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The Empathy Gap in Tech: Interview with a Software Engineer (quillette.com)
381 points by Radim 44 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 264 comments



From one of the comments (author, Nathan Spears):

> People with Asperger’s can navigate social situations remarkably well after they learn “the rules” of social interaction.

That's my experience. I too, was socially awkward kid who taught himself basic programming by reading computer manuals around the age of 10. I constantly got picked on though out elementary and middle school. In high school it got a little better because I started to imitate social behavior and personal style that I picked up in other (cooler) people, mainly as a survival strategy. Spend more than 5 minutes talking to me though, and you'd be looking for a way to mosey out of the conversation.

I went into software development where I felt that I'd truly found my breed. Then I started a software (product) company where suddenly I had to attract customers and pitch them my product in demos.

I will say this: forcing myself to learn sales was monumental both professionally and socially. I am now pretty smooth in nearly any social interaction and even when things don't go perfectly, I keep a general "fuck it" attitude in my back pocket (which is quite handy for avoiding that paralyzing over-analysis following a misstep).

The point is this: if you think you're somewhere on the subclinical spectrum, don't just give yourself that label and wait for the world to come around to you, or avoid doing the things that you don't think you're suited for. Do things that make you uncomfortable. Grow and improve on every front. As an aspie, you're probably pretty damned good at actively learning the traits that seem to come naturally for other people.


I took a quick look at the ASQ test mentioned in the article [1]. A lot of the things in there, I would have answered "definitely agree" when I was a teenager.

Sometime in college, I forced myself to socialize, and did everything I could to learn what I needed to fit in. For example, I learned from the internet to dress and care for myself so I didn't look like a 17 year basement nerd, and a bunch of other things I guess most people just pick up naturally by being around other people in high school.

Today, edging towards my 30s, looking at the questions on that test makes me feel surprised at how "well adjusted" I've become compared to how I was at 15 years old.

[1] https://psychology-tools.com/autism-spectrum-quotient/


Don't discount how much the things that made you a social pariah in public school make you unique and interesting by the time you hit your mid-twenties.

I played a lot of varsity sports which shielded me from much of the abuse, but otherwise was pretty different socially. When I went away to Uni I had a chance to "start fresh" and that same quirky personality, combined with forcing myself to be a little more outgoing (i.e. share my true self), went over great. A big part of it was the natural filtering of the people in my environment; a lot of the "cool" kids peak and become irrelevant after high school.


One of my favorite Oatmeal strips: http://theoatmeal.com/pl/senior_year/pe


Many ill-adjusted young people become perfectly functional adults. That's why it's incredibly dangerous to make drastic and irreversible childhood interventions in response to indications that are most likely transient and self-resolving. Our society is insane.


Your score was 34 out of a possible 50.

Scores in the 33-50 range indicate significant Austistic traits (Autism).


Sweet, I got 34 as well. I'm going to sub that for my ACT score now :-)


Isn't there bias with self-diagnosing yourself though?


Of course, but you try to answer the questions honestly. I took it as did my wife. I expected that I wouldn't score that high. She got a 17.


> As an aspie, you're probably pretty damned good at actively learning the traits that seem to come naturally for other people.

Makes me wonder how much of "neuro-diversity" is actually just "neuro-plasticity". Maybe many aspies are actually just "neuro-typicals" who were bullied and lost faith in social interactions, and thus spent much of their early life on geeky interests instead, developing better technical skills but neglecting social skills.

But as they get older many realize that social skills are important and pick them up anyway, just a little later than most.


Not likely.

Aspergers is not about a disinterest in social interaction, it is a "blindness" to the unspoken "rules" of social interaction. Most kids will given just a bit of time pick up the indications in body language etc that means one has hogged the ball and should pass it around. And aspie will not, at least not in the instinctual way that most humans do.


I got the feeling that he meant the self-diagnosed types?


No, it's not just lost faith. It's about as true as saying somebody that can't run a mile under 5 mins or bench press 300+ pounds just "lost their faith in running and bench pressing" and that's the only reason ever.

Some things are just hard for some people. Or impossible. Some of them can be improved with training and practice, but not instantly and with a lot of effort. Some will forever take much more effort than for other people and leave one exhausted. Some may be just plain impossible. Some may be possible, but people may decide, rightly or wrongly, that they are so hard that the effort is just not worth it.


This article is going to rub lots of people the wrong way, I suspect, but it's level headed, well reasoned and well written. Although I ultimately disagree with some of the conclusions drawn at the end, (particularly:

> Because contemporary moral codes delineate women as vulnerable or marginalised, we stop seeing them as individuals with unique talents and idiosyncrasies, but as representatives of a victimised class.

I think labeling or delineating women as 'vulnerable or marginalised' and ignoring their unique qualities and idiosyncrasies is robbing Peter to pay Paul. Acknowledging that women are 'vulnerable or marginalised' shouldn't remove their individuality, you can easily have both, but that's beside my point here)

I legitimately didn't realise what the tone or conclusion of the article were going to be when I first started reasoning, because it does a good job of presenting scientific research without any inherent judgements. The other thing this article achieves that the cited manifesto failed to achieve was not to necessarily provide judgement, criticism or suggestions around 'what should be done about problem xyz'. It presents some facts, presents some opinions, and then (thankfully) doesn't decide to rip the hard work of well intentioned people to shreds. And for that, I think this should be commended.


You wrote: -- Although I ultimately disagree with some of the conclusions drawn at the end, (particularly:

"Because contemporary moral codes delineate women as vulnerable or marginalised, we stop seeing them as individuals with unique talents and idiosyncrasies, but as representatives of a victimised class."

Acknowledging that women are 'vulnerable or marginalised' shouldn't remove their individuality, you can easily have both --

How can you disagree with it? The author isn't saying this should happen, just that it does, even if this doesn't apply to you.


> How can you disagree with it?

Assuming this isn't a rethorical question, it seems straight forward to disagree with the "because" part. Just because the author suggests something doesn't make it so. Presumably, since most people use themselves as reference, if something doesn't apply to yourself you might disagree with the explanation given and conclude that there are other factor involved i.e. that the problem is something else.


What evidence do we have that such a perspective is removing their individuality?

The argument those of us on the left make is that people's individuality, their talent etc are disregarded because of their class/attributes etc., and society as it is set-up punishes some classes while rewarding others, rather than rewarding individuals as individuals.


Plenty of level-headed people on the right see things exactly that way too.

What kills us, or at least me (I'll identify for the purpose of this argument), is trying to figure out why people "on the left" are so focused on fixing the symptoms by way of "reverse discrimination" (i.e. affirmative action) instead of focusing on ensuring that we continue to see people as unique individuals instead of–what we feel is the socially destructive and in fact anti-diverse approach of–reducing people to their least common denominator group membership and treating them accordingly (identity politics).


The reason is because you really can't change hearts. "Metoo" is the sort of thing that is slowly changing attitudes around sexual assault, but such movements aren't easy to enact. Changing hearts is hard. Black slaves were liberated at the end of the civil war, but after the reconstruction, we had to wait almost 100 years before the civil rights movement ended Jim Crow, and even today, there are persistent racial issues. You can't easily change social attitudes that have existed for hundreds of years over a handful of decades. And those attitudes have readily observable effects on real people.

You can't change the hearts of people easily, although attitudes slowly change over time. When you can't change people's attitudes, the best you can do is make laws, rules, and policies that alleviate some of the ills, until we reach a place where we achieve a more equal society.


Those two are different on very relevant aspects, though.

Practically no one supports sexual assault. We abhor it, that's why the legal punishment for rape is so severe, why many lynchings of black men were about rape accusations, etc. Sexual assault has thrived in some places - like parts of Hollywood - despite that, not because of it.

Equality for black people was completely different from that: 100 years ago, very few people believed black people were equal or could be equal. It's only recently that the majority position sees things that way, and there are still notable minorities who disagree.

And that's why "changing hearts" isn't the issue here. You already have the hearts of the public, which sees rape as evil. What MeToo achieved was to show that that thing we all hate exists in more places than we thought.

To make this concrete: Weinstein had enough influence in Hollywood and the media to quash stories about his crimes. But once enough women spoke up, the public became aware, and quickly hated Weinstein. The problem was awareness, and the victims fixed that.


I disagree with "practically no one supports sexual assault", because otherwise, it wouldn't be so prevalent in society. They may not "support" it, but they definitely perpetuate it and turn a blind eye to it. That, and they don't treat it as a serious issue. For example, people have used the promiscuity of people as a way to minimize the rape of individuals, they don't believe women, etc. The fact is society's attitude towards rape and sexual assault is all hush-hush and gives passes to people who commit it. That's the whole point the movement is making.

MeToo isn't just Harvey Weinstein. He is just one creep who is representative of a larger problem in society.


Why affirmative action? Because if one person takes everything from another person, is it fair to say "you know, that was bad, and it shouldn't have happened, but since that's in the past we should just make sure that we treat both of them the same now"?

(I will also note that all the work I see being done to end 'regular' discrimination, a.k.a get to the state where we do see people as individuals and don't act based on racial biases, is being done by the left. The arguments that affirmative action is a bad distraction from our current utopian racial blindness that we should 'continue' are based on a baffling disregard for all the evidence for the current existence of racism).


Eye for an eye punishment is not very left-wing. If one person takes everything from another person by killing them, is it left politics to do collective punishment based on class, race or gender? No. We punish the guilty as humanely as possible and accept that there will always be some number of bad actors and those individuals should be addressed.

Utopian racial blindness is good when dealing with crime. We don't want police to look at race and do affirmative action. We don't want insurance or bankers looking at race or gender and do affirmative actions. We even have explicit laws forbidding judges to look at race when determining recurrence risks (through what they use now has some major flaws that acts as proxy for race).

Discrimination is wrong. Like theft and murder it need to be stopped and have the guilty charged and judged. Discrimination is a crime. We would be abhorred if affirmative action was openly (officially) used to address any other crime, so why should discrimination be any different?


>I will also note that all the work I see being done to end 'regular' discrimination ... is being done by the left.

Disclaimer: I am a random person on the internet so have as much faith in my anecdotal evidence as you have in humanity.

