1. Please post civilly and substantively, or not at all;
2. If you have a substantive point to make, make it thoughtfully; otherwise please don't comment until you do.
Yes, there's redundancy there; we appear to need it.
I worry that the media looks at cases like this as typical of the experience of women in tech, and downplays the impact of obvious and unobjectionable steps like "recruit junior devs from the ranks of biology grads" and "give expectant mothers maternity leave" because systemic changes aren't as interesting as diversity training or a VC partner's lawsuit.
I've been in tech for close to 20 years now. I get paid pretty well compared to the national average pay, and globally speaking it's off the charts.
But the figures and activities mentioned there are completely alien to me. This is the (a?) world of high finance and I can't relate to it.
I've seen a lot of casual and systemic sexism in the tech industry, in the trenches and at the coal face so to speak. I think it's often this that is the focus of criticism of the industry as a whole, and I think it's this that's a valid criticism of the tech industry.
To be absolutely clear - From what I've read here, Ellen Pao was treated really, really badly and has a whole litany of valid complaints, I just don't recognise the business painted here to be "tech".
I get this feeling off a lot of high-profile stories, whether tech, banking, real estate, or something else altogether. Theranos gave me some of the same sense, that the business wasn't 'medicine' but 'power'. Back before his campaign, Trump's Scottish golf course did also. He bought cheap land that wasn't zoned for a golf course, because at that level zoning laws are business hurdles to have altered, not boundaries to work within. The hiring collusion story in tech as well; it happened in the Valley, but was a consequence of power, not tech.
At a certain point you're not talking about the culture of some specific industry, you're talking about the culture of the rich, powerful, and cutthroat across any industry. I think it's an important distinction to maintain.
I mean, I'm also in tech, in the US, which means my salary is higher than 99% of salaries in the world, but I can't begin to dream of living the same lifestyle my buddy can enjoy, and he's most likely small potatoes compared to the "wolf-of-wallstreet" types mentioned here.
Perhaps. But those VCs and CEOs and COOs are your bosses. Just as engineering cannot be divorced from the effects of what is built,"tech" is hard to separate from it's own environment. And it appears that the same antics continue down the stack.
No, they aren't. I don't mean to be hostile here, but I object strongly to the implicit assumption that 'tech' means "heavily Sandhill-funded software companies operating in the Valley".
I've worked at several software companies, some good, some bad. But I, like a very large portion of American 'tech' workers or even 'CS-degree bearing programmers', have never actually worked for a Silicon Valley company, much less one with major VC financing, much less one where VC culture has shaped everyone else's environment.
That's not to deny that there can be a very real issue here. But as an example, banking has similar serious issues at the top, and I wouldn't assume that every realtor's office, even ones ultimately tied to Merrill Lynch, had the same issues. Even if a realtor did have issues with sexism and discrimination, I think it would be unreasonable to assume that they came from what happened at the top carrying 'down the stack'.
I think it does a real disservice to 'tech' in general to understand it entirely in light of people like Travis Kalanick and Justin Caldbeck. I think it even does a disservice to efforts to fight sexism and harassment; the behavior of the richest and most powerful people in tech seems to have more in common with the rich and powerful of other industries than the rank-and-file of tech.
And I worry that this concept of trickle-down misbehavior will do exactly what the top comment points out - obscure everyday issues and opportunities in favor of a focus on a small group that's behaving quite differently, and can't be easily improved.
The nearest would likely have been when I worked with London "unicorn" Powa Technologies, and we all know how that went...
VC Cash influences power dynamics between tech companies very very heavily. If you're not in SV and chose to get funding elsewhere and are successful, safe bet that an SV competitor of yours will get better funding than you and eat up some of your potential market size. Each big firm will fund one top competitor in the space and let them duke it out, so how long will you last without their funding? Odds are high there are many companies with diverse founders and superior products who lost the battle to a competitor funded by one of these VCs. If top VC firms don't have strong female and diverse partners, they don't see the value in businesses that serve female and diverse markets as well.
In fact many men (and women) who chose engineering/computer science were explicitly trying to escape these questionable finance/business 'cool kid' types by specifically going into the technology field. 
Additionally, I think as technology becomes more ubiquitous in mainstream industries like fashion, real estate, retail, lifestyle manufacturing, tech will be taking on those industries historical problems with lack of diversity.
Many of Binary Capital's investments overall read more like applying smartphone/Uber type apps to a specific industry vertical. They seem a little light on tech, heavy on social/consumer aspects.
And a big concern is that the proposed fixes will be focused on increasing diversity training for engineering and computer science (while for sure a good thing speaking as a father with a daughter!) should really be focused on increasing diversity training for finance, investment banking, sales, marketing in all sectors.
The cultural zeitgeist simply shifted which is why the media is full of stories of "baddies" in the tech. Culturally, tech boys are the new finance boys who of course were preceded by rock-star boys. Hell, we even call tech boys with the devil may care attitude "rock stars". Do you know what were finance boys called in the late nineties? That's right: "rock stars". Want to know who culturally is on a top of the mountain? Look at whom the likes of Miranda Kerr and Amber Heard are dating.
Did anything change in finance? Nope. Still the same types of people go into finance. Interns/juniors are still being hazed err... harassed, "rock stars" still spend thousands of dollars in strip clubs entertaining clients, etc and everything is still for sale.
Also, I think places like Kleiner don't need to exist and the world would likely be a better place without them. But that's just my take on it all. There's better ways to live than being inside one of those pressure cookers. Enjoy the Eastern European hookers, though.
Sorry if I am taking the tone of what you wrote wrong, I know this is a sensitive topic. I will admit I did have a sort of similar thought, "But you are still very successful and wealthy compared to practically anyone else, you are winning Ellen!" But then I realized money doesn't matter. What matters is purpose and validation of your effort in a professional environment. When your bosses and peers are constantly shitting on you, even if they are giving you a lot of money it hurts in ways that are almost impossible to know without putting your life and a little piece of your soul into something only to have it rejected by people you desperately want the respect and peerage of.
Probably not. The article mentions (to Ellen's credit, BTW) that Doerr was specifically looking for Asian women to hire. That's ironically probably also one of the reasons why she wasn't treated seriously: diversity hiring casts a permanent shadow over even the candidates with abundant qualifications.
Also, consider what she might have accomplished without those hurdles.
The only conversation that I've ever heard in mixed company that was even remotely similar to the ones she mentions is one time a female co-worker mentioned at lunch that her roommate was an erotic dancer at a men's club so there was a brief conversation about where she worked/how much she made/weirdest story/etc.
I'm curious if the difference between my experience and the stories I'm constantly reading is a result of selection bias or if startup technology really is a very different beast than enterprise tech from a sexism point of view.(I suspect a little of both)
As someone once said, "some of the most vocal feminist men are some of the creepiest".
It's as if it's their red herring for behaving badly.
Going from her quotes, it's as if they went out of their way to be obnoxious.
Somehow because he has particular views of the equality of men and women, it should give him an above average amount of will power to stop himself from temptation?
Feminism is a political stance not a moral super-power. The great majority of people with access to something will not hold themselves back. Men in positions of power will have women throwing themselves at them. Most men will succumb to that temptation the same way the majority of the population with access to food will eventually succumb to the temptation to overeat.
At some point almost all people will get fat as they get comfortable and older. From all accounts I've heard, nearly all professional atheletes and musicans cheat. If you had beautiful women throwing themselves at you, you would probably succumb to it eventually. Most men do. Women's sex drive and biochemistry is different and most attractive women have had men throwing themselves (or at least have 2nd hand experience through a friend) and thus it isn't equivalent. Most women don't know what it's like to have what you were chasing your whole life, chasing you. It's like being a lion and have gazelles trying to leap into your mouth all the time.
When you add the fact that his casting someone (and he was known for casting relatively unknown actors) could change the course of their entire career and thus life, and most of those who could benefit the most are literally a self-selected group of the most beautiful women in the world, it's no wonder why he cheated.
So, to take all of that and heap some kinda extra moral failure on him is unfair. If she cheated, it wouldn't be some failure of her feminist stance. She would just be someone who cheated.
It was merely a betrayal of a loved one but, doesn't mean that all of a sudden he hates women because he cheated.
I don't know.
From my own reading of her article, it seemed like her (feminism-related) issue stemmed from him using feminism as both a shield and excuse to pick up women.
But, to _try_ to answer your—perhaps rhetorical—question, I'd say yes to the extent that somebody who talks the talk should walk the walk. Having extramarital affairs isn't respecting your wife. IMO, it's similar to an unabashed anti/non-racist repeatedly using racial slurs. Like, there's a bit of dissonance there that needs to be spoken to.
I don't follow how this is an obvious decision. Would you please elaborate? If the target software isn't dealing with the biology domain, why would I prefer biology grads over computer science grads? It seems like the lack of formal knowledge around CS fundamentals could prove a hindrance, while the biology knowledge wouldn't be an asset.
This principle may be workable for some portion of the work space, especially for your typical webapp or webservice. We flout the 'anybody can learn to code' concept, and that's true to some extent. But if the domain space is low-level hardware, highly algorithmic or heavy in the domain modeling space it seems completely reasonable to prefer someone with a formal background in CS.
So perhaps biology has a similar synergy.
Sure, it's completely realistic for a biology student (or any other discipline) to serve in a junior or line developer position in many corporate environments. If you're just wiring Spring beans together, writing test cases, or doing basic sysadmin work there's not much CS doing on.
My experience is that the differences show as you become more senior or you want to do things off the beaten path. Once you start dealing with comprehensive troubleshooting (back-to-front), non-trivial data modeling, and architecture the lack of fundamentals starts to slow you down. Understanding a DAG is pretty important in certain cases, and if you weren't exposed to it that's alot of outside learning. It's doable, but you have to put in more and more personal time to keep up. Whereas the CS folks are building on at least passing knowledge over four years of study.
To put my biases on the table, I'm a self-taught dev that went back for my BS degree. I have strong bias towards the value of a CS education.
There is plenty of time for someone to learn about DAGs (really, they're not rocket science) while they're a junior dev, and a bright person, given a series of tasks slightly increasing in complexity and difficulty, will have no trouble learning the fundamentals.
Most of my CS classmates were much more interested in going to school to get their degree to become the next Mark Zuckerberg or maybe work for him. They'd cram for tests between beer pong and bong hits and forget 90% of what they were there to learn. I'd rather hire someone who is bright with any college degree (best programmer where I worked at in my last job had a Masters in dramatic arts) than a random somebody with a CS background. Everything I need in theory from a junior dev can be tested during an interview - it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know what quicksort is, or how to write documentation, or how to create a new class in Java without using an IDE.
I guess the major difference is that I don't see a CS degree as a sign of a good programmer. I see it as a sign that someone endured classes for four years, and I am open to the possibility that someone with another degree might be a better fit at a junior level than anybody with a CS degree that bothered to respond to the job posting.
There's no reason that a bright student with Chinese poetry background couldn't be a perfect fit. But I think there's reasons why we still have CS degrees even though there's no reason why any bright person can't teach oneself coding. OTOH, if you go this route and say CS degree doesn't matter at all, just drop any connection to degrees and hire people based on tests or something - why link it to biology?
I wouldn't link it specifically to a biology degree, but my initial response was to someone who asked about it specifically.
Targeting specific groups just because of the racial or gender makeup of the group seems inherently wrong to me.
A biology major doesn't give people many relevant skills for programming. If it was a math intensive subject like Physics, Stats or Math, I could see it being more fair and valid.
Let's be honest, most biology majors turned programmers aren't oppressed people who had passion for tech but were discouraged from tech by terrible, systemic biases. They're people who either couldn't make it to med school or didn't want to go to med school who realized that there is more $$$ in the tech field than in biology research.
> It's a bit cynical to say that's done simply in the name of gender.
Not really. In this context, that is exactly what the parent was saying. Again, there are many non-CS majors that give people skills more relevant to programming. There isn't much of a reason to specifically recruit biology majors (other than for demographic reasons or if the company software is related to biology).
If you're going to make such a claim, you should provide some sort of proof. By your cynical logic, engineers are no more than nerds who don't have the stones to go into finance--where the money really is.
> There isn't much of a reason to specifically recruit biology majors (other than for demographic reasons or if the company software is related to biology).
I know many talented biology majors who have no interest spending their entire career alongside men smugly assume they "couldn't make it into med school". Or those who actually believe in the work that they're doing. Try telling the hundreds of thousands in research labs working on groundbreaking science like CRISPR that their careers are considered settling.
It did not click in my head initially but damn this is a great proxy.
I wonder how prevalent such behavior is amongst the truly exceptional people vs the imposters who just happened to be successful due to luck and in many cases sheer force of personality (seems to still work in old school industries). Part of me would like to think that the Zucks, Bezos and Gates of the world don't partake in such shenanigans and would rather just keep their head down and work conscientiously.
I despise this "soccer-mom-approved" bullshit where the only acceptable free time activity is attending a little league baseball game or organizing a church picnic.
Would Einstein's work somehow be diminished if it came out that he liked to experiment with mushrooms?
I was really hoping that we'd have stopped judging people on these criteria by now. So disappointing that we haven't.
I didn't get the impression from Ellen's account that the major problem was the fact that Ajit was cheating on his wife or lying to Ellen about it (although that in itself is not morally OK); the major problem was after she rebuffed him, the backlash that she faced due to his position of power within the company and community at large.
You see I like many people here aspire to be successful but neither do I have the personality to for example play dominance games nor the desire to develop such a personality and hence I wonder if that's something that might truly handicap one or just something that imposters do.
Secondly, there are people that spend a great deal of mental effort concealing what they consider to be their "true personality." Whether or not that is in reality who they are is tangential to the point that concealment becomes a big part of their life, and they start assuming others do it to. Or if someone was burned by a person that practices concealment, they'll be on guard for it. And that is again tangential to either's _ability_ to read a concealed aspect of another, which are often no closer than the projection described above.
The story is so far outside of my ken I have trouble believing it. And yet, like you say, this is a completely different world from mine - maybe people really do act like this.
She was not upset about missing a ski trip or a cookie. She was pointing out that women are excluded in things big and small in the VC world of KP and the pettiness of the men she worked with in passing a plate of cookies and bypassing the women. The gesture while petty spoke volumes as I would Imagine was the intent. The same could be said of the excuse of why women were excluded from the ski trip. If the company spent that much money to fly everyone out, do you really believe that KP could not afford accommodations for the women? Certainly they could. It was a passive aggressive way to say, "the women are not welcome on the ski trip" without having to say it directly. The foolish games that children play.
1 ) Its true that there aren't enough quantitative oriented students, and the ones we get really suck. Aka, I searched some text and now I'm co-author!
2) A lot of these directions have really low potential because they are mainly putting spin on otherwise failed or inconclusive work. p-hacker is a pejorative. From personal while simulating a development biology model might be computationally challenging (although often not), the models I've seen seem to be flawed somewhere in their conceptual design as they lack underlying mechanics or a null hypotheses. But after you've spent a few years hanging around doing little work for little pay, you really gotta get this stuff published
tldr; computational people rare add anything of value compared to the holistic (not individual) contributions who actually do the work.
1) There are lots of brilliant people in the field, but it is also the degree that dumb people who want a science degree or are "pre-med" get. It tremendously lowers the value of my undergrad degree. If you look at high-paying jobs (finance, investing, etc), you'll often find people who say they occasionally hire in a bright scientist who wants to switch industries. They typically hire physics and chemistry majors and are much less likely to hire someone with a biology degree.
2)The computational biologists/bioinformaticians/etc in this field are pretty variable in their CS skills and a good deal of the top performers leave the field because pay is really, really terrible. (ie my compensationv is 65K, high COL area, MS required, 1 year of direct experience under my belt, plus an additional 4 years of experience in the wider biotech industry - trust me I think my life is a joke too).
Women engineers in Uber were not from that world and they had the same sexism. But, of course people will find some other way to denounce that too.
I'm wondering though: is this just about sexism, or is it about professionalism and maturity? Getting hit on by someone higher up the hierarchy than you can make it impossible to do your job, so that behavior is clearly unprofessional. But getting yelled at by your boss for shipping a bug is also unprofessional, and can also make it a toxic work environment. I'm not saying the two are the same, just that both are examples of unprofessional behavior that many places will tolerate.
