinks they're victim who is owned the world as reparation and shouldn't have to be a productive member of society, then that's an issue.


> I think at the moment the consensus is undergoing a major change

Maybe but some recent election results suggest that what people think in private is rather different to what they say in public.


I think at the moment the consensus is undergoing a major change and that feels uncomfortable for those who felt the balance was OK.

Blaming a vague fear of change strikes me a cop-out. A convenient, reductive, explanation that makes it easy for me to not even try understanding a perspective I don't share.

I don't think it's too hard to try and hypothesize towards "steal manning" the perspective against defining myself as, or identifying publicly as, a victim.

Perhaps it's just meant as a life skill for achieving personal success. Not that we will be "taken over" at a culture or even individual level. A perspective that says the world is hard, and no matter how many accommodation are built it, I am responsible minimizing the impact of life set-backs. I might recall the setbacks when an external system is willing to help alleviate them, but should prevent myself from wallowing in them. In the areas I have control over, it's a better strategy to dust myself off and keep going than let myeself become consumed by setbacks.

Or another possible take...

What do we imagine will happen when everybody thinks of themselves as being victimised?

A culture that becomes decreasingly well-equipped at psychological coping.


Victimhood has been used to justify aggression and heinous acts throughout history.


> What do we imagine will happen when everybody thinks of themselves as being victimised?

On an individual level, self-pity, even when justified, is not very helpful, and though the two are not exactly the same, one leads to the other pretty easily.


The conservatives call it 'cultural marxism' when everything is filtered through a lens of oppressors and victims. Men oppress women, whites oppress blacks, and so on.


You and that podcast and all your direct replies seem to be taking "being a victim has become an identity to many" or "there is so much social currency connected to being a victim" as axioms. From an outsiders view, that seems like a meme that has spread quite widely, but does not seem to reflect reality.


So would you say that Damore is creating a victim identity for himself, or that he is an actual victim?

I can't imagine that you'd say "this company victimizes people for thoughts like mine," in front of the company, and then be surprised when exactly what you described seems to happen.


> So would you say that Damore is creating a victim identity for himself, or that he is an actual victim?

Based on interviews I have seen with him, he feels as a victim, but isn't creating any "victim identity", because he (somewhat) rejects the notion that he is a part of some group.

At least that's how I think one can answer your (somewhat loaded, frankly) question about somebody without opening their brain. Creating "victim identity" requires that there is a social group that one associates with, because the whole point of doing so is to find allies.


He has repeatedly identified himself with conservative thinkers, which he claims are victims.


IIRC in the Bloomberg interview linked from the article, he explicitly rejects that he would identify with alt-right (that's because the interviewer asks about it), and explains that he is pretty much a centrist. He does claim though that conservatives are victims of bias in Google, but that doesn't mean he _identifies_ with them.

Kinda similar worldview to Jonathan Haidt, for example.


He explicitly identified himself as a classical liberal in his essay, which most people today call libertarian. He feels that this group is a victim in the Valley, and he identifies as being part of this group.


If there's one thing this year has established, it's that we're all centrists, from the "create a white ethnostate" to "blackbloc anarchy forever" people.

Not that you could ever take people at their word for their beliefs and politics, but its seems especially disingenuous in this case.


I disagree, I don't see any evidence that he is being dishonest.


My point/observation is not so much about individual moments of feeling/being on the receiving end of discrimination, harrassment or "unfair" treatment, but about this being part/core of the identity.

I hope he will not adopt a victim identity although its sadly likely that this could happen, as this offers him more social currency and validation. Following the logic "better loved and championed by one tribe than by no one".

And who knows how it feels to be him right now. I have no idea.


> and while as a white man I experienced most likely much less of this

I think you might be less confident about this if you examine your framing. Examining your own framing is difficult, so humor me while I examine the author's framing:

'I’m not suggesting that my fellow interviewers were sexist. They weren’t even aware of their inconsistent judgment until I pointed it out. But this incident made me think that subconsciously, people are using another scale to judge women’s ability in tech. Nobody says it out loud because that’s no longer socially acceptable, but I couldn’t help but hearing it in my head: “She’s good for a woman. Even though she doesn’t do as well as that guy, she still gets the same scores because she’s in the women’s league.”'

The author is looking at a situation where a man is offered fewer opportunities, and it is framed as sexism against women. This is justified by asserting what was going on in the heads of other people (something she can never know).

Situation: Man is denied an opportunity Framing: This is sexism against a woman Evidence: Assertion about someone else's inner life

Well, we can just as easily make a different assertion, changing the evidence, which changes the framing. Why not assert that the interviewers are really thinking 'I couldn’t help but hearing it in my head: "He did the best, but he's a man. Men don't deserve positions of power because they abuse them to take advantage of other people sexually and economically. He should have a lower score."'

This changes the framing. Now the sexism is against a man:

Situation: Man is denied an opportunity Framing: This is sexism against a man Evidence: Assertion about someone else's inner life

Which framing fits the situation better.

But now you might say, "Sololipsist, that's unlikely to be the thought process. I don't know if we should make assertions about other people's inner lives." To that I say, "I strongly agree." What SHOULD happen here is that we should see evidence, which leads us to a frame that describes the situation. In both cases above, the frame leads to the evidence, which is wrong. This is a post-hoc rationalization.

Claims of sexism are a post-hoc rationalization to justify a claim. In this case, it's to justify a claim that denying an opportunity to a man is an injustice not to that man, but to women in general. Why, oh why, would you want to justify that claim in this particular case, without evidence? Why would you accept invented evidence (the inner lives of others) to justify this claim?

I suggest that it's because you've been socially conditioned to accept the frame that women are victims of sexism, but that men are not, and that this frame does not necessarily reflect reality. In fact, I suggest, in this light, that it's no more likely to be the correct frame than the opposite frame, that men are victims of sexism and women are not. Sure, you can justify the former frame with evidence, but is that evidence following from a frame?

I'm sure you accept the premise that men in the 50's lacked the appropriate frame to see how their actions and culture was oppressive to women - one of the greatest achievements of feminism, it is said, is that it provided this frame - after all, women didn't have to take power from men violently, they changed culture to get men to cede power willingly.

Maybe, as a white man, you've experienced a lot more racism and sexism than you realize, you've just been denied the appropriate frame to see it.


What's the podcast?


http://philosophizethis.org/

Sadly i dont remember anymore which episode it was. One of the most recent ones.

edit: #105. and as i've now listened to the quote again, i realize it was slightly different, but same point: "In a culture in which there so much social currency connected to being a victim..."


The thing is being a victim if a self-fulfilling prophecy. You have no idea what it's like to be another person. But if you are told that "people like you" will find it harder and will be the victim of more hardship then you will naturally attribute any hardship whatsoever to that fact.

The truth is that everyone has their own problems and hardship. Yes, even white men. If we really want to look at which group of people have, statistically, the hardest lives then we'd start by looking at suicide rates.


> The thing is being a victim if a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I don't agree. I think it can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

But the only way it could always be one would be if everyone single person's life contained an equal amount of good and bad. But life's not like that and some people get unlucky hands at the start of their lives and during their lives. Some much worse than others [1].

Also, note that in the notion of 'victim' I'm using here, being a victim of something has nothing to do with how you respond to that. It doesn't mean you have to act all victimised all the time and let it consume you.

[1] regarding "The truth is that everyone has their own problems and hardship. Yes, even white men", I think that statement is too vague. It comes across like it's saying since everyone faces problems/hardship then no-one has it worse than anyone else. Regarding the second sentence of that, I definitely agree that white men, and even straight white men, can face terrible problems and hardship. I really wish we, as a society, could recognise statistical points about certain groups statistically facing greater levels of certain hardships without also treating this as meaning therefore all members of the other groups always have it better.


That's not entirely true. Philando Castile, for instance, would not have been helped out by simply believing he was not a victim. In situations like job interviews and office experiences, it's certainly optimal on an individual level to expect (pretend?) that you'll be treated fairly -- it helps you carry yourself with confidence and increases the chances that you will be treated fairly. But it's irresponsible to put all your chips on just believing that you won't be treated unfairly.

For instance, I was recently confronted with an upcoming medical procedure in which 90% of patients in the US are treated with what I believe (and the evidence supports) is a riskier procedure than necessary, with longer recovery times. Simply believing I wouldn't be treated that way would be foolish -- it's hospital policy most places! So I did the work to find a place where I could be treated in the way I wanted, according to evidence-based guidelines. That was not trivial.

Looking at suicide rates is really interesting, although one should look more broadly at life expectancy. (Suicide rates do after all have a paradoxical relationship with some kinds of danger, like war.) Life expectancy for US men has decreased for the first time in recorded history outside of times of war, and it's almost solely due to drug overdose ("accident" in the data). The data tells some very interesting stories; when I find the study I'll add a link here. Anyhow, Native Americans win the "hardest lives" award by miles if we look at suicide or life expectancy, but white men have recently moved up in the standings, which might explain some of the current zeitgeist.


I think this whole claiming that being a victim as a self-fulfilling prophecy is flawed. It's hard to say a trans woman who's been murdered or raped had it coming. Or to say that an effeminate gay man is responsible for the actions of those who assaulted him.

I know that might not be what you mean but that is what violent perpetrators will use when it comes to court. They'll argue they panicked or that they felt an overriding urge to murder as if they went insane. This has been the common defense tactic used in criminal cases under the gay/trans panic defense. I don't know of a case where it's been entirely successful but it has mitigated sentences. So I think I'd rather have to deal with people perceiving themselves as victims but are not truly such than deal with mountains of corpses of true victims of our inherently violent cultures.


Seems that rational action to that defense tactic is to not allow it. Given the usually high bar for insanity pleads, the gay/trans panic defense is lowest form I have ever heard.

There were recently a case here in Sweden where a psychiatric patient had gone out of his meds, tried to get himself committed but got denied because there were no beds available, and then decided to commit suicide and brought his new born baby to a ledge. He throw the baby over, but then backed out on committing suicide himself and got charge with attempted murder (the baby survived). The court decided that while the episode was part of a psychiatric breakdown, it was not enough for a insanity plead.

If a person with no psychiatric problems can claim insanity when assaulting a gay or trans person, then thats seems like a extremely poor excuse.


>I don't know of a case where it's been entirely successful but it has mitigated sentences.

If true this is remarkable...disturbingly so. Can you cite some cases where this has happened?


Wikipedia has some cases where the defense was used, but it's hard to ascribed the cases where there was a conviction on a lesser charge (or sentencing decisions) specifically to the use of the defense.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gay_panic_defense


> Something that keeps bugging me - and this is in no way limited to tech - how being a victim has become an identity to many

Victimhood is a strategy that has been used since forever to gain power, influence and control. Victimhood is both shield used to defend against criticism and spear used to attack others.

You could look back to ancient greece ( herodotus ) and the Peloponnesian War. Or more recently to the "settlement/extermination" of the natives. One of our excuses for exterminating the natives is that we were being victimized by the natives who were defending their land.

An interesting case is ww2 and the holocaust. The nazis painted themselves as the victims of jews and used that supposed victimization to attack, steal and murder jews. Of course that naturally led to push back from the jews and which the opportunistic nazis as further evidence of "victimization".

And as a juxtaposition, look at what the israelis are doing to palestinians. They are using the victimization via nazi germany as an excuse to seize palestinian land and to prevent anyone ( especially europe ) from criticizing it.

Look at japanese justification for ww2. They justified invading much of the pacific rim nations were that they were being victimized by european powers.

The same applies to gulf of tonkin and our official entry in the vietnam war. Or more recently with 9/11 and the invasion of iraq. We were victimized and used that victimization to invade iraq ( which had nothing to do with 9/11 ).