I think the issue with what you are seeing is confirmation bias. Because the left and right have different views on what causes the disparity between whites and blacks they go about trying to fix it different ways.

Those on the left see it as a systematic issue and want a systematic fix. There is implict bias in the system against blacks so if we add explicit bias for blacks it will come out about equal. Add the bias for long enough the system will correct for past injustice and everything will be fine.

This contrasts strongly with the view I was raised with, that the difference between whites and blacks is because of different cultures that place value on different outcomes or fail to instill positive traits into members of the culture. Some of the big ideas that are not valued is hard work, respecting property, valuing education, disdaining violence and avoiding having children until you can afford to support them.

The fix for this is to teach these values to those that do not have them. I grew up in a small very white community. Yet, when a black student at my highschool aged out of foster care. My family took him in for the rest of the school year. This let him get his diploma. While he understood most of these values, my father worked with him to control his temper.

Another example is a camp in rural Midwest that is for kids of prisoners even though it is close to a mostly white town the drive black children in from the major city because they want to help them and give them hope.

I guess all of this is to make the point that just because some opposes affirmative action does not mean they hate PoC. I won't denie some people are like that. But I think the majority of those against AA see it as fighting fire with fire and don't expect good to come from it.


The problem with your perspective is it's wrong. I don't mean to be mean to you, but it just isn't correct. The difference isn't culture, it's simply access to capital.

Here's an enlightening video[0], a 12-minute video about the representation of black families in media. It touches on the myth of black fathers not being involved with their kids, which is a good example of false attitudes that lead people to blame "culture" rather than systemic inequalities.

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q21XGV2z7hw


I will be honest. I haven't watched the video yet, I will make another comment when I do. But a quick Google and I find[0] that 25% of white children and 67% of black children are raised in single parent homes. That seems like a lot if it is only access to captial and not culture.

[0] http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2013/jul/...


Get back to us with some stats on relative likelihood of a black man and a white man going to jail when found with some weed, and see if you can figure out why that could be related to both lack of capital and single parent homes.


A person is not the same as a group. You want some individuals punished for what other people did. There's no justice there.


Don't you think its a bit odd to try to compensate for implicit bias with explicit bias? To me it seems unlikely that bigotry, sexism and racism will be fixed by more of the same.


Not particularly. We do it all the time when the free market misses some context. I see no major difference between a carbon tax and an affirmative action policy.

In both cases, the naively optimal action misses some important context, so the system is then tweaked to modify the outcome to take the external factors into account.

Do you have any alternative that isn't isomorphic to affirmative action?


The better alternative would be to improve the situation where the original injustice occurs, not sometime later in the pipeline.

E.g. affirmative action in university admissions assumes that members of traditionally underprivileged groups did not have the opportunity to display their full potential and will have higher peak performance than their current scores suggest.

While this is true on average and affirmative action is the best you can do if you are limited to influencing this single funnel in the pipeline, it also ends up unfairly benefiting privileged members within unprivileged groups.

If more wide-reaching changes are possible, e.g. ensuring that everyone has the same chance to actually learn something in school, affirmative action would soon become redundant, since the difference it aims to correct would not exist any more.


It would be a better alternative, but we can't go back in time and stop the Dred-Scott v. Stanford or just generally stop the enslavement of Africans in America. Also, things like universal free college, more funding of public schools, end to segregation would do a lot to "fix things," and that's why I fight for such things.

Affirmative action is one of the weakest things we can do, but it's what we have now and I support doing what you can.

Btw, your point about AA helping privileged members in unprivileged groups rings true, which is part of why I think it's the weakest thing we could do.


The question no longer seems to be whether it can and does help, but more about asking when we stop punishing the other groups of people (the groups AA biases against). Ideally we all want an equal playing field. But the field will never be equal so long as we continue to measure it based on the outcome of the game.....


>The better alternative would be to improve the situation where the original injustice occurs, not sometime later in the pipeline.

Well...yes. No where did I say that affirmative action policies are the only or a permanent solution, and I'd be suspicious of anyone who did. But they are an immediate bandaid that at least in theory stops the feedback loop.

In other words, I agree, but I'm asking in the context of "is there anything that can be done in that funnel that is superior to affirmative action", and it appears that you also agree that the answer is no. In which case, it comes down to whether or not the outsized[1] benefit to privileged minorities is worth it.

[1]: And depending on your opinions of privilege, there's compelling arguments to be made that the benefit to otherwise privileged minorities isn't outsized, they'd just be even more successful. Also that often you don't care about the most privileged since they'd all "pass" anyway, but the marginal group. But that's a bigger discussion.


> The better alternative would be to improve the situation where the original injustice occurs, not sometime later in the pipeline.

So, go back in time and ban redlining, to allow black families to live in the areas with better schools and build wealth through home ownership? Sweet bro.


> Do you have any alternative that isn't isomorphic to affirmative action?

Possible alternative:

We need to embrace that all decisions we make are emotional, even the rational ones [1], and create a process that facilitates the desired change. I believe this can be done by hiring competent minorities into teams [2], where although they are a minority in general they will not be on their team. These teams should not only be that minority as you in a truly inclusive system can't define people by a trait.

Since its a minority you probably have to do some extra legway in facilitating matching these teams well to problems the the team members find interesting and that there are growth opportunities. However, that is an ongoing conversation you should be having at any rate.

By these teams being competent they will through normal work-conversations and collaborations open minds on how successful people look like. Very suddenly it will be clear that both nerdy and pretty girls as well as anyone in between can code well, and that people that talk and walk in ways that make you uncomfortable might actually be competent and give you a unique perspective if you truly include them in your conversation.

Yes, it is not flashy and won't make great campaign posters. However, it empowers individuals while helping those individuals deal with being a minority without it being a zero sum game. And then we can watch history unfold, like how asians went from being railroad grunt work to model immigrants.

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Behave-Biology-Humans-Best-Worst-eboo... [2] suggested action by feminists and researchers like Francis Frei, although I am not sure they support this full proposal


So, as an alternative to affirmative action, your proposing we create teams that are essentially ghettos for minorities, and suggesting that this will improve their respect amongst their peers?


Read my comment again; in no way this is a ghetto for minorities as the teams are not entirely comprised of minorities and this team structure is supported by research that shows that it feels socially isolating to be the sole representative of your minority in your daily life. Maybe even a majority is not a minority on the team.

To be honest this kind of comment that makes any alternative proposal into a cartoon while attacking points clearly not made is whats wrong with american discourse. I think we can do better.


But I'm not making it into a cartoon. You're suggestion is to take minorities and segregate them into specific majority-minority teams. Here's a definition of "ghetto" from a Google search:

> put in or restrict to an isolated or segregated area or group

That is absolutely what your proposal entails. Consider the outcomes of this proposal:

> I'm sorry, we don't have any $minority teams working on $area_of_expertise right now, so I don't see a good fit for you.

Note that now your minority group is explicitly a marker of what you can or cannot work on. Whether or not you intended it, your proposal creates a racially defined hierarchy, much in the same way that we already have stereotypes about "women work in frontend/ui roles", you'll only support those stereotypes and make them systematically ingrained. Further, without minority advocates and voices at the level of people picking the "minority" teams, minorities will be less likely to access those projects that are considered more interesting/challenging/prestigious.

And note that the more reasonable "make all teams minority majority" is not possible unless your population is also minority majority, and even then its artificial and perhaps too strict.

Please don't object to my calling a spade a spade. I've provided a reason that your suggestion is flawed, and instead of defending it on its merits, you've objected to my word choice.


> segregate them into specific majority-minority teams

Again, you mischaracterize what I said:

"I believe this can be done by hiring competent minorities into teams [2], where although they are a minority in general they will not be on their team. These teams should not only be that minority as you in a truly inclusive system can't define people by a trait."

Where I in the follow up comment say:

"... the teams are not entirely comprised of minorities and this team structure is supported by research that shows that it feels socially isolating to be the sole representative of your minority in your daily life. Maybe even a majority is not a minority on the team."

> put in or restrict to an isolated or segregated area or group. That is absolutely what your proposal entails.

Because of the preceding comments I disagree with this characterization. These teams are an acknowledgement that many find it hard to feel like they are the sole representative of their minority in their daily life.

It is a tool that should only be applied at discretion and when appropriate, and to make it work it needs support.

> Consider the outcomes of this proposal: I'm sorry, we don't have any $minority teams working on $area_of_expertise right now, so I don't see a good fit for you. Note that now your minority group is explicitly a marker of what you can or cannot work on.

> Whether or not you intended it, your proposal creates a racially defined hierarchy, ..

This was addressed in the proposal: "Since its a minority you probably have to do some extra legway in facilitating matching these teams well to problems the the team members find interesting and that there are growth opportunities. However, that is an ongoing conversation you should be having at any rate."

I never said it was easy and that we wouldn't have to have extra support to make this work. That support requires staffing, training, recruiting etc etc that spends extra effort to make this very difficult thing happen.

> Please don't object to my calling a spade a spade. I've provided a reason that your suggestion is flawed, and instead of defending it on its merits, you've objected to my word choice.

To my points above these are clearly mischaracterizing of what I am saying by at best not carefully reading the proposal. I am asking you for the same respect in this discourse that I am giving you, and I believe that is fair.

Edit: @joshuamorton I am sorry, I can't keep pointing to the same quotes showing how you interpret what I say is different from what I actually said with no progress in our discourse. I think we just have to agree to disagree.


>I can't keep pointing to the same quotes showing how you interpret what I say

Pointing to quotes cannot do this. You need to explain how what I'm saying is a mischaracterization. To be clear, your suggestion is

> hiring competent minorities into teams, where although they are a minority in general they will not be on their team.

My claim is that is that

(1). This means hire minorities solely into majority-minority teams.

(2). Hiring minorities solely into majority-minority teams is a form of segregation.

Just restating your original suggestion does not address either of these claims, you need to do something to show that (1) or (2) is false. I believe the reason that you have not done this, and have instead resorted to restating your original claims is because you are unable to reject either of these claims. Instead you are attempting to obfuscate this fact.