Isn't it time we have conversations about what it means to be a professional in tech? Maybe other industries suffer less from these things because they have a longer history and have more guild-like working practices, where professional behavior is more clearly defined. In tech people get away with wildly unprofessional behavior as long as "they get stuff done", and personally I never felt that was acceptable.
Maybe this stuff is also sort of everywhere. Plenty of industries have toxic working relationships. Why isn't professionalism part of standard education tracks? I studied CS and I never learned about what it means to be a professional software developer. How do you have productive conversations with coworkers? How do you organize your work effectively? All of these things you're supposed to figure out on your own, but looking around I can tell that mostly people never do, or only do so after decades of getting it wrong.
I normally have a very high tolerance for talking about any topic but anyone who says that stuff in public and not in the small company of close friends has bigger issues than just
As others have pointed out most of these situations sound like grown men acting like frat boys or teenagers, not adult males with a singular problem with how they treat women. These are men who need to learn how to act around other adults and how to treat people with respect in public. Or at a very minimum leave it for your off-time among close friends in private.
Software has largely confronted the 'brogrammer' issue publicly, and I believe is working to improve itself, but it's well known that finance is still heavily influenced by untamed frat boy culture. This is a culture where these immature boys don't get their behaviour properly confronted and corrected. Especially when you throw personal wealth into the occassion.
You're probably better off asking your HR for a training if you can't fathom what topics may be appropriate for work or not. But most of it is common sense.
Is it sexual/racial or otherwise offensive to some within earshot? Don't say it.
Is it possibly offensive but you're not sure if they'd like to hear it? Don't say it.
You're there to work, not to push societal boundaries/ maximize discourse.
If we had always followed the "don't say it" default, then it would still be considered offensive to advocate for LGBT or religious or gender rights in the workplace. This is what I meant by taboos being sometimes harmful.
Everything I've seen in all the jobs I've worked shows a massive disconnect between "HR reality" and actual reality. I've seen women openly and proudly objectifying male subordinates in company meetings. I've seen men spending extensive time distracting their female coworkers with no consequences. I've seen women objectifying the "hot catering delivery boy". I've seen salesjerks harassing and flirting and getting away with it, while genuine people are slapped down for trivialities. The loudest and most prolific swearing I've ever heard was in a company with a highly religiously conservative employee demographic.
Nowhere have I seen a workplace where people robotically clock in, work silently, and clock out. Never have I seen a workplace free of non-work-related conversations.
People spend a majority of their waking time at work or on work-related matters. A sizable proportion of couples report meeting each other at work. There's simply no such thing as a work-only workplace. The HR-ification of society only facilitates the kind of abuse and discrimination that the devious get away with and the genuine get blamed for.
Again, you're equating social progress with the ability to say controversial things at work. I would argue that most of the progress LGBT/religious/etc. groups have made have been made outside of office cubicles. More importantly, there's a clear difference between "what are we doing to encourage a more diverse group of developers" to "who do you think is the hottest engineer on our team?"
I'm still failing to see what your point is. Yes, some people can choose to violate the rules and risk getting away with it or not.
If not sure, ask your mother/sister/daughter/other female relative/female friend.
If you don't have a female relative or friend to ask - random HN user and Ellen Pao advise you that discussing pornography and sex work in business meetings can make women feel uncomfortable.
And this is the crux of the problem. Let's pretend that I do not have any issue having this kind of a discussion ( in passing, as a single comment or even at length ) with grandmother, mother, sister or daughter?
As far as where information is maintained, as I said, the Cod of Federal Regulation states the law for each of us to refer to. It can be found on the US EEOC website. In short, the following is the law:
Harassment is a form of employment discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, (ADEA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, (ADA).
Harassment is unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. Harassment becomes unlawful where 1) enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or 2) the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive. Anti-discrimination laws also prohibit harassment against individuals in retaliation for filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or lawsuit under these laws; or opposing employment practices that they reasonably believe discriminate against individuals, in violation of these laws.
Petty slights, annoyances, and isolated incidents (unless extremely serious) will not rise to the level of illegality. To be unlawful, the conduct must create a work environment that would be intimidating, hostile, or offensive to reasonable people.
Offensive conduct may include, but is not limited to, offensive jokes, slurs, epithets or name calling, physical assaults or threats, intimidation, ridicule or mockery, insults or put-downs, offensive objects or pictures, and interference with work performance. Harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances, including, but not limited to, the following:
The harasser can be the victim's supervisor, a supervisor in another area, an agent of the employer, a co-worker, or a non-employee.
The victim does not have to be the person harassed, but can be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.
Unlawful harassment may occur without economic injury to, or discharge of, the victim.
In the light of those assertions, it sounds fairly hard to believe that the culture of the world described by Pao doesn't have a strong influence in the VC-funded tech startup (and post-startup) world.
They can be reined-in using the same money the value so much. If retirement funds stop putting money into their funds (because of bad PR or any other leverage), then they'll start to behave.
Doctors have them, lawyers have them, civil engineers have them.
Lots of software written is at least as critical as what the above professionals do.
But software is a young field compared to all the above so I think it'll take time (or several really serious disasters...which is how the civil engineers got theirs).
a. Protectionism that prevents lowering of wages too much
b. The organization being subverted by its loudest members because everybody else is too busy living their lives.
The examples we see, AMA included, are all plagued with problems. There's a quote about doing the same things and expecting different outcomes but dang made a special request for this thread.
Look at the Australian Computer Society. You pay hundreds per year and have to jump through thousands of dollars of training and such. For what?! That you meet their standards?? What a joke.
I'm a member of the American Association for Computer Machinery instead. At least they charge a reasonable amount and you get a Safari subscription with it.
This is a really weird complaint from somebody who is (presumably) a developer. [If parent commenter is an owner or executive, then it makes more sense]
Are there other industries where workers actively disdain proposals to secure better treatment at the hands of owners?
The government of EVERY country in the world is elected to take care of their citizens. Why should the US government worry about wages of Chinese citizens - Chinese people have their own government, no?
BTW, the US is already very open (close to 15% of population is foreign born, the highest in a century). In an economic crisis, it is not unreasonable to slow down immigration a bit.
Also, it is ironic that you use the example of China, perhaps the most protectionist major country in the world.
But I do feel that it's wrong to restrict the supply of foreign programmers so that an engineer in Silicon Valley can earn $200k instead of 'only' $150k. The average SV programmer is already in the global 0.1%, they don't need protectionism.
Do you feel that Yelp paying $200k rather than $150k is a greater injustice than poorer countries footing the bill for educating their best and brightest only to see their best and brightest flee to San Francisco because domestic companies cannot compete with 'only $150k'?
Do you imply that "poorer countries" somehow own their people and those people owe them indentured servitude until they "return" the "investment" made into them to their "country"? And until then they are not free to move wherever they please and seek as large salary as they can find? That the only "just" outcome would be for people not to seek better lives, whereever that could be, but to stay where they were born, even in worse conditions and despite their wishes, because they owe "the bill" now?
Because it certainly looks like you do. Moreover, it looks like you claim US has a moral obligation to impose this lockdown and not allow any foreign nationals in until they paid their "debt" to the home country.
This also looks exactly like the argument USSR made when prohibiting its citizens to leave. "The country invested in you, so we can't allow you to move freely outside and benefit those capitalists now". I mean, exactly to the letter. It is eery how closely these match.
Honestly, I don't even really like the Singaporean approach of educating your citizens and then slapping a bond on them either. I think education should be free.
I think the US owes the poorer country if it takes their citizens though, and in a just world, corporation taxes on the companies that employ these people would foot the bill of the education they are are using.
We live in a world where poor subsidize rich though and the USSR being both very poor and having a great education system was one example of that.
I think it's weird that you used scare quotes around the word "investment". Do you consider the idea that there should be a societal gain for educating ones' citizens controversial?
Jesus Christ. I literally explicitly said that I didn't believe that.
You mean college professors should work for free? Or somebody else should pay for your education?
That's not the worst part though. The worst part is where you turn around and say "well, since we paid for your education (with other people's money of course, but let's forget about that), we now own you and you are indebted to us forever".
> I think the US owes the poorer country if it takes their citizens though
So, you think the "poorer country" owns its citizens. Because otherwise how you can owe anybody for something they don't own? Do you owe me for sunlight? For the air you breathe? No, because I don't own it. But if you took something I do own, I would certainly be expecting something in return, you'd owe me. That's directly the idea of ownership, and what you said directly implies ownership of the country (at least "poor country") over the citizens.
> We live in a world where poor subsidize rich
No we do not. It is a completely false statement. Look into any table of who pays most of the taxes, they are widely available online.
> USSR being both very poor and having a great education system
Did you experience that system? Because I did. It sucked. There were a few (half-dozen or so) of good schools per city (if the city is large). The rest were more or less garbage. Even in the good ones, usually some things were taught well (i.e., in one school, math & physics, in another - languages, in another -
chemistry, etc. - the rest again was pretty bad). There was a number (maybe a dozen or so over the whole country) decent higher education institutions, the rest was mediocre at the best.
And for it being free I was forced (literally, under the threat of expulsion) to sort rotten vegetables in the local agricultural storage depot. Do you know how potatoes rotting for weeks smell like? Did you have to go through a pile of them with you bare hands? It was part of my CS curriculum. Tell me more about how education in USSR was the best. Fortunately, I got the idea eventually and left (I was lucky, by then it was permitted) and got education in a place where you can pay for it with money and not forced labor.
> Do you consider the idea that there should be a societal gain for educating ones' citizens controversial?
I consider the idea that the state owns people because it took their money and made an "investment" controversial. Investment implies you own whatever you invested into. And your claims about people leaving the country after being educated being unfair implies you buy into that concept of ownership.
Except I didn't say that.
>So, you think the "poorer country" owns its citizens.
>I consider the idea that the state owns people
How many times do I have to say "I don't believe this" before you stop turning around and telling me that I believe it?
>Did you experience that system? Because I did. It sucked.
Oh believe me, this whole conversation is making me reconsider my opinion.
I don't know what the solution to education financing would be in this scenario; perhaps something like Singapore's Tuition Grant Agreement obligating students to stay in-country or pay a big penalty to leave.
Honestly, what's weird is that what I'm saying is even remotely controversial.
But it was contextual.
Sure, every market crash there's one story or another about employees desperately fighting their unions for a worse deal so they can stay employed, while the union insists that all staff get high salaries, but also the newest hires get fired outright.
Higher wages aren't bad, but a fairly serious issue with unions is that they're not very rational when it comes to the health of the 'parent' organization. I suspect that it'd become much more relevant in software, where companies often have rapid growth and short lifespans.
As for wages, I am not seeing developers working at hunger wages right now. Giving some bureaucratic body control over who is employed and on what conditions under the guise that only these people can figure out how to get better treatment and people themselves can't - doesn't sound like a winning proposition now.
"You must be an ACXXXYA-accredited Node JS 0.12-p125 developer who's earned his NPM 1.01-a B-level cert and can use Visual Studio 2008 SP3 (no other version has been approved by the body) to write the codes at this job".
After watching committees by the "best and brightest" of us come up with amazing ideas like SOAP, WSDL, and Annex K of the latest C11 spec, I shudder at the thought of giving someone like that authority over my work.
All of those have something to do with working with humans, the way we all work with computers. And neither group has much else in common.
Never really taken titles seriously ;).
Since then, I don't believe I've ever heard it mentioned.
I find that figure surprising because:
2) This is purely anecdotal, but I've had no problem finding jobs as a self-taught programmer in Canada. I'm paid nearly 6 figures with 3 years of experience in a field where I don't have formal training. If that's not sign of a skills shortage, I don't know what is.
The Graun being the Graun they can't make the leap of logic to "supply and demand".
As a decent software developer, if my less talented co-workers, or, god forbid, some HR-type, started telling me constantly about how I needed to be more "professional", I would hand in my resignation the next day and go somewhere that didn't absolutely suck to work.
People telling you that you're unprofessional can mean that you're the one making work suck for them.
I read the point that being "professional" is also about being able to do good programming work and take responsibility for what you do technically - not just appearing at the office at the right time, being courteous to other people and accepting HR buzzwords and policies and opinions without question.
Appearing at the office at the right time is unnecessary just for appearance's sake, but can be a factor in respecting and empathizing with coworkers, for example to be available for questions. It is usually not that important in the grand scheme of things.
This can be as subjective as the word professionalism. People always use their own value judgement in these things - whether it's deciding if something is professional, or not, or if something is respectful, or not.
Sometimes, you do have to just follow rules, for the sake of it, because there is no standard in personal value.
It doesn't matter if you get your work done. There are a hundred other people who can get your work done and do it without being a dick.
Note: I'm not calling _you_ a dick. I just vehemently disagree with anyone who thinks they get to be a dick (or, more generally, act however they please) just because, to borrow terminology from earlier comments, they're "talented".
If you want to pin down a concept, you can't just deal with easily categorised instances - the real distinctions exist in the grey areas.
There's a multi-dimensional gradient between polite and impolite, and where the thresholds lie is determined by personal value. Pick points far enough to either side, and most of those thresholds will fall within - but it is in the "grey area" that they disagree. That is why an arbitrary, but unambiguous threshold is needed as a standard.
However, those are all things that I've personally seen these so-called "talented" individuals do, because they think their talent makes them immune from criticism. And, sure, that's just my own, anecdotal experience, but the very fact that it's also a widely-held stereotype of these types of people, I would wager that I'm not alone in having been confronted with these types of people.
This isn't a gray area. This is the basic idea of being professional, and it holds true between places where a suit and tie is mandatory and places where you can bring your dog to work every day.
And to be absolutely clear, this is a very Western-centric view. I simply _don't know_ enough to comment on how this applies to more Eastern work environments.
This are unambiguous when you are interacting with people before you have established your own norms. It's possible for a healthy team to have a dynamic where cursing out bad code is completely acceptable, while cursing a person is not. The camaraderie built around breaking a social norm (cursing) can offset shock at violating the norm. However, that should change or be re-evaluated every time that norm is disturbed.
It's also possible to go 'too polite', to the point where criticism goes unsaid because you don't want to offend. That's just as toxic of a culture, it just leads to a much slower demise than the flame-outs you get from more visceral bad behaviors.
>This isn't a gray area.
Argument from extremes.
Whenever the topic of "Well, what do they mean by professionalism?" you'll invariably get a response stating something really obvious, and pointing out people who violated those obvious norms.
Since I didn't, and don't expect to, violate them, this kind of comment is almost useless. Why? Because in no place where I've worked is the use of the word "professionalism" limited to those domains.
You will get people who do everything you said still be called unprofessional. Which is why the question becomes "Well, what does professional mean?" and invariably someone will give your response and we get nowhere.
I worked for a tutoring agency once. Our boss was trying to tell us that we should be careful not to make the student feel like a moron because they couldn't solve a problem we tutors found easy. What does that mean? He demonstrated it to us by saying "Well, when someone asks you an easy question, don't say 'Wow! You really can't do such a simple question?!'"
That demonstration was really helpful. We all went back and occasionally said to a student "Sure I can help you solve this trivial problem".
(No, of course we didn't. The point was to someone who wasn't aware, this approach would be totally appropriate for a tutor to do because he's not making explicit fun of the student).
People who leave with 2 week's notice have been called unprofessional.
People who don't reply to pointless emails have been called unprofessional.
Just open up an "Ask HN" thread and ask people what crazy things have been called "unprofessional" in their work place.
Sorry, but I have to agree with the others. Saying "Be professional" is as useless as "Be cool" or "Be good".
If a company doesn't have proper guidelines and training on what they expect their employees to do, then that company doesn't value professionalism. Not providing guidance and then pointing fingers is pretty low.
To what degree tech does, or should, value "professional"/polite behavior is a different topic.
The problem here is I think people have different definitions of "wildly unprofessional behavior".
They are skills you have to develop though and young people will make mistakes as they figure out what the boundaries are. If you are fortunate enough to have a mentor in the business, you have a huge advantage.
For better or worse at the forefront of your field and at the top of the social ladder the rules are different.
It's a sliding scale. The better one's results are the bigger douche one can be and get away with it. And that's a very good thing because it ensures that most people who know that they are not that fantastic at producing great results go out of their way to avoid being total douche bags.
Or be more "professional", but that's boring af.
I'm assuming you don't intend to defend mistreating coworkers, so you must think that there is unprofessional behavior that is nonetheless acceptable in the workplace.