The difference between seeking justice ( civil rights/suffrage/etc ) and victimization is that latter is vengeful and dishonest and greedy. Justice is a matter of what's right and fair. The ideology of victimhood is getting something for myself and taking something from others.

The civil rights and suffrage movement was about equality ( justice ). The modern victimhood movement is about taking from others. It's why the victimhood movement wants censorship. They want to take away someone else's rights. The civil rights movement was against censorship.


This text is the anecdotal version of this [1] paper

> The underrepresentation of women in academic science is typically attributed, both in scientific literature and in the media, to sexist hiring

> Here we report five hiring experiments in which faculty evaluated hypothetical female and male applicants, using systematically varied profiles disguising identical scholarship, for assistant professorships in biology, engineering, economics, and psychology.

> Contrary to prevailing assumptions, men and women faculty members from all four fields preferred female applicants 2:1 over identically qualified males with matching lifestyles (single, married, divorced), with the exception of male economists, who showed no gender preference.

> Comparing different lifestyles revealed that women preferred divorced mothers to married fathers and that men preferred mothers who took parental leaves to mothers who did not. Our findings, supported by real-world academic hiring data, suggest advantages for women launching academic science careers.

[1] http://www.pnas.org/content/112/17/5360.abstract


> The underrepresentation of women in academic science is typically attributed, both in scientific literature and in the media, to sexist hiring

If anyone seriously thinks sexist hiring is the main reason, they can't have thought about this for a very long time.

The horrible work-life balance in early phase academia, at the exact point when you are usually trying to start a family, is a much bigger issue. Especially since women in academia are often in relationships with men in academia, the question of "whose career do we down-prioritize" is answered as much by biology as by the wishes of the couple in question.

Another one that is also a much bigger issue than sexist hiring is that many of the "gender affirmative actions" that universities usually have are actually quite damaging to women scientists. E.g. we have one at my local university that says all PhD defense committees must include one woman. Typically what happens is that the easiest way to achieve this is to ask a local female professor to be the committee administrator.

That is just one example of how female scientists get handed a lot more non-research tasks, in the name of "gender equality", than their male counterparts. Other examples include project management and outreach activities, where departments are typically falling head-over-heels with an implicit but unintended "Look, we actually have a woman working here! Doing actual real work!" vibe.


> The horrible work-life balance in early phase academia, at the exact point when you are usually trying to start a family, is a much bigger issue.

It is unpleasant for both genders. As a male this horrible phase was a factor in me not keeping on the academic track, though not the only one.

> Especially since women in academia are often in relationships with men in academia, the question of "whose career do we down-prioritize" is answered as much by biology as by the wishes of the couple in question.

That sounds like a trade-off made by two intelligent adults working in tandem to better their family's place in the world.

I watched my wife perform with a professional ballet company 3 months after giving birth to our older child.

If the couple wants to prioritize the woman's career, certainly post partum lecturing, research, and mentoring can be resumed with full gusto in a similar time frame.


> we have one at my local university that says all PhD defense committees must include one woman.

Wow, that would be really hard to do in some engineering disciplines where I am, and also make the women in those departments take on unnecessary committee obligations compared to their male colleagues.

I recognize discriminatory hiring practices play a large role in M:F ratios in academic departments, but I do get tired of diversity being distilled into what you can tell about someone from a picture rather than their life experiences. My committee is all white guys, but their backgrounds are very different and all but one have had very unlikely paths to academia compared to someone growing up in the US.


Actually if you read the article she gives an example of seeing firsthand that a female was less likely to be accepted for a position with the same qualifications and it opened her eyes. The title is just click-baity


As a women in tech i'm starting to see another of these posts and thing URG Another*

Give some some more interesting tech posts dammit!

I've suffered sexism everywhere - not just in tech. Maybe i'm different because I enjoy writing code on my weekends, enjoy looking up the latest machine learning tools - that I really just ignore the sexism, because I want to make more things.

As long as you're not explicitly stopping me writing interesting things, say what you like about me. Stop me from writing stuff I want, and i'll just leave with my hefty portfolio of diverse projects.

I was the kid in school who would play football with other guys who would try and stop me, I just learnt to play better than them, because I loved playing, more than I cared about their sexism.

(note, not trying to belittle anyone, I understand these are real issues and each story is different! Mine is in no way representitive).

But I hate the rhetoric even coming from women's posts - that seems to put us down ourselves.

Even if there's sexism, as i've encountered from a kid, I'm staying because I love to code and make new things and it's a natural part of where the world is at the moment. I can change it, by staying and breaking people's perceptions.


So this probably isn't a legitimate concern on my part, apologies in advance if this comes out sounding offensive or just plain dumb. But it's an honest thought that I've had as a male in tech...

One of the things that scares me about all of the outreach programs, networking events, mentoring programs, etc. is that I worry it's going to bring in a lot of people into the industry who don't really enjoy programming but are in it for the prestige, money, etc. Computer programming is the only productive thing that I've ever enjoyed doing in my life. I taught myself to program as a teenager, studied CS in college and loved it, and have been working in industry ever since. I don't ever want to manage people, or meet with customers, or do anything else - I only want to write code.

Say what you will about the "frat boy monoculture" - for all of its shittiness at least it's mostly made up of people who are passionate about code, largely self-taught and self-motivated, and enjoy what they do. And almost all of the women programmers that I've worked with (and it sounds like the parent poster as well) have been the same... maybe even more so since they have had to deal with so much more shit along the way and are still here. And I don't want that to change (the part about working with passionate, fun people.. The discrimination and bias part needs to stop).


I have had exactly the opposite reaction to the "frat boy monoculture"- self-taught and self-motivated, maybe, but I have run into more people than I can count who came into the industry for the money.

10 years ago they would have been on Wall St.


This. I went in to tech to get away from these goddamn social people, and now they want to change tech to make themselves feel more comfortable. Why isn't loving the tech enough for you?

This is an emotional, somewhat juvenile, not particularly logical nor progressive response, but it's part of the truth for me.

Why do you want to feel accepted? What does that even mean? Come prepared. Do what you will.

* Of course, it would be nice to be able to show up for work without being creeped on by your bosses or co-workers. Not diminishing that. I've just never understood this wanting for acceptance. Write some C++. Boom. Accepted. You are a wizard. Fuck the mundanes.


I think with the outreach stuff that I have seen we just get more nerdy minorities. It's still basically the same kinda people.


I'm a woman. I didn't know what I wanted to do when I went to school so I chose CS on a whim. My life did not live and breathe code and I'm not someone who "appears" to be a programmer.

However I too am self motivated and have built a successful tech business simply because I like getting good at the things I do. I absolutely love it now but I was pretty confused in college.

Not sure if this answers any part of your question. I certainly have no problem with frat culture but I in the past I enjoyed work environments that were not too focused on any particular culture.


It may be beneficial to volunteer with one of these outreach programs to get a first hand look at the people that are being targeted / latching onto them.


>Say what you will about the "frat boy monoculture" - for all of its shittiness at least it's mostly made up of people who are passionate about code, largely self-taught and self-motivated, and enjoy what they do.

Having worked at companies that employ tons of recent grads, I haven't found this to be the case at all. Pretty much everyone I've worked with who has a college degree (so almost everyone) is more "brogrammer" than "hacker" and didn't write code until they went to school. Many don't know their way around a UNIX environment and have never written code outside IntelliJ on a fancy macbook. They'll tell you lisp is scary because it has too many parens, and call software "apps". They don't use or are actively hostile to Free Software and uncritically consume marketing. This is the "frat boy monoculture", I find little redeeming about it, to say nothing of the bigotry.

I find the opposite is true of the weirdos, slackers and dropouts, who taught themselves for fun and were working when their better educated but less cultured peers were in school, but that is a small cohort.


>Many don't know their way around a UNIX environment and have never written code outside IntelliJ on a fancy macbook

i'm pretty sure you mean Windows. Developing on Windows is mostly driven by Wizards, IDEs, and other GUIs.


i'm always confused when people confuse males in tech as fratty. It makes zero sense. And it shows a lack of understanding in males. For the most part, guys who code for fun are more often the dungeons+dragon, sci-fi, and anime lover type of guys. Not the meatheads and backwards baseball cap guys associated with fratty.

That's like comparing the type of women who like sewing and knitting with sorority girls.


Not only that, but many men suffer(ed) from these kind of biases / prejudices as well. For example macspoofing's post:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14988299

I had the same experience. Being into computers used to be "uncool".

Tech becoming more accepted by the general people is a pretty recent thing.


At the risk of incurring some pushback (which has happened when I've posted this topic before), some of the situations highlighted when discussing sexism against females ("in tech", usually, based on where I read them), has been something I and others have experienced as well, even though I'm not a female.

The stories of "getting ignored in meetings" and "having your ideas glossed over until someone else ('a man') puts them forward" resonate with me and other men I know as well. There are real power dynamics in some companies/orgs which usually mean that not only do ideas generally only get to come from men, but usually only certain types of men: the men who 'fit in' with management already.

But when pointing this out, I've been accused of ignoring sexism, or trying to downplay sexism, or trying to say it doesn't exist. None of those are true; I know it's a thing, but sometimes some of the symptoms seen may not actually be the result of gender bias (or race bias), but 'culture bias'. Sometimes someone's just being a jerk, not a 'sexist jerk', but if there's a gender difference, somehow 'sexism' is automatically applied to the equation, which may not always be warranted.

The impact of the biases I've experienced is still likely less detrimental than the effects of sexism on women in tech.


I'm a senior developer 20+ years of experience, but due to whatever reason most people tend to assume I'm between 25 and 30, which is more than a decade off.

My experience is that the kind of extrovert personalities we more often see in management or sales tend to undervalue both competency and experience unless I either prove myself spectacularly, or use a much more assertive, and to my sensibilities almost aggressive, style of communication.

Only rarely does this kind of problem occur with more introvert and/or majorly creative personalities commonly found on the tech side.

My belief is that while there obviously are straight up gender discrimination of a more structural nature, there also exist multiple trait dependent discrimination/biases which affects anyone regardless of gender, but sometimes to different extent.

A mild mannered 6' giant will still be listened to, a similarly mild mannered rail thin 120 pound brute will be ignored to some extent, I can only imagine that a similarly mild mannered petite woman will face quite brutal ignorance.


IMO this is very much more of a problem than "sexism". The reality is that business and politics are full of noisy self-regarding idiots, a fair proportion of whom are spectacularly incompetent.

Feminism seems to assume that there's a homogenous social and political group called "men" which is made up of people like this, and which automatically gives males free entry, with corresponding privileges.

Conversely being female means you are excluded from this group.

Both positions are nonsense.

The problem is behaviour, not gender. While it's - arguably, but probably - true that a disproportionate number of these idiots are male, it's absolutely not true that all males are like this.

It's also not true that no women are like this.

Again - the problem is behaviour. Not gender.

So when one of these annoying people talks over a woman in a meeting, women assume it's because of sexism. When in fact it's because of a political and cultural phenomenon that treats quieter and more thoughtful men in exactly the same ways.

Even though this phenomenon is absolutely endemic in business and politics, it doesn't even have a name.


I am a 10+ years male developer and I experience all those you said below too: "Getting passed over or ignored or bullied or silenced hurts no matter what the motivating factors"

I have been bullied so much that I avoid walking through the section where a particular guy sits. I have pointed out technical issues in projects many times, nothing happened. Thinking I am not good at speaking, I started emailing them. Still I get ignored. The only time they seem to think of me is when there is some travel required that would require several weeks of stay at a hotel.

I am thinking of leaving the software profession altogether. The only reason I haven't walked out till now is the fear of unknown.


This used to happen to me as well. Every new place I started, at the beginning it was fine, but after while I started to feel uncomfortable with some of the people and feel like not belonging to the group anymore.