I'm familiar with the research about the harms of being a minority and the impact it can have on performance, but as far as my claims about segregation go, those arguments are irrelevant. And that's why I previously said that they were a distraction. If you want to show how my interpretation of your claims is false, you need to show that either claim (1) or (2) is false, and so far you have not done that, you've simply restated your thesis.


> I'm familiar with the research about the harms of being a minority and the impact it can have on performance, but as far as my claims about segregation go, those arguments are irrelevant.

I strongly disagree. You have to respect the human in the equation if you want to facilitate inclusion, and make sure that you do everything to facilitate the change you desire. Otherwise you risk filtering for people that check the right boxes that happen to be similar to the people already working there.

Research from 2007 to 2015 in [1] indicates that what we are currently doing is not working:

- The number of black women in the industry declined by 13%, the study found.

- There was also an increase in Latino executives, but the overall representation of Latinos declined from 5.2% to 4.8% and they still represent a very small fraction of corporate leaders.

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/oct/03/silicon-v...

> Hiring minorities solely into majority-minority teams is a form of segregation.

I never proposed solely recruiting minorities for these kind of teams. I said: "It is a tool that should only be applied at discretion and when appropriate, and to make it work it needs support."

Also, the definition of segregation is:

- the action or state of setting someone or something apart from other people or things or being set apart.

which does not appropriately describe a team that is mixed and where some members come from one or more minorities. Also, I would again like to point out that minorities can still choose to work on any team as this is a tool applied at discretion.

Of cause, as I stated you need to do extra work to make sure that minorities can choose opportunities freely and be supported appropriately after the choice is made.

The definition of ghetto is:

- a part of a city, especially a slum area, occupied by a minority group or groups.

Which for the same reasons does not properly describe the proposal.

Note: I think I've shown here that you've used historically loaded terms like segregation and ghetto inappropriately to describe parts of my proposal. This is a very dirty rhetorical trick when the proposal is intended to apply to minorities, and it is not appreciated.


You've cherrypicked definitions of segregation and ghetto. I'll repeat the original definition that dictionary.com provided:

> put in or restrict to an isolated or segregated area or group

And here's a merriam webster definition of segregation:

> the separation or isolation of a race, class, or ethnic group by enforced or voluntary residence in a restricted area

Does, or does your proposal not put or restrict minorities to certain projects and teams?

Does, or does your proposal not separate or isolate minorities into restricted teams?

As for your cherrypicked definitions:

>which does not appropriately describe a team that is mixed and where some members come from one or more minorities

It does if those minorities are prevented from accessing other teams (or even if it is just more difficult).

>Which for the same reasons does not properly describe the proposal.

Replace the word 'city' with 'company' and it absolutely does!

>I strongly disagree. You have to respect the human in the equation if you want to facilitate inclusion, and make sure that you do everything to facilitate the change you desire. Otherwise you risk filtering for people that check the right boxes that happen to be similar to the people already working there.

This is irrelevant to whether or not your proposal is essentially segregation. Like I'd previously said, this may make it segregation that you feel is scientifically backed, and morally better than what we are doing now, but that doesn't make it not a form of segregation. You appear to believe that if something is better than the system we have now, it cannot be segregation, and that view just doesn't make any sense at all.

>It is a tool that should only be applied at discretion and when appropriate, and to make it work it needs support.

This is a cop out. It basically can basically be rephrased as "we should only use segregation when it makes sense". If you want to make that argument, that's fine, but its still segregation.

I made some clearer objections in https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16092706, and you handwaved them away. In essence, when faced with objections to this proposal, your response has been either "I don't like your words" or "yes you have to be judicious and thoughtful when using this strategy", but that just handwaves any of the potential problems away behind magic "judicial and thoughtful"ness. Unless you can craft a strategy beyond the vague "judicious and thoughtful" one you've proposed that materially prevents this proposal from descending into a form of segregation and causing outcomes like the one I suggested previously and will repeat here:

> I'm sorry, we don't have any $minority teams working on $area_of_expertise right now, so I don't see a good fit for you.

I will continue to call your proposal exactly what it is: a strategy of segregating minorities into minority-majority teams in an effort to reduce some of the negative effects of being a minority.

Now to change gears a bit: note that I've never said that this strategy is morally wrong, only that it is a form segregation. You appear to resist that characterization, my goal here has been to show why there are flaws in alternative approaches to affirmative action, and why any such policy is going to be easy to characterize in an unpalatable way.

In other words, while I do personally disagree with your proposal, I was taking on a bit of a devil's advocate stance. In the same way that you find it very easy to attack affirmative action policies as a form of "reverse racism", its pretty easy to similarly attack your majority-minority team proposal as segregation. You seemed to take this very personally, and I apologize for that.

And to be clear, I actually think that a slightly less extreme, but similar proposal to yours is a good idea. Namely, softly enforcing teams with minorities having >1 minority to at least alleviate some of the minority threat you get. However this too is flawed, both from the perspective of it doesn't help minorities as much as some proposals, and because it can be easily characterized as a racial quota.

As an aside, there's another flaw in both of these proposals that isn't simply an issue of branding: they don't address the sourcing issue that affirmative action attempts to. Its very hard to have competent minority teams if you have difficulty sourcing competent minorities (and I should clarify that this is not because they can't or don't exist). A lot of the common AA policies try to reduce false negatives or do creative things to source more minority talent, and are still objected to for various reasons.

Edit: It also appears that you're downvoting my comments, since all of my comments deep in threads responding to you are at 0, and most of my others in these threads are positive. If that's not the case, do let me know, but it makes me uninterested in continuing this discussion with you.


Making a false statement over and over doesn’t make it any more correct. This is just ugly rhetoric which is why I stopped interacting.

As a liberal I think the left has a huge problem with this kind of narrow mindedness on what opinions one can hold and unwillingness to listen, using rhetoric to disingenuously twist someone’s viewpoint into something clearly offensive. It clearly doesn’t matter what you actually say.

The use of this kind of rhetoric seem to build upon the incorrect assumption that democracy is the default state, and that you can use this to enforce an us vs them so that it’s easier to fight a social justice war. Let’s hope the left doesn’t create an authoritarian state by systematically acting using authoritarian means.


This is not a constructive response, it appears to be a rant. I have no interest in continuing this discussion if you're responses will be unrelated to the content of my posts and instead be emotionally charged complaints that I'm treating you unfairly.


I think we both share that feeling. Best of luck working for what you believe in. I think we’ll work for different things. :)


To be clear: your first post described "Affirmative Action" as "bigotry, sexism, and racism". As I explained in my longer post, I was applying a similar description to your proposal.

If you're going to characterize "affirmative action" with such charged terms as "racism" "sexism" and "bigotry", do you at least see the irony in complaining when I do the same?

I'm willing to agree that your proposal is not intended to be segregation, are you willing to agree that affirmative action is not racist or sexist?


Nice play with the word intended. I can agree that affirmative action is not intended to be racist or sexist. It’s a tool, with positive and negative consequences. I am not saying it’s a tool that we should not use.

Unfortunately the number of Hispanic and African Americans in tech decreased between 2007 and 2015 while gender balance improved which is part of the reason why I think we need to look into other tools as well.

I think it’s worth asking oneself if our current tools are not inclusive to different viewpoints, and just filter for people that are similar to the ones already there and happen to check the right boxes.

Would someone that dresses, talks, and walks like they come from east Oakland be hired even if they were a capable engineer or have we not made ourself inclusive to that?


> It also appears that you're downvoting my comments, since all of my comments deep in threads responding to you are at 0, and most of my others in these threads are positive. If that's not the case, do let me know, but it makes me uninterested in continuing this discussion with you.

No, I actually do not have enough karma to downvote and even if I did I do not believe a participant in a discourse has the right to do that. It would be counterproductive for me to do so.


Alright. I meant no offense and was hoping this was the case, it just looked suspicious. :)


>Again, you mischaracterize what I said:

You have not explained how this is a mischaracterization. Your proposal was to place minorities into solely majority-minority teams, my claim is that this is a form of segregation. Which of those two claims is a mischaracterizaiton?

The rest of this post is just distraction that appears to claim that this is morally good segregation, or scientifically supported segregation, but its still segregation.


There is also general disagreement whether we build a system that dishes out equal opportunity regardless of outcome or wether we tweak inputs (opportunity) to achieve equal outcome.

Relating AA to carbon tax misses some nuance. Namely, we agree discrimination against fossil fuel is okay because burning too much of it is bad for everyone. Presumably you'd be okay (logically) taxing schools and businesses that have too many whites. But the message is very different. You have to show too many whites is bad for everyone and not simply a product of a more successful culture (for example).


>Presumably you'd be okay (logically) taxing schools and businesses that have too many whites.

No, I think this is a slight misinterpretation. I personally don't support quotas. On the other hand, I might be in favor of a credit to schools that give a bonus to minority students who apply, but I think that that's a more palatable result in general.

Note that under that equation, you're no longer enforcing equality of outcome, but instead controlling for unequal opportunity.


If you have a car that pulls to the right, you can compensate for this by steering to the left.

If the car is in fact travelling straight down the road while you're doing this, and a backseat driver says "you're pulling to the left, that's not a safe way to drive", are they correct?


If you have a car that pulls to the right, do you keep chopping parts off of the right side to make up for it?


Yes, that is not a very safe way to drive.


Cars pull to the right by design, but assuming they didn't, shouldn't you get the tracking adjusted?


Your worldview is pretty narrow, then. What you see as lack of desire for enacting social policy aimed at "fixing" implicit biases we see as acknowledging that in a truely diverse society we must tolerate and and navigate the inevitable biases at an individual human level and each one in a uniquely intimate way. In other words, in the US at least, you can't solve higher order human problems with government policy. You can't do it because the government is not what tells you to be nice to your neighbor or to treat Suzy the same as Jimmy, or not to make fun of La-a's name. It explicitly does not dictate one religious/moral paradigm over another.

I feel like I'm not being very clear. Here's the reality: the world isn't fair. Let that sink in for a little bit because it's pretty sobering.

The world is not fair.

This is the resting state of the world. Why though? Why is the world not fair? That's a pretty dumb thing to say when our constitution demands all humans are created equal.