Because I avoid meetings that exist solely to stroke manager egos. If it's not related to what I'm doing I don't go no matter how mandatory it is.
Because I avoid war rooms (getting people from every team into a room for days on end to troubleshoot some issue; but where it's not your problem and everyone just does normal work because it's not their problem either - again it's another management ego stroking thing).
Because I don't attend team building sessions especially if they involve sports or touching other people or being touched.
Because I refuse to travel. I generally don't travel for myself, so I don't travel for the company - spending days and weeks in a foreign place with nothing to do away from my family and in an unfamiliar bed teeming with potential nasties. No thanks. Had bed bugs once and it led to me losing everything and becoming homeless for a while. Never again.
Lots of people will think one or more of those are "unprofessional" and that your company owns you. I have bills to pay too but I want to live what little crappy life I have on my own terms and do my job - not the ancillary bullcrap.
This sounds like an extraordinary tragedy, and one that really ought to have been considered a workplace accident, in the same category as people who lose fingers to power tools. I'm sorry this happened to you.
> team building sessions especially if they involve sports or touching other people or being touched.
The dark side of team building sessions; they can be both disturbing and extremely exclusionary if they're lead by well-meaning but clueless people.
I had never put together quite how awful your average "team building seminar" could be for someone with autism or other physical-touch issues. I've never been in a position to call one, so I've always just left it at "those are annoying". But on reflection, "a room full of people openly pressuring you to let people touch you without warning" sounds like hell on earth for several people I know. And yet it's quite common to make them mandatory and expect everyone to act like they had fun...
What about if it's your more talented co-workers?
You really think it's acceptable or even laudable to harass coworkers?
To play devils advocate, sexism is a thing everywhere. In some cases, there are good biological reasons why men and women are treated differently, e.g. child care (mostly women) versus hard physical labor (mostly men)
Where those biological differences aren't effective (e.g. typing on a keyboard), then yes, men and women should be treated the same.
But even with that, there may be biological reasons why men and women are interested in different things. Which may mean more women in job A, or more men in job B.
> Maybe other industries suffer less from these things because they have a longer history and have more guild-like working practices, where professional behavior is more clearly defined.
Any job which has "guild-like working practices" is very likely going to be male dominated. Because most guilds were based on men working. e.g. construction, stone masons, electricians, etc. And those jobs are rife with sexism, because of their historical roots.
> I studied CS and I never learned about what it means to be a professional software developer.
Because schools teach concepts, not social skills. They should probably teach social skills and social practices, IMHO. Everyone would be better off for it.
But it might impact supply and demand of applicants with a certain background (either educational or self-study). Companies can take responsibility for the demand, but not the supply of human capital. Solutions are more likely found within education, family and youth culture. The top tier companies (like Google) can't hide behind that fact, since they generally get first pick, but that would make it even harder for lower tier companies to uphold an effective diversity policy.
There may be a strong business opportunity to exclusively invest in and hire minorities. If you have (a lot of) money and believe minorities to be discriminated against due to culture, hiring policy or financial rewards, it logically follows that you should invest in minorities. You would get, on average, better people that are more competitive.
Nothing argues quicker than profit. And the end of the day, we live in a capitalistic society. The economic arguments are the only types of arguments that will change anything.
If the invisible hand of the free market has a bias where it does not properly allocate its resources for maximum profitability, go bet against it and get rich.
There's a useful graph somewhere of various degrees earned by gender split. The numbers run the gamut.
Thanks in Advance!
It spends a while at the beginning on credentials and the importance of using citations (something damore failed at), and starts getting into the science at 'universal across all cultures, are we sure?'
Uncivil swipes will get your account banned on HN, so please don't post like this again.
Maybe read the medium post he linked to? (The irony of your comment is killing me). If Wikipedia, The Atlantic, and the NY Post appear as citations more than primary literature, it is absolutely a failure to cite (as described in the medium post).
The one legit paper he linked to (http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.173...) didn't reach the conclusion he was claiming. That paper demonstrates that in egalitarian developed societies men are less oppressed by other men, not that there are innate differences. In all cases women's behavior is the result of being oppressed to a greater or lesser degree. In other words in less developed societies many men are just as oppressed by the powerful as women and use the same coping strategies.
He also failed to address the fact that interest doesn't necessarily correlate with ability. Research shows men and women don't differ in empathy unless men know they are being judged, which suggests it is a culturally-imposed trait and definitely not universal.
He makes a lot of assumptions without bothering to explain them, eg: assuming effective meritocracy and blindly ignoring his own caveats, never resolving the conflict with his own arguments. He never once presents ANY evidence that cognitive differences between men/women influence performance in software engineering.
Here are just a few papers:
There are plenty of books and articles on the topic:
One interesting result is if you can get women to picture themselves as men most of the cases where we do see differences disappears, again suggesting the vast majority of differences are cultural:
Honestly it doesn't take much effort to stop with the confirmation bias. Do some actual research on your own and don't just look for sources that reinforce your existing biases.
James Damore wrote a document mostly describing his feelings and sprinkled in a few footnotes to make it look like he had done some research. He is woefully out of date with the current research (because he obviously didn't do any). That's pretty much what everyone does regarding this topic, both on HN and elsewhere.
It has become a demoralizing slog to repeatedly attempt to educate people when they are both a) so ignorant on a topic and b) so absolutely certain they are correct despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. I suppose this issue falls into the category of things that "everyone knows" so people Dunning-Kruger themselves into a position without giving it any thought.
The question of whether there are biological differences that make men and women suited for different tasks has been studied for decades. There are mountains of data. Brilliant men and women have written extensively on the topic. For the love of God, please take the time to educate yourself.
Even if you want to cling to the idea that women aren't as suited to programming (despite the evidence to the contrary) you could at least avoid doing an incompetent job by being aware of the research in the field.
You say biological reasons, I say social programming. The whole nature vs. nurture debate has been going on for ages.
Basically, we have no way of knowing what portion of women's tendencies to gravitate towards certain jobs and careers can be attributed to biological factors vs. to the way they were raised by their parents and conditioned by society.
Consider this: back in the 50s and 60s, women dominated computer programming. It was seen as an obvious career choice for young, talented women. This article explains the history much better:
My point is women aren't into programming because lack of biological ability.
The science says biological reasons:
> Basically, we have no way of knowing what portion of women's tendencies to gravitate towards certain jobs and careers can be attributed to biological factors vs. to the way they were raised by their parents and conditioned by society.
That isn't true, either.
Let's look at Sweden, which is a modern egalitarian society. If society is largely gender-blind, then people should overwhelmingly make "free" choices. i.e. choices which are strongly influenced by biology.
And we see that. Jobs in Sweden are still overwhelmingly split by gender. Engineers are overwhelmingly male, and people-oriented jobs (nurse, etc.) are overwhelmingly female.
Here's another discussion of gender differences:
To deny that men and women are psychologically different is to claim that evolution / biology works on the physical attributes, but does not work on the corresponding mental attributes.
That claim just cannot possibly be true.
>> racism in tech is a thing, and that it shouldn't be.
>To play devils advocate, racism is a thing everywhere. In some cases, there are good biological reasons why blacks and whites are treated differently, e.g. basketball (mostly blacks) versus swimming (mostly whites)
If the above doesn't sound insane to you, I don't know what to tell you.
> If the above doesn't sound insane to you, I don't know what to tell you :)
We, on HN, are keenly aware of Turing's contributions - the fact that he was gay has literally no bearing on our appreciation of his contributions;
Wifi as you know it (frequency hopping) was invented by a female
Many people with many contributions to the advancement of modern civilization were... human!!!!
Now, if we really want to be inclusionary - who are the undersung animals? The jelly fish, lab rats, telomeres of the immortal, Pavlov's dogs?
This whole argument is quite stupid (stupid that it is even an argument)
Fighting over merits is bullshit; hey Sur Gregor Clegane, squeeze through that doggy door. Hey Gary Coleman, bring me that 500 pound axel!
Physicality surely has its pigeon holes, mental capabilities do as well: clearly gender does not.
Brianne of Tarth could dig a bigger ditch than theon or Tyrion...
The sad thing is that Google has built itself on an interview process of supposed meritocracy - and witha single memo exposed themselves as not being such... wage fixing etc...
Human judgement is the real culprit. Bias. Where is it learned, innate or developed? How do personal, professional,psychological, physiological or familial bias occur and present?
Well, they clearly just present all around you! They are everywhere - so how to judge another?
The problem with the issue at hand is that we are using professional/physiological situations to judge psychological/other factors...
Bias silos exist. I'll defer my time to the gentleman with better articulation ability than I.
Wow. You realize that you, or whoever you read or heard this from, has absolutely no evidence to back this up, right? Not to mention we're talking about passing up millions because someone played Future in the locker room, if there's a white dude that'd do that, I dunno what to say. But best of all is when you listen to white players in the league and how they've picked up black colloquialisms in the speech (listen to Dirk Nowitzski talk), or are rather comfortable doing shit like that time fucking Doug Collins and Jalen Rose were quoting "What happened to that boy?" by Baby and Clipse.
(it's a play on current PC tropes on the lack of women in tech and how insane they sound when applied to race/nba)
Replace with religion and blacks and whites with Jews and muslims, sure the paragraph can still be written as such, but still doesn't change the original meaning.
If it wasn't obvious, one of my points was that being good at swimming is just that - it has nothing to do with software engineering. The whole "inherently different" argument is a red-herring if it has no provable bearing on the ability to do the (software engineering) work.
edit: my main point though, was that differences in statistical sport affinities are not, and do not explain "racism" - just as difference in statistical career-affinity is not, and doesn't explain "sexism".
>Where those biological differences aren't effective (e.g. typing on a keyboard), then yes, men and women should be treated the same.
You argued against a strawman.
That being said as long as a job/role's requirements are appropriate and fair, there should be no reason a senegalese (black) woman, philippino (asian) man, or danish (caucasian) woman can't be a software engineer, soldier, nurse, or nanny.
That makes about as much sense as saying "let me remap what you're saying to hair color"
> If the above doesn't sound insane to you, I don't know what to tell you.
It does sound insane, because it is insane.
But it's your text. Not mine.
The problem is that you're making the following insinuation:
there are no more differences between men and women than between black people and white people
That statement is simply not true. In terms of physical prowess, men are stronger, faster, etc. There is just no question:
* the record for mens "clean and jerk" is as much as the womans record... plus the woman who's doing the record
* national / olympic womens teams (soccer, baseball, etc.) compete with mens high school teams... and lose.
* the records for swimming, sprinting, marathon, etc. show huge difference by sex
What is insane is denying biological reality, while insinuating I'm no better than a racist.
More importantly, your original point dodges the issue of sexism altogether. Obviously there are biological differences between men and women, but sexism is not an issue over who is able to bear children and who has more estrogen in their body. Sexism is about an unfair social power dynamic. Nobody is denying that there is a biological reality to it; the conversation is over how to work with that knowledge to give both men and women an even playing field.
Take one example that men will sometimes fall in love with women they work with, or vice versa. Without any rules or precedence you can end up with seriously messed up power dynamics, like a man in a more senior position pressuring women into unwanted sexual situations in which rejection puts them at fear for their jobs. Sexual harassment laws exist to try to protect against this, and inter-office relationships are generally forbidden as a preventative measure.
Sexism is a really difficult and nuanced issue, and to say "yeah but this will always be an issue because men and women are biologically different" trivializes it and takes away from the discussion.
Except I wasn't being sexist. The re-phrasing of my comment as racism was offensive and demeaning, and entirely not analogous.
> Sexism is about an unfair social power dynamic
Such as men dying earlier than women? Such as 80% of homeless being men? Such as 93% of "on the job" deaths being male? Such as never-married childless women earning more than equivalent men... going back to the 1960's?
I could go on.
My point is that everyone touts the party line of "OMFG women are oppressed". Very few people look into the facts. And when all the facts are presented, it's a whole lot more nuanced than "think of the Women!"
> to say "yeah but this will always be an issue because men and women are biologically different" trivializes it and takes away from the discussion.
You're reading a whole lot more into my comment than I said. That shows rather more projection that reality-based discussion.
Which is completely false and not based on any facts. Businesses have different policies. You can't reduce all IT in world to a few businesses in the Silicon Valley. That's preposterous. And I doubt IT has anymore "unprofessional behavior" than any other industries. There is absolutely no data that demonstrate that.
My girlfriend works for a major company in corporate real estate. The stories she tells put most stuff I've seen leveled at IT to shame. Managers that scream at employees in front of everyone else and bring them to tears, constant bickering, backstabbing, and general refusal to do their own job or help you do your job in any possible way, even though you're on the same team, people getting thrown under the bus constantly, people getting panic attacks and taking leaves from the company because they've been verbally abused so much, you have to have a high level of assertiveness and a fighting attitude to get anything accomplished. She's gone from men in charge of her to women, and she thinks it actually got worse with women in charge, because they pretend to be friendly but are secretly doing everything they can to undermine you.
How these people stay employed and these companies stay in business I have no idea. I know the turnover is really, really high at her company, and they've lost a lot of bids recently.
It's not true of everyone or every company in corporate real estate, but the nature of it seems to foster and encourages that type of behavior. Big money, high stakes, if you win the company millions of dollars in business they let you be a total asshole. Well, at least if you're high enough on the totem pole.
She's been trying to get out of it for years, but she can't find anything else that pays as well for her skillset.
This is a shame. As part of my CS degree I was required to take a "management" module that covered a bunch of legal aspects of the job, and a professional skills module that covered a bit more of what it means to be a professional engineer. The modules weren't great and many (myself included) looked down on them a bit while taking them, but looking back I know they helped and I would advocate for more education like that in CS degrees.
Some rules transcend companies and are socially tethered like ethic, morals, maturity, responsibility, etc... But disregard for social judgement is actually a strength in achieving power.
This may be why grassroots true change takes so long. The upper levels needs to pass away because they can't be convinced because they aren't bound by anything.
Most people think they can handle power, but the "true" freedom it provides will corrupt almost anyone because most people are unaware of just how much they delegate thoughts and outlooks to outside frameworks. ("Culture")
Many cultures and subcultures in many times and places have had cultural protocols for people to indicate that they are interested in each other and would potentially like to do whatever, and protocols for acceptance and rejection of said advances. Perhaps tech (and to be honest the office workplace in general) needs to work something out for that. Most "nice" people end up holding themselves to restrictions that turn out to be grossly stricter than what the actual law says, so the "nice" people feel stifled when they actually aren't, and the not-so-nice people have no real guidelines and just do as they please.
It would at least give some guidelines to people on how to act, because right now the guidelines are all mostly negative... don't do this, don't do that, don't do the other thing, but I don't know the positive guidelines. That's sort of difficult to navigate through.
So, caveats. First, please don't read into my first paragraph anything that isn't there. I am not endorsing any particular set of protocols nor claiming that any particular set was perfect. I am simply saying it might be helpful if something existed; feel free to craft it to your sensibilities. Second, I'm married with no intention of changing that, not in SV, and psychologically and politically not a match for SV culture anyhow, so I'm not trying to suggest any specific protocol because anything I'd suggest wouldn't stick anyhow. (Or possibly there is a clear protocol and I'm just so out of it that I don't know what it is on account of not caring, but I'd expect more people to be discussing it in these matters and I don't see that, so I assume this is not the problem.) Third, I make no claim that the mere existence of such protocols would suddenly magically make all harassment go away, but having something, especially something with positive suggestions about how to go about courting, would be a good start. It's hard to referee a game with no lines on the field. (That may be the most important sentence in this post.)
My only specific feedback is that "nobody should ever be approached for anything ever and anyone who is approached has all rights to go arbitrarily ballistic on social media" is simply unrealistic; humans are gonna human. Part of the eventual contract would have to be that whatever an "approach" is, you do get one chance, and if you get the "go away and never raise this again" then yes, you are obligated to do that. The protocol could include some way of opting out entirely; without an argument that this should be used by tech, as an example, I would point out this is one of the purposes wedding rings serve.
For instance, the company in question discriminates against women when it comes to promotion of employees. I have a friend who worked at a very well known company where she experienced the same problem.
I think these apparently structural problems should receive continuous attention, otherwise maybe they will never be solved. So, I think it might not be a good idea to shift the focus away from that discussion.
I don't think it has anything to do with either one of those things, but everything to do with some people just being sociopaths. It seems to be concentrating on people with power over others.