What fixed it for me:

- Changing jobs also getting a higher salary / more to say over other people.

- Challenging myself to just do the things I fear. Just walk through that section, just do it, overcome it. No need to talk. Just walk there, look out of the window if there is one there with your coffee in your hand. Relax.

- Not putting too much energy into talking to people if not needed. Better to talk less than too much.

- Socializing more outside of my job to become more certain of myself. No need to go to disco clubs or bars, even going to hackatons and meeting new people will help.

- Learn to represent myself better and being aware of my looks (ask friends or family to help).

- Not taking things too personally.


Have you considered trying to do just remote work for a while ? It may, at the very least, give you some time to relax and not be subjected to the crap that you've been dealing with. I think you'll find that dealing with customers, while still problematic at times, can be much, much easier than dealing with coworkers that are jerks. You can always fire the customers. :-)


You're not alone, so take that unknown off your plate.

If you want to talk privately, email me.


Sorry to hear that :(. And to be honest - no matter what is happening whether it's sexism or watever the reason. I can understand how horrible that must feel.

40 years ago - Stephanie Shirely did have to sign her name as "Steve" in order to get contracts. If they saw a female name she would not get them. Only 40 years ago - the sexism is still going to be there somewhere in people. But "sexism" could be replaced by many other bias's - culture etc.

The only people who seem less likely to be affected by Bias's and sterotypes are people on the autistic spectrum! Maybe we should be hiring these guys as our managers, seriously.


Thanks, although I'm not in massive need of sympathy on this front :)

Getting passed over or ignored or bullied or silenced hurts no matter what the motivating factors.


Exactly this and I feel it is getting worse. People are increasingly getting into IT/ICT because of the job security and the money it brings, not really out of passion anymore. This also attracts certain kind of personalities I cannot really get along with.

I am just lucky that people respect me because of my 20+ years of professional experience. The office is really like a battlefield sometimes and I learned not to take things personally.


I think that's a great perspective as an individual, but the people making the decisions here are not the coders (they may have been, but it's not their job now).

If you're running a team, and someone has a legitimate complaint, you can't ignore it, because your job is to deal with it.

Would you say to the coder with the complaint, "Well you should just quit, then"? Or maybe just, "Stop complaining and do your job"?

What change do you think that have on people's perceptions?


But i'm not proposing "Stop complaining and do your job" :). Or just quit at the first sign of crap.

It's actually the complete opposite.


This is 100% the correct mindset. You can't police others thoughts, you can only ever control your own actions. If people doubt you: prove them wrong.


The focus on individuals, of either gender, is short sighted. I've worked as an engineer in a male dominated environment, and a lawyer in gender balanced ones. When I think of what I'd want my daughter to do, I can't help but think she'd have an easier time maximizing her potential in the latter field, where she doesn't have to deal with the awkwardness of being the only woman on her team, or working only for men team leaders. Today, much of the pipeline in law is both gender balanced and gender blind. There are no programs to encourage girls to take the LSAT, no gnashing of teeth about not enough women graduating with JDs or applying to law firms. It's not perfect (only a third of new partners are women, versus half of new associates) but we're light years ahead of tech.

It wasn't always that way. Fifty years ago, only 5% of women were lawyers (long after they were legally permitted to join the bar). People rolled out the same tropes--the work was too detail oriented and analytical for women, who preferred to work with people and children. They wouldn't want to deal with the stress and long hours. Etc. That turned out to be bunk. Now, people who want to maintain the idea that women are predisposed to not going into tech have to resort to distinguishing what were archetypally "male" fields like law by redefining those fields to be women-friendly ones.

The legal profession fixed the problem of historic discrimination in the field by not being gender blind. Schools and law firms gnashed teeth about their gender ratios, like tech schools and companies are doing now. And while that may have been "unfair" to certain individuals at certain moments in time, it was the only way to fix society's earlier sins.

A skewed gender ratio that is the product of past discrimination is itself a form of discrimination. If you want to claim to have leveled the playing field, then you have to actually level it and see if it stays level on its own. In law and medicine, that turned out to be the case. I don't expect the situation will be different in tech.


> A skewed gender ratio that is the product of past discrimination is itself a form of discrimination.

I don't agree. What is your definition of discrimination? My definition is that it is giving different preference to individuals based on some prejudice - that is, believed (regardless whether true or not) average attribute of the group they come from.

But if someone has a different preference, it's not a discrimination, even if the preference is "I don't want to go to a field where there is too few women". In other words, I don't believe "self-discrimination" is a form of discrimination.

> If you want to claim to have leveled the playing field, then you have to actually level it and see if it stays level on its own.

But didn't this already happened in tech? In the 80s U.S., there were more women in tech (computing) than today. Since then, the numbers have decreased.


The "preference" of wanting to fit in isn't unique for women, especially not in your teens. I've read a number of stories about how geeks, maybe primarily in the US, felt ostracized in high school. But even though I was a geek in high school that didn't matter much for what you did. Since playing sports, socializing and other actives were not heavily associated with school. I seem to hear plenty of stories online like "I didn't think exercise was for me, but now I've started biking, weightlifting, climbing etc". Would you say that geeks who don't do certain things in high school in the US were "self-discriminating"?


> Would you say that geeks who don't do certain things in high school in the US were "self-discriminating"?

You can say that, but I don't see how it's harmful, unlike a discrimination against a different person. If someone has a preference based on incorrect world-view (in your example, association with school) and only later corrects this, that's OK. Trying to fix this by ignoring the earlier preference would be to succumb to a hindsight bias. Just because today you think your preferences were wrong in the past doesn't mean that they were wrong at the time.

In other words, preferences cannot be wrong, because there is no objective function to evaluate them against other than how your mind feels about them. The decisions based on those preferences can be wrong, but you won't know until you make them.

Anecdotally, I have read quite a lot of articles where women explained why they don't want to work in IT. Often, I get a feeling that the real reason why is a different one than what they say (they for example mention sexism or communication problems, where I think the real reason is that they just don't enjoy computers that much). But regardless what the truth is, it is their preference and it should be respected.


You seem to assume that preference is one sided. I can understand that you might not think it is a problem. What I can't understand how you think (if that is what you think) that the condition are the same. Even in your scenario men don't have to overcome "self-discrimination" to become interested in computers, women do. And they have to do so at a time in their lives where most people, maybe geeks especially, are insecure about themselves. And even if we assume that it is only women, and not men, who suffered from this "self-discrimination" we don't really do a good job of letting them correct it later. Instead people insist on focusing on "hacker culture", "having coded since you were young" and "being the right kind of computer geek" long after finishing high school.


I am sorry, I don't understand your point. You're using the word "self-discriminate" as it would be a thing - even though my whole point was that it isn't a thing.

I mean high school jocks (men) also "self-discriminate" against using computers. I don't see where I am one-sided. Everybody makes some choices, sometimes they are misinformed, and sometimes they change the choice later, and sometimes they regret.

Also you shouldn't forget that many men (lot more than women) tend to risk and make some really bad choices in their youth (like driving motorcycles, participating in crime..).

> Instead people insist on focusing on "hacker culture", "having coded since you were young" and "being the right kind of computer geek" long after finishing high school.

I don't think they are, particularly. I think if you feel that way, you just need to go out more. In any field, many people who are really good at it started at the early age.

Although you could perhaps claim that this feeling of wrong choices in youth affects women more, because they tend to self-doubt more. But, it's a feeling, it won't return you the time. Society can try to make people avoid bad choices, but only so much.


I agree with you. My journey as a woman in tech involved challenging certain belief systems within myself and was a critical though subtle part of learning to code.

However my understanding is that these policies are not put in place to correct self discrimination as you call it so much as external biases.


The question to ask is - do these policies counter balance existing prejudices and biases in tech? As a woman in tech, I say they do. You may disagree but I think this discussion requires a lot of input and studies that analyze this topic.

The article in question here - though the title appears to imply differently - gives an anecdotal example of unconscious discrimination against a woman during the hiring process that changed the authors perspective on things.


I don't disagree with what you said, I don't see how you in any way disagree with what I said in the above comment.

Discrimination is bad. But just respecting other person's preferences, even if you perceive them as biased, is not.


> I can't help but think she'd have an easier time maximizing her potential in the latter field, where she doesn't have to deal with the awkwardness of being the only woman on her team.

I worked for a while with a law firm that was almost 100% women. I was the only male on the team at the time, but I was okay with that. I don't need to be surrounded by my own gender to be comfortable. I think team cohesion & the quality of the work being done is more important than a specific gender balance.

Whenever people mention mandatory gender balance in business, it makes me wonder if people expect that firm to have fired some of the women just to make room for men. I definitely would not want that.


I'm not really sure I see the point. A relatively small company might have a skewed gender ratio just as a result of random variation. The issue is when a large company like Google, or the industry as a whole, has a skewed gender ratio.

> it makes me wonder if people expect that firm to have fired some of the women just to make room for men. I definitely would not want that.

No-one ever suggests doing that, so why are you bringing it up? It seems an entirely artificial concern.


I am a little concerned with the 'may have been "unfair" to certain individuals' bit of your post. It takes a lot of effort to not react to such incidents- either non-violently or in the worst case violently.

This pent up frustration at being part of a pseudo meritocracy is reflected in unfortunate places - - "Oh why do you care about this appraisal <girl's name>, you can marry and settle rich" (unfortunately this actually happened to someone I know).

My point being - the people that might be victims of your 'may have been "unfair"' approach, end up as not-nice people who are proponents of the sexism that we are trying to end here.


Really well said. This matches my experience as a woman in tech. There is nothing inherently about tech that makes it unenjoyable to woman. It's just an image problem and discomfort being part of a minority. Nothing biological about it. I feel like so many more woman would love this field if they better understood what it is and why it's worth it.


I always enjoy reading your thoughtful comments on this topic.

What do you think about the indirect rebuttal to some of your points made here — http://slatestarcodex.com/2017/08/07/contra-grant-on-exagger... — in sections II and IV? It seems to respond to two arguments you've made: that (a) other countries having better representation of women in STEM shows that the issue is culturally determined; and that (b) the relative smallness of the gender gap in fields like law, math, and medicine contradicts the idea that women caring more about people than things would necessarily show up in aggregate career choices.


I can tell you as a woman, yes woman care about people but we don't really care that much. We care about money too. ;) We can get a lot of our people needs through family.

A lot of the jobs woman choose are just due to money- especially being a nurse as I know quite a few. It's not really an easy job from what I hear from my friends but it pays really well with minimal training. As well as a programmer where I live!

I didn't read the entire link because it was really long but I took a look and I can give you my thoughts as a woman in tech.

"Might young women be avoiding computers because they’ve absorbed stereotypes telling them that they’re not smart enough, or that they’re “only for boys”? "

The author goes on to point to studies that prove otherwise. I really question such studies because they tackle such a broad topic with a limited subset of people and I guess it also doesn't align with my experience.

I would say stereotypes and having to overcome those stereotypes are a huge emotional drain. When I was in college, the president of Harvard Larry Summers came out saying math/science scores have now proved woman are not as capable in tech. To have a person of such authority say this was disheartening at least when I was just trying to keep as positive of an attitude as I could about my own capabilities getting my CS degree.

If I had been any less up for a challenge, I would have switched to another major. Yes I think it's a big deal and it's been too little time to make any conclusions about female aptitude in this regard.


To be clear, not stating the people thing as my own belief, just stating the premises of the argument. Grr, too late to edit now.

(I read your entire comment, but don't have anything meaningful to add on.)


One of the latest slate star codex article (http://slatestarcodex.com/2017/08/07/contra-grant-on-exagger... ) mentions how there is still gender disparity in medical specialties. Do you have any statistics about this in law?