We are /created/ equal. We do not die equal. Not in the sense of how we lived our lives. To die equal means we all lead pretty boring lives. We all got good institutually respected jobs. We all suffered the same and we all experienced the same joys in exactly the same amounts and in exactly the same ways. We all liked the same things and given the same set of opportunities made the same choices. It is not human. It is machine.

"Welcome to the jungle. We've got fun and games."

Snap back to reality—what is institutional racism? Well it's defined as a discrepancy between desired and empirical outcomes, but only if that discrepancy negatively impacts a minority group. How can we possibly control for a perfect society when we can't even formulate a consistent definition of the issue let alone agree on a desired outcome? We have literally defined our society as racist and so as long we have diversity and inequality, racist we will be: oh there goes gravity.

On the right we are more optimistic. We believe in giving everyone a fair foundation. We want the rules applied equally to all. We care less what crazy interesting, happy, sad, angry stories get told along the way so long as they are told bay all. And that is life.

To answer your question: yes. Treat both the same. I very strongly disagree with punishing future generations for the transgressions of their ancestors. The correct response is to punish the people who acted intolerably and reset the playing field.

It's fruitless and silly to pick and choose who does and does not deserve empathy. And it just makes people angry when they don't get their perceived share. Empathy is a framework for understanding the paths others have taken, understanding their plight. It's not a finite resource we must regulate and dish out with politics.

This essay is a plea for people to stop treating an industry like it's their social battleground demanding universal empirical equality in a way that destroys its ability to be logical, meritocratic, and empathetic towards people on the spectrum.

Unfortunately, that is the consequence of affirmative action. And even though I suspect you will continue to advocate for it, at least take this opportunity to try and have a little empathy yourself. People who disagree with affirmative action don't do so because they lack empathy. They do so because they do not wish to ration empathy and they feel the lick of discrimination such a mindset breeds.


The main thing that turned me against the modern left is the insistence on categorizing everyone into identity groups, and then treating their individuality as less important than the groups they represent.

For example, every argument that any person has more or less of a right to speak on a given topic because of their identity markers also implicitly states that their identity markers are more important than their individuality.

This goes as much when it's saying whites shouldn't talk about racism, as it goes when saying women should talk about sexism, or should always be believed when making sex crime accusations against men, and so on.

It's strange to me that you and I started in the same pro-individuality place and ended up, apparently, on opposite sides of the political aisle.


At the risk of doing "no-true Scotsman", that isn't my reading of the left. The left I know dumped both Al Franken, a liberal, and Lena Dunham, a "pop feminist"[0]. The left I listen to also speaks regularly against people like Ben Carson, it's not like just because someone is in an identity group they are automatically believed/revered, their point of view/character/deeds are taken before their group.

For "whites shouldn't talk about racism", I think that is sort of a mischaracterization of what people say. People should realize that they cannot fully appreciate things outside of their experience. That's a logical thing, not a leftist thing.

[0] Not sure how else to describe her.


This is of course what the right has been doing for a very long time; do you think the intent behind the "Muslim ban" was based on treating people as individuals, or as members of a group?


"Muslim ban" was a term of the left. It was a country-based ban that didn't target most of the majority-Muslim countries. It was treating people as members of a group, but it was grouping by citizen.


"The hard work of well intentioned people" has caused plenty of grief throughout the ages. Considering criticism off limits because it's not nice is exactly the kind of feels-first thinking that spergs abhor and which has no place in an environment where results must be delivered.

It also opens the door to creating drama because of the tone of the criticism, thus missing the original point (or deliberately deflecting from it). If you've worked under people for whom this is second nature, you know how destructive and poisonous this can be. "Please give me feedback" is code for "Flatter me", and not doing so results in "How dare you" indignation.

I don't think it's a coincidence that tech is one of the fields where this posturing found loud and well argued push back early, and no coincidence that high school mean girl tactics were the response.

If a memo is sufficient to cause one to feel unsafe, then being fired and slandered in media ought to be much worse. That's the empathy gap in action. People assume the problems that are talked about the most are the most important, not realizing those that are passed over can never be addressed in the first place.


"spergs"?


> Acknowledging that women are 'vulnerable or marginalised' shouldn't remove their individuality, you can easily have both, but that's beside my point here)

I don't think you can easily have both, and this problem underlies much contemporary political conflict. At its core is a pervasive hypocrisy: people readily engage in broad, often negative, stereotyping about groups they oppose, or are not a member of, while aggressively resisting and resenting any attempt to stereotype about their own group, or groups they favour.

So, in the aftermath of a terrorist attack, some people will make broad statements about Muslims, and the need for collective action within Islam to address religiously motivated violence. Others will reject this, and say Muslims in general cannot be held responsible for the behaviour of a minority of extremists.

Then, in the aftermath of a sexual harassment scandal, some people will make broad statements about men, and the need for collective action by men as a gender to address sexual harassment and sexual violence. Others will reject this, and say men in general cannot be held responsible for the behaviour of a minority of harassers.

Oftentimes, the same people will be on the complete opposite sides of each debate. And they will unthinkingly employ language and rhetorical tactics in one that they would utterly reject in the other. This behavior can be seen in almost all discussions across or about political affiliation, race, religion, gender, sexuality, and just about any other cleavage you can think of.

This is the real empathy gap. People reflexively respond to any criticism of their own groups with hostility, while attacking others without restraint, and dismissing hostility from members of that group as an overreaction. They recognise a degree of individuality and diversity within their own favored groups that they simply can't or won't recognise in others. They use tactics against their enemies that infuriate them when used against themselves. In some cases, they may recognise that those tactics are wrong in specific cases, and even in the abstract, but defend their use by themselves or their allies with excuses based on cambatting political correctness or appeals to historical victimhood.

Making all of this worse is that statistical thinking about groups is a necessary of component of any mature political debate. Certain traits or behaviors often are more prevalent within some groups, for a variety of reasons, and being able to recognise and talk about this is basic prerequisite for any attempt to address social and political problems.

In theory, people should have no problem recognising statistical differences in a group, while also recognising and respecting the inherent right and diversity of individuals within that group. In theory, people should be able to hear comment, even criticism, about their own groups, and judge it purely on its statistical reality, without feeling that it is a personal slight upon them. But in practice, this doesn't happen.

Besides the reflexivite hostility discussed, statistical thinking often does give way to blind stereotyping amongst outside observers, and this stereotyping gives rise to discrimination. Causal factors are ignored, or distorted, and adaptive traits are portrayed and inherent, and vice versa. Instead of helping to inform rational debate, this discrimination entrenches and exacerbates division. Soon, any statistical thinking about a group that carries an implied or perceived criticism becomes tantamount to discrimination, and groups become hypersensitive to it.

All of this is probably just an inherent flaw in human cognition, and likely unfixable, without some kind of attempt at species-wide genetic engineering that completely reconfigures our co-operative behavior.


Excellent summary of the core issue. Though I think there should be room for some nature vs. nurture debate. Exclusively attributing this behaviour to our genes seems a bit like the "lazy excuse" to me. I don't see why properly educating ourselves could not lead to a population with improved inter-group empathy (or both, i.e., trigger that evolution at the generic level, too). But yes, maybe changing our educational system is as hard as finding a genetic engineering-based solution...


I agree with you and the grandparent partly, but if you take an intersectional view of diversity issues, solving diversity and (as you put it) increasing inter-group empathy are effectively one in the same. For me, the constant rearing of this connection (societal scale problems being solved in tandem by solving other societal scale problems) is what convinces me that ideas of intersectionality are real, but sadly leads to the conclusion that yes, the problems are extremely difficult and operate on generational scales.


The upside here being that societal evolution seems to be accelerating, just as nearly everything else.


It's equally as lazy to exclusively attribute behavior to social construct. Yet this is now the status quo: blank slate theory, where any public figure would be excoriated for suggesting that genes may be a factor in the difference in representation anywhere.


Didn't get that at all from their comment that there isn't room for nature vs. nuture, because they just mentioned statistics. Statistically significant variations between groups are not all due to nature. For example, it is a generally supported fact that differences in IQ are due to environment more than innate differences. Of course, it plays into it, but what one observes in life of course is a norm a vector across a huge dimensional space.


Nate Silver has written a lot on his blog recently about how difficult it is to get people to think statistically. As an example, when he predicted Trump had a 30% chance of winning people complained that he was wrong because he had said Hillary would win and she hand't. Likewise, I fear that if you tell people that Group A is 20% more likely to X than group B what will be remembered is that A's do X but Bs don't.


> All of this is probably just an inherent flaw in human cognition, and likely unfixable, without some kind of attempt at species-wide genetic engineering that completely reconfigures our co-operative behavior.

The rationality community would argue that this is solvable through education, perhaps even that it is a symptom of poor education.


This exists in all human interactions. A simple example, take this political posturing: "This bill is too complicated; we haven't had time to read it. This is too important to be rushed."

Reference to health care or tax reform?

It's hard not to conclude that everyone is a hypocrite.


It's a lot easier when you look at the actual differences in the two examples. Could you give me the timeline of the two bills?


"people readily engage in broad, often negative, stereotyping about groups they oppose"

Ahh...DYSWYDT?


The only problem I have is people often say this as if "both sides do it" while that neglects the reality of the intensity of depth of hypocrisy you point out on either side. There isn't a symmetry here between the bigotry of the right and the intolerance of the left, and I get very suspicious of people who make a false symmetry argument.


Well then, what does this imbalance look like to you? I suspect it looks different to me (rhetorical statement I have no idea which side you're on). I too feel like we miss some interesting subtlety by claiming both sides do it equally. But really how can we make any progress socially/politically unless we get over it and both agree it happens on both sides? We're never going to find an objective answer "to who does it worst". Let's just stop doing it...


The New York times had an interesting take on this in [1]. It argues that what we are seeing now is a resurgence of a victorian view of women as fragile beings that need to be sheltered from any possible harmful situation. This is bullshit; women are as capable as a man of saying no and tactfully pointing out when something emotionally difficult is happening.

I think the problem is that we have gone from rightly taking down the Weinsteins, a predator which is why its shocking (normal no's don't work on people like him as he seem to get off on ignoring them), to trying to regulate away the awkward encounters and misinterpretations that is the natural occasional byproduct of the situations that makes life interesting.