Why would you defend false allegations by Pao? They hurt women that actually do experience it. They also give more evidence to the fact that women do use the system to get rich quick by suing in hopes of getting a massive settlement.
She should be condemned and her claims should not be used to demonstrate sexism, which is what you're trying to do.
> It's easy to get hung up on the particulars of Pao's story and get sidetracked into defending or judging her, but I feel that is besides the point.
in its opening sentence.
A lot of engineers have a good bit to say against the existence of widespread sexism in engineering, myself included. Engineering in computer science has long been represented by a nearly nonexistent barrier to entry outside of one's capabilities and their relevance to the position. Even traditional, and technically very relevant, lateral predictors to output are such as formal education, are largely ignored. Your accomplishments and capabilities interviewing are ultimately what get the hire, with very few exceptions. Anybody who has been in a hiring position can speak to the utilitarian pursuit of the placement; race and sex are the last thing on the mind come hiring time.
All of that being said, however, I don't find it remotely hard to believe that Ellen Pao's recounting of her experience in the world of venture capital is far from the truth. I'm actually relatively certain that she's spared us a good bit of the details. But this isn't engineering, this is finance; quite rarely about the utility of any particular individual in a role, and almost entirely centered around pretty horrible characteristics. Cronyism is the most important characteristic in the club, trading favors, trading connections, looking the other way, getting away with this, getting away with that. The whole thing is a zero sum game, because nobody within is creating any value, you're only ever vying for a piece of the pie baked by the outsiders who actually produce things. As Pao points out, any partner you have largely considers you as a mechanism by which they are to have less investment capital available themselves, and any senior sees you as a way to bubble up the greatest picks for them to skim off the top.
The point is that the business is not about merit, it's about being in the club and playing ball. To deviate from the standards of the club just means you're less of a sure thing when it comes to being a crony, and it doesn't take much to understand why a woman is an outsider in a club like this.
So when we talk about sexism in Silicon Valley, let's please not conflate these two very different businesses. One of them is made up of worker bees, and we don't care what kind of bee you are as long as you're outputting honey. The other one is literally Wall Street pretending like it's anything but.
It caters to males with: We give you 1,2,3 and want you to have skills 4,5,6. Having having several job ads targetting several audiences helps a lot e.g. fresh from university, senior developers who have seen it all, women, dads who want 9-5.
 essenially more diversity results in better ideas and market fit with a tradeoff of less productivity measured in quantity
Many women are more self-critical than many men. So if you have a huge list of needed skills, women might apply less often. Do write only the really relevant skills, don't copy and past from previous apps. Do not require what can easily be learned (e.g. JS frameworks). Add more about they why of your company, why do you exist? What makes your company really unique? Women might think about maternity, are you especially equipped to handle this? Women - again generalized - be interested in social interactions, how does your company provide them? They might fear sexism, how do you deal with that? Write one ad for this persona.
Students from university are eager to try out the stuff they've learned, they want to learn new stuff and use the shiniest toys. They don't care if working longer. Write one ad for this persona.
35 year old dads have different priorities, and the job might not be their biggest priority to spend time on. So they might prefer 9-5 jobs. Write one ad for this persona.
Senior developers might be older, have seen it all. They've been in the mill of new shiny toys for years, and everything looks the same. Write one ad for this persona.
Anyway, the pitch for all of the above is "This job will be great for your career". Describe to junior developers what their next resume will look like. Lists of shiny tech probably work, but honestly think about what a great 3-5 year resume looks like and help them blow that out of the water. Describe to a senior developer how they'll have more agency and autonomy, how they'll be helping steer the organization at a strategic level, etc. A senior developer wants to be working on promising tech, but they need to be able to call shots at the same time. Otherwise, they're just a more experienced associate developer.
Or maybe the job won't be amazing for their career. I guess that's fine, but in that case you should be describing other benefits that make up for that.
All of that goes for all candidates: Male, female, married, single, junior, and senior. "Here's why this will be the best job you can take right now."
Other than the hostile and draining work environment, Pao's biggest complaint was that her employer wasn't giving her the career opportunities she thought she deserved. It wasn't tech but the major differences is what a shot looks like in an investment role versus a development role.
(Generalizations clause applying), marketing that focused on adventure and competition caused more men than women to sign up. Marketing focus on self improvement and social engagement did the opposite. The data has a low sample size (<10), so take that for what it is.
The idea of there even being a completely objective way to evaluate people is already suspect. I'm pretty sure, for example, that there are many teams where spending long hours in the office will, all else being equal, be considered a good sign. And of course, when decisions about promotions are made, it doesn't hurt to have cultural rapport with your superiors. And that may include football, or being a useful teammate in Counterstrike more often than a shared appreciation of theatre.
It's really hard to objectively evaluate programmers, and there are many disciplines where it was shown that they do discriminate even though they would profess to be completely objective. One famous example is the hiring of musicians for orchestras, where behind-the-curtain auditions resulted in many more women getting hired than before.
Note that I'm pretty sure these people making hiring decisions did actually believe they were being objective. They did not intent to do any harm. But that's not enough. You have to actively work against some parts of human nature, and try to find ways to make it impossible for yourself to fall into such traps.
I'd just like to highlight that this is specific to Silicon Valley, and maybe the wider startup/GAFA scene. It's definitely not the case in the "old school" in which 90% of software engineers work. If you're looking for a developer job in Accenture Bangalore, Citigroup London, or Lufthansa IT Frankfurt, I guarantee that your diploma matters more than your capabilities.
That said, I also think the person you are replying to misses the point in a big way. Just because hiring managers aren't discriminating overtly doesn't mean there are not serious sexism problems in the industry. Not the least of which is that many women don't want to work in the gross/creepy sausage-factory that is many IT shops. Hell, some dude a few posts up was saying he would quit if told to act professionally. How do you think that is going to go when a woman joins his team and it's time to take down the porno wallpaper?
Not sure the sexism is where you think it is.
"How do you think that is going to go when a woman joins his team and it's time to take down the porno wallpaper?"
I think you have not worked in a lot of IT shops. Never saw any porno items in there. Only shop I've seen porno wallpapers was in an auto parts warehouse and only in the male changing room.
Because there is systematic bias in finance (would they put somebody with a tattoo on a board? somebody with a nose piercing? somebody who didn't go to college? As well as minority underrepresentation)
I can't imagine if boards did blind interviews, or even merit-based interviews.
I think the uncomfortable truth is, we in engineering try so hard to make our own little meritocracy, but we live underneath a bunch of spoiled 1% capitalers who see people who have less than a million (or of low class) as non-people and they keep wrecking our work [because they aren't actually as smart as Sergey Brin for example] and turning everything we make into ad-tech. (All the while patting themselves on the back)
Can you clarify this? I'm confused because it seems at odds with the rest of your post.
For positions and treatment of individuals working in venture capital, however, I don't imagine very many engineers would have much to weigh in on. So what I'm getting at is that I'm pointing out how overloaded the concept of "Silicon Valley" is. Engineering and venture capital are two completely different worlds with the same title slapped on them, and it makes it very frustrating when communicating about things like this. I sympathize with Pao, but the title of the article is literally "This Is How Sexism Works in Silicon Valley."
To me, that shows a stunning lack of personal awareness. I've done hiring in tech. I'm an engineer. I'm also a woman. And I know I'm biased against certain groups. I purposefully offset that by making sure there is some sort of measurement (usually a coding exercise) with as objective as possible metrics for judgement (I explicitly state the criteria they'll be judged on so they're aware) that dictates whether they move on to the next stage or not.
If I need to offset my subconscious biases as a woman in tech who spent many of her formative years living in different African countries, than I can only imagine the types of biases a white man who has lived primarily in the suburbs will need to be combatting.
For such a man to be "annoyed" because "anybody who is in a hiring position for specifically engineering knows exactly how utilitarian the hiring process is" is a major part of the problem. You can't correct for biases (often subconscious or quite subtle) you're refusing to acknowledge.
I have a series of technical questions that I ask a candidate specifically meant to isolate important technical abilities. Each of my questions almost obviously highlights one particular problem-solving ability that I expect from a quality engineer, and each question's answer is evaluated to ensure that that one specific criteria being met.
The objectivity by which I evaluate this is subject, from your perspective, because I've alerted you that I'm a white male. However, you know literally nothing about me, the questions I ask, or my primary motive when seeking an employee. I am the director of engineering at my company, and it would be extremely detrimental to my own team if I were to pass up a quality candidate of any race or gender who fits my specific (and purely technical) criteria for a hire.
Your response instead says that I demonstrate a stunning lack of personal awareness, even though not only do you not know anything about me, but I am actively engaging in a conversation about the topic for which I've clearly reflected heavily on. If you want to be less subjective (and quite frankly, racist and sexist) in your own evaluation of an individual you don't know, I suggest that you not make so many assumptions about a person upon discovering that they are a white male.
Well, it attempts to be utilitarian. However, there are routinely articles on HN, from the perspective of the prospect and the company, about how much of a crapshoot interviewing for coding is.
So fundamentally this debate is about the existence of an objective reality that does not have, at its base, gender or race or other attributes. Most of us who are engineers see a different base and it's pretty condescending to have someone explain to you that you prefer the person who aced the interview to the person who struggled because of some unconscious bias, or that you asked the wrong questions, etc.
If they say they know crypto, then I have a bank of crypto questions. For example, I write down a common authentication and key establishment protocol. Then I ask them what could an attacker do if the last confirmation message was not sent. There are huge differences in outcomes. Some people are confused and have no idea. Others start confidently making stuff up. Others actually identify attacks that would be possible, demonstrating an understanding of cryptographic protocols. None of these differences are based on race, gender, age, etc.
There isn't too much of a middle ground -- most people either succeed or fail. Now, they may have failed because they were having a bad day, or maybe they don't do well at technical interviews, or they might have lied on their resume, but there is an objective reality. This is what people mean when they say the interviews are utilitarian. But I honestly don't think that a large portion of the population is capable of understanding that. They really see everything in terms of identity, so the questions must have been sexist, or I was being unfair to the interviewee.
Now the battle becomes, must everyone else also reject objective reality? Must everyone else throw away the notion of ranking candidates based on their ability to reason abstractly and demonstrate problem solving skills in a live interview, or must we just adopt a notion of "qualification" ? E.g. do we give everyone a job based on their GPA/list of degrees, or is there room for performance based evaluation of individuals? This debate is very important to tech, because there are a lot of incompetent engineers with degrees that really impact a team. There is a big difference in productivity between good engineers and bad engineers. Joel Spolsky is spot on here: https://www.joelonsoftware.com/2006/10/25/the-guerrilla-guid...
In engineering, actual talent matters, and it matters a lot. This isn't like hiring a bus driver. You don't get promoted for having been there for X years, and you don't get hired based on your credentials. Your idea doesn't get adopted because "it's your turn" to have your way. Individual talent matters, and the fact that we may not always detect it accurately is not evidence of the hiring process not being utilitarian or any kind of identity-based discrimination.
Of course I'm not saying there isn't opportunity for bias here as well (mainly in the selection of the question), but you've offset it magnificently by having written down the correct answer and (hopefully) prioritizing getting said answer rather than the manner in which it was conveyed ("I think..", questions rather than statements ("It's x, right?"), "Maybe it's..", etc. since those types of self-effacing comments are often seen and presented as polite forms of communicating for women).
I think most large companies have a formalized system of initial screening -- which has been criticized for relying on keywords and such. It's done by HR. After that, there's a phone screen which is much like an in person interview -- the questions should be pre-written based on the resume and generally they are. In my company I've worked to write up large banks of questions w/answers and distributed them to people doing phone screens for this purpose, and I've used that in my own phone screens.
What people should do is formalize the interview process which helps in so many ways -- a repeatable process with repeatable questions lets you compare people across times and gives a lot of insight. It also helps reduce bias.
I do think that small companies tend to do a worse job that big companies with established HR practices. That's not only true for HR, it's true across the board. Young people who are inexperienced are going to make mistakes. Certainly there is going to be "culture" type bias in start ups and other small companies at least during the screening process. I wouldn't say that's too relevant for "Silicon Valley", as you have these issues in small businesses in every industry.
Consider the high-profile stories of how women get treated in the industry after they are hired.
Even if we assume the hiring process is 100% utilitarian and unbiased (which itself is quite a questionable claim), the tech industry still has a serious problem with the way it treats women once they are hired.
So attempting to argue that the problem comes from the venture capital side and not the engineering side comes across as a little naive.
Traditional barriers to entry, such as having a college degree, tend to be ignored in a small subset of programming jobs (notably Silicon Valley).
Therefore, the hiring process in programming is more utilitarian than many other industries. Your talents and accomplishments matter the most in getting you hired.
Therefore, sexism in tech is exaggerated.
In terms of "cultural" fit, you're right. I do a lot of work with Hindu Indians and Muslim Pakistanis, because I have an enormous "cultural" overlap with them as a white male from Southern California. Oh, wait, I actually hired them because they were excellent engineers.
Someone might think, "I need to hire an ivy league graduate to do the algorithms work" and feel they are being utilitarian. After all, there must be some value in the incredible price tag of that education.
For me, that's still feeling a bit iffy, but much more reasonable. The more we discriminate, the more discrimination we embrace. At what point is discrimination good and at what point is it bad?
There are clearly protected classes where we are not legally allowed to discriminate. There are classes where we can discriminate, but shouldn't. And there are classes where we must discriminate, otherwise we would just be hiring random people off the street.
And even though I completely agree with everything you wrote, I think there is value in reflecting on what it means to be discriminatory and what focusing on utility might bring us. While I think it is very much beside the point of your post (which I thought was excellent), there is a bit of hubris to gloss over the issue of hiring for utility without examining how this is problematic.
Before you ask -- a different model may be not to hire for utility, but rather to consider hiring as a responsibility you take on. Your responsibility is to help that person be successful. Are you able to do it it? That, in my experience, is a far better view than hiring for utility.
It isn't bias, per se, that is problematic. What creates difficulty are the consequences for poor choices. What we colloquially call "discrimination" is really someone being blind (or uncaring) to the results of their own poor judgement. All poor judgement is harmful, but there are some classes that we single out for special treatment in society.
There are many examples in society where we make "allowances" based on discrimination. We might accept smaller women fire fighters than we do men. We might accept people from certain religions to wear slightly different uniforms. We might allow people with a physical impairment to have an aide for taking a test. By and large, these are choices that are meant to create good consequences, but they are discriminatory nonetheless. Indeed, it is societal bias which determines which allowances are considered to have good consequences and which are not (I expect that some people would question or reject one or two of my points, for example).
Of course, not everyone is good at making judgements. Additionally we sometimes have cultural biases which encourage us to make certain poor judgements. It's important to realise that all poor judgement is harmful. Honestly, it doesn't matter if you make my life a misery because of my skin colour or because you don't like the way I talk. It doesn't even matter if you do it simply because you are unskillful and don't realise (or care) that you are doing it.
But you can't make it illegal to be a jerk. Everybody would be in jail at one time in their life. Because there are some classes of problems that are pervasive in society, we can address the problem there. We can address specific problems with large classes of sufferers. The other potential benefit is that hopefully people will start to realise that their behaviour is undesirable. So if they think, "I can't use sexual innuendo as a way to politically lock out a female rival", they might start realising that politically locking out any rival is not really a beneficial strategy.
I say might. I'm not really expecting that much, but one can live in hope ;-)
Sorry for the book. I feel frustrated in the same way that I imagine you do. I just think that we need to help people steer away from the "thought crime" of bias and start getting them to focus on the "real crime" of harassment. If we complain too much about "bias" (or the allegation of bias), I think we risk people getting stuck on that point and never getting around to discussing how we learn to act better to each other.
I've seen so many accusations of sexism in tech by now that I tire of it. When investigated, it seems to always boil down to one of two things:
1. Some guy hit on me and I thought it was gross^Wharassment.
2. I feel a general aura of sexism that I can't pin down or concretely identify but I'm sure it's there, so I've become instantly triggered by mundane things.
All too often the latter feels like women (and male feminists) on a power trip. The feelings of being offended aren't real, it's just a way to convince/force others to do what they want.
I'm thinking of cases like the dongle incident for that. A trivial remark over nothing that led to guys getting fired. But the Damore memo is another good example. Guy points out that lots of scientists think men and women have different interests for genetic reasons, so maybe we should be more willing to discuss that -> outrage, firings, power successfully exercised. Nobody is ever actually offended by science, or even abstract arguments about science and politics, even if they may claim to be. The offence is manufactured to meet an end goal: the punishment of those who do not bow to the power of the ideology.