Maybe to have more women in tech you'd have to devise tech specialties which are more about humans and less about negotiating with machines.


Not really. I can tell you as a woman in tech, one of the things I love most about my job is interacting with machines. Machines are simple, people are complex. Plenty of women spend their whole day on a computer at work with only minimal more interaction with people, if any, than a programmer. It's not for everyone but there is no need to adjust the job at all for women.


If people want more than 20% women in tech the job may have to be ajusted.


> When I think of what I'd want my daughter to do, I can't help but think she'd have an easier time maximizing her potential in the latter field, where she doesn't have to deal with the awkwardness of being the only woman on her team, or working only for men team leaders.

Women lawyers only make up 18% of the law partners.

http://www.ibtimes.com/gender-gap-female-lawyers-progress-sl...

And women make 44% less than the men.

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/13/business/dealbook/female-...

> The legal profession fixed the problem of historic discrimination in the field by not being gender blind.

By making it gender blind, only 18% of the women made partner.


IMHO the very idea of forcefully pulling women into the tech field is the root of evil here. This philosophy gives birth to the stereotype that women are “worse” than men in engineering and science, because someone who is employed based on their sex, orientation, color, etc. rather than actual skills and competences makes life miserable for their team members who then start thinking that some particular group is generally worse than the other. Stop shoving tech down their throat and absurd stereotypes and sexism will disappear on their own without the need of silencing someone’s view by force.


I'm of the opinion that the very act of trying to artificially create equal outcome, is itself sexism. Currently we have both biased opportunity and biased outcome aimed at artificially drawing more women into tech.

I cringe every time I see a tech woman's award. "Applaud X for her achievement in creating Y, that wasn't good enough for the main award but it's the best women can do".

Society is sick, somehow (almost) everybody fell asleep at the wheel and forgot that equal opportunity trumps equal outcome. It drives people from all backgrounds to work harder and means we don't end up presenting "okay" as the best that's out there. We don't artificially add 10% to men's Olympic times, why should be being doing the equivalent in employment? Can't we just hire the best person for the job, not for quotas?

And lastly, where are the people complaining about unfair treatment of Asians in the US, or women only companies? These shouts of discrimination are extremely polarized.


>I'm of the opinion that the very act of trying to artificially create equal outcome, is itself sexism.

The predominant view (with enough dominance to get someone fired from Google for challenging it) is that there are no differences between the sexes that can be considered legitimate at all (cultural, in preferences, evolutionary tendencies, etc.), and thus any non-equal outcome much inevitably be the result of suppression.

I don't doubt oppression against women existed and exists (in various forms).

I doubt:

a) that it is an one way street (women have immense power over their children, including male children, and a particular role later in sexual selection, which is hardly a male-dominated "sport") that are not questioned at all in modern societies (e.g. not in the era of arranged marriages). It's assumed that "patriarchy" is bad, but not that "matriarchy" can be bad as well.

b) that there are no legitimate, at least in the context of evolution and culture, differences in preferences between sexes that are not attributable to downright oppression or some "anti-woman" notion.

Women are men, in essence, that just happen to lack penises, and men are women, in essence, that just happen to lack vaginas. Differences in development, body types, capabilities, evolutionary roles, hormonal content, etc., are not to be considered beyond this a priori fact.


The argument I think generally goes like this:

Either women and men as groups are fundamentally equal and there are no intrinsic differences between the two groups, neither in the averages nor distribution. In that case women should not need any special treatment to advance in the same careers. Any imbalance is either the result of bigotry within the field of work or prior to that at the gatekeepers (i.e. college, K12, family).

Or women and men as groups are different, either in the averages (i.e. on average, X are better at Y than Z) or in distribution (i.e. men and women are equally good at or interested in X but one group has more outliers on both ends of the scale). In this case gender parity can only be gained and maintained artificially because a perfectly fair unbiased selection would always result in a skewed balance.

Some studies seem to suggest the latter. We know this to true in sports (which is why e.g. the Olympics are strictly segregated by gender). It just becomes a political problem as soon as we try to propose that this hold true outside the pure physicality of competitive sports.

It's en vogue to treat humans as brains in a vat as soon as we discuss these issues but I'm not convinced this isn't the same fallacy as economists assuming pure rational actors and physicists assuming spherical cows in a vacuum.

EDIT: Obligatory note: gender discrimination is a thing, not just in tech. Corrective measures may help with that. But if we don't know which one of the two premises holds true (or rather to which extent each one is true in this specific case) we don't know whether we can reach both gender parity AND close the gender pay gap, at the same time.


I think part of the problem is that there is no easy way to tell apart the two possibilities you describe, and corrective measures are not uniquely warranted when the "correct" ratio is 50/50. In fact (perhaps counter-intuitively) corrective measures are probably most warranted when one gender is better than the other. I don't mean what you might think I mean: I don't say that because the ratio ought to be brought to 50/50. What I mean is that if the "correct" ratio is, say, 60/40, you need corrective measures to make sure it does not increase.

The reason why is that this is not a problem with stable dynamics. If you know that Xs are better at Y than Zs, then upon meeting an X you will mentally assign a higher prior "competence" to them than to Z. As you evaluate them, the prior will eventually be replaced by a fair assessment of their skill, but it will never disappear completely. The end result is that at equal competence, you will hire more Xs than Zs.

Now, if, at equal competence, you hired as many Xs as Zs, you would have a ratio of 60/40. But your knowledge of this ratio gives you a prior that favors X, which means you do not do that. Instead, you will get a more skewed ratio, like 65/35. Seeing the discrepancy, Zs will believe that they are being discriminated against, and this will disincentivize them a little from pursuing Y. The Z applicants' quality will decrease, and the gap will widen. So the only way to really get the 60/40 ratio, paradoxically, would be to make sure that evaluators believe that it is 50/50... but then they might feel compelled to compensate for what they believe must be their own bias!

Anyway, it's a really complicated problem, and every side seems to be hoarding their own spherical cows about it.


Interesting. But that would still mean you need to determine the "correct" ratio and adjust the corrective measures to make sure they don't accidentally hypercorrect.

Additionally there's still the problem that we're talking about spherical cows. Hiring policies don't exist in a vacuum. I'll talk about squares and triangles to keep it abstract.

Hiring only "the best of the best" is a quite popular strategy. Let's say the "shared average" model is correct and squares are overrepresented near the average of the applicant pool while underrepresented at the top and bottom. The "correct" ratio might be 60/40. The actual ratio for the top (and bottom) percentile might end up being closer to 90/10.

Now, depending on the size of the pool those 10% squares of the top percentile might be enough for one company to maintain its ratio while only hiring "the best of the best", or even several companies. But at some point companies will have to either sacrifice its ratio and hire more triangles or sacrifice its standards and hire squares who are weaker than some of the triangle candidates.

Note that so far I haven't even been talking about discrimination or perceived biases. This is what happens if we have perfectly rational actors with perfect knowledge of the market simply enacting the policy "only hire the best of the best" with the restriction of "try to maintain a ratio of 60/40".

You could argue sometimes going for the weaker candidate is worth it to combat the chilling effects of perceived biases. But it should be obvious why it's naive to expect any company to choose so voluntarily when it means the competition that doesn't follow the rule will get more better candidates.

And so far we're talking about a single property that is split pretty evenly across the greater population (even if the hiring pool might be unbalanced). What if 60% of the population is yellow, 30% are blue, 9% are green and 1% are red? Diversity programmes often aim for equal representation of minorities, not just for proportional representation. So that means you want 25% red. But you also want this for both sets of polygons, so at a 50/50 ratio you need to try to hire 12.5% red squares, 12.5% red triangles and so on for all colors. Next imagine 20% of squares and triangles also have rounded corners. And 1% changed their number of corners at some point in their lives.

This is clearly a field that needs unexcited empirical studies. Yet gender studies are seething with ideological bias, taking the conclusions a priori as self-evident. And critics are lumped in with those who are ideologically opposed.

I have no idea what the actual distributions look like. I don't know what the correct ratio would be. I know sexism exists. I also know plenty of women are put off by far more benign aspects of the field. I also know plenty of men are put off as well.

For all its flaws the Google Memo got one thing right: appealing to emotion (what he mistakenly called "empathy") is not the way to further our understanding of the situation. Personal anecdotes are heartwarming or gut-wrenching but anecdotes are not data. When scientific results don't match up with anecdotes that shouldn't mean the science is wrong. It just means "this warrants further study". Maybe the science is wrong, then we can find out how that happened and do more science while preventing the same mistakes. But maybe the anecdotes as important as they may feel are outliers. Or maybe both are true and there are problems we need to address but they distract from the actual cause.

It's not like climate change. With climate change if climate change is wrong, by addressing it we just end up wasting a lot of resource to make the world better nevertheless. With identity politics (assuming companies actually "lower the bar" for minorities to "fix" their ratios), if we're wrong, we've ended up treating a lot of people unfairly just to end up with numbers that look fairer.

I think we should continue encouraging women and minorities to get into tech. I also think we should combat sexism and bigotry in the industry. But I also think we should not forestall the conclusion when trying to understand the root cause of these disparities.


No, the predominant view is that there is no evidence that women are genetically predisposed to be worse at programming (on average) than men.

The idea that women might be worse at programming for biological reasons is an entirely post-hoc hypothesis deriving from the current gender distribution in the field. As lots of other STEM fields have seen a sharp increase in the number of women over the past decades, while computer science and software engineering have not, the grounds for thinking that biological differences between men and women are relevant are extremely shaky, and really are nothing more than pseudoscientific rationalizations of the status quo.

Please lets not have any more of this absurd straw man argument that men and women must be equally good at programming because men and women are exactly the same. No-one thinks this.


I have no real knowledge on this, but what if women just don't, as a generalistic point of view, find programming as interesting? There are plenty of things I don't find that interesting, or enthralling enough to pursue a career in. Midwifery, primary-school teaching, gardening.

Now, I'm not sure if that's just society having pushed me in that direction, or if I, as a human, just don't enjoy those. If it's the former, maybe it needs some work. If it's the latter, does 'equal outcome' really work?

I don't see as big a push to equal out the playing fields in things such as janitorial work. This may be due to the fact that it's not as cognitive, which I understand. I think we need more women in tech to expand our (currently male) viewpoint. But I'm not sure that aggressively targetting people who may not be as interested, from either gender, is the way to do it.


>I have no real knowledge on this, but what if women just don't, as a generalistic point of view, find programming as interesting?

If you have no reason to think that this is true, what is the point of speculating about it?


The same goes for the opposite notion.


Not really. Men and women are both human, and you'd expect them to be the same in any given respect absent evidence to the contrary.


>No, the predominant view is that there is no evidence that women are genetically predisposed to be worse at programming (on average) than men.

That might or might not be so -- they might even be better than men.

But note that programming is not just the act of programming. When we talk about "programming jobs" we also talk about specific management structures, deadlines, pressure, long hours, etc. which women might not care about, while men, idiotic as they are, might find "cool" or "macho". After all, men are the idiots that companies lure with free sodas and fussball tables -- I don't think many women would fall for that kind of crap.


"Please lets not have any more of this absurd straw man argument that men and women must be equally good at programming because men and women are exactly the same. No-one thinks this."

Sure, but you seem to be implying another straw man that women have to be functionally worse at some task for a difference in outcome to be genetic. People talk much more often about a difference in interest, which could very much be partially genetic.


Exactly the same considerations apply to differences in interest. Men and women don't have to have the same interests to find programming equally interesting, since there are a great many different respects in which someone might find programming interesting and rewarding.


"Men and women don't have to have the same interests to find programming equally interesting, since there are a great many different respects in which someone might find programming interesting and rewarding."