In my experience it's the 1:1s with mentors and colleagues that is the most interesting, and a victorian worldview is telling us that we can't do those anymore if the mentor is a man while the mentee is a woman and that will rob women of equal learning opportunities. Because why take the risk if any accusation can't be defended against and results in blacklisting from your industry, even if the mentee says the accusation is bullshit?

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/28/opinion/metoo-sexual-hara...


Two things to note:

Saying that this is from the nyt is misleading. It's an option piece and I doubt it's endorsed.

Second, that article appears to be attacking a strawman. Few, if any, if the feminists I communicate with believe that "believe all women" is an absolute insofar as there should be no further investigation.

It came about because historically, society didn't trust but verify, it ignored and threw under the rug. Believe women was a reaction to "but are you sure you weren't asking for it" and "but you don't remember, so how do you know you didn't consent". It was a call to trust but verify. People who say otherwise are either missing important context, or are pushing a false narrative.


I agree with you that attributing this view to a whole group is likely to be neither accurate nor particularly interesting. Plenty of feminists and others seem to be waking up to the conclusions made by this piece.

As much as I believe you that most people furthering this view had the best intentions, that does not stop us from critically inspecting if this idea is a good one when applied in real life. In practice this has turned into what the article describe, and I believe any claim to the otherwise is at this point only of rhetorical interest. Are you claiming otherwise, and if so how do you explain the mob-like behavior with no due process?


I reject the claim that "believe women" has turned into what the article describes, except in alarmist circles. The reactions to different accusers I think sides with me on that. Consider Weinstein vs. Franken. Reactions we're very different, in part due to the political nature, but also because the Franken accusations are less extensive than the Weinstein ones. Alarmism like that article misses the context that Franken chose to step down, prematurely in the eyes of many, whereas Weinstein has denied and fought this. Had Franken reacted like Weinstein, he'd still be in the senate and likely free of any major repercussions.

What mob like behavior and what lack of due process? Do you mean that people are seeing legal repercussions without due process? Or that private entities are choosing to disassociate from people without due process? In the second case, what standard of due process is necessary?

Are you suggesting it is morally wrong for me to disassociate from someone if I witness them committing a heinous act, because due process has not completed? If not, at what level of certainty is it morally acceptable for me to disassociate from them?


Are you asking for examples of the mob-like behavior? And lack of due process? Here are some:

-Duke Lacrosse, Rolling Stone, Columbia-guy,...

In the Lacrosse case there were legal repercussions in terms of the behavior of the prosecutor AND private entities ie. Gang of 88 issuing that infamous letter. Similarly in the Rolling Stone and Columbia cases.

False witch hunts like these are indeed relatively uncommon..but they do exist and are they definitely are a function of 'believe women.' Perhaps these are unavoidable consequences of a generally good policy..but it would be foolish to ignore discussion of them entirely.

Side note: Franken was clearly pressured out by the democractic party...I doubt very much he would be free of major repercussions if he had ignored that pressure. I think he was going to be ostracized by his caucus and he saw the writing on the wall. Once those senators published that letter...he was done.

I don't think anyone is suggesting it is morally wrong to disassociate from people whom you reasonably believe to have committed heinous crimes. In the words of Edward R Murrow responding to ongoing McCarthyism "We must remember always that accusation is not proof and conviction depends on due process of law." In practice, this simply becomes be cautious with leaping to judgement and exercise some common logic in weighing the credibility of accusations...like the fantastic reporters at the Washington Post did during the Roy Moore expose.


All three of those examples significantly predate the metoo movement, and I'd argue that none lacked due process:

- Lacrosse, due process was followed, but the prosecutor acted in bad faith.

- Rolling stone: The police investigation cleared them, there were no charges or anything, the story was considered a hoax/fake/discredited ~2 weeks after it was released.

- Columbia mattress guy: Found not responsible by the university.

I think I can agree that there was mob like behavior in those cases, maybe, but I don't see a lack of due process.

> Franken was clearly pressured out by the democractic party.

Yes, I think its a bit more confusing because of the Moore election at the same time, ie. the pressure may have been in part manufactured to prevent cries from republicans about hypocrisy from the democratic party, but that's a lot of conjecture. In any case, I think its pretty much unanimous that Franken's actions are less heinous than Weinstein/Moore, or at least the things that are considered credible.

>like the fantastic reporters at the Washington Post did during the Roy Moore expose.

Indeed, but there's a significant group of people that appear to think that that expose wasn't due process, and that anything that doesn't pass through the legal system is by definition not due process (and this is what I object to). It appears that GGP is someone who holds that opinion, but they avoided directly answering that question.


reading more of your comments I disagree with very little of what you said


edit: sorry if I wrote too much. I guess I got excited.

Sure they predate #metoo but they are part of the same laudable impulse: to hold sexual predators accountable-often in the court of public opinion. I fail to see why you would make a dichotomy between them and this moment. Maybe this one is larger?

Before we continue: I am not lawyer and I am going to refer to due process roughly as "When a government harms a person without following the exact course of the law, this constitutes a due process violation, which offends the rule of law." (wikipedia for due process)

Perhaps we should smear the meaning of due process a little bit for this discussion. I do not want to be too legalistic. Could we not expand our discussion to include due process on the part of media? I.e. skepticism, verification, basically making sure stories are well sourced and are as true as is possible given reasonable constraints. In short, good, professional journalism in the sense of Woodward and Bernstein.

Now onto the core of your comment. You are mincing your words very very finely. Due process was 100% violated in each of these cases.

Lacrosse-The prosecutor was DISBARRED and JAILED (briefly). Crystal Mangum LIED. MIKE NIFONG LIED. Just because justice won out in the end doesn't mean there were not significant due process violations during the case. Maybe lying isn't a violation of due process in the strict legal sense. But it sure as hell is a miscarriage of justice and that should be very frightening.

Those falsely accused still experienced real and lasting damages including being harassed verbally on campus by protestors, being shamed by faculty members. The press leapt to judgement and turned a bunch of rich, privileged, smart(?), white boys into monsters.

To me this case is incredibly concerning-because if rich white male lacrosse players can be falsely accused and have their lives turned upside down and possibly destroyed...what chance do the less fortunate members of american society have? how many poor black men, innocent of any crime, are rotting in overcrowded prisons? How many innocents are on death row? I think we have a duty to be cautious...I would rather we let some guilty escape than we punish innocents. I don't know where I would draw the line in terms of numbers.

Fun fact: one of the duke lacrosse guys now works for the innocence project.

-Rolling Stone: There are people who still believe that story...

-Columbia mattress guy- and no ONE cares. people still talk about that accuser as doing a profound service to the moral ethos of the republic. That guy's reputation was shattered. He had his education interrupted and experienced real damages.

Franken: Yeah.

Re: your last part. This could be partially my fault for conflating due process in a legal sense and due diligence and good journalistic practices a la Washington Post. I agree- those people exist and they need to be convinced otherwise.

Look- I just posted in another comment thread advocating for and supporting the fact that in the American press people have substantial freedom to make accusations and shame malefactors. It is essential to safeguarding our liberties. I treasure that right. However, that right imposes on us, as citizens and readers, certain responsibilities to ensure we do not falsely accuse and shame the innocent. I think that duty is simply to be restrained and be calm and reserve our strongest opprobrium until we have a reasonable degree of certainty. If you are ever accused of a significant crime or misdeed (in court or in the press) I am sure you would hope that you yourself be extended that same privilege.

Honestly do we really have any point of argument? I mean come on- do you really think duke-lacrosse didn't have due process issues? If so we need to talk more about the facts of the case.

Here is my tldr: false accusations are real, they do happen, and so I think it behooves the public to weigh the strength of an accusation and ponder the merits of each individual case before looking for witches to burn. Alternatively, sexual abuse/harassment are a real problem and I think all of us, men,women,non/binary, children, should be introspective about how our own actions can make things worse for victims and easier for predators. Most people accused of crimes are guilty.

Similarly, when we let false accusations stand we empower those lunatics who really and truly do believe that every accuser of roy moore is a paid liberal shill and that women should be returned to a state of powerlessness and legal bondage. This is not an academic point-I go on the /r/The_Donald to see what they are like and people there really and truly believe that.

edit2: I didn't really talk in detail about lacrosse/mattress but they had problems.


To the majority of your comment, I agree. However, one thing that I want to note, and this is a bit of semantics, but I think very important here:

>Due process was 100% violated in each of these cases.

Your reasoning that due process was violated is that the accused (and the prosecutor) both lied. I'll point out that the reason we have due process in the US is in part to defend against false accusations. As a result, I think that the series of events false accusation -> investigation and case -> acquittal is the opposite of a failure of due process, its a shining success.

This extends to the Roy Moore/project veritas example too, but replace "due process" with "journalistic integrity", and remove the sort abuse of power overtones that make due process that much more important.


Ah an interesting point about due process. I buy that.

Yes journalist integrity is a good term that I feel captures the scope of what we would like to discuss.

Side note watching the project veritas videos is so heartwarming. It really makes you believe in democracy and truth again. Seeing good fact-checking...glorious


Some prominent examples of the lack of due process and mob-like behavior below, and this is just the top of the iceberg.

Edit: My exact point is that in these cases it seems like the employer in question announced that they believed the accuser before looking into both sides and the evidence.

As a disclaimer I don’t know the truth of Smiley’s or Lizza’s cases; I don’t have enough detail to form an opinion. And yet, that in itself seems disturbing. It seems safe to say that few of these men will ever work in journalism again; there is a blacklist, and unless they can conclusively clear themselves, most of their names are on it.

## Lizza in the New Yorker

After what appears to have been a fairly brief investigation, it announced that Lizza was a sexual abuser, but left the rest of us to guess at what sort of abuse might be involved. Lizza, meanwhile, says: “The New Yorker has decided to characterize a respectful relationship with a woman I dated as somehow inappropriate. The New Yorker was unable to cite any company policy that was violated. … This decision, which was made hastily and without a full investigation of the relevant facts, was a terrible mistake”.

## Tavis Smiley of PBS reports a similar experience:

Quote from Tavis: "PBS launched a so-called investigation of me without ever informing me. … Only after being threatened with a lawsuit, did PBS investigators reluctantly agree to interview me for three hours.

