At Sephora (not clear from the article, but assume so):
Mary Beth Laughton
Also very weird, not a single programmer (female or otherwise) at Sephora is quoted in the article. The only possible exception is Layton, who had an 'engineering background' but was Product Manager at Sephora.
This article does not show anything concrete about whether Sephora actually has a large percentage of female programmers, devops, or sysadmins. Neither does it say what concrete steps they took to increase the percentage (final count: 62%, but it's not at all clear from the article whether that number is limited to people who actually program or tend to programs).
The article is complete garbage, and not worthy of HN. It does not elevate or even contribute to the discussion over female participation in software development in any way.
>the retailer has managed to attract technical women by recruiting with an eye toward candidates’ potential rather than specific skills
>“Even if a female candidate doesn’t have all the requirements for a technical job, we want that person to come in and show what they can do,” says Yvette Nichols, the company’s vice president of talent.
They hire women without the regular qualifications and are willing to train them on the job, which is refreshing to see. It's a shame they only apply it to female candidates though.
>At Sephora, Nida Mitchell, 29, got her chance to grow into a new role when she was promoted from web developer to IT project manager after two years at the company. The new job put her in charge of 14 male engineers, most of whom were at least 10 years her senior. She encountered roadblocks on one of the team’s first big projects, updating Sephora’s computing infrastructure ahead of the chain’s expansion to Brazil. “My first week, I had a one-on-one with my boss and said, ‘No one listens to me,’ ” Ms. Mitchell says.
She's concerned that within a single week of being promoted above 14 male engineers that they don't take her seriously when she comparatively has very little technical background (5 months with HTML and CSS) and no management experience (per her linkedin)? The issue here isn't that she's a woman.
It's cool that women in tech roles have found a home at Sephora. Something feels a little weird seeing them about bragging about the hiring process being exclusive to women though.
I'm trying to imagine what would happen if a company decided to do the opposite of this. Hires men on what they might one day do, while hiring women only on what they do right now.
How is this not outright sex based discrimination?
But if those variables exist in the applicant pool, they are discriminating against individual people on the basis of sex.
It is not for Sephora's (or anyone else's) recruiters to wax philosophical on what they think the statistics should look like for the population at large, when considering a candidate.
> It is not for Sephora's (or anyone else's) recruiters to wax philosophical on what they think the statistics should look like for the population at large, when considering a candidate.
This is not a question of statistics of the population but one of morality. This is what Sephora views as acting ethically. As noted above, not all agree, but that is why they are doing this (assuming they didn't do this for PR, which would be a far stretch, even if this story itself is for PR, which I think is a case of both/and). It is the job of Sephora's recruiters to act within the company's ethics.
It is a broadly respected civil right not to be discriminated against on the basis of sex when being considered for a job in a role which is not reliant on sex-differentiated characteristics.
The equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment to the U.S. constitution is among the proudest arrangements of fourteen words in recent history. That is the way principles work, there's no "unless you're a homosexual" at the end, there's no "unless the allegations are recorded in the wee hours of the morning".
I don't understand how anyone could trade something as eternal and beautiful as body of principles into something as common and detestable as a body of exceptions.
> Adding arbitrary, unfair stipulations to a principle defeats the purpose of having principles.
> I don't understand how anyone could trade something as eternal and beautiful as body of principles into something as common and detestable as a body of exceptions.
Neither of these things are occurring. The argument you present is a mix of two straw man statements and a bit of slippery slope for both.
The stipulation is far from arbitrary - it's in direct response to negative discrimination at other related levels. If we are talking justice and fairness, this is a positive move to some (not all, hence grey area). Those with more opportunities inherent in a system for arbitrary reasons do not have those opportunities justly. This policy is an attempt at redistribution of arbitrarily gained opportunity.
To the second, there are many flaws. First, the original principle you listed has an exception itself ("for a job in a role which is not reliant on sex-differentiated characteristics")! Adding a stipulation is a change to the principle, not an abandonment of all principles or even the single principle itself. Exceptions are incredibly important in many cases and are not an argument against a specific exception itself. Additionally, even if we accept the arbitrary "eternal beauty" of principles, the "common detestability" of exceptions, and the binary between them, there is no requirement for all of one or the other. It's just not logically sound. We can have many of one and a few of the other, half and half, etc.