This just doesn't make any sense. Just because a hypothesis hasn't been proven doesn't mean that it isn't the case. People don't argue that, "Men and women are different in some respects therefor we presume that they won't have the same performance in this particular field." They argue that, "There is a marked difference in outcome in this particular field and that difference may have something to due with the differences between men and women."

You are trying to argue (it seems) that the difference in outcome in tech is due entirely or primarily to social factors. If that's the case, the burden of proof is on you to show that alternative hypotheses don't apply. If it's not the case, then we need to evaluate how we pursue quotas and other diversity initiatives.

For myself, I've seen arguments that a pretty convincing case (from statistics and known biological factors) for the "interest" hypothesis. It certainly applies to the men and women in my personal life. (I've never worked in the Valley.) It could, I suppose still be largely wrong, but that's not a-priori obvious.


>They argue that, "There is a marked difference in outcome in this particular field and that difference may have something to due with the differences between men and women."

That is not an argument. It's speculation.

>You are trying to argue (it seems) that the difference in outcome in tech is due entirely or primarily to social factors. If that's the case, the burden of proof is on you to show that alternative hypotheses don't apply

The burden of proof is on anyone who claims to know why there are fewer women than men in tech. It doesn't apply exclusively to people with one particular opinion on the matter, as you seem to think it does.

If you look at other fields, radical shifts in gender balance have occurred quite frequently over the past few decades. And women keep telling us about sexism in tech and how it dissuades them from participating in it. And there are far more women in equally geeky fields like, say, mathematics. So it's not really that hard to figure out what's going on.

>For myself, I've seen arguments that a pretty convincing case (from statistics and known biological factors) for the "interest" hypothesis

Then please reveal these arguments so that they can be evaluated.


"That is not an argument. It's speculation."

So is the stance that there are fewer women primarily because of social factors. Regardless, when attempting to establish a statistical effect, you have to rule out alternative explanations, even those based on speculation.

"The burden of proof is on anyone who claims to know why there are fewer women than men in tech. It doesn't apply exclusively to people with one particular opinion on the matter, as you seem to think it does."

No, I do not think it does. The burden of proof is on anyone who advocates for one reason over another. I haven't actually argued for stance over another, only corrected your attempts to frame the debate a certain way.

"Then please reveal these arguments so that they can be evaluated."

The SSC post shared multiple times in this thread is one example and I don't see any attempts to rebut this on your part.

"If you look at other fields, radical shifts in gender balance have occurred quite frequently over the past few decades. And women keep telling us about sexism in tech and how it dissuades them from participating in it. And there are far more women in equally geeky fields like, say, mathematics. So it's not really that hard to figure out what's going on."

Sure 'women keep telling us about sexism in tech'. I've read some of those anecdotes. But there is and was also sexism in those other fields you mention. And there are anecdotes such as the one that this thread is on that suggest that sexism in tech can have the opposite effect. So your argument isn't any more clear cut than the reverse argument. It certainly depends on a lot of anecdotes and assumptions about the direction of causation.

I want to be clear here. My intent isn't to argue that there isn't sexism in tech, or that it isn't a problem. (Again, I don't work in the Valley and wouldn't know) My intent is to argue that there are potentially other factors at play and if you don't consider them in your policy decisions, you will have a hard time correcting the problem.


>So is the stance that there are fewer women primarily because of social factors.

No, it is not speculation. In my previous comment I mentioned a number of converging lines of evidence supporting this position.

>The SSC post shared multiple times in this thread is one example and I don't see any attempts to rebut this on your part.

Check the comments, and the reddit thread that he links to correcting his mistakes regarding Harvey Mudd. The argument is full of holes. Remember that SSC is just a blog, and it's written by someone who is not very well informed on these issues.

>Sure 'women keep telling us about sexism in tech'. I've read some of those anecdotes.

It's quite offensively dismissive to refer to multiple independent and credible reports of sexist behavior merely as "anecdotes". But I guess it's clear from this what your position really is, despite your claims to neutrality.

>And there are anecdotes such as the one that this thread is on that suggest that sexism in tech can have the opposite effect.

This isn't what the article actually says. The title is click-bait.

>My intent is to argue that there are potentially other factors at play

There are always "potentially" other factors at play. That is so weak a statement as to be meaningless.


Not all aspects might be important enough to have somebody consider it such a career. And most important might be just 1-2 aspects that men happen to care about more (or vise versa, but we don't see that).


>The predominant view (with enough dominance to get someone fired from Google for challenging it) is that there are no differences between the sexes that can be considered legitimate at all (cultural, in preferences, evolutionary tendencies, etc.), and thus any non-equal outcome much inevitably be the result of suppression.

While I'm not sure how common the view is, one I've seen often enough is even worse because it limits itself to only cases where women are seen as losing out. So any case where women are worse is due to discrimination. Cases where men are worse might be due to discrimination, but might also be biological. At the least, there seems the view that men are biologically worse in some way seems far more socially acceptable than the opposite.


"somehow (almost) everybody fell asleep at the wheel and forgot that equal opportunity trumps equal outcome"

It may be that as a lot of folks have argued (including Scott Alexander[1]) that women are simply less inclined to go into tech for innate reasons. (Not saying that's true, but it seems at least plausible.) But even if true, it may also be true that systemic bias is still a problem. IOW, what the Google memo and a lot of other folks seem unable to acknowledge is that these points aren't mutually exclusive.

Ross Douthat -- not exactly a raging progressive -- makes this point well[2]:

"The memo was sometimes tone deaf, clinical, insensitive (in, well, a stereotypically male sort of way), understating the ways in which self-selection and sexism can shape an industry. Even if more men than women are attracted to a particular field, a male-dominated profession can be distinctly unpleasant for the women who work in it, in ways that can justify special scrutiny, recruitment and redress."

[1] http://slatestarcodex.com/2017/08/07/contra-grant-on-exagger...

[2] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/09/opinion/google-women-memo...


Certainly, systemic bias may still be a problem. The issue is that, unless you believe that men and women are exactly the same, and physical and psychological differences somehow stop at what interests they'll pick, the expected distribution of preferred professions wouldn't be 50-50.

If there are innate differences in what men and women find fulfilling, you wouldn't expect to see equal participation in everything. Shooting for 50% quotas is then misguided, because all it means is that you're doing more work to find candidates that will pass your filter, as you're looking in a smaller pool on one of the two sides.


It's unclear to me that anyone is aiming for a 50-50 distribution, nor am I implying that that should be the end goal. Megan McArdle has a new article in which she generally agrees that there's probably a biologically rooted difference in interest levels in tech, but that:

"So even if the disparities don’t start off as discrimination, you can still end up with an environment in which women who could be great engineers decide they’d rather do something else. A “natural” split of, say, 65-35 could evolve into a much more lopsided environment that feels downright unfriendly to a lot of women. And the women who have stuck around anyway are apt to get very mad indeed when they hear something that seems to suggest they’re not experiencing what they quite obviously are."

Worth reading in full: https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-08-09/as-a-woma...


Ah, yes, in that case I agree with you 100%.


Men and women don’t have to be “exactly the same” to be equally good at programming. Germans and Spaniards are not “exactly the same” on average, but that doesn’t mean we automatically expect there to be more German programmers than Spanish programmers or vice versa. The question isn’t whether men and women are exactly the same, but whether they are, overall, on average, equally good at doing the relevant tasks. Even if men and women have different cognitive strengths and weaknesses (which I doubt that they do, to any significant extent), these might very well balance out. So for example, Federer and Nadal are very different, but about equally good.


That is very much not the question. The question is whether there exists an equal proportion of men and women in the population. If you want to hire a senior developer, and women make up 60% of that population, it would be counter-productive to try and mandate 50% quotas, because then you'd be looking for people in the minority population.

Sexist hiring practices isn't having fewer women than men. Sexist hiring practices are having a men:women ratio that is different from the ratio in the applicant pool. If the general population of developers is 90% men and 10% women, hiring 9 men for each woman is exactly what you'd expect to see in an unbiased hiring process.

I don't think "equally good" even makes sense. Of course there's nothing preventing women to be as good as men at programming, or vice-versa. You have to look at populations per level of competence, and that still doesn't mean that someone "can't" be as good as someone else. Maybe they're just not interested in that thing as much.


The relative lack of women in the applicant pool is obviously one of the problems that Google and other companies are trying to fix with their various outreach initiatives.

If you take the proportions in the applicant pool as given and unchangeable, then that may not be sexist per se, but it is perpetuating an imbalance that has its roots in sexism on a societal level.

Again, the mere existence of differences between men and women absolutely does not mean that you should expect there to be a difference in the size of the respective applicant pools. That is just bad logic. The argument is the same regardless of whether we are talking about interest or ability.


> The relative lack of women in the applicant pool is obviously one of the problems that Google and other companies are trying to fix with their various outreach initiatives.

Certainly. We're just debating whether the proposed solutions are doing more good than harm.

> Again, the mere existence of differences between men and women absolutely does not mean that you should expect there to be a difference in the size of the respective applicant pools.

Why is that? Are we sure the distributions of things men and women like are exactly the same? Men and women are different both physically and psychologically, so what is the force that counterbalances the differences and makes the distributions of things each gender likes identical?


>Why is that? Are we sure the distributions of things men and women like are exactly the same? Men and women are different both physically and psychologically, so what is the force that counterbalances the differences and makes the distributions of things each gender likes identical?

Because it is possible for two people to be very different and yet equally interested in and equally good at any particular task. It is obvious that men and women are different in some respects. What is not obvious that men and women differ in such a way that men are going to be better at programming, or more interested in it, than women are.


> What is not obvious that men and women differ in such a way that men are going to be better at programming, or more interested in it, than women are.

What is also not obvious is that they don't. Since men and women differ in pretty substantial ways, I think the burden of proof is on people who claim they're both interested in the same things equally.

It's fine if some demographics just aren't interested in some things, if they're free to choose them. It's not fine to say "no! You must be interested in whatever everyone else is interested in, otherwise the notion of equality I have doesn't make sense!"

To summarize, my entire point is that we should make it so each person can freely choose what they want, rather than trying to make the posterior distributions fit the model that we imagine must be the right one. That means no "boys can't play with dolls", no "engineering isn't for women", but also no gender/demographic quotas.


>What is also not obvious is that they don't. Since men and women differ in pretty substantial ways, I think the burden of proof is on people who claim they're both interested in the same things equally.

How convenient that the burden of proof is on people who disagree with you!

I think this is a very odd position to take, given that men and women have far more commonalities than differences. (After all, they are both human.) It doesn't seem sensible to take it as the default position that men and women are going to be differentially interested in any given thing to a significant extent.

>no gender/demographic quotas.

I didn't say anything about quotas, and I don't think anyone in this entire discussion said anything about them either, so I'm not sure where you're getting that from.

>my entire point is that we should make it so each person can freely choose what they want,

Everyone agrees with this point. But women are not free to choose what they want when they are systematically excluded from some professions.


> if men and women have different cognitive strengths and weaknesses (which I doubt that they do, to any significant extent)

I don't agree. And I think this is a core reason that the outreach is needed. Because of different points of view, and a broader candidate pool with different psychological make-ups, we can expand our viewpoint and do better, more interesting things.

I think that Google, Facebook, etc are not only reaching out to women in tech as a community gesture. I think that they see the value in the expanded viewpoint and the new things that can be developed because of it.


Men and women certainly have different experiences and viewpoints, but that's not what I meant by a cognitive strength or weakness. I meant e.g. men being significantly better at spatial reasoning, or something like that. My impression is that the evidence for significant differences of this kind is rather scanty.


Software development is the perfect example of a role where the only thing that matters, at all, is the quality of the output. When I think about supposed discrimination in tech, I think back to every class I ever took that related to computer programming. How not a single one was ever attended by a female classmate.