If having a consensual relationship with a colleague years ago is the stuff that leads to this kind of public humiliation and personal destruction, heaven help us. The PBS investigators refused to review any of my personal documentation, refused to provide me the names of any accusers, refused to speak to my current staff, and refused to provide me any semblance of due process to defend myself against allegations from unknown sources. Their mind was made up. Almost immediately following the meeting, this story broke in Variety as an “exclusive.” Indeed, I learned more about these allegations reading the Variety story than the PBS investigator shared with me, the accused, in our 3 hour face to face meeting."

## The times star political reporter Glenn Thrush

At the times star political reporter Glenn Thrush is under investigation. Thrush apparently is accused of hitting on younger women who work in his industry, and occasionally at his outlet, though he had no managerial power over them.

Megan McArdle had a couple of opinion pieces that also explain this better than I can here in [1] and [2].

[1] https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-12-15/consider-... [2] https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-12-18/the-curre...


You didn't address my questions. You've given some instances where you don't believe you have enough information to draw a conclusion, but where you also admit you don't have all the information that the employer did. Is your claim that PBS, the New Yorker and the NYT did not investigate?

In other words, why is your reaction to take Lizza or Smiley at their word when they say that their employer is lying, but not take the employer at its word when it claims that Lizza and Smiley do something that is objectionable? As far as I can tell, you have an action by an employer and a statement by an employee, and are claiming from that that the employer didn't have enough information to act. How can you know that?


My exact point is that in these cases it seems like the employer in question announced that they believed the accuser before looking into both sides and the evidence. How do you think this does not illustrate that?

How is one supposed to come back from your employer making these kind of statements while you are being investigated?

## Edit: @joshuamorton Can't reply to your comment below so doing it here.

Honest question: We have three threads here where we engage in discourse, and I want to ask you a question from my experience of it. If you have already made up your mind and are not willing to engage with any evidence that shows that you might be wrong, why do you engage in discourse at all?

I see this pattern all over social media and to me it just seems like identity grand standing and a declaration that you believe in the dogma of that identity. Neither helps facilitate a productive discourse.


>How do you think this does not illustrate that?

Your evidence for this is solely a statement from the "accused". I'm not saying that they're lying, but that it is in their best interest to say the exact same thing no matter what the truth is. In other words, without any additional context, a person saying "this negative thing is a lie" is exactly what you'd expect them to say, whether or not it was actually a lie.

So no, if the only evidence for the employer not "looking into both sides and the evidence" is that the person who got fired claimed that, I don't find that alone at all a reliable claim in the absence of any corroboration.


Replying to your edit:

>If you have already made up your mind and are not willing to engage with any evidence that shows that you might be wrong, why do you engage in discourse at all?

This is a strong assumption, and one that is untrue. Just because I find your arguments uncompelling does not mean that I find all arguments uncompelling. I've handed out more than a few deltas on /r/changemyview, so I'm not saying this without some basis in reality.

It appears that you're making a veiled claim that I'm virtue signalling, and I object to that accusation.


> Just because I find your arguments uncompelling does not mean that I find all arguments uncompelling.

If when asking for proof of where employers declared that they believed the women before inspecting all evidence and hearing both sides some very prominent examples of that does not convince you, then I do not know what will.

> It appears that you're making a veiled claim that I'm virtue signalling, and I object to that accusation.

I am pretty straightforward and made that direct claim as I feel like I wasted my time, and I tried to understand where you come from or provoke you to think about it.

I rarely go to this step and I am not sure calling you out is the best course of action, but due to the denial of this direct evidence as well as other experiences in these threads I feel like this is justified and I think this kind of discourse deserve a rebuttal for what it is. I know no other way to call out these rhetorical tricks than brutal honesty. I might be wrong, I am not in your head.


>employers declared that they believed the women before inspecting all evidence

No, you gave examples of employees claiming that about their employers. In a discussion that started with you claiming we shouldn't treat accusations as facts, I would have expected that you could tell the difference.


I suspect there might be a middle ground between the libertarian/individualist "people are competent, rational agents and you're on your own" and treating people as children.

We might, for example, recognize that many people, even competent adults, can be quite bad at dealing with awkward or hostile social situations, and can use help.


I don't think you can have it both ways. You can't teach your kid to walk without risking that they occasionally fall and hurt themselves, and as we grow further these kind of small falls is a natural byproduct of taking risks that leads to growth.

It really sucks when your kid runs in front of a car, but thankfully that is quite rare and there are some simple heuristics that seems to ameliorate most such potential situation.


Okay, so how do you decide whether to have hire school crossing guards or not? Or to put in a stop sign or not? Or to require seatbelts?

We can and do make decisions as a society to change the environment we live in for the better. You can't eliminate all risk and not every proposed solution is going to make sense, but that doesn't mean you just say "hey, they're adults" and shrug.


[flagged]


My personal anecdotal experience is that people that say they are social justice warriors, including my cousin, tend to not engage well in the conversations that facilitates equality by building mutual empathy. It is very hard to meet the person in front of you for whom they express themselves to be when you already made up your mind on who they are before they opened their mouth.

Don't get me wrong, I donate the the ACLU to protect the speech of the social justice warriors of the world and any other exclusive world-view. However, it is important that we protect ourselves from being limited to these exclusive world-views and refuse that they limit us from exploring possible different solutions. Protecting our democracy is messy and hard.


> tend to not engage well in the conversations that facilitates equality by building mutual empathy.

I think you hit the right spot right there. I always baffled me how little empathy hardcore leftist display for other people experience


I think its more about the balkanization of American discourse rather than any particular group doing this on their own. There is an excellent comment by @stupidcar outlining this as part of this thread. Its worth a read.


Would you please not post ideological flamebait?

If you have a substantive point to make, make it thoughtfully; if you don't, please don't comment until you do.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16092277 is fine, this is not.


> I think labeling or delineating women as 'vulnerable or marginalised' and ignoring their unique qualities and idiosyncrasies is robbing Peter to pay Paul. Acknowledging that women are 'vulnerable or marginalised' shouldn't remove their individuality, you can easily have both

I'm not at all sure about the "easily" part there. Humans cognition seems to be very prone to substituting stereotypes in place of individuals with unique attributes.

While I personally agree with your point, the popular media seems to be incapable of making arguments that require holding two separate opposing concepts in tension with each other. The mainstream media monologues on these issues are usually simplified to a childish level.


> This article is going to rub lots of people the wrong way, I suspect, but it's level headed, well reasoned and well written.

I get that this is natural reaction, but don't assume that people who disagree with something do so because it offends them. I didn't like the article because I don't find it very insightful. I think it generalizes too much and takes things at face value.


Not particular to the Google stuff, but more of a general observation:

I am very much in favor of ripping the hard work of well-intentioned people to sheds, if it deserved to be ripped to shreds, like e.g. the fine "make proper God-fearing Christians of all those dark-skinned heathens" (the missionaries were/still are quite often well-intentioned and hard-working).

Now, some of the stuff that is done, well-intentioned, in the tech industry to promote diversity and/or make the workplace a friendlier space for women and other groups may end up achieving opposite results, driving co-workers apart and making the work environment more toxic for everybody.

Therefore, we must be able to discuss and criticize any and all such programs, and therefore the hard work somebody put into them, and stop such programs if we determine a detrimental outcome.

Like in science: you prod and poke and even try to shred-rip a theory (somebody put a lot of effort into), and if that theory withstands it probably is solid and sound.


I agree with you broadly, but I think there are a few nuances here that make all of the difference.

The first is that I feel that text is an AWFUL medium for communication for these sorts of discussions and criticisms, unless expertly crafted (as this article was, I feel). Numerous times I've had arguments with friends via text that get out of hand because of subtle misinterpretations of intent and phrasing, where as in person they're much more civilised. You can draw a few conclusions here: either we suck at communicating via text and need to get a lot better, or discussions of this nature are better had face to face, where intent and nuance of expression are easier (for many) to judge. What feels like normal discourse and 'clinical' (for lack of a better word) discussion to you may not feel the same way to others, simply because short-form text is an imperfect medium.

The other point of contention I have is that it's fine to treat diversity programs with scientific rigour, but you also need to allow for the proper timescales in which to study the effects. If you subscribe to an intersectional feminist viewpoint, then it stands to reason that you need to observe the success or failure of such diversity programs over a generational timescale in order to assess their efficacy. Change on that scale simply isn't going to be visible over a one or two year period before you decide the diversity program doesn't work and you axe it.


So, I took a few goes to write this. It isn't my money and I certainly support companies being able to run or not run their own speculative diversity programs as they want.

That being said, corporations and/or the business world aren't really the appropriate place for social experiments that take a generation to take effect. They are an excellent tool for taking scarce resources and divvying them up short term with value added.

There seems something very questionable about the idea a corporation embarking on a generational experiment to bring about social change if they have no evidence on it's efficacy. I'd probably call that small-scale political action funded by other people's money if I saw it in a public corporation, and would much prefer to see less of it. I'm a fan of evidence-based management.

I mean, the gender ratio's in tech are pretty lopsided; and we have enough stories to know there is outrageous behavior afoot. Surely there are some low hanging wins that can be hit a bit more quickly than 20 years out.


One of the points in the essay was that statistically the tech industry is not the worst or even any worse than other industries in the harassment/sexism department. The difference (I'm interpreting/paraphrasing slightly here) is that the tech industry is high-paying and idealistic (for many) so it receives more intense scrutiny. E.g. there is a gender imbalance in nursing but you don't have The Atlantic posing smear-ish articles about the industry and groups of males storming the nets with social pitch forks.

I agree with you: our economic system is not the appropriate spot for social reform. Our economic system in America is capitalism. Maybe when I was younger–but I no longer have any expectation that a business will perform any altruistic act that does not align with its business model unless it's a PR stunt or the program is budgeted as employee quality of life (so it is effectively diced as employee comp).

I'm honestly curious what your idea of some low-hanging wins that make sense for a capitalist business to explore would be. Care to elaborate?


> Because contemporary moral codes delineate women as vulnerable or marginalised

Back in the day when social/legal barriers were removed for women, general expectation was that women would rise to the top in wide variety of fields. But that hasn't really materialized(eg: only a handful of noble prizes), despite decades of preferential treatment, despite women being educated in number much higher than men.