Again, I am not even staking any of these claims on the specific exception, which is a very strong moral grey area. But it's a very understandable and logically sound side. The question becomes one of restorative justice, not one of "principles and exceptions". I think your argument is playing towards a wish for the world and morality to be absolute and clear when we know the world is far from that every time we look at situations that break hard principles once held.
That's what's wrong with it.
Uh, it'd be what you see today. When they refer to "Qualifications" here they are referring to either university degrees or experience in top tier tech firms. And it'd be like the process that VCs engage in to hand out money to untested entrepreneurs. You'll get some Job's and you'll get some Duplants (or non-personally, you'll get some Apples and you'll get some Clinkles).
LOTS of people around you got into the industry without this background. It was in fact the norm. I mean ffs, man, Thiel was literally paying men he thought had potential to not finish college and work as EIRs for his private investments.
This practice is so common for men it's difficult to point to even one organization that doesn't have a man with at least one point on their CV where "they had an opportunity."
What's more, the entire landscape is changing faster than recruiters and folks setting "levels" for software engineers can keep up. Startups like Corusera and Udacity are literally making up new "credentials" out of thin air in an effort to bridge this, but the reality is that competitive edge of the junior position hiring market is a lot more about testing capability and potential more than any CV list.
And were the specter of "men not getting what they think they deserve" were not raised, HN would en masse be applauding Sephora for trying to build a sustainable technical organization that values training and internal employee development over 2-year re-employment cycles that give no one any incentive to learn.
The idea that this is a unique stance to take for women (or indeed, a new concept) is absurd and incendiary on its face.
Simple fact: There are more men in the industry that have experienced this practice than women. It's precisely because there are more men that it's absurd to say this practice is unique and favoring women.
For example, consider two situations.
"We provide daycare for all employees with children. This helps us recruit a more diverse team because child care responsibilities is something which tends to be unequally distributed in our society."
"We provide daycare for female employees with children. This helps us recruit a more diverse team because child care responsibilities is something which tends to be unequally distributed in our society."
It's a fine line I think. I was in charge of recruiting before. Here are some observation and some things I did, some or many probably wrong:
* I'd try to bring more women onsite if I could. I justified it as giving them a another opportunity to prove themselves. Was it sexist to do it, I don't know. It maybe have been... The reason I did was that we were not a very diverse company. But I didn't do it to fulfill some generic diversity quota, so we can brag on Facebook about it or anything. It seemed to me that a diverse team would work better. There would be more strengths and perspectives. Same went for foreign candidates or people who are older and simply have more experience. I think it worked, we hired women who were very good, hard working and they met and exceed all the expectations. Aside from us spending a bit more resource on travel and time interviewing they still had to pass all the tests and interview steps. So I don't think we lowered the bar too much there.
* I found women were more reluctant to approach companies at college career fairs. Maybe it's sexist to say women are shy, so I might be stepping on some toes here. Sorry if it sounds that way. Not sure what to do there. One needs to be a bit aggressive and pushy in the context of how the interview works. Same applies to asking for raises and salary negotiations. Heck I am shy too. But when push comes to shove, I can at least pretend to be aggressive, but that might be hard for others.
* Not related to my personal interviewing experience, but in general, I wonder if women want to work in the tech field. Is it desirable profession at all? I am not so sure. We think this is an awesome career, we get to sit and solve cool problems, with cool technology, but maybe not everyone out there thinks that's so exciting. Programming pays relatively well compared to many professions out there, but again, maybe it's presumptuous to think that everyone out there will put money first above all and will want to maximize that element in their future career. I have the perspective of my wife for example, she really just wanted to be a mom and take care of the household. She graduated with the highest honors, but she's just not excited about being in her field, being at home and raising kids is what she enjoys. And yes, she has gotten criticism and negative remarks from "career" people about her "throwing her schooling and life away".
There's plenty of people focused on early education, but I don't know if we're going to see those results for even as much as a decade, and the cultural problems in high school and college are still there too, even if we solve early education. This type of hiring is a positive step, not a perfect one.
All that said, it appears this tech team is not apples to apples with the roles of big SV firms it's being compared to, and I fully agree with other posters that other factors (such as the brand itself) are at play here. There are positive lessons to learn here still.