The people trying to get evolution banned from schools probably are.
Some of the responses I saw to the Damore memo, seemed to boil down to that some things should not be said regardless of truthiness.
Attempts to even look for differences in intelligence or I think personality by race tend to get shouted down rather quickly, because historically they've been used to justify some seriously nasty shit.
The offence is manufactured to meet an end goal: the punishment of those who do not bow to the power of the ideology.
I really don't think it's all that calculated. There are things that people want to believe, or feel it is necessary to believe, and they get upset if you tell them they're wrong (evolution), if you tell them they're only partly right (Damore), or sometimes if you even look like you might be thinking about questioning them (race).
Please explain this statement further. I am trying to understand how the person who is harassed is the person with the power or on a power trip as you put it. Wouldn't the best way to avoid such a scenario be to avoid the circumstance of making unwanted or unwelcome statements? How in the world can you definitely tell the feelings of being offended are not real?
You can definitely tell in cases where the target of this is a particular individual in a group setting; the double standard in treatment becomes stark after a while.
In general, businesses, regardless of industry, have tended to view complainants as the troublemakers (or at least a legal risk) and their future at the company is affected in one form or another. Anyone that can sue a company is a threat and threats are not typically viewed positively. The individual may achieve a short-term goal (or satisfy their agenda as you point out) but long-term they are not on the winning end of the game they are playing.
Any individual who would use complaints as a career driver, or to drive whatever agenda you are alluding to, is in for a rude awakening. This would apply to those who complain of harassment, whistleblowers', or simply well intentioned employees. We have yet to come up with a way to resolve the issue and protect reputations, career advancement, etc for the parties involved when it comes to unwanted or unwelcome statements that reasonable people can disagree about.
Note: I am not addressing repeat offenders or blatant harassment. I am only addressing situations where a comment was not meant to offend but is offensive to someone but reasonable people differ on if the comment was offensive. Clearly people are different and what offends one does not offend someone else. These are the difficult situations that I am addressing, not someone showing up in a bathrobe at a coworkers hotel room.
The amount of actual time that "long" takes can vary wildly, and assumes that businesses are generally competent at identifying and eliminating "threats." "Long" can sometimes be years of the behavior. Many businesses, even successful ones, are not fully aware of what goes on inside the company.
Even with those issues aside, none of these things you mention will stop you from being the first victim of someone who manipulatively uses complaints about objectionable comments to screw you over. Most places need a pattern of behavior established before they're willing to assign blame to the complaintant, especially if the complaintant is difficult to fire for other reasons (e.g. is a member of a legally protected class or is connected to someone up the corporate food chain).
And yes, I know you're talking about comments and other things that are subjective like that. Those are the ones most likely to be abused, because they can be interpreted in multiple ways.
And how are we supposed to do that?
Depends on if you mean objective, or subjective harassment. Offense could be described as the latter. The power comes from being able to provide the latter, and it being treated as the former.
I'm not going to look it up, but it wouldn't surprise me if science shows that men are more aggressive than women.
It does hurt my feelings when people assume that I'm going to be aggressive/dangerous because I'm a man.
There are many other examples of how science can offend people, but this one affects me the most.
Now the issue with some studies that can be considered flawed at best being used as a justification would be a problem but that's an entirely different argument here, I feel.
For example, aggression is context bound by the cultural environment. In some cultures aggression would be to talk to an elder without being spoken to first. To argue then that men are biologically more disposed to mechanically perform such aggression is silly, so we would need to disassemble what aggression is and how it plays out in our culture.
If we take violence, we find a similar patterns. Researchers have tried and failed to find any correlation to violent crime and testosterone levels (as long those are within naturally occurring). Similar, a household with two men has equal risk to have a domestic violence happening as a household with two women. Passive aggression is a different topic all by itself, but is clearly defined as aggression.
The science isn't what is hurtful. What hurts is when people hate me for what I am. Being hated for attributes that a person has (but not necessary defines them) is very harmful. Scientific data can sometime cause this and I would say often do when data is taken out of the cultural context in which it is observed. It doesn't make science the culprit, but it does require a more careful discussion by all sides in order for the data to be useful. The Damore memo is an example where such discussion fell apart almost the instant it was created and blame can be pointed at many places except for science.
Investigated by whom? Yourself? What criteria are you using, or are you just using your "general aura?"
> The feelings of being offended aren't real
So they are liars?
> Guy points out that lots of scientists think men and women have different interests for genetic reasons
Guy implies that leading to them being less fit for programming without evidence and segues into promoting an alt-right agenda.
> Nobody is ever actually offended by science
People do get offended by poor science used to prop up a political agenda (Global warming, anyone?).
> The offence is manufactured to meet an end goal: the punishment of those who do not bow to the power of the ideology.
So your logical conclusion boils down to a conspiracy theory with the opposing power being a group of lying women on a power-trip. Now why wouldn't people want to enter into a constructive dialogue about gender differences and their effect on the workplace with you to try and improve things?
Nope. What they are offended by are assholes using science incorrectly to back seriously sexist arguments that "explain" how they're inferior.
This problem cannot be tackled head on - it's simply too pervasive and too corrosive. Perhaps a way out is to look to the values that we hold dear and develop more fully a sense of professional pride that takes merit and adds egality and decency so that being an Engineer means that you hold yourself to a higher standard in all aspects.
What, specifically, makes you say that?
What? I wonder how anyone who has real interaction with VC and financial sphere in general can have such an opinion about the industry.
I agree, saying it was white men who were booked on the plane did sound a bit off to me, but also consider the environment she worked in:
> "When venture capitalists say — and they do say — “We think it’s young white men, ideally Ivy League dropouts, who are the safest bets,” then invest only in young white men with Ivy League backgrounds, of course young white men with Ivy League backgrounds are the only ones who make money for them."
There clearly is a culture in her industry of judging people by age, colour and sex so it is likely that she has become used to doing the same, at least in terms of colour.
This does not make her comment right but it does give it context and should not detract from her main arguments.
A coworker showing up at your hotelroom door in a bathrobe is not "rude". It's textbook sexual harassment. Sexual harassment isn't just in the eye of the beholder, there are clear rules for professional conduct and those rules were repeatedly violated. Note that the _majority_ of women in tech report having been sexually harassed to some degree. So I don't think your skepticism about sexual harassment is helpful, given how ubiquitous it is.
Your suggestion that Pao has a specific negative attitude towards white men (i.e. she dislikes white men) is beyond the pale. This is a really underhanded attempt to discredit her.
This has the natural implication that vast majority of white guys are color blind as a result. This assumption can generate a lot of unfounded biases, especially by those who are taught from a young age to perceive every white male as being oblivious to racial issues in their day-to-day lives.
It takes quite a bit of ignorance to be color blind in modern culture regardless of your race. Even without certain groups pushing for awareness at every opportunity.
Outside of maybe rural areas in North America and some parts of Europe it's hard not to be confronted with a wide variety of social interactions with other cultures - but even the bubble of rural areas are being broken down by technology as we all grow up with online identities.
How one confronts other cultures is a different issue than this inherent color blindness, racism is not necessarily a result of obliviousness or total ignorance but many times a result of some harmful - but willful - ideology.
Therefore, I believe it's appropriate to react with at least some skepticism when someone immediately shoehorns peoples races into conversations. Especially when their race would not otherwise have any influence on the subject at hand. In this case it was men talking about sex workers and porn stars, which certainly isn't unique to white men.
That said you shouldn't necessarily be dismissive of race in every topic, people's race has an important influence on their realities and I take issue when people try to pretend it has zero influence. My point is merely is that this should not be limited to just referencing white males, as it's unfair to act like this is a unique phenomenon for the majority of white male. Unless of course you're okay with basing opinions upon cultural stereotypes rather than the variety and shades of grey which make up reality.
The white males she references on the jet are very much the exception to the rule in any American city. This "frat boy" or "bro" culture is a problem that needs to be dealt with, and is a common problem in the finance world, but that doesn't mean it's a standard feature one should expect from white males generally. And most certainly not a basis from which to stereotype them.
Not to mention that sexism is as (or often more) prominent in many Latin American, Arab, and African cultures than you'd find in your average white american male. But even then stereotyping them as such merely based on their race, rather than their local cultures or subcultures, is fraught with risk. Would the men in these racial groups lack of 'color blindness' then make it more or less relevant to bring it up in such a conversation? Or is it only okay as long as it's 'white males'? See the logical issues here?
If she had said "white frat boys" I would have had no issue with the inclusion of race. Context and culture matters.
Exactly my thought. The moment I read that word I stopped being neutral towards the article and started considering it as "shit talking".
If you're writing about sexism there is really no reason to point out the men involved were white.
It sounds like "Look at those privileged nasty men!!! And they harrassed me!" instead of "These nasty men harrased me!".
Their whiteness is a part of their power. It's not the only, and maybe not even the primary reason for their power, but it's certainly relevant.
All I could think as I read this is that "gee, I would really hate being a woman in that environment."
Maybe the high-stakes of VC just means that the amplitude of this entire system is higher than a "normal" tech job? "Mild/ordinary" sexist things like not advancing and not being allocated interesting/challenging tasks are replaced by conversations about porn stars at work.
Racism and sexism are two very different wrongs that are often found in the same situations. But they have very different origins, motivations, results and remedies. Therefore we should be careful when we talk about them not to conflate them when only one of them applies to a certain situation.
It is though, IMHO, wrong to call out Pao for blurring this line when so many of these diversity conversations also blur the lines. There are some fundamental differences between racism and sexism that necessitate taking different approaches to each problem and yet people seem so intent on grouping them together under a single 'diversity' label which is, to my mind, counterproductive.
What specifically are you referring to as being rude or trying to use you?
If seems based on the legal definition of sexual harassment it was sexism it was harassment and then when they excluded her from meetings, sought negative reviews from people she worked with, withheld positive reviews in order to give her negative performance reviews and ultimately say her work had not improved over time they retaliated for her rejected unwanted advances.
So it was not sexism it was sexual harassment and retailiation. Just because she did not win her court case does not make it less illegal behavior. It appears she was out-gunned.
Ellen, as I see it, refers to sexism in the industry in the general aggregate....the hiring of few females, the treatment and harassment of women, the lack of promotions that qualified women receive, the lower pay, the unwarranted and unwanted comments, the unwarranted and unwanted texts, the lack of diversity, etc.
Change in culture often comes with damage of supplantation of existing cultures. US culture is unique in that is can coexist with other cultures but isn't entirely replaced. At least not the high status portion. The low status portions have been excised. (trump supporters)
To replace high status white male culture there needs to be an equivalent high status opponent. Pao's article I think is useful in that it targets this directly and doesn't just stop at discussions on passing whiteboard interviews for IC2 positions.
It's expected as with any invasion that there is collateral damage. Trump supporters feel impotent and sidelined. These higher level incumbents are a lot more crafty and a lot more powerful. We can't even deal with rascists except defang them and wait for them to die.
This is why high status Chinese/Indian female/male culture doesn't exist in the valley for the most part, at most upper middle culture. There's not enough space at the top and it isn't worth it to start a war. Because in culture wars, home turf always wins. Giving coal power plants unlimited nuclear fuel or tidal plants unlimited sun doesn't tap into the necessary power.
Chinese/Indian high culture taps into society. For people in the valley this source of power is removed. I'd say that US high status white male culture is more standalone and deals with pure power in the ability to manipulate or coerce people. Interestingly this spreads more easily across gender than race though often the new entrants must give up their old culture in many ways.
For males that don't give up their mother culture they can feel marginalized and impotent, feeling that everything is unfair. For those that do they see no imbalance. The gap for women though still exists.
I doubt the average tech worker, who doesn't travel in private jets, casually talks about porn actresses and sex workers at their job.
However, I have often heard and read such anecdotes about elite executives, also in non-tech sectors. I'd say that kind of attitude is more related to the impunity that comes with power than with tech or non-tech.
Or, if they do, they look both ways before doing so. The old joke "How does every racist joke start? By looking around" applies pretty handily.
My girlfriend (a Jew) and I crack Jew jokes all the time. . .at home. Even though no one in my workplace is Jewish (that I know of), I still wouldn't crack most of the jokes we use at home in my workplace. It's just not appropriate, not by any reasonable standard.
Maybe the higher up you are the more brazen you can be.
Many in my circle of friends refrain from doing so online in public as well. Never know when someone will take offense to what you've said in the past, smear you with your jokes, and take it to your employer. Better to sanitize your tweets lest you become unemployed.
This is the single most incompetent legal behavior I've ever heard of. It shows such a profound lack of judgement that, by itself, it is enough to blacklist Pao and every lawyer advising her.
How hard would it have been to run a few keyword searches and get some paralegals or junior associates to filter out the irrelevant material? There are discovery firms that do this as their entire business. Or file a motion or two?
And I say that with no strong opinions about either side of the case. It just looks like a bad litigation move.
Edit: It also creates the impression that her counsel either didn't take the time to sort through her evidence thoroughly enough, and/or that offloading a massive dump of unfiltered emails would inconvenience the other side's counsel enough to give her leverage. Neither seem like a winning move. The first makes her side look unprepared, and the second makes her side look like it was playing games of its own.
It's actually trickier than it seems, and the penalties for under-inclusion can be harsh.
Even if you make a good faith/reasonable effor, if you accidentally don't include everything that you're supposed to, you can be sanctioned. So if you do a keyword search for a word that seems innocuous/personal (so that you can exclude those emails) and it turns out you accidentally excluded some emails you were supposed to include (because you didn't have doc reviewers actually read every email that the search returned), you can get in trouble.
And having doc reviewers go through hundreds of thousands of emails could cost $50k or more. How much would depend on how complex the discovery request is.
If they just said "send us emails where you talk about John Doerr", that's easy. If they say "send us emails where you talk about JD, the firm, your mental health, or sexism in SV", that becomes much more difficult/expensive.
Under the circumstances, it is not appropriate to fault her lawyers for the decision not to do doc review in order to cut down on the emails provided in discovery. Remember that the client here is herself a lawyer (Harvard Law School, Cravath), so she bears the responsibility for a major decision like this. This may have been a bad strategic decision on her part, or it may have been too expensive to go any other way. But her lawyers are not at fault.
Note: I am a former SV lawyer, but I do not know any of the lawyers who represented her (or even what firm it was).
In Pao's case, it comes across as allowing the other side all kinds of opportunities to go fishing for irrelevant tangents, embarrassing material, overly-personal material, etc., with an almost passive endorsement of that tactic. She wrote that some of this stuff included attorney-client communications! That's terrible. And one of them was a therapy record? Doesn't that sound like a HIPAA issue?
You'd think that effective counsel would try to define the scope of the evidence and the boundaries of the issues on the table every chance they could. A well-thought out document production is one of the cheapest and easiest ways of doing that.
Sort by "From" and thread conversations. Far easier than by date.
As an executive, Pao just deciding that this was acceptable, either at the behest of her counsel, or with their approval, demonstrates "poor risk management behavior" that I wouldn't want in any company executive.
She had to have done this without her attorneys. Big Firms bill by the hour: if you have the money to throw at them, they will find the man-hours to get the job done. "We don't have the time" just isn't a phrase they use.
Sure, maybe she believes her book will earn her more. But she'd need to write the #1 or 2 non-fiction book of the year to get there.
It is reasonable to anticipate Pao is not giving up get career, and expects to make more than 2M from it. The spin about her during this debate has made her look pretty bad.
So... yeah. She could easily be motivated by money, in terms of investing in her long term earning potential.
If your net worth is 200k and you refuse the payout, that says much more than if you are worth 20m
If your training and professional career are all aimed at a business in which personal relationships are key, pointing out that those in it, and the relationships they promote, are toxic, isn't especially conducive to future professional development (unless you manage to overturn the entire profession -- a long shot). Pao is taking major risks here.
And I'm not particularly aware of students matriculating into English degree programs hoping to get rich writing novels and/or autobiographical accounts in the same way one hears of engineering, finance, or law degrees.
Your argument is specious.
No wonder people rightfully remind there's another side.
I think it's also important to remember this pattern. It's been coming up a lot in recent years.
Not according to the judge.
You may say they were rightful, and many people are discussing it.