So obvious conclusions to draw would be either 1. Admit the mistake in the feminist theory ( One is not born but becomes a woman). 2. There must be something else.

Only obvious answer is option 2 and the failure obviously should still be borne by the other party.

I remember reading a shocking line in nytimes article, something to the effect of

"I still believe in humanity of men, despite evidence to the contrary"

Basically distills the current attitude, womens' failure is mens' failure to be human. There is calls for all men to come forward and publicly admit this shame[1], maybe convince society that men are human too.

1. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/19/opinion/metoo-sexual-hara...


The trouble I have with this quite common argument is that it is A) beside the point and B) childish. Just because men are treated badly often and that women display bad behavior often, the point here is a pretty specific type of treatment by men toward women that is unarguably bad behavior. The mature position stays focused on that because that is the priority right now, because it is severe and we are being asked to look at it.


How is it 'beside the point', I was specifically adressing the comment in GP

> delineate women as vulnerable or marginalised

If we don't do that then wouldn't the obvious question be "why have women accomplished so little compared to men?".

You comment perfectly illustrates that point

> the point here is a pretty specific type of treatment by men toward women that is unarguably bad behavior.

You are saying "women as vulnerable or marginalised" when GP comment is saying we shouldn't do that. I was logically explaining why its not possible to do that.

Also, quite rude of you to call me immature and childish and implying that I am condoning 'unarguably bad behavior'.


> "why have women accomplished so little compared to men?"

You seem to assume that is the case, but maybe the answer is that you do not value or notice the accomplishments of women? The Nobel prizes honor one very specific kind of achievement, one that many (not all) women do not particularly strive for. You don't tend to get a Nobel as a pediatrician, but society needs pediatricians anyway.

The gender wage gap is mostly due to jobs dominated by women paying less on average, i.e. women are putting up with smaller rewards and less recognition. You can see this as a vulnerability (since it enables exploitation) or as commendable altruism.


Let's also not forget the huge amount of work women do successfully for our society that is unrewarded and unpaid.


> The Nobel prizes honor one very specific kind of achievement, one that many (not all) women do not particularly strive for.

This is gender essentialism, to be believe that women have some specific type of preferences that men don't. This particular pernicious form of misogyny much much more harmful than overt sexism.


Would you please not take HN threads on generic ideological tangents? Nothing new can ever come of them, and they reliably degrade discussion into name-calling, complaints, and ever more generic statements. As demonstrated below.


ok noted, I understand what you mean. Will keep in that in mind in future. I can't delete my posts now, pls delete/detach if possible.


>[...]despite decades of preferential treatment, despite women being educated in number much higher than men.

Decades isn't that long a time to overturn social structures that have existed for centuries.


> 1. Admit the mistake in the feminist theory ( One is not born but becomes a woman).

Feminists never made this mistake. It's literally the premise of one of the canonical Feminist texts:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Second_Sex#Volume_Two


Yea I was quoting Simone DB, but I am not quite sure what you are trying to say.


How could you have been quoting Simone de Beauvoir and then positing that her supposition is a "mistake" made by Feminists? Seems paradoxical on its face?


>Gideon tells me that in his experience there are many autistic traits that don’t fit at all with our cultural conception of masculinity. Hypersensitivity to sensory stimulation is one of them, as is the tendency for those with autism to develop anxiety and depression—conditions that in the general population are higher in women than in men—the predilection of autistic people to prefer consistency and predictability also contrasts with the masculine trait of risk-taking.

This is unsurprising, considering autistic males tend to display slightly feminized neurological structure and behavioral traits compared to control males.

http://bjp.rcpsych.org/content/201/2/116.full

http://www.jaacap.com/article/S0890-8567(14)00725-4/pdf

Likely relatedly, the incidence of gender coherence issues (up to full gender dysphoria) are over 7 times more prevalent in the autistic community than the general population.

https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2016/11/the-link-...


Does anyone feel anti-social after a full day of programming? I always suspected that programming can temporarily reduce empathy at the end of the day. I don't have asperger's but I often feel a lot closer to that after a really intense day of speaking a machine's language.


Oh boy, absolutely. Glad to hear that someone else has this experience too. It's like the social part of my brain is drained for blood and energy, and it usually takes an hour or more after having stopped working until things return to "normal".

Say when I'm out traveling or doing some other activity that involves talking to people for most of the day. Conversation flows naturally and I feel at ease interacting with different people about anything really.

This has of course gotten better with regular practice and being aware, but rare times I still feel it is an effort to even produce a coherent sentence in my second language (English) after a really intense day of developing. People notice that I'm acting absent-minded too which is the worst part, but like I said, practice and awareness has generally made it better.


I think people who experience this should look at their development practices. Especially if you don't have a clear goal with what you are doing, you find that you don't have the time to do things properly (like reading code or documentation) or you are changing direction frequently. Chances are you are experiencing a lot of stress, which is one of the "best" ways to make people lose interest in other things.


I don't lose empathy, but I lose the ability to understand or speak English. If someone interrupts me when I am in deep in the groove I can tell someone is talking to me, but I can't understand what they are saying and I can't reply. It takes me around 5 to 10 seconds to context switch back into English.

Amusingly my wife assumes that I am deliberately ignoring her when she interrupts me and storms off in a huff half the time. My staff and students have just learnt that you have to say my name and wait a bit before speaking.


> my wife assumes that I am deliberately ignoring her when she interrupts me and storms off in a huff half the time

If you are interested in tools to reduce this sort of thing, my wife and I developed protocols that help. I've rot13'd them in case you are the type of person who hates unsolicited advice and would prefer to skip it:

- Jura bar bs hf vf qevivat n pne (NXN 2-gba-qrngu-znpuvar) naq jr ner pbairefvat, gur qevire pna fnl "cnhfr" naq gung rkcraqf bhg gb "V erfcrpg lbh naq gur guvatf lbh unir gb fnl. Ubjrire, V hetragyl arrq gb fuvsg zl nggragvba gb guvf bgure gnfx oevrsyl. Cyrnfr cnhfr fcrnxvat hagvy V fnl 'erfhzr' fb gung jura lbh ner fcrnxvat, V pna qribgr fhssvpvrag nggragvba gb yvfgravat gb lbh."

- Vs bar bs hf vf qbvat be guvaxvat nobhg n guvat naq gur bgure nfxf n dhrfgvba, jr vzzrqvngryl fnl "hzzz" gb fvtany gung jr ner guvaxvat. Guvf bar unf gnxra zr n juvyr gb ghea vagb n unovg orpnhfr frireny lrnef ntb V gevrq gb genva zlfrys abg gb rire fnl "hzzz" ba gur nqivpr bs zl choyvp fcrnxvat pynff va hav.

Vs lbh guvax guvf fbeg bs guvat zvtug or urycshy, lbh arrq gb gnyx nobhg vg nurnq bs gvzr gb npghnyyl qrsvar lbhe cebgbpbyf. bgurejvfr, gur zbfg yvxryl erfhyg vf pbashfvba.


The car “pause” keyword rings true to me. When my SO is in the car and I’m driving, if I say “wait” they wait. My mother was in riding along with me the other day and did not wait and I instinctively snapped “shut up” not even realizing what I was saying as I swerved to avoid a car that turned out in front of me. She did not appreciate that.


This would be great if I was able to say anything or even comprehend what was being said. I am effectively like a dog being spoken to by its owner. Like the dog I know someone is talking to me, but I have no idea what is being said nor can I say anything back - about all I can do is look at the person intently and wait for the context switch to finish.


Fyngr fgne pbqrk zhpu?


V va snpg npghnyyl qb.


Bayl bgure cynpr V unir frra guvf pbqr hfrq. V tb ol gur fnzr hfreanzr bire gurer jura V pbzzrag.


Is English your native language? I definitely have friction switching my focus to the other person, but it's not to the extent that I can't literally understand them.

Regardless, I agree with afarrell: explain this to your wife so she can understand your behavior. If you've never explained it, she likely doesn't understand.


English is my native language, but I spent the first 10 years of my career in Japan.

I didn't really notice a difference with which language was being spoken.

My Japanese colleagues came up with a joke (?). They'd ask me something mundane (like: did you eat yet?), but since I was so zombie-like for several minutes, they would slap a post-it on me.

I felt bad about this, but I was managing a 2M line code base (C), and they 'only' had to manage 250k-or-so transistors.

I now believe (for me) that if you (one) is debugging a large code-base, taking a moment to relearn human is to be expected.

It's a self-serving belief, but I have found little evidence that it is wrong...


Yes English is my native language.

As for the wife I have explained it to her on many occasions, but she thinks this is just an excuse that I have made up to allow me to ignoring her :)


Well, the truth is that you are ignoring her, right? You're focusing on whatever you're working on instead of maintaining the ability to even communicate with her.

I had a job where I seemed to be evaluated primarily based on how I talked in meetings. After realizing this, I cut back on the effort I was willing to put into development, cause it would impair my ability to discuss stuff there. Unfortunately some management got quite mad cause I wasn't able to pump stuff out like before. Inside I was just like "you're the one setting the incentives here bruh" lol. I had much better quality of life when I was able to defend myself in meetings so I just stopped working hard.


I am not ignoring her (I will turn to her and look at her), I just can't speak or understand what she is saying. I will be looking straight at her, but I can't understand what she is saying nor reply.


This happens. It has lead to most of my workplace disfunctions. It seems that even programmers can not grok that you can't even English right now.


Almost sounds like the neurons dedicated for auditory processing have been temporarily allocated towards the visual/logical tasks, hence the delay in switching back ;)


Yes that is my hypothesis as well. I have always been able to effectively shutdown my auditory processing when I am concentrating intensely on something (I was notorious in my family for having to be yelled at to get my attention when reading).


I do not. In fact I love taking a break from programming after a long day and talk to people. I think they work different parts of my brain, so it's relaxing.


I think part of this depends on how introverted you are. I'm introverted, so after a long day of hacking, the last thing I want to do is burn more fuel talking to people.