These types of policies are similar to affirmative action - they are trying to correct a problem at the symptom, not the source. While correcting the source is more important, and I understand why you have the objection to correcting the symptom, I think the effect is far more positive than negative. I don't expect you to be convinced by this or agree, but I think it's important to have the understanding behind why the policy is not applied uniformly, agreement or not. I think your categorization of "virtue signaling" is inaccurate here.
Most garbage collectors and construction workers are men, maybe we should favor women in the hiring process there?
It has been repeated a thousand times, never changes, and provokes degraded discussion that also is always the same. That makes it royally off topic here.
1. Are there cultural factors and discrimination preventing men from being nurses or women from garbage/construction like there are in tech?
2. Say there should be an aim for other thing X - whichever leads to more equality in power (aka is currently a big inequality of power) should be a focus, yes? Do women have less power because they are not garbage collectors? I think the answer is no.
Tech is focused on because of the reasons for the imbalance, and the resulting unjust power imbalance.
I think we need to be clear on what we mean by "cultural factors." When I told my father that I wasn't going to pursue a career as a tenure-track physics professor at a research lab he was clearly and obviously disappointed, and was always apologetic about me and let me know he had 'covered for me' when talking about me to his peers. I'm simply not smart enough to have done that without being completely consumed by it.
I would call that a cultural bias. Do women suffer that same cultural bias? I don't have sisters so I don't know.
I do know that the doors have been opened for women in sci/tech since the early 1980s, if not before. Nobody has been trying to keep them out. The ones I know who didn't pursue it got out because it wasn't a lifestyle they wanted. When it comes to misogyny, harassment, and all of the other factors that can get in the way of outstanding females, we see nearly every day that this happens in other fields too- even Hollywood (thinking Weinstein 2017-Oct-08 for future eyes). That doesn't seem to keep females out of the field, because they want to do that work.
I wonder how much of the dearth of women in tech is because women actually feel like they have more options than the men do. One of the most brilliant women I knew (as a graduate student) was also Victoria-secret-model attractive. She said to me while in her Ph.D. (physics) program: "I'm too smart for this."
Ah yes, the inevitable "I didn't do any researching at all but WHAT ABOUT THE NURSES" post.
Most areas in North America and Europe want more male nurses. How to attract and keep them is a major area of discussion. Many nursing scholarships are exclusively for men. Men in nursing get paid more than women in nursing.
And all this ignoring why the nursing gender imbalance exists. Here's a hint: It's not because women wanted to do the work of a doctor for a fraction of the pay.
I can't help but imagine the outrage if this happened in tech...
Here is what I believe:
> Many nursing scholarships are exclusively for men. Men in nursing get paid more than women in nursing
Both of these practices are extremely unfair and should be eliminated. A nursing job should pay the same no matter what sexual organs you have on your body.
Likewise, it is unfair to hire women in tech over men simply to fill a quota, no matter how noble your intentions are.
I realize this is Hacker News where everything must be rederived from first principles every single thread, but really, these practices exist especially to eliminate situations where extremely unfair hiring practices have existed, de facto or de jure, in the past.
If you don't like what the solution looks like, tough shit. Figure out how to avoid causing similar problems in the future rather than bemoaning the necessary recompense now.
Will it? How do you know?
> it seems the only way to change those conceptions is to have them there in the first place
Is it? Again, how do you know?
EDIT: Interesting, usually requesting proof for unsubstantiated claims is encouraged rather than downvoted on HN, I wonder if there's something special about this topic that makes people's mind's work differently.
The above would be a good starting point.
On the second, I would retract the only for a "one of the few we know of". Early education work again is key, but there are still cultural struggles.
It's a perfectly plausible theory, but of course it suffers from the same sexual discrimination "injustice" that causes all the arguments whenever this topic comes up.
Considering the human factor involved in this problem though, using temporary injustice to get through a logjam in an effort to see if that can "prime the pump" and get to a self-sustaining meritocracy seems worth a try, I'd personally prefer we don't pretend it's something other than what it is though (but again, considering this is a human problem, lying to ourselves may be a necessary part of the solution).
Your initial comment is being downvoted because the research has been done, and it is a strongly supportive theory. It's viewed as lazily ignorant. To imply that it's the topic is missing the point.
If you already knew about this, you should be bringing something to the table in terms of an argument against it from the beginning.