But at the same time you have to understand that a person trained and appointed to determine if the reasons are rightful, said they are not.
That's were the story started to have two sides.
Short of having an audio or video tape, a couple witnesses, or written documents of propositions or threats to ruin her career at KP, she was in a he said she said scenario.
It would be akin to having to acquit someone you feel is quite because the state failed to make their case or because the state made their case but screwed up something on a technicality and now you cannot consider that single piece of evidence in deciding which side prevails.
In courts there is proof, evidence and admissible evidence. At the end of the day only the latter matters.
I would note that this aspect is a construct of common law. In civil law all evidence is admissible, and the facts that would cause evidence to be inadmissible in common law would simply be additional context in civil law.
When proving the theory of relativity the universe will not suddenly decide to behave differently in order for you to have a harder time proving it. It's an absolute opposite in terms of the legal system.
So when you're trying to operate in an environment that is highly unstable and at times contradictory (killing a person is bad, killing a person who is trying to kill you is ok, killing a person who you thought was trying to kill you but actually wanted to talk is bad, what if any of the parties are lying as well?), then introducing Russell's teapot might just be as appropriate as following the proven path.
As the proof itself might be so weak that introducing something unproven might just be as plausible.
Dawkin's is not a great argument, though. Reasoning about metaphysics is nothing like establishing facts in a lab or guilt in a courtroom.
I have no doubt that what she writes about is true, and probably even holds back on much of the frat house nonsense. There can be entire semesters spent at school exploring other avenues that she might have pursued, and in most cases she truly really was a victim of a truly terrible environment nobody should have to work in.
But for those of us who remember the case well while she was at Reddit, she also isn't only an innocent victim and had made some really bankrupt decisions all on her own. I don't get the impression from this article that she's really done any soul searching since then and she even tries to soft-peddle her affair with a co-worker as just a little bit of a school girl crush and doesn't mention various other questionable behaviors that became public as a result of her lawsuit.
There's a lot of thought that equality in the workplace should not mean "start slotting women into the existing power structures and processes", but should instead take into account differences in style and ideas that women might naturally bring. But it goes both ways, terrible behavior also can manifest itself in different ways. As innocent as Pao seems to think she is in her own bad behaviors (which she either ignores here or downplays), her former co-workers also don't think there was any particular harm -- they're both wrong. To truly respect Pao, you have to also respect that she was capable of making bad decisions and that she needs to own them. In my mind, her behavior is not as bad as her former colleagues, but she could probably throw a softball and hit them.
Pao's story is important to tell, but she lacks the personal credibility for people to care. I really feel like if she were a bit more open about where she also messed up, and her motivations, she would come across as a much more empathetic story teller that would get more people's attention and give her better credibility than her former colleagues. But her general unwillingness to publicly confront, and get out in front of, her own behavior leaves her story vulnerable to various naysayers and that's a shame.
I haven't fully processed it yet. There's a common trope in horror movies where someone commits a minor infraction... say, cheating on their boyfriend, and then they get murdered and the audience shrugs because they were obviously not one of the good guys.
I think the general idea is, we only want people around who have a fundamental allergy to wrongdoing. If you'd commit some small infraction, how can we trust you to not commit a big one in a crucial moment when we are relying on you in the future?
The alternative is to view minor infractions as a normal part of life, and to see them as an opportunity to rehabilitate someone. This approach only works in a somewhat... for lack of a better term, "wealthier" community, where you have some insurance against harm. If you can afford to have kids doing some bad stuff, you can be more forgiving. My perspective is that we're currently in a time of surplus, and so we can afford to live that way, (he says from his apartment in the Bay Area) but I think much of culture is still operating in a scarcity mode.
The other relevant concern is surveillance. If you can't surveil your community, you need to rely on them having an internal model of correct action. If you can rely on surveillance you can allow people to play more fast and loose with rules, with the assumption that you'll be able to correct for it in moderation.
But again, we're not fully into the surveillance age yet, so many people want to rely on the stricter mode of social organization.
Was a clear way to say the story is relevant but unfortunate choice of storyteller
Why is it irrelevant? I think it's entirely relevant, Pao showed she was pretty deceitful in her suit... how is such an individuals personal case of discrimination not tainted by that?
In your opinion (and also rather unsupported). She just failed to prove her allegations to the courts standard.
The company’s smear campaign against (a proven thing) shows her opponents in that case as far more deceitful tbh
Before I write anything, I want any out of context readers to keep in mind that I think KP is a cesspool nobody should work at and entire volumes of books could probably be written on why it represents a classic hostile workplace for people of any gender and I fully understand how women would be very uncomfortable in the environment. I specifically don't want this to be a case of victim shaming, because KP really did appear to be tolerant of fairly reprehensible behavior. At the same time, it's important to keep in mind that both things can be true here. KP can be a feces fire and Pao can also be an incompetent greed-monger.
This is a couple years ago now, but at specific issue IIR:
- During the trial, quite a bit of independent evidence was submitted that she was frankly pretty terrible at the job she was hired for and was incapable of improving performance to meet the demands of the position despite extraordinary attempts by KP to coach her and send her to training classes. This was heavily documented and sourced from multiple independent reviewers who were interviewed under oath. I think it's worth discussing the biases of those reviewers, and maybe she was just sliding off of the glass ceiling. But during the trial, all of her claims of unfair treatment were covered and KP ended up looking pretty reasonable, even promoting one of her female colleagues who had bothered to properly complain about her ex-lover's behavior resulting in his firing.
- While her complaint about getting passed over for promotion was that she was a woman and therefore discriminated against, she was unable to provide any explanation for why many of her male colleagues who performed at equal or better levels than her had not been promoted and the ones in particular she complained about receiving promotions were all shown to have significantly more experience than her. She also couldn't explain how other women were promoted instead of her. Her responses to questions about her job performance tend to be "I don't want to talk about it" and then redirect to various platitudes about women's empowerment.
- KP also demonstrated that they gave her numerous training and career building opportunities, none of which she's denied, and included things like speech and presentation classes (a clear sign that she wasn't presenting well outside of the company and in-line with her fairly consistent performance reviews) and mentoring. In fact, it appears through the evidence presented at the trial, the KP had gone above and beyond in trying to make it work with Pao.
- Pao has never asserted that she was sexually harassed and that wasn't part of her suit. Bringing up examples of terrible shop talk amongst her male co-workers is interesting and worth discussing, but she didn't even bother to sue for it. Her complaint was entirely based on gender discrimination.
- She tried to persuade other women having problems to not pursue action, while simultaneously pursuing her own. Her action started as an eight-figure payout request because she guessed that's what her ex-lover had made (as she writes here).
- There's a consistent theme with her around money and trying to get what she thinks she "deserves" even if its demonstrated that she doesn't deserve it or where she was treated equally or in some cases favorably over others. For example, after she lost her case, she sought a payout to keep her from appealing that significantly was exactly the amount of money her husband owed in a separate legal issue and financial issue that arose when he declared bankruptcy. She's never addressed this coincidence except to claim that her and her husband's finances are managed separately. Her original damages claim was based on what she guessed the severance package was for a senior staff member who was fired (her ex-lover). In another part of the trial, she claimed she was underpaid, KP was able to demonstrate that in fact, she was slightly overpaid for her level and that her severance package was above norm for people in her position. After losing, she also demanded KP pay her legal fees on account of her suing them.
- There doesn't appear to be any specific evidence that she pursued a formal complaints process with KP, while there does appear to be evidence that other women have pursued formal complaints processes and received satisfactory results from the process. Other women in a similar position to her made better choices and received better outcomes. Pao just simply doesn't address this or entertain the idea that she may have just made some bad choices but instead chose to focus on her perceived slights. She's never addressed the possibility that maybe going together as a group of women to complain about gender discrimination and other cultural issues at KP might have been a better approach.
- She knowingly had an affair with a co-worker, broke it off and then put the onus on the company to fix it. You see her take on things in her article. My take is that this represents extremely poor judgment that was part of a larger pattern of poor decisions on her part. When things got weird at the office because of her terrible decision making, she complained. Changes were made and the court record shows she was asked about comfort levels and proximity to her ex-lover, and even was given opportunity to change work functions to an equivalent job, which she then also complained about. Her ex-lover was eventually fired and she was kept on. Her response was to demand a huge payout, which she writes about here.
- When she was let go, she was given an extended transition period and severance package, but publicly posted a missive that she had been summarily dismissed -- which wasn't true at all.
To me, this comes across to me as somebody who's hopelessly incompetent, slightly delusional, and made a series of habitual bad choices. Rather than improve performance or do any sort of internal searching and growth, she decided to blame everybody else for her failures and wrap her complaints in a sexism blanket.
If what he said could be trusted. He also made a bunch of questionable decisions at Reddit, so I take whatever he says with a grain of salt.
What I remember of her tenure on Reddit is: She was continually accused by everyone for doing something she didn't do. And as a CEO, she gracefully did not pass the buck to the guilty parties, and assumed responsibility.
I remember her time at Reddit very well. She was almost universally disliked by the "troll army", AKA normal users who formed their opinions independently.
> The defense also argued that Pao was paid more than most of her male colleagues. While salaries had previously been redacted from legal documents, the trial revealed that Pao's salary after bonuses eventually reached a peak of $560,000.
It would be interested to know the salaries of people who had the exactly same position before and after her. If the salaries are at the same level, it's difficult to talk about discrimination.
I'm curious how similar or different my experience would have been pitching Ellen Pao.
Then again VC is a 'retail' style job and any job where you are continually put into forced social situations can make you cynical and impatient with people. So there's also that side of the equation.
Thirdly, it's also a type of job where you're surrounded by 'yes men' trying to suck up to you. You never get the type of negative feedback loops about your behaviour that you normally would/should. American bigco CEOs and celebrities are notorious for having this problem.
She banned a number of subreddits, including /r/fatpeoplehate and revengeporn. A move that strikes pretty deep at what people consider to be an open platform where votes define everything.
Subsequently she fired Victoria Taylor, an incredibly popular moderator at /r/ama.
This combined with the perceived idea that threads discussing these issues were being banned, caused a huge backlash against her.
She didn't. Alexis Ohanian did:
She actually did very few of the things the Reddit witchhunt accused her of. The whole Pao affair was just another dark period that showed how insane online communities can really be.
No, based on the evidence she seemed to be the best person.
I don't have much of an opinion on what exactly happened, but your claim there is overly confident.
And yes, they may have said "she is the best", but that doesn't mean they actually got that right.
I have zero doubt that her gender/ethnicity was a major motivating factor for the majority of people involved in this backlash and that a white male in the same position would have pretty much gotten a pass from the same people.
/r/fatpeoplehate and /r/revengeporn where two incredibly toxic subreddits, and I was personally happy to see them go.
sangharakshita (a Buddhist teacher) preached that the central problem of the spiritual life – for most people at least – is to find emotional equivalents for their intellectual understanding. That is wise and true. But if it is misunderstood as a restrictive claim (this is only a problem for spiritual life, for the rest of life intellectual understanding on its own suffices.) then it is dangerously misleading.
It is not enough to understand calories in and calories out intellectually. You still have to cultivate the emotional strength needed to escape your own rationalisations, the rationalisations that other people push on you, and actually put down the fork.
Much of today's USA thinks that it is OK to eat yourself into an early grave. Gluttony has become so accepted and endorsed that getting fat has become socially contagious. When people reject this, there is a phase of being angry: how did I get sucked into such a dysfunction social consensus? One chocolate bar at a time? Then what? r/fatpeoplehate is angry and anger is ugly, but it is also important and necessary. People want to escape the social consensus and, people being people, they cannot do that on intellect along. They need space to vent and be angry.
You can see an example of fat-people-hate at https://voat.co/v/fatpeoplehate/2075965/10239491 FPH is on the side of the people that it nominally hates. It wants people to change, to come to the light side of the plate. The people who banned r/fatpeooplehate don't literally have blood on their hands, that is not how type 2 diabetes works, but they ought to have gangrenous, amputated toes on their conscience.
I think also ultimately it is the choice of the person to find their encouragement, as much as it is very difficult. Diet communities are built around the idea of individual desire to improve (which is why posts like "Three weeks in and it's great!" get upvoted there) rather than having it 'forced' upon them.
I don't really buy it, it's transparently a post-hoc rationalization for a sub engaging in the age-old business of being nasty to low status people because it makes us feel good and superior.
You can click on "view the rest on the comments" on that voat thread he linked to to see what's it's really all about.
It's a pretty broad sampling of:
- Laughing at fat people
- "I hate this bitch in this picture"-style hatred
- A post literally pointed at the victim at Charlottesville, "exposing the truth" that she was fat, saying they "wonder why" she died.
And in my memory, /r/fatpeoplehate was much more toxic than this at the time it was shut down.
(Something, by the way, I would have been afforded as a dude, and that Pao would have surely been ridiculed for until the end of her career. It's sad that institutional forces have forced her to act "distant, even a bit robotic" in these situations.)
Maybe, what I should be asking, is where you are getting these ideas from. What makes you believe that men can burn bridges and women can't?
I agree, but we were discussing motive. It's not unfair to expect reddit's leadership to have some insight into its userbase.
If I took ownership of vogue tomorrow and introduced articles about bmx racing, that would be a dumb move. I could complain that the readership doesn't understand bmx racing - but ultimately I hurt the bottom line.
I'd disagree, the fatpeoplehate subreddit is basically the same thing as /r/trashy /r/cringeanarchy and other other popular subreddits that are regular fixtures on the popular page.
It's a thoroughly unpleasant website.
Once that boundary is set it all becomes a matter of the viewer's morality. You likely think that it's wrong to dislike (or at least not to coddle and treat them like they're wonderful snowflakes) people who let themselves go and even glorify obesity; they did not. What's relevant is that as long as a group keeps to its own circle I feel we have no standing in judging them because my moral values are no better or worse than theirs.
Er, not from what I remember. And even still, if a subreddit, even without meaning to, encourages real-life harassment, that's toxic. The fact that they had to keep banning people for being toxic leads me to the conclusion that it just drew toxic pieces of garbage.
There are plenty of ways to encourage someone to lose weight that don't involve typing the word "hate" when you want to get to a community discussing weight loss. Or you could recognize that people have the right to eat and be however they like, even if you don't like it. You have the right to be an asshole and point at them and tell them they're fat and going to die early, but Reddit has the right to prevent you from using their platform for doing that.
There was an interesting idea that I heard last week regarding the whole Charlottesville Nazi incident. It was something along the lines of the Paradox of Tolerance. Essentially, being tolerant of intolerance leads to intolerance. So, in order to keep tolerance alive, you have to snuff out intolerance, before it becomes systemic. You have to become intolerant of intolerance.
Ellen Pao is (ostensibly) intolerant of intolerance, and that, in and of itself, isn't a bad thing. I don't particularly like her, but enforcing Reddit's own rules was one of the better parts of her tenure at Reddit.
This view of Pao as an automatic victim is special pleading and ironically, denies her the agency of a full adult that feminists claim others refuse to grant women.
To Pao's credit, she was very hands-off when it came to trying to impose values on the social aspect of Reddit; given ample chance to change that like her successor did, she generally left the subreddits alone as long as they didn't blalantly violate the rediquette.
The only thing that was contentious that I can recall had absolutely nothing to do with Reddit the social community: she instituted a policy where contract negotiations were forbidden reasoning that because studies showed that women negotiated less, it was an advantage towards male workers (full disclosure: I do find that policy to be an aberration). But that policy had nothing to do with the website, it was a Reddit corporate thing.
I do believe that she was a strong proponent of Reddit being an open playground for discussion and where people of all beliefs could gather and discuss them, no matter how distasteful other people may or may not find them to be.
*Someone else took issue with the phrase "paid army of trolls". The existence of the gamergate/alt-right/etcetera troll army isn't really in dispute. Equally it's well known that actors foreign and domestic have been pushing these viewpoints with actual cash. So while I don't know one way or another whether the alt-right troll army that targets Pao has paid components, I don't think it sounds beyond the realms of plausibility either.
Pao got roasted on reddit because she became the figurehead for widely unpopular community changes. At best you could say she was set up as the patsy by Reddit's board.