It seems reasonable to me, therefore, that there should be an imbalance. To match what was a clear disparity in interest at the education level. If anything I see incredible imbalance in the opposite direction.

Anyone could have attended those classes for the cost of tuition. That isn't to say taking a class is all that could make sometime good at programming I'm just using it as a good reference to the fact there might actually be a difference.


Yeah same. In class for engineers (mixed IT/EE) we were 70 students, out of which 69 were male. Note that this Finland, which seems to rank among top 3 in any list about gender equality per country.


It's not gonna happen. There is a whole movement for "getting girls into coding" - conferences, organizations, workshops... You might say they don't really care what girls feel. But it's more complicated than that: these people think that girls have been conditioned, and the can be reeducated to like tech. That's an ideological issue, hard to debate because it's based on deep convictions. So no, they won't stop shoving tech down their throats.


It is a tricky issue. I have a bunch of friends who were involved in these programs in college. I didn't quite get it until one of them pointed at the computer engineering and software engineering programs on campus. Of all the engineering fields, theirs had the most unbalanced ratio of men and women.

That's not to say I think it must be exactly 50/50, and I definitely agree merit should be the consideration in hiring. But if young girls go to a general "learn about engineering" event and see 90% men presenting, go over a number of years, and never see a woman in computer or software engineering present, they probably wouldn't be very interested in those programs.

And if they got to college and started in the program, they are one of (literally) about 2 women in the ~100 freshman, they do have additional challenges to face in the program. Numerous times I've seen women in engineering groups bring up a point, get it poo-poo'd, only for a man to think of it a few minutes later and advance the team on the project. Watch for it, it happens more than you'd think. They will likely also face some degree of awkward guys asking them for dates, really awkward social interactions with some members of their major members, etc.

There's a study (I can't find it right now) which looked at the composition of groups in engineering classes. IIRC, groups with 1/4 woman member had very low participation levels by the woman, but comparable levels with 2/4.


> You might say they don't really care what girls feel.

What do you mean by this?

> these people think that girls have been conditioned, and the can be reeducated to like tech.

Boys and girls are conditioned by their toys and hobbies at a young age. Statistically, boys are encouraged to play with toys that develop their large motor and spatial skills while girls are encouraged to play with toys that develop their social and emotional skills. These "getting girls into coding" workshops are used to expose girls to toys and skills that they might have not had the chance to experience before. There is no "reeducating to like tech" going on. These events are purely voluntary and from my experience, the girls have a ton of fun.


>> You might say they don't really care what girls feel.

> What do you mean by this?

What I mean is that as a parent, I'm sometimes puzzled by very strong opinions and preferences my children have. It struck me at the very beginning, before they had a chance of being conditioned by other kids from the kindergarten etc. Mostly they were conditioned by us, the parents.

My boy loved airplanes. He didn't like cars much, just airplanes. I like cars and I'd like him to like cars. Also, as a male parent, I'd like my daughter to do certain things I like. I was only partially successful, she still loves much more certain things I detest (all this princess stuff, I think it's terrible for a number of reasons, but that's not the point here).

What I want to say is that children have their feelings and preferences. And if you ignore these and try to implant in them other preferences, you're basically going against their will. I saw it happen many times. For example, there are some excellent teachers who do their best and manage to kindle a spark of interest in young heads for any subject. But it never works for all students. Some are more interested, some less. Trying to get those who are less interested at all cost doesn't seem the right thing to do to me. This is what I mean by "ignoring feelings".


Children do have strong opinions and I don't think that we should try to change their preferences. These "women in tech" events are not used to change opinions, they're used to expose people to ideas they might have not been exposed to before. Imagine if your son never saw an airplane before and grew to up to be 10 years old without ever thinking about an airplane. At 10 years old you voluntarily bring him to the nearest airport and pilots show him around the airfield all day. Your son has a blast and realizes that he loves airplanes. Wouldn't that be great for your son?

> And if you ignore these and try to implant in them other preferences, you're basically going against their will.

These "women in tech events" are purely voluntary and if anyone wants to leave for any reason, they can get up and go. I have never seen someone pushed against their will or preferences at these events. I agree that if a student isn't interested in a subject, you shouldn't push it on them. I don't see how exposing a student to an area of study in a completely positive matter is pushing someone against their will.


Exactly.

In the extreme case of attempting to put ideology before reality, you end up with the appalling story of this activist kindergarten teacher : so desperate to see girls interested in LEGOs (she sees them flocking towards dolls and crayons instead) and to actively correct "bias", she decides to take the bricks away from the boys.

http://www.bainbridgereview.com/news/blakely-teacher-restric...

“I always tell the boys, ‘You’re going to have a turn’ — and I’m like, ‘Yeah, when hell freezes over’ in my head”, she says.


You bring up a great point that this is not a black and white issue. It is possible to push an idea so far that it harms the students. I don't think we should try to "correct" the bias students have towards toys. If a boy wants to play with dolls or if a girl wants to play with Lego, we should encourage them. If a boy doesn't want to play with dolls or a girl doesn't want to play with Lego, we shouldn't push it on them.

My point is that we shouldn't raise children in an environment where a boy never has the chance to play with dolls or a girl never has the chance to play with Lego. We should expose children to all different types of toys and ideas, and let them decide what they enjoy.

It's clear that Karen Keller shouldn't have discouraged the boys from playing with Lego in the classroom. These "women in tech" events don't discourage girls from playing with toys or makeup. These events expose girls to tech related toys or ideas and if the girls enjoy it, good for them. If the girls don't enjoy the event, they aren't pushed into attending more "women in tech" events. I don't see any harm with exposing young students to ideas they might have not been exposed to before.


Gender differences in toy preferences have been observed as early as two days after birth, arguably before any supposed conditioning has been able to take place.

From : https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2583786/

"Male monkeys, like boys, showed consistent and strong preferences for wheeled toys, while female monkeys, like girls, showed greater variability in preferences. Thus, the magnitude of preference for wheeled over plush toys differed significantly between males and females. The similarities to human findings demonstrate that such preferences can develop without explicit gendered socialization."


That was a good article, thanks for linking it. It's good to keep in mind that there are biological differences between men and women and we shouldn't ignore those.


>IMHO the very idea of forcefully pulling women into the tech field is the root of evil here.

I think it's OK to want to expand out and recruit from non-traditional demographics. I think it's OK to create initiatives to create interest in specific fields in specific groups. That's what sports teams do to attract new fans (maybe a region is home to new Chinese immigrants and the local baseball team wants them to be baseball fans). That's what universities do to attract students. Where it crosses the line for me is when nefarious reasons are used to attribute non-representative ratios. Then it changes from this positive thing that everyone can get behind and support to this ugly negative thing where it's us vs them.


Which groups/institutions do you believe advocate and/or are forcing girls into the tech field?


I really enjoy your writing, in particular you have a way of articulating some complex points very clearly, so I'm somewhat hesitant to respond here since I feel like I'm about to get schooled, but don't groups like Girls Who Code advocate for getting more women into tech? I saw a story today about Sundar Pichai attending a coding event aimed at getting young girls into tech so I would presume Google is supportive of these initiatives.

Now mind you I have absolutely no problem with this, I think getting broader swathes of society into tech is a good thing, but I think it's fairly clear that their are groups advocating for this.


Girls Who Code are not forcing girls to code.


Yes, I understand that, which is why I explicitly said they were advocating for it, not forcing it. Unless I completely misread danso's post, he was asking which groups advocate and/or are forcing this, the and/or to me signifies that doing one, the other, or both qualifies. Maybe danso can clarify if I misinterpreted the question, in which case my apologies.


wow you have an opinion, it would be a shame if someone were to ... find out.


>I don’t like those 48 hour coding hackathons without sleep or shower. They are useless and detrimental to health.

These are almost exclusively for kids in school or just out of school. Like camping - those that hate them, really hate them, and for others it's a lot fun. If you hate them, don't do them, they aren't necessary. You can be a perfectly good engineer without them.

>I don’t like the representation of female engineers on TV, always nerdy, unattractive, and without much of a social life.

Female engineers? Oh man. She must have missed the generic Scientist-guy and Engineer-guy of the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and 2000s. Rick Moranis made a career playing those guys. The engineer bro-culture and a certain social status that is assigned to software or computer engineers and geekdom in general is a new phenomena. It was not cool to want to be a computer engineer or a geek for the vast majority of the last half century. It sort of reminds me of the praise the Wonder Woman movie got for being a breakthrough moment for women. I couldn't help but think, where were all these people in the 80s when nerds and geeks were made fun of for reading Wonder Woman and other comic books. My sister and her friends made fun of me and my friends for that! Nobody hid or put up walls to these comics from anybody.

>I’ve read Megan McArdle’s essay and relate with her feeling of isolation as I’m often the only woman in an environment dominated by men.

That wasn't quite the point of the essay though it is an interesting interpretation.

>What we need to do is to make it easier for women to stay in tech...I don’t know how we can make it more fun to women in tech.

That's kind of the crux of the problem. Nobody knows how to fix the undetectable, secret societal pressures that steer women away from STEM and into Humanities.

Also, it's a job. It won't be fun for the vast majority of people. Why do jobs have to be fun? My father worked on the line at a factory all his life - it wasn't fun.


> These are almost exclusively for kids in school or just out of school.

They are not. One of the places I've worked, they were part of the culture, once or twice a year. Reports suggest this is true many other places, as well. These are real, professional, grown-up workplaces, or so at least they style themselves as being. They are not schools.

> If you hate them, don't do them, they aren't necessary.

They can be. I had no desire whatsoever to waste a weekend working without pay in exchange for pizza. It was made clear to me that, while my participation would not be explicitly required as a condition of employment, it certainly would constitute a substantive part of my next performance evaluation. The subtext was: everybody else is doing it, so if you don't, you're clearly not committed enough to work here. Again, reports suggest this is far from unique to the organization I describe.

> The engineer bro-culture and a certain social status that is assigned to software or computer engineers and geekdom in general is a new [phenomenon].

Honestly, this is 110% a startup culture thing, just like the kegerator and the "hackathon" example of Mandatory Fun. I've never seen it anywhere else. No idea why it is the way it is, but not gonna lie, if I'd known 25 years ago that the field around which I intended to build my working life was going to go the way it has in terms of culture, I'd have had to sit down and study a while on whether I shouldn't change my plans somewhat.

The good news is that it is just startup culture that's gone this way. For all the contempt that culture likes to aim at the "enterprise" world, and for all that enterprise engineering culture does tend to lack somewhat by comparison, it is a world in which the need for work-life balance is generally well respected.

It also, perhaps to the surprise of some, tends much more diverse than startups do, which may suggest that the monoculture problem isn't so much one of tech in general, but rather perhaps of a piece with the drawbacks of startup culture specifically - that perhaps a desire for "culture fit", so called, has even more negative dimensions than are generally acknowledged. After all, when your hiring process explicitly considers whether a candidate is enough like everyone already there to satisfy some nebulous standard of personal comfort...


> Also, it's a job. It won't be fun for the vast majority of people. Why do jobs have to be fun? My father worked on the line at a factory all his life - it wasn't fun.

Thank you. I thought I was the only one exasperated by this (relatively new, as far as I can tell) idea. I don't know anyone of my parents' age who thought jobs were fun.


My father also didn't have fun at his job. Back in his days, people said that automation would have us all working 2 hours a day by 2000. That didn't happen.

However, there are now an increasing amount of people who have the luxury to be able to choose their career, choose a job they'll enjoy and not have to slave their life away to be allowed to pay for their food and shelter.

So, mdpopescu, is that so god damn wrong?


> The engineer bro-culture and a certain social status that is assigned to software or computer engineers and geekdom in general is a new phenomena.