> It's a perfectly plausible theory, but of course it suffers from the same sexual discrimination "injustice" that causes all the arguments whenever this topic comes up.
I don't see this as true at all. You're going to have to provide some good arguments for that.
It's not just "a theory". So is "gravity". That's just a bad argument. Degrees of proof is what should be discussed, and I have yet to see you bring up anything that would cause doubt. I am making a claim based on studies and evidence that have been vetted by a scientific community. Is it as strong as our evidence for gravity? Of course not. Is it plenty sufficient for using to inform actions? I think so.
> I'd personally prefer we don't pretend it's something other than what it is though.
I don't see where I made claim it was anything but this. As a society, I doubt we have this level of nuance in common conception, but I don't think we can expect that either, no matter what argument. We just don't have well-nuanced arguments for most things on average. Heck, most people still use evolution to argue for things it does not actually support, but I guess it's survival of the fittest (if that actually was an argument that held up in this context!).
I think the bar should always be openly lower for less-represented demographics, and companies should make sure they provide the resources to train such individuals.
Step 2: Consider more of your employees to be on the "tech team" than other firms do.
Step 3: Lower the recruiting bar for one sex and not the other, potentially in contravention of the law.
Just another corporate circle jerk.
I suspect that because of the nature of their business less men apply compared to woman in relation to the industry average. As a person I apply to companies I am interested in and would not see myself applying to work at Sephora currently. I would see myself applying to mlb.tv for example since I like baseball.
Or perhaps do they also get less male applicants because it is a female dominant brand?
"“Everyone spoke,” she says, “and felt comfortable offering opinions on anything from e-commerce to a shade of blush.”"
For me as a male I would not feel comfortable offering my opinions on a shade of blush. I am not offended by this -- I just have zero experience with blush.
Am I sexist because I wouldnt want to work there but also can see why women would be more successful there in tech-centric roles?
With 74% females they are as diverse as a 26% female company.
I'm positive that's pretty damn far from setting any diversity records.
Seriously this screams of sexism but what I'm most troubled about is hiring inexperienced people and putting them in charge of seasoned teams. I've seen* too many attempts at this and it rarely works.
How are they defining "tech role" exactly, is it that most of the developers are male, but "tech sales", "tech marketing", "tech product management", "tech PM" roles are female?
Is this merely a case of a company run by women, with a bias toward hiring and promoting women?
That's perhaps not unlike other companies run by men, so I guess it balances, but it's hardly a new model that everyone should emulate.
Lmfao. So essentially what they're saying is a woman would be chosen over a more highly qualified man simply because she has a vagina.
How is this not sexism?
That said, the perspective itself isn't foreign. It is my precise basis for hiring junior devs: i put a great deal more focus on a candidate's intellect and passion over current skills.
I don't have any personal experience, but I've heard many women without vaginas talk about how good Sephora has been to/for them. So don't worry, that's not happening.
I also believe that computer programming is the easiest field to find out if someone who is in charge of hiring is potentially biased. For example, you can have two candidates - candidate A who is a white male and candidate B who is a woman of color. If candidate B does better on the technical interview (all of her answers are more efficient, she answered the questions faster than candidate A), but candidate A gets chosen then it's easy to call out bias. That's an aspect of programming jobs that I love - that all of it is based on your qualifications rather than outside factors (of course that depends on who is hiring you and the company).
The real issue is getting women and people of color to want to get into tech in the first place. For some people, when making a career choice they look towards representation within that field. For some people, this might deter them. When you've been faced with microaggressions most of your life in certain spaces then you might want to avoid those spaces. For example, there was an article on HN a while back about women in technical lead roles. Within that article there was the story of a latina woman who is a head researcher and she has gotten asked often / people have assumed that she is the cleaning lady of the building. In my own experience I'm a mixed person and I've faced a ton of microaggressions that have made me uncomfortable in places I've been - like people asking me "Where are you from" and I tell them I'm from <insert state here> and then they reply with, "Where are you REALLY from?." That question has always made me feel like I'm not supposed to be in America - that I'm unexpected and I've deviated from the norm.
I'd suggest checking out https://www.devcolor.org/ and reading some of the personal stories of black software engineers. It's really enlightening to read about some of the microaggressions they've faced in the work place and how that has affected their career.
Good for them I guess.
Female-heavy workplaces to me have the connotation of being especially white.