GamerGate was a cluster fuck where existing troll groups like GNAA and BWC jumped in, as did the nihilistic lolcow milkers of baphomet and kiwifarms. But the whole thing was started by a scandal over an ex helldump member, whose anti harassment group was later caught doxing and harassing, and whose posse got caught false flagging in the Social Autopsy drama. To pretend like GG is a misogynist troll army means falling for the narrative set out by the media the movement accused while ignoring the realities of the spheres in which it took place.
GG is also not right wing, as Brad Glasgow's research showed, so associating it with the alt-right is more idiotic narrative spinning. Like when feminists lump together MRA, red pill and mgtow as some sort of unholy woman hating underbelly, instead of the 3 very different things that they are.
None of this has been objectively covered, nobody bothered to investigate, only to do what the article above does: feature one sided profiles of self declared victims who stood to gain a lot from that portrayal. Visit r/KotakuInAction for instance and observe how what was claimed to be a "smoke screen" for hate is still going 3 years later, still covering abject failures in reporting, while banning all harassment.
(Repost: stop flagging the truth, you cowards. What is it going to take to admit you got rolled by a sociopath and her pets?)
I'd be happy to see some examples of their actions.
This is insidious belief that lets you dismiss different view points as the evil machinations of your favorite villain (Soros and Democrats on one side and Russia on the other).
I think it's much more likely that some people hold different views and express them online. Believing an evil power is hiring people to pretend to disagree with you is probably evidence of unhealthy delusion.
'The existence of the gamergate/alt-right/etcetera troll army isn't really in dispute. Equally it's well known that actors foreign and domestic have been pushing these viewpoints with actual cash.'
But yeah, all of these things are fake news. Nowhere near as reliable of 4chan or KIA.
She did no such thing. You fell for the rumors.
Unless she has proof, it's a conspiracy theory, "trolls" don't need to be paid to be trolls. People are naturally mean on the internet. Especially on reddit. So trolls paid by whom to do what? she didn't lose her lawsuit because of people on the internet. She lost because she didn't have a case.
The "I believe" is the operative phrase in this allegation. It's not implausible, however. Comments everywhere on topics where powerful agents have interests (i.e. everything) seem to be subject to a great deal of astroturfing. The existence of groups that do this is not disputed. The trend seems to be getting a lot more pronounced lately, just by my personal observation.
I do not know what happened or what people actually said, but I won't take the illogical step of inferring things about this case from the outcome of other cases or vice versa and I disliked the fact that this is a lot of scandalous, unverifiable anecdotes that she was not able to credibly establish in a court of law.
Harassment is real. I'm a victim of it myself and the guy who put his hands down my pants was fired for that, though I wasn't really working in tech at the time. I managed both to confront him and to prove it. Her claims, however, failed to be proven in court and therefore I do not find her credible, nor can I without new, verifiable evidence.
I know too well how high a bar that is, but I wouldn't see it set any lower, not even in my case.
Otherwise confirmation bias will simply take over and lead us astray. I mean, it's not exactly falsifiable. I could just as well say that most of the people I disagree with are actually just Perl scripts, not real people.
I doesn't make it a fact. It makes the author look like they are paranoid, and it has absolutely no bearing in the verdict of their case. But it says a lot about their personality. One cannot use that type of argument and be expected to be taken seriously, unless one actually bring evidence that a particular firm engaged in harassment, which is a serious accusation since I'm pretty sure it's illegal.
It's sobering to think about how easy it must be (for a sufficiently funded organisation) to effectively determine "public discourse" on a large number of topics.
Then again, never underestimate just how willing people are (all on their own) to grab their virtual pitchforks without much consideration.
It's unfortunate that this article is getting negative feedback on HN. I think we all need to be careful not to belittle/condemn issues that don't personally affect us.
These are clearly rich and privileged people problems.
I thought it was an insightful read as much as I dislike the arrogance that SV seems to possess despite its ignorance of the rest of the world... And the accompanying culture that spills out of that combination of arrogance and ignorance.
SV culture has a lot of problems, sexism is one of them.
I don't like blaming of societal issues for a person's achievements (or lack thereof), but at some point, you have to admit, the same gender who bewilderingly sends dick pics to strangers, talks crudely about women behind their backs, and views them as a means to a physical end, maybe we don't see how we interact with women or at least admit that many of our gender demean women in ways that equates to bullying in one form or another.
I normally don't like victim culture, or people who assume the intentions of others to prove discrimination, but I don't think we need that for many cases when it comes to women.
Men and women, on the general, have different societal and interpersonal strengths, and I love all of it (yet don't assume or exclude those strengths from either gender).
But if I'm honest, men and women both have their own forms of aggressive behavior in getting ahead, but men do it even more aggressively, frequently and overtly than women, and often at the expense of women.
Personally, I love each gender's strength. But I absolutely loathe the behavior of many, if not most, of my gender's treatment of anyone in a "weaker" position.
We must do better, for no other reason than each of our strengths is a responsibility to use it to help those who are victimized.
We can hide behind a meritocracy of which we enjoy hidden benefits, but at the end of the day, we should ask, is it because we really are better suited to a task, or have we institutionally created a system that enforces our biases and preferences?
It's probably a mix of both, but until we see our own part in this, were can't actually improve anything.
Whoah. The fact that some of the 3.5 billion people that share the same sex as myself engage in this lewd behavior renders my* neutrality and view defunct?
Talk about stereotyping!
Also, did I say anywhere that stereotyping was bad in and of itself?
In fact, here is what I did say:
maybe we don't see how we interact with women or at least admit that many of our gender demean women in ways that equates to bullying in one form or another.
Not sure what that has to do with you or your views, but you seem to be defensive simply because I stated a generalization.
And yeah, I stereotype and prejudge all of the time. However, in any power position I may hold, I need to correct for it internally to make sure that instead of trying to confirm my biases, I'm actually being fair and respectful to the other party.
And I think this should be done regardless of the genders involved.
I could also list the negative behaviors of women in general, but since the article was about sexism in Silicon Valley, and that most power positions there are dominated by men, it really wouldn't make much sense to start criticizing the group more likely to be the victim of it.
But hey, as long as sarcasm and ad-hominem is working for you, go for it.
With all of the scandals that have hit Silicon Valley in the past year (Uber especially) I have to wonder what the coverage would look like if Ellen filed her suit today? I think it would be much more sympathetic and the outcome would likely have been different. In fact I bet we would have seen some resignations at KPCB, no trial required.
On one hand I feel bad for Ellen since she was possibly a victim of timing. On the other hand, it's possible that Ellen inspired the other women who have since spoken up and she had to take the defeat in order to move the conversation forward.
But I understand that we have this whole lot of discussions recently simply because, there are too many of such types kind of accumulated in one place, which makes replacing them all even less probable.
So how the industry believes this can be successfully addressed at this scale? I'd think the behaviour of people on the plane she described is simply about basic human decency? So, everything now needs to be codified by HR? "Don't speak of pornstars when on the plane with other people", "Don't bring into conversation how you tortured small animals when a kid"?
Claim 1: She's over-reading an already tough environment (which btw men also face) for sexism.
See the Ajit Nazre harassment section. Also note that Pao wasn't the only one targeted.
See the male-only ski trips/ club visits/ etc section. It's bullshit to say that it's not their fault that women are uncomfortable talking about porn stars. It's unprofessional anyway. And seriously, a top venture firm can't afford to accommodate for all members of their team?
"I was later told that they didn’t invite any women because women probably wouldn’t want to share a condo with men."
Still a big presumption to make; Pao may actually be OK with this.
I get the male buddy bonding thing, but arguably doesn't this make it harder for women to feel part of the team too?
See also the Flipboard section. Now this I'm very familiar with; make a suggestion, be promptly turned down, another guy makes the same suggestion later and wahey! Back slaps all around.
See also the section where she was excluded from meetings, discussions and 'scoops.'
See also the section where others (white, male) more junior than her received promotion and she didn't.
Claim 2: Pao is out for attention.
Seriously I can't even -
OK, I'm not going to do a reference here. Think about it: Pao is well-educated and has a very good position at a top firm. She's also just started a family, and instability is the last thing anyone in that position wants. It will take a very serious claim to risk all that.
She was also very aware that the odds are overwhelmingly against her. See section when she asked other women who had sued powerful firms over discrimination. One even said "It’s a complete mismatch of resources. They don’t fight fair. Even if you win, it will destroy your reputation."
See section about how her firm launched an aggressive media campaign to discredit her, including "click farms" to spread negative rumours about her incompetency etc. How Vanity Fair (!) suggested that her marriage was a sham because her husband previously had gay relationships.
She did lose, but for what it's worth, she did end up getting attention - the right sort I would say (see the "Pao Effect".)
Claim 3: Pao did it for the money."
See section when she was offered money to leave quietly.
Though "When I spoke to the COO, he asked how much I wanted in order to quietly leave. “I want no less than what Ajit gets,” I said — which I suspected was around $10 million. The COO gasped."
The same Ajit as above.
Oh yes she's releasing a new book, but seriously, is the profit really enough to make it her primary intention to sue for harassment?
And as mentioned above, even if she won, she would have lost her reputation. There's a reason everyone applauds whistle-blowers, and no one wants to hire them.
Claim 4: Sexism is only an emergent behaviour of a toxic industry. To fix sexism, we have to instil professionalism.
This is true and a good intention, but forgive me this is also belittling the issue of sexism.
For sure, women aren't the only ones with negative experience. You could say the same for other minority groups such as black, LGBTQ etc, and yes even overworked white, male juniors.
But sexism is a major part of what makes the environment toxic. Women make 50% of the global population! And clearly many women in tech experience uncomfortable issues rooted in sexism. If you want to instil more professionalism, you will also need to cover sexism in the training.
See section where the firm admits that they don't even have a HR department until recently.
See also comments that claim women are using their gender as a card. So f---ing patronising.
See section where the firm has very low female presence in the board.
It's true that there is a shortage of females in tech, making recruitment harder. But this is why we need to go beyond professionalism training. To get more gender balance, we need to start at schools. So for those tired of the whole "women are victims" yada-yada (I admit that I also feel the same) for what it's worth, people are now paying attention and working harder to encourage girls into STEM subjects, and make the tech environment more inclusive.
Running out of time, but I hope this is enough food for thought.
I'm doing this! Some guys are really good at laughing and joking with management, but I am awful. One time a partner walked away from me without saying a word because he didn't like my comment about sports. I felt like that one black woman on Insecure when she shows up to a hockey game to suck up to her bosses and nobody remembers her.
1] She brought value to the table and was discriminated against.
2] She brought little value to the table, was one of those whiny entitled people (ooh look I have all these degrees, now I should automatically be promoted), who cannot accept the truth, and resorted to sleeping with a senior partner to compensate and when it all fell apart she got offended.
It could be either.
She has to convince the world it was  not .
What is "help with an exit"? Aren't partners at VC firms free to leave?
What is it about that group of people that makes them behave that way? Do they feel they're too powerful to be reported? Do they just not have the EQ to understand how they make others around them feel? Someone steel man that one for me.
The talking about porn etc may just have been a clumsy attempt to put the woman in her place by making her feel uncomfortable, didn't work so he switched to talking about sex workers. It's just a tactic for asserting power and dominance. If she wasn't there taking a place he sees as for a man, it wouldn't have come up.
I think you're right. I haven't read through the article yet but my opinion is that for the most part, social hierarchy is a cultural mechanism to select alpha males. So women who think they should participate in that are seriously misguided, like a deer doe who wants to participate in deer dueling.
In other words, they (rightfully) reject a biological urge for women (which is to be caring mother, more or less) and accept (wrongly) a biological urge for men, which is to take risk and climb the social hierarchy at any cost.
But it doesn't make any sense, the world is actually not a dichotomy between males and females and much larger than that. I think women who want equality (or just want to exercise free will and thus disregard some of our original biology) should support democracy (as opposed to authoritarian hierarchy), first and foremost. Even in the workplace.
In short - I cannot sympathize with her (and other female C*Os, who complain about sexism). She's decided to play a game of thrones, so she is on her own. If she really wants equality between people (not just "sexes"), then maybe we can talk, you can find me on the left.
Your question overgeneralizes. You're attributing to the group, the qualities of a small number of individuals.
Ok, maybe I'm just parsing words here, but your statement can be read as:
"that group of people [VCs and CEOs] behave that way [sexual harassment]"
Which overgeneralizes, because this still appears to be a small number of offenders, despite the recent outings.
That said, I'm willing to believe/accept that the same qualities that make someone think they should be CEO or a power-investor, and not a lowly peon worker, translates into a higher likelihood of douchebaggery.
-- Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations, Book 1, Chapter 5
I'm not sure punishing bad actors is enough to escape this kind of culture trap.
Not trying to be rude, but unless there is a set criteria it seems prone to bias...
There was a really interesting comment (turning into a thread) about the double standards of women but I can't find it anywhere anymore.
This is a bit off-topic, but maternity leave is neither obvious nor unobjectionable. There is significant empirical evidence that shows that policies such as long paid maternity leave harms women's wages and career progression.
Have a look at:
* The impact of Nordic countries’ family friendly policies on employment, wages, and children https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11150-007-9023-0
* Is there a glass ceiling over Europe? Exploring the
gender pay gap across the wages distribution https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/92046/1/2005-25.pdf
Of course it does. What it benefits is the actual human beings in question (child, mother, father). Most humans think that significantly increasing the well-being of your family, and in particular your infant, is a whole fucking lot more important than wages and career progression. Like all things in life it's a trade off, but an unobjectionally good one.
Analogy: if a woman (or man) spent 8 hours every day of every vacation secretly working, they would definitely get better wages and career progression. Would you recommend everyone starts doing that?
It's not about whether taking a year off work hurts career progression, it's about whether offering paid maternity leave creates pressure not to hire and promote women, regardless of whether they have kids. If the result was strictly "taking a year off work delays your career", that would be a fairly obvious outcome. Instead, what we see is "knowing some job candidates can take a year off work with pay discourages hiring and promoting those candidates".
It is, among other things, an indirect argument for paternity leave - if leave is symmetric, you can't preferentially hire/promote the people without access to it.
To your main point: You are absolutely right. Germany, for example, tries to symmetries the problem by allowing fathers to take part of the maternity leave. But of course, especially in high paying jobs where companies have to invest a considerable amount into a worker to train them, a maternity leave, or any other reduction of total working time at the company, will affect the salary.
The question is now: Do we, as a society, treat the privilege to raise a child as adequate replacement of the lost salary/promotions etc? If not, who makes up for the difference?
>>> Do we, as a society, treat the privilege to raise a child as adequate replacement of the lost salary/promotions etc?
I'm very surprised of the opposition you make here.
I'd prefer : Do we, as a society, treat the choice to raise a child as one that doesn't imply the loss of salary/promotions etc?
(but in my case, my employer has never spent tons of money on me; "considerable training" means to me : a year of full time training such as : mastering a foreign tongue, mastering a technical field besides IT, etc. It's certainly not "we'll leave you learn by yourself at night and pay for your lack of efficiency during the first 6 months of work"))
Or, as a society, we can say: You should not need to make that trade-off. Or at least: You should not lose that much. It's hard to correct the disadvantage in terms of promotion, but other things are possible. Some examples, some are horrible:
- Force the companies to maintain open positions for (m/p)aternity leaves. Either pay for that with taxes, or make the companies eat the cost.
- Give people with kids tax breaks / money.
- Force people to take a sabbatical every n years if they don't take maternity leave. (But of course some people will use that time to work on their skills anyway...)
- Provide good child care so that people can more easily work and have kids.
- Shun people who don't have kids...
What society can not do is make this difference magically go away.
I think you might underestimate the amount your employer has invested in you. Maybe a better benchmark is: How much would it cost him to replace you if you quit your job in three month.
That's it ! More precisely : I've chosen to be dad for reasons which are absolutely not rational. Therefore, the question of the trade off is not that important.
>>> You should not lose that much
yep, that's what I'm aiming for.
Thing is, the way you put it, I understood that "business suffers from those people who choose to be parents". For me parents are like taxes : as a business, that is as a member of the society, you abide to respect the rules : you pay your taxes because the society decided it's positive for everybody, ditto for parents.
But I think we agree :-)
>>> I think you might underestimate the amount your employer has invested in you.
>>> How much would it cost him to replace you
Not much : maybe waiting a year to find an ideal candidate (so I'd say a month of work), and then a year to train the guy (say, 6 months). So basically 7 months of salary. not much. Hint : I don't work in hyper hitech stuff, I just run very big, long lived applications; nothing fancy.