And it's restricted to the US (maybe Canada and the UK, too?). In Europe, software developers are nerds, period.


Nope. At least not to the same extent as in the 90s. Yes, they often have nerdy hobbies or interests but outside of e.g. free software and Linux, there's a fairly wide representation of the same culture as in the US. I'd argue Ruby and JS are almost entirely filled by them (which makes sense considering their popularity is quite recent compared to C, Perl or Python).


I just recently left a tech start-up where the "look at how awesome and diverse we are" rhetoric was so bad that I couldn't take it anymore. When I first joined the company, I didn't even bat an eye that every single employee was a white guy (Hispanic male here). It was only later after their recruiter who, I befriended, told me I was their first "diversity hire". I laughed and took it tongue in cheek.

However, over time, they formed a "diversity team" to emphasize in making the company more diverse. Later on, I came to find out that this company did not care about the individuals joining the company, but rather the "diversity quota" they set to meet. Instead of hearing "we hired a great engineer who is great in xyz", we would instead hear the likes of "Susan accepted our offer letter, we finally have a female engineer on our team"; "Tim will be joining our Product team. Hooray for gay!" (Yes, this was actually posted on a slack channel one of the founders).

It became clear that this company was more worried about having mascots rather than seeking talented diverse individuals. I pissed me off so much at how condescending the founders would be when communicating with "non-traditional" employees and how they thought they were such great, progressive leaders.


This is disgusting, I am sure you are no different from your peers in skills (and probably even better than the average developers around you) and it's just not fair that you have to go through this.

People should be totally confident that they got the job because they did a good job and the employer liked them for who they are but this whole diversity system makes people doubt themselves, consciously or subconsciously.

I hope you're now working at a place where there's no such bullshit, and wish you all the best.


I usually avoid commenting on these sort of posts because frankly I don't believe I have a lot I can add to the discussion, but this is an interesting read, and I think the final paragraph is probably correct in how it frames the current situation - neither "side" will be happy until both are happy. The question isn't "should we be doing something?", it's "how do we do it?" and how do we have that discussion without it turning into something else?

At the same time, we've also got to remember that this isn't just an issue in tech, it's an issue across the whole of society, and as an industry we should be looking at the broader picture, because this isn't an issue that technology can face alone, but it is one that affects tech more than many other industries.

I really hope this is something we, as a society and industry, can improve upon. I'm lucky enough to work with a lot of people from a lot of different backgrounds and cultures, and they're all great at what they do, but very very few of them are female. I'd love to think that I was above any bias (both positive and negative) that this introduces, but the fact is, I'm probably not because I'm only human. Until we can make tech more balanced, it's a bias that I will have to consider and try to overcome.


Reading The Myth of Male Power led to situations like these make a lot more sense. It offers a different perspective than the predominant view that I find more consistent with experience.

I read it because I thought for sure the author was misguided and I would find flaws and problems. Instead I found myself learning and growing.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/0425181448/ref=sr_1_...


On that same note, there's a recent documentary called "The Red Pill" about men's rights.


A company I used to work at has a 25% female target that was informally backed up by fewer promotion points for the hiring manager if not met. That means, if you are a woman (as I am), and you're one of the four applicants then you'll be hired. Even worse, we had intern slots that were female only. They weren't advertised as such, but male applicants were ignored. Is this how we get "diversity"?


I work at a company who set a similar target for gender diversity. They met it. However, I get the feeling they were doing it in a way that temporarily discriminated.

In our product department I would say the split is 60/40 men to women. Racially it's mostly Caucasian but with a decent proportion of Asians. We recently started our internship program for the summer and I noticed something odd. Out of the 20 or so internship all but 3 were women, and almost all of them were Asian.

Perhaps to correct discrimination and lack of diversity you have to discriminate in the other direction. It's a sad state of affairs and I feel it's going to be this way for a while longer. However, this whole thing has left me with a bad taste in my mouth in regard to tech. After graduating years ago I never thought that my company, industry, etc would turn into a political clusterfuck.


> I don’t like the representation of female engineers on TV, always nerdy, unattractive, and without much of a social life.

Seriously? I agree with the lack of social life. But how come most of the tech people on TV (especially SF) are women? And it's not a new trend (Stargate, X-Files etc.). Maybe the author does not think they are attractive because she does not use the same criteria most male use.

> I don’t like those 48 hour coding hackathons without sleep or shower.

I let you on a little secret: most male programmers hate those too.

If you want to make tech attractive to women you have to improve its work/life balance: less hours. So 9/5 jobs which are already available in lot of huge corporations. But yes that's less glamorous or rewarding than the startup scene.

And about the chicken and egg problem? Just start your own company.


I also didn't really get the author's point about all the unattractive female engineers on TV. I actually think the opposite is the problem, for both men and women, that the engineers or scientists you see on TV tend to be ridiculously good looking people, only now they're wearing thick framed glasses.


I always look at affirmative action in the US with the perspective of someone looking at the reservations given to the "lower castes" in India to make up for the oppression of the past. If a "general category" (upper caste) guy and a "lower caste" guy with the same financial history appear for an examination to get into a Law College, Engineering College, Medical, etc then they lower caste person needs to achieve much less scores to get in. They have seats reserved for them which can never be transferred to a general category person even if no reservation caste person decides to appear for the exam.

You can't blame people if they are apprehensive about going to a doctor who comes from the lower caste, you'll always doubt his skills because he had it easier.


The thinking is long term. You have a large segment of your population that is economically underutilized. Getting more of them educated in this generation will help even more get educated in the next generation until eventually, you don't have this drain on your economic output caused by hundreds of years of discrimination.

The problem of undereducated doctors has always existed because only an already wealthy and historically advantaged few could go through the process of medical education without their family starving. After a few generations, doctors will be drawn from a much larger pool, and the ones who make it will be of higher quality.


That sounds good in theory but there are a plethora of jobs that the general category people can't get now, there's no way this is equality. I didn't do a good job explaining the situation it was just an overview, I'd be okay with this but in practise this is really harmful and will go on because they hold the votes.


Who said anything about equality? The goal is to become a developed country with broad access to healthcare and economic access, which will lead to faster scientific development that benefits everybody. The fastest way to get that is not to help the already wealthy a little but to help the people disadvantaged merely due to accident of birth a lot. More equality is a relatively inconsequential side benefit.

You could either make yourself slightly wealthier now and die with all the other wealthy people with today's life expectancy, or you could live significantly longer by increasing the number of people who participate in economic and scientific development.

There might be problems in the implementation of those programs, and that's what you should focus on fixing; however, the general idea is obviously correct to any logical long term thinker.


> Lowering your hiring standards for women can give people like me the lingering self doubt that maybe I wasn’t good enough. Worse, it gives many techbros reasons to believe that his female colleagues aren’t as good as his, and act accordingly.

As a male, this has always been my main argument against affirmative action.

Too many SV white-knights feel they are helping simply because they are well intentioned. But good intentions do not always lead to the best outcomes.

And the costs are these "lingering self doubts", and teams being suspicious of "diversity hires".

Self-respect is very hard to quantify, but there is a distinct need for humans to be respected and authentically appreciated, and the extreme advocacy for females is sapping away this motivating force that is essential to work and life.


Personally I feel that its bad idea for the fact that affirmative action is sexist / racist. You end up selecting people based on their skin color / sex rather than their ability.


The bit that leaves out is that this already happens without affirmative action.


Affirmative action is definitely racist and sexist. Without it, maybe it is in some cases.


"If I got hired by a company with a diversity program, I'd wonder if I was as good as engineer as everyone else."

- men who never wonder if they got their positions because they fit the image people have when they think of this industry


Less women studied CS than men and less apply. The image used to be merit. Now its all fucked up.


Every time this subject gets brought up, I keep wondering why it seems to be nearly exclusive to the US; East Europe and Asia in particular, for example: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14164600

I while ago, visited a Chinese software/hardware company and half if not more of the employees I saw were female. To my knowledge, there is essentially no explicit "we need more girls in tech" movement there.


Yeh, US is pretty intense for social justice. I'd love to see a timeline and some kind of justification as to why it became such a strong force. I remember not even knowing what "social justice" mean't.

Like all the people's time and energy invested in social justice today...what would these same people have been investing their energy in before 2010s?

What I see is that people love being outraged, purpose-driven, and procrastination. And with social justice, while you're procrastinating, you can be outraged, and you can join a movement and gain a purpose.

Social media is probably to blame.


There is a claimed "Norwegian Gender Paradox", where in countries where there is freer choice of career and equal-opportunity for women, then jobs are increasingly split along traditional gender lines.


As an anecdotal data point, in Greece (where there is some, but not much gender pressure), lawyers are around 80% female. I'm not sure which way this skews in the US, or what it means, but I thought it was interesting enough to mention.

Education is also free regardless of socioeconomic status, and rich and poor students attend the same universities.


I am from India, where the representation of women in the tech field is pretty good. I don't know about any other countries, but at least here, for most of the middle/lower middle class families, "CS/EC engineering" is one of the only way to get a cushy job in a safe environment, that pays well. So a large part of the population regardless of the gender, is attracted to it. There's also the factor of major influence parents have in their children's education/future. I am willing to wager a good part of the people who came into IT field here, only because their parents pressured them to take up CS/EC engineering. Keep it in mind though that this only applies for electrical/computer science. The number of women in Civil/Mechanical engineering is abysmally low, probably because the work is physically strenuous.

I've noticed here is that the number of people who are genuinely interested in computers/programming is very less. A large part of the workforce (both male and female) only considers it as their job, it's not something they would do in their free time. This is kinda depressing because it's hard to find people here who are genuinely interested in computers. :/

I don't know how true this is, but maybe the tech field in US consists mostly of people who are actual geek/nerds (who happen to be males). So maybe to hire more women, instead of favoring them at the time of hiring, it's much more beneficial to foster interest in computers at a young age. Maybe work towards removing the bias people have that programming/computers is a "nerds" hobby, and people regardless of gender should be able to take it up without much stigma.


I wonder whether that is about to change. As an exchange student in Shanghai, I noticed a clear gender disparity in my CS classes at the undergraduate level. Interestingly, the effect was not visible for graduate students. I don't know whether it's a new development that hasn't had time to affect older students, or whether more women choose to spend more time in academia, or whether male students go abroad for graduate school more often.


The top comment in that thread has a hypothesis.


The explanation I heard was in poorer countries, women are more likely to choose careers by how well they pay, instead of how interested they are in the field.

http://slatestarcodex.com/2017/08/07/contra-grant-on-exagger... seems to agree (ctrl+F 'Galkin')


Because their parents push them to academic and professional success. In America, parents generally tell their kids to follow their dreams and to ignore the money.


About the Selection Leader story, it may not be that we have a different scale for men and women, but just that, since people are aware of a potential negative bias towards women, they unconsciously try to avoid the error of giving a worse score to the woman, so they ended boosting the score as a "protection" mechanism. Since we are human it is very hard to avoid this kind of mistakes, especially given that the whole discrimination problem is handled with such a tension that people over-react in all the directions at this point.


> since people are aware of a potential negative bias towards women

Except reality seems to be the opposite[1]

> Contrary to prevailing assumptions, men and women faculty members from all four fields preferred female applicants 2:1 over identically qualified males with matching lifestyles (single, married, divorced), with the exception of male economists, who showed no gender preference.

> Our findings, supported by real-world academic hiring data, suggest advantages for women launching academic science careers.

[1] http://www.pnas.org/content/112/17/5360.abstract


When I was 16, I was in a horrible car accident. I was out of school for something like 6 weeks. During that time, I built a project that got me into Forbes a few months later, and into my first real job. I benefited greatly from that car accident. Would I like to thank the responsible parties? No.