Somewhat similar, but when I first started programming when I was 14, I couldn't listen to music at the same time, it just felt like I couldn't process something "creative" while thinking systematically. Now, I can and I feel like the music occupies the right brain and the hacking/analyzing occupies the left side, basically stimulating both sides of my brain.

There are intense focus sessions though where I turn off the music and after that, I can't talk to people in the hallway and they think I'm being cold. Outside of exceptions like that, it feels mostly like context switching I suppose, like the systemizing side turns off and the creative/human side turns on, or at least, gains control of the gears, so to speak. The best way I can describe it.


I remember experiencing this when I was a teenager and into early 20s. There is something of a mode switch between hyper rational programming mode and human mode. Making the switch rapidly is a learned thing IMO.


Machines, at least within the individual program, is a set of orderly instructions.

Human society is anything but.


I find context switching to be tough. So yes, moving directly from coding to a discussion on sensitive topics is a danger zone for me. I might easily say something I shouldn't.

But once I figured that out, I find the more I code during the week the more I enjoy social and creative activities. It's like one part of my brain is tired and another part needs to be doing stuff for a while.


>Does anyone feel anti-social after a full day of programming?

If I did something cool or make a cool finding, I want to talk about it.

If I'm just gluing stuff together, I'm less interested in talking.

I don't think there's anything special about programming that would affect this -- just being tired after working.


I get that feeling quite often. After a few hours of intense focus on any activity, really, it is much more difficult to engage with anyone. It leaves me feeling both disinterested in other people and easily confused in the conversation.


No just the opposite, really. I find it harder to articulate words into speech for about 15 - 30 minutes, but the urge to do so is strong, kind of like restoring something "out of balance".


Autism spectrum anomalies linked with cognitive metabolic abnormalities -> use a lot of cognitive energy all day -> regress while brain recovers


Jung and some modern psychologists believe that hypersensitivity is its own thing independent from autism. Indeed they assign this trait to some highly intuitive and empathetic people because they pick up on cues that nobody else notices. The label is HSP or High Sensitivity. But having your senses cranked to eleven all the time, we aren’t equipped for that and if you don’t have elaborate coping mechanisms you will put yourself in many awkward situations. A lot of introverts are HSP.

A significant fraction of everyone acts thoughtlessly when they are exhausted or overwhelmed. I would encourage people, before self diagnosing [edit: or believing a clinical diagnosis - this field is more art than science] as Spectrum, to do a little more research and think about whether you believe you have the symptoms all the time or only when you’re overstimulated, and how bad you feel about your behavior afterward, when you have more clarity.


After a particularly intense day of coding it is almost impossible to be emotional with my wife when I get home.


I always felt that the fact that the tech industry is so welcome to techies and people with "aspie"-type personalities, indicates that in fact we as an industry have more empathy than other industries (or social groups) that shun these types of people (myself included) for what I believe are very superficial reasons.

So, I think the title of the article is extremely biased and draws the wrong conclusions from the writer's own research.


I'll have to disagree with your conclusion. If a group is composed mostly of members of a shunned social group, do they have more empathy than others just because they are friendlier to members of that specific shunned social group?

I am immensely grateful for the nerd-friendliness of the tech industry, as I spent my teen years being mocked for being a nerd. But if the tech industry has a higher-than-average number of members who are slightly anti-social, is it really surprising when people accuse this group of having little empathy to members of other social groups?

It is entirely possible for the tech industry to be nerd-friendly and women-hostile at the same time. I'm not saying it is the case, but it could be. And while I've been vocal against the idea of "hide the nerds so girls won't be scared of joining CS programs", I think it's worth considering whether we are being welcoming enough.


I never said techies have "more empathy". I'm just pointing out the hypocrisy of media attack-pieces blasting techies for having "less empathy", something that is entirely at odds with my own experience.

edit: apparently I did say that. It was in reaction to an inflammatory title I feel is deeply wrong.

People, including the writers of articles like "techies aren't empathetic", like to talk about virtues like "empathy" and apply them positively or negatively to groups they feel part of / outside of. Much of the time, it has nothing to do with the actual virtue, but with this tribalistic instinct of being part of or outside of different groups.

Pretending the discussion is about "empathy" is really doing a disservice to analysis of social groups. Some less-systematic people are annoyed that more-systematic people do better within the tech industry, which in today's world is becoming more and more important for economic success. So they want to explain this away as "more-systematic people are less empathetic". What is actually the case, is "more-systematic people are less empathetic to less-systematic behaviour". But we're plenty-empathetic to people that "get us". And in the other direction, people that this author assumes are "more empathetic" are actually really really extremely non-empathetic to more-systematic people.

edit: assumed the article was another "techies are less empathetic" hit-job, but turns out it is making a different point from all the rest


Before ascribing a mere "nerd-friendliness" to the tech industry, don't ever forget that the tech industry exists because of the nerds and without nerds there would be no tech industry. Everybody else involved in tech is just there as a byproduct of the nerds.


The title is a clever misdirection. In the article, it refers to a (claimed) tendency for society at large to react more empathically to perceived discomfort among women than among men.

Edit: Although according to wikipedia "empathy gap" seems to mean something quite different from either what I was expecting or the way it's used in the article.


Given all the recent articles about "techies have less empathy" I stopped reading before I got to the end, assuming it would be another one of those.

But thanks for pointing out that in fact it was talking about something else (and I largely agree).

Yes, wikipedia's "empathy gap" does seem to be talking about something else yet again.


I have aspergers, and empathize with the feeling that society doesn't much care about our struggle (or, for that matter, knows how to deal with anyone who isn't neurotypical).

One thing I have come to realize though (and I know this will be controversial on here) is that SV and tech in general is this special place where people with limited social skills can go to work for really high salaries to create things of often dubious societal value.

I remember reading in a similar article that many "classical-liberal" types think that the wage-gap between man and woman may be caused by the fact that woman are naturally less competitive. Meaning that they are less careerist. This is of course a failure of meritocracy, in the same way that charisma often trumps skill at a job (which is the big problem for anti social men).

Here is my point: we have these different failures of meritocracy affecting different people, but for people (mostly men) with aspergers there is this special, well paying, industry. So I don't know that we have it that bad, or that efforts to attract more woman (even if you consider the given reasons to be bogus) are really misguided.


> This is of course a failure of meritocracy, in the same way that charisma often trumps skill at a job (which is the big problem for anti social men).

It isn't a failure of meritocracy - in both cases, it's a failure to achieve meritocracy. Pet peeve.

And arguably the best solution to the lack of confidence in women problem is a two step process: to (a) educate women on the difference so that they can (b) try to address it themselves, if they choose to do so. If a woman wants to be a housewife or a teacher, what's wrong with that?

> So I don't know that we have it that bad, or that efforts to attract more woman (even if you consider the given reasons to be bogus) are really misguided.

To attract more women into tech in the numbers wanted, the only way is to solve the pipeline problem - encouraging girls at a relatively young age to choose programming as a career, and encouraging them to stick with their STEM major in the face of adversity (but ultimately it's their choice, of course). But multiple times on Twitter, I've seen the pipeline problem sneered at, ignored, or downplayed, by women who claim to be supporting women in tech. They've even sometimes attempted to shame me for focusing on the pipeline problem, as if it was somehow grubby and unhelpful.

The reality is, poaching female employees from one company to another achieves precisely zero for gender diversity in the industry as a whole, good as it may be for one company's PR in terms of its own gender numbers.


> I remember reading in a similar article that many "classical-liberal" types think that the wage-gap between man and woman may be caused by the fact that woman are naturally less competitive. Meaning that they are less careerist. This is of course a failure of meritocracy, in the same way that charisma often trumps skill at a job (which is the big problem for anti social men).

How is this a failure of the meritocracy? To me, this is the meritocracy working correctly and succeeding. A competitive person will naturally work harder to improve their skills because they have a greater desire to be the best. In a true meritocracy, you'd expect them to outperform less competitive people.


Are you really faster if you won the race by tripping your competitors?


The act that you don’t see the value in charisma says nothin about whether or not it should trump productivity. I think it’s highly reasonable that it would and maybe obvious that it should.


I see the value in charisma, but it seems uncontroversial to me that what most people consider "fair" is hiring people for their skill at a job, not their ability to make the interviewer like them.


Charisma is a valuable skill as a software engineer. Have you ever needed to convince another team to implement a feature for you? Charisma helps greatly with that.


Have you ever convinced someone to do something which turned out to be a bad idea? Charisma is a social amplifier. If what it is amplifying isn't good enough, more charisma only hurts instead of helping.

Essentially, you need just enough charisma to avoid being steamrolled by others when you're right and they are not, while not having enough to steamroll them when it's the other way around.


> the third factor, Gideon said, was the empathy gap, where we tend to be more receptive to women’s pain than men’s. When women talk about being made to feel uncomfortable at work, or being sexually harassed, we feel empathy and want to punish the wrong-doers. But we don’t have the same reaction for “geeks,” or “techbros”. Because our understanding of neurodiversity is painfully lacking, our culture tends to view men as a homogenous category, seeing all men as inheritors of privilege and all men as possessing the masculine traits that foster toughness and resilience. We have a habit of ignoring those who don’t, and when they do talk about their vulnerability, we are inclined to ignore, or ridicule them for it.

The book The Myth of Male Power https://www.amazon.com/Myth-Male-Power-Warren-Farrell/dp/042... explores and describes this factor and many of its ramifications, which are huge and tragic.


This is a good summary of my experiences growing up. My friends and I were all considered nerds and wimpy boys, and experienced quite a bit of daily physical and verbal abuse in school. It was difficult/futile to get anyone in authority or the students to help and empathize.

Seeing the reaction and outrage when a boy slapped a girl in the hallway though was very telling where people's biases are.


The answer of course is to widen your sphere of empathy to other people. Neuroatypical individuals face some issues in society and thus deserve empathy, as women who face sexual harassment do.

Does book you cite mention neurodivergences at all? Reading the review on amazon didn't seem to say it did.


Widening our spheres of empathy means we can't predicate empathy on finding a label that fits people into an orthodox feminist understanding of privilege.

The key takeaway from Farrell's book is that men also suffer. We need to become OK with having compassion for men, full stop. Even the men for whom we cannot apply an additional qualifier like "neuroatypical".


This is one very obvious critique