In a meritocracy, sure...
While I do, I don't think most of Western public policy does. It seems like we've fundamentally outsourced children to third world countries. Raising a child in any state is going to be much costlier than raising him/her in the Philippines for example.
When the children become economically valuable adults - or prove to have enough economic potential (say by being admitted into a university), they are imported into the West. In a very cynical way, this is sort of what immigration has become. Instead of tackling the issue of why people are not reproducing, public policy seems happier to drain the most economically useful citizens from other countries.
I understand that the baby is more dependent on the mother and childbirth is obviously more physically taxing on women, but I'd like to see more equality for men too. Women at my company can get 6 months PTO.
In Norway, if you choose the 100% paid leave, it's 10 weeks for the father and 10 weeks for the mother and then 26 weeks distributed between the father and the mother however they like. But those 10 weeks of the father's paternity leave you cannot transfer to the mother.
But it's not forced: If you'd rather work than take 10 weeks of 100% paid leave, you can. The Norwegians might find it hard to understand why someone would not take the leave, but different countries have different cultures.
Let's be clear here and not mis-assign causality. The workplace's reaction to paid maternity leave harms a woman's career and wages. Not maternity leave itself.
In general, in countries with good parental leave policies, it is forbidden to discriminate against parents for taking them. The returning worker is entitled by law to return at the place he/she would have been assuming he/she had worked continuously.
Your comment is like saying that outlawing murder makes more murders happen. It takes a whole lot of motivated reasoning to make that leap.
This assumes that the only form of discrimination happening is delaying raises and promotions during maternity leave. The articles linked aren't addressing that; they're about whether the expectation that women may take long paid leave encourages people to preferentially hire and promote men, who won't (be able to) take similar leave. This isn't explicit, actionable discrimination against returning mothers, it's a hard-to-prove worsening of the glass ceiling to save money on leave.
And no, that problem doesn't make maternity leave a bad thing, it means that we should craft policies carefully to avoid worsening discrimination. But I think it's reasonable to say that a policy isn't obviously desirable if common and well-regarded versions of it may worsen gender inequality.
At the very least, it's worth asking whether there are improvements which could be made to avoid that problem while getting comparable benefits, and in this case there probably are.
Please avoid 'hot takes' and read the article listed yourself.
That's the problem -- not the maternity leave.
> There is significant empirical evidence that shows that policies such as long paid maternity leave harms women's wages and career progression.
Which is not untrue, but has nothing to do with why maternity leave is beneficial, namely for the individual.
For those about to jump in and suggest that he only mean the current way of hiring women is bad for business, he later suggests affirmative action to hire more conservatives would be good for business because they are more 'diligent'. Note that men are more conservative then women, so this is a double whammy.
"Stop alienating conservatives" is a far cry from affirmative action. Personally, I think quota-based affirmative action targeted at conservatives would have similar downsides as quota-based affirmative action targeted at women. (Essentially, when you are optimizing for something other than profit, it's going to cost money.) However, you might have success with a test selecting for high-conscientiousness workers.
He did not. The TL;DR said:
● Discrimination to reach equal representation is unfair, divisive, and bad for business.
When I read it, he mentions conservatives only in the section "Suggestions / Stop alienating conservatives" where he says:
In highly progressive environments, conservatives are a minority that feel like
they need to stay in the closet to avoid open hostility. We should empower those
with different ideologies to be able to express themselves.
It seems to me that you are misrepresenting the memo, as so many others have done. Perhaps you have read some commentary, many of which also misrepresented it, and not the memo itself?
"Stop alienating X" is a call for action, and if that call to action is heeded X will feel less alienated and there will be more of them. Because it's targetted at X it is "discrimination" by the dictionary definition of the term and by the general usage. This is true whether X is "women" or "conservatives". In this kind of context it is sometimes called "positive discrimination". The memo writer uses the term discrimination himself in this way when talking about hiring more women.
The relevant bit you didn't quote makes it clear that he sees business benefits from having more conservatives employed:
"Alienating conservatives is both non-inclusive and generally bad business because conservatives tend to be higher in conscientiousness, which is required for much of the drudgery and maintenance work characteristic of a mature company."
So, taking action to hire or retain more conservatives, good for business. Because they have skills Google needs more of. Taking action to hire or retain more women, bad for business.
He clearly has no problem with affirmative action in itself, as long as the target being helped isn't women (or racial minorities).
When I read "stop alienating conservatives" with the explanation that they should not "need to stay in the closet to avoid open hostility", I read that as saying that people shouldn't be openly hostile to other people even if they disagree.
In my opinion, that is not discrimination or "positive discrimination". In my opinion, it's simply being civil to other people.
Although vertex-four probably did mean to imply what you are challenging, I can still agree with the denotation. Someone who gives a scientific explanation (or worse, a "scientific" "explanation") for the status quo to suggest that nothing can be changed about it, would offend a lot of people. Especially those who are disadvantaged under the status quo and want to see that change.
Edit: Ironically, it seems like my explanation of the things that offend people offended some people. (Or maybe it's something about my tone. Not sure.)
Shouldn't we laugh at and ridicule those people for their outdated beliefs?
What's there to be offended about by something that isn't true?
That doesn't mean the correct course of action is to force societies hand to accommodate someone's hurt feelings.
I argue the correct course of action is for people to develop resilience and emotional maturity.
Laughing them off doesn't get anywhere - these beliefs are not a one-off thing, as much as we wish they were - and complaining about these ideas and the prevalence of them gets seen by people like yourself as "having hurt feelings".
I just don't understand why getting offended is supposed to help. I'm reminded of the former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard's "Misogyny Speech" speech.
Being offended means you've lost. The other party has had the desired affect on you: your energy is diminished by their words.
We shouldn't be offended, no. We should feel embarrassed for, we should feel pity for, these poor people who hold outdated beliefs, because they and their beliefs are hold them, and us all, back from a more whole society.
Did any of the great people of history, any of the people who really helped change the world write speeches espousing the benefits of being offended.
What exactly is "being offended" and why is it bad? Where do you see people being offended, and how do you differentiate it from activism? I mostly see people being angry that even in - especially in - particularly egregious instances, many very vocal people still won't believe that there's a problem. That's different from being offended.
How is feeling pity for the people we meet every day who literally think we are less able than men and who are often in positions of power over us supposed to help?
They post to HN every now and again. I can't link because their posts usually get flagkilled, or their accounts are dead from other fuckwittery. But it happens.
It was on the front page then disappeared quickly, then flagged and unflagged. I fear however that by the time it was unflagged it lost momentum and never had a chance to make it back.
Here's a thought: Would it make sense to reset the decay rate for unflagged articles to counteract such effects?
I get how fun it is to do the long jump, but given that we're talking about something that happens less than 0.0001% of the time, it seems fair to expect a bit better reply quality than this.
Edit: It looks like you've been using HN primarily for ideological battle. We ban accounts that do this, so please stop doing it. It's not what this site is for.
We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15062943 and marked it off-topic.
Some would say that gay jokes are assholery but to someone who is gay it may create a hostile work environment. Neither are appropriate. The take away is be aware of your environment, you words and your actions because they all matter.
I agree that the general takeaway should be "don't be an asshole" but it's important to differentiate assholery and prejudice in the wider debate because the legal ramifications are different.
Edit: Rogue apostrophe
Dang, just above a few minutes earlier.
I'm not saying I buy it and have re-evaluated everything I've ever heard about her; but it raises an interesting awareness of how often carefully placed comments and bits of information can forever color your opinion on something.
Slightly tangential, but what's the generally accepted definition of "techbros"? I see the term used quite often but never really understand who exactly it applies to, it just seems like a nonspecific putdown. I don't work in SV though so I could just be out of the loop.
IT has, for example, become the easiest way to get to the US on an H1B visa. As a result, Asia saw a boom in IT education, has many qualified instructors coming back from the US etc. It also helps that IT is probably the highest-paying profession where language skills are somewhat secondary.
I'd also add that your response was far more nuanced than the poster I was originally responding to, which is why I was asking for clarification in the first place.
Why? Tech was a haven for nerdy outcasts who want a world that makes sense because the smartest minds are in charge. If anything it was libertarian since the cypherpunk days. Now we have censorious normies playing at identity politics who lack the obsession yet want the paychecks.
I recall several stories from the 1990s / eary 2000s dot-com boom that were similarly blood-curdling / cringeworthy.
One involved a chief executive with a thing for his (male) adminstrative assistants.
>less arrogant and less married.
Ah, I see. If you are attractive enough, suddenly it is not sexual harassment anymore.
I am not going to have a shred of compassion for any woman in tech who complains about harassment, while mentioning the dating opportunities that happen to come.
That's not in the least a charitable version of what she said, and this is a generic talking point of the kind that always moves discussions in a less substantive, more angry direction (as indeed you moved yourself in the next paragraph). Please make a u-turn and post the opposite kind of comment here, or no comment.
My point is that the issue "I don't want to be sexually harassed at work" becomes "I don't want to be sexually harassed at work by unattractive men", but the parties in question are not willing to articulate it fully.
> ... Ajit had grown increasingly hostile toward me, excluding me from information and meetings
> Back at Kleiner, I continued to have a huge problem with Ajit. Not only was he blocking my work, he had been promoted to a position of even greater responsibility and was giving me negative reviews. I started to lodge formal complaints about him. In response, the firm suggested I transfer to the China office.
> But when I told fellow junior partner... she grew uncharacteristically quiet. Then she said something I never expected: She had been harassed by Ajit, too. He’d asked her out for drinks to talk shop, and in the course of the evening he started touching her with his leg under the table.
> Later that night he came to her room in his bathrobe, asking to be let in. She eventually had to push him out the door.
Clearly the conversation on the airplane, private jet or not, was inappropriate.
To your other point, If she would have dated him under different circumstances, if those different circumstances had existed then his request for her company at dinner (aka a date) would most likely not have been unwelcome or unwanted. Most mature women will not cry harassment if asked to dinner and they turn the individual down and the individual accepts said rejection without further pursuit or retaliation for the rejection. Again, I said most, not all or none, but most. This is the reason that many companies have no workplace relationship rules.
Personally speaking, I do not care how handsome you are, if you show up at my hotel room door in a bathrobe without me having invited you (and even if I had what makes you think you were invited for sex so why are you in your bathrobe?) and you work in a position that can exercise power over my employment, you are not exercising good judgment at all. Why would you not think that your actions might be unwelcome or unwanted?
She recounts the Flipboard incident -- she spotted a good deal early and was shot down, and then others took (a worse) deal for themselves. So... yeah, they ignored and steamrolled the junior partner. Cutthroat and not nice, but it's not shocking behavior unless there's evidence that this only occurred with her or with other female partners. Short of that, I'm willing to believe that this is a full-contact sport, since there's million$ on the line.
So I'm left with two takeaways:
- KP has/had a big problem with partners like Amit, and their tolerance of it.
- Ellen herself was likely not a top performer, but she fails to recognize that.
I'm not excusing bad/illegal behavior. I'm just saying, speaking as a manager: underperforming employees frequently fail to understand that their peers are achieving more (sometimes MUCH more) than they are, and this lack of self-awareness can lead to placing blame on the wrong thing.
The sex talk complaint is interesting though - consider whatever emotional response you've arrived at, but with a slight twist: a straight man having to listen to gay men talk about gay porn stars. So what are we talking about here, 'don't ask don't tell'? Because I'm totally fine with that - I don't enjoying hearing the sexual fantasies of my coworkers (regardless of orientation), anybody know why that didn't work for the military?
First: "Don't ask, don't tell" wasn't about sharing your sexual fantasies in minute details. It was simply about your sexual orientation, and it was discriminatory because it was obviously accepted to mention your opposite-gendered spouse, or have a photo of them somewhere people would see it.
And since you experienced the same as a man: how often did one of your superiors set up a fake meeting on the other side of the continent, which then turned into an attempted 'romantic getaway'. Did you also have to physically push him out of your hotel room, where he showed up in his bathrobe?
As far as the hotel story. Yes, I've experienced a much lower budget version of that - I had a gay VP setup a meeting at an empty satellite office. He made his pass and I stared blankly for a couple of seconds before continuing my work on the white board. On another occasion I had a female coworker show up at my hotel room asking for some help with the presentation she was working on, I handled that the way you should: "I'll meet you in the lobby in 10 minutes."
I am sure life is very difficult for women in Sillicon Valley, but could we start talking about other issues? 99.999% people are less privileged.
And are not harassment an issue that also affects less privileged people?
Physician, heal thyself
> I recommended that she not report it.
If you wish then a pragmatic decision here is to not let her out in the world knowing she'll basically kill herself. That's why kids should not speak to strangers.
I think she's trying to be convincing and using her writing style to do that - but for me bullet points are more convincing.
From what I read, her account is 99% about her personal experience and not he industry at large. How does this equate to "sexism in the valley"? Honest question.
From that perspective, I can understand how she might feel that her personal experience was a good representation of sexism at the top levels of business in SV. I admit to having absolutely no idea if this is correct.
The more interesting question, from my point of view, is whether or not this is really a "sexism in the valley" issue, or if it's a sexism in the halls of power issue. I get the impression that she feels that there are a few powerful people in SV who are perpetuating the problem, but I actually think the problem is much deeper than that.
While I've seen problems with sexism (and racism) in my career as a programmer, it's been pretty rare. On the contrary, when I've been privy to the goings on higher up the ladder (or over in sales) it has shocked me. When I talk to people in other industries it's been similar. My friends who worked their way up in large hotels have had some incredible stories.
So, focusing on SV is doing a bit of a disservice, I think. I can fully appreciate that she can't talk about things for which she has not experience, so SV is what she feels is in her vision. But I don't think it will do any good unless we realise that people in power often feel that they can take whatever they want. And often they are unfortunately correct.
I don't think it's trying to actually make the case for silicon valley's sexism–except that it'd be highly unlikely that all this happened to her (and a coworker as well) and nobody else.
If you need further convincing, I submit most of this thread as exhibit 2. Then, maybe check out posts on reddit from the time of her trial.
- Are you a woman in a male dominated field? -1
- Are you a racial minority relative to the dominant group? -1
- Do you take time off in a 24/7 work culture? -1
- Are you gay? -1
- Are you transgender? -1
- Do you have a physical disability? -1
If you have enough of these, then the group will likely reject you, and will also rationalize your rejection along the lines of performance or poor 'fit.'
Groups have to take specific proactive steps to prevent this kind of behaviour from emerging naturally.
What can you do to help? If you see evidence of discriminatory behaviour: denounce it immediately and publicly.
Power comes with the leverage of keeping a function DRY and re-using it. One small change is leveraged across everything. Large changes though are unwanted because of the harm than can happen.
Aside from a workplace fling with one sleazeball, apparently there's a seedy pleasure trip she didn't get invited on and a plate of cookies. Then the corporate ass covering when she started making a fuss in a company handling millions of dollars.
However, let's face it, competing at that level requires a certain kind of drive and ruthlessness, and it'd be naive to assume Pao is somehow exempt from this.
It's an excerpt from her book, published to promote said book. Of course it's going to be 100% sympathetic. Here's a more neutral take on things, which includes the portion conspicuously omitted here: the lawsuits her husband's embroiled in, and the plus hundred of millions he potentially defrauded pension funds of, which incidentally lines up with Pao's sought damages.
They sound like they deserve each other, and are eminently capable of playing their victim cards for full effect to paper over their own mistakes.
Among other things, she calls out vanity fair for questioning her marriage, based on the fact that her husband had had previous relationships with men.
It's also somewhat strange how you're trying character assassination by proxy. And that this is a four-year old article, so the story apparently didn't actually go anywhere.
I also believe she does a good job of outlining how the treatment of women is distinct from a general "you have to be aggressive" style of workplace behaviour. What often strikes me most unfair is how women get told to be aggressive ("own the room", as it's called in the article), but then easily faulted for being too aggressive. "Shrill" is one of these words reserved for women only.
I looked around for a follow up to the lawsuits but the Vanity Fair article is still the most informative. Her husband's problems did go somewhere: he lost and is now appealing.
You can call it character assassination by proxy all you want, but the company people keep is still relevant, especially someone whose finances you are legally tied to, and when he's made exactly similar claims of discrimination over matters he had more than a professional interest in.
I allow for the fact that she's a victim, but the article above is not going to let us decide that. I do not listen and believe.