This justification is ridiculous. Just because sexism makes things easier for some doesn't make the statement "Sexism isn’t making it harder for women to enter tech." any less ridiculous.

Sexism makes the entire industry worse. It holds down some talented people (e.g. the vast majority of women with an interest in security, the men in her examples, and likely any unattractive women in similar situations to her examples (as they're judged far more harshly, again subconsciously)), while lifting up others who are less talented.


I have similar view to her. Its kinda harder for me to say it because im a man.

There is also a story behind my view. It goes like this: Im a runner. Not very good, not very fast, just average. Most of the time, im in the middle of my category. All local races are like 80% man and 20% woman. So while im in the middle, my female colleague running same pace is almost always on the podium. It works in her favor. IT DOES NOT MEAN THAT SHES BETTER/WORSE OR FAVORED/DISCRIMINATED. It just doesn't mean anything, So why we have that kinda ridiculous talk in IT? Who benefits from dividing communities?


Yes, but biologically men are faster runners. We can measure this by comparing times from various athletes/general population. It is very difficult to quantify skill at creating software. I don't know if these two things are comparable, I think you might be implying that men are biologically better at creating software. Maybe they are, but I'd like to see the study, as I don't believe that to be the case.


The problem with this whole conversation is people add their worst cast assumptions and value judge that.

When Damore said people have different traits, he meant it in a statistical way https://video-images.vice.com/_uncategorized/1502146696203-S...

And he definitely didn't say men are better. That was the assumption added by people who propagated the message. If you haven't read the original, please try to read it, and I mean really, read it, not skim over it and make judgment.

And please try to be open minded and don't add your own assumptions about what other people meant such as:

"I think you might be implying that men are biologically better at creating software."


It starts to matter once the winners of the race get serious amounts of money.


If it is about money than im disappointed.


Someone here mentioned that women are being pressured to join STEM, and that this is "evil." A bit strong but I agree that this may backfire on us. Who doesn't want a more open environment where everyone can feel comfortable in. But lately, I'm sensing the diversity discussion shifting from "we are the victims" (IMO while true, not very useful) to "we are better than you." That does no service to anyone at all; suddenly we see each other in gender camps and there's a battle line drawn in between. Hey I also don't want to be identified by my gender only thanks.

It's a difficult subject because the issue is actually real. I've experienced it myself, and wish that things are different. I fully support incentives to get more women into tech, but the way we're going about it now is perhaps too much in the face. Let's not forget that diversity means inclusion of all groups, so that the majority and the many minorities are considered for. It may seem messy but IMO the best we can do is to be compassionate to one another, which yes, may mean some (acceptable) give-and-take from everyone.


One thing that surprises me is how often society does not actively seek out candidates from underrepresented groups across all aspects of life. Often candidates from such groups are superior to candidates from the majority groups. Probably because they've had to work harder to acheive. Two anecdotal examples:

1. My work often enters into the world of super yachts. There are very few female yacht captains. Yet nearly all that i've met have been the best of the best. I suspect that in such a male dominated career path, the female captain had to work twice as hard as their male counterparts to get there. If I had a super yacht, I actively seek a female captain as i'd want the best of the best for my yacht. Yet of the largest, most expensive yachts none have a female captain. And female captains have a hard time finding good positions.

2. At my company we get significantly more male applicants than female applicants for our tech positions. As a whole though I'd say that average female applicant we get is better than the average male applicant and we've offer jobs to a significantly higher percentage of female applicants than male applicants. Sadly we get very few female applicants. Again I suspect it's because they had to work twice as hard as the their male counterparts to get to where they are. We didn't offer them positions because they were female. We offered them positions because they were the best candidate.

Please note I'm not saying that it is a good thing that they have experienced sexism along their career paths.


The industry is legally forbidden from discussing this subject, so all discussions here or elsewhere will inevitably miss the point. And as members of the public, Google will tell us whatever mitigates their risk the best. You want freedom of speech and the ability to make arguments, you don't work for a public company. And trying to debate it, is like trying to debate Galileo while the inquisition is in the room.

Corporations are required to save all electronic records for SOX auditing, and the State of California might decide to help themselves to those records when their Attorney General is trying to make a name for himself by bringing a gender discrimination lawsuit. That's why you fire people who make a habit of saying incriminating things in easily-searchable electronic format.

For a similar reason, they should probably fire every Google employee who talked about it on the public internet. Very high chance of being troublemakers who draw attention from the government.


Who wants to play an Arguman game with me? Not specifically about the diversity memo but about positive discrimination in general.

http://en.arguman.org/positive-discrimination-at-work-is-imm...


> Sexism isn’t making it harder for women to enter tech. From my personal experiences, sexism makes it even easier for women to enter tech, though I understand that my experiences don’t generalize to that of other women.

The OP may have personally benefited from sexism. I don't understand why that leads to the assertion of "Sexism isn't making it harder for women to enter tech" when her experience seems to better support, "Sexism doesn't necessarily make it harder for women to enter tech"

Edit: Not being pedantic for pedantic' sake. The OP's assertion inherently contradicts the assertions of women who do believe that they were hindered by sexism. So I'm genuinely confused if the OP believes that assertion as it is written, or if it's a case of imprecise wording.


I want to point out this passage:

"But I was accepted, while all of my friends weren’t. I just thought that it was because I prepped a lot for the interviews and my preparation paid off."

It's likely that the preparation did pay off and possible that the author was as smart as her friends but not confident enough to believe it.

I've always been a snarky know-it-all, and honestly when I don't have the answers I tend to extrapolate (read bs). It was only after talking to a long time friend who identified as having impostor syndrome I realised that this behaviour could be harmful.

She is a software engineer, beat me in school and should be running rings around me.

Take it from a snark, confidence doesn't always mean smarter.


Can be off-topic but this piece must resonate more.

"I don’t like those 48 hour coding hackathons without sleep or shower. They are useless and detrimental to health. I don’t like techbros’ hangouts, with beers, playing pool, and occasional jerking off jokes. I don’t like feeling like a piece of furniture to add to the company’s diversity. I don’t like my male teammates to think that I got to where they are only because I’m female. I don’t like the representation of female engineers on TV, always nerdy, unattractive, and without much of a social life."


I think I have seen a similar pattern in interviews where men actually give women higher scores for the same performance as men but women would have no compunction giving the same women the actual lower score they deserve. The reason is that the men don't want to appear sexist. The same goes for promotions.

On the flip side, there is discrimination against women too with less pay for equal work. Prettier women would also get more 'attention' from coworkers which could be especially an issue if it were from a higher up.


This kind of reminds me of this episode: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equal_Opportunities_(Yes_Minis...

I think the authors have nailed it. There is a lot of posturing, but at the end of the day, most people for whom it is all done, ostensibly, do not want quotas or special favors.


I don’t like those 48 hour coding hackathons without sleep or shower. They are useless and detrimental to health. I don’t like techbros’ hangouts, with beers, playing pool, and occasional jerking off jokes.

Thanks for saying this. I feel the exact same way, and I'm male.


As I said in another comment: in addition to people in favor of affirmative action and people opposed to affirmative action, there's the large class of people who are in favor of affirmative action, but against the political correctness pressure of having to act like they believe this in for the benefit of all instead of the explicit benefit of the affected minority.

I am for affirmative action (as originally intended), and I treat coworkers whom I assume (in my flawed prejudiced manner) to have gotten here through AA with the same respect as if I did not assume that they were hired because of AA (and stop respecting them if they don't prove themselves as suitable for the job, as I would do with non AA coworkers), but I refuse to sign the "any kind of diversity magically improves everything" manifesto.


> I don’t like those 48 hour coding hackathons without sleep or shower.

Every time I think I might be working too much, I hear that it's ordinary to work way more than I ever do, and I am reassured...


hackathons aren't work. They're supposed to be fun (though not everyone will enjoy them) and are attended by the younger crowd. You won't see many 40-year old engineers with kids and a spouse going there.


I'm 40 without kids and I still agree. I completely avoid hackathons at work because I hate the idea of being forced to be "creative" and doing optional work. I'd rather focus on my hobbies. I do applaud the youngins for being naive and enthusiastic though.


>I don’t like those 48 hour coding hackathons without sleep or shower. They are useless and detrimental to health. I don’t like techbros’ hangouts, with beers, playing pool, and occasional jerking off jokes.

I think that's a very small section of the tech world, though. I've never seen or heard about that kind of behaviour outside of SV startup scene. Admittedly I'm a dull corporate developer, working in decidedly untrendy technologies in London.


I genuinely wonder how much of this experience can be attributed to being in Stanford CS instead of Random State U CS.


> I don’t like feeling like a piece of furniture to add to the company’s diversity.

This is a great point. Companies are still sexist when there's a 2:1 chance a female will be hired over males with equivalent skills.

I'm happy there's some discourse around these topics right now.


>“She’s good for a woman, so even though she doesn’t do as well as that guy, she still gets the same scores because she’s in the women’s league.”

But it would still be viewed as sexist if the interviewers gave her lower scores. The only way not to be sexist is if you absolutely assess it right. Not too high and not too low.

(not saying the author is calling them sexist)


"You are a sexist" is the new weapon for women these days. Just say that and every common sense argument loses and everyone just shuts their mouth.


That's not the common insult.

However on twitter; "Mansplaining" is a quick way to shut down conversation leading to sometimes funny[0] dialog between my girlfriend and folks on twitter.

[0]: https://twitter.com/libsecure/status/833457782275833857


>I think this whole claiming that being a victim as a self-fulfilling prophecy is flawed. It's hard to say a trans woman who's been murdered or raped had it coming.

wow, looks like things have escalated fast.

We've gone from Google employees who earn 100k+ salaries as software engineers to rape...


We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14989347 and marked it off-topic.


That's the thing. You can't arbitrarily say that the line stops at one thing in terms of saying people are to blame for their misfortune when the same can be said for anyone that becomes a victim in any other circumstance. Either victims legitimately exist as a consequence of unfairness and injustice or they don't exist at all. It's really something that has to be said because it's the thing that I see too often stated in fluffier terms by New Agers (aka The Secret). One's attitude can no more stop the power of a bullet any more than one's attitude can stop the one who set that bullet in motion. Ultimately, we always have victims and we always have a choice to accept that they deserve justice when they are harmed.


>You can't arbitrarily say that the line stops at one thing

I never said that or implied that. You misinterpreted. It makes zero sense to bring up rape when talking about this Google manifesto. I do think sexism and racism occur in the tech industry. However, not comparable in extremity to rape. This trivializes the experiences that rape victims actually do face. I'm not a moderator of course, so say what you want. But it makes your talking points looking appear ridiculous and nonsensical. Perhaps, your comments would be more relevant in the Binary Capital case.


My comment was in reply to another comment which wasn't directly related to the letter that Damore wrote. I think you really need to read the comment I'm replying to before asserting anything else because I think you're confused. Try from the beginning and read.


i did read that person's comment. Nobody else mentioned rape until you did.


Yet my comment was about blaming victims. So can you admit you're an intellectually dishonest hack that should bow out now and get a job as a CNN contrarian talking head? I heard there's been some vacancies made.


okay. stop throwing a tantrum because you were wrong


Can you actually prove that I'm wrong or are you going to admit you're a liar? Because there's a big problem with your non-argument so far since you assume that the discussion isn't about victim blaming when the grandparent comment was victim blaming. So yeah, you need to really get your argument out and not latch onto the inconsequential things in my argument you don't like (like the tone or whatever). Either stand up and deliver an argument or go away.

Edit: Also down voting me won't make your argument correct.


i'm actually not down voting you. However, other people are.


equal opportunity is like being given better equipment at the start of a videogame where everyone else has to learn the game's mechanics. at some point you never learned some of those early game skills to get past a certain point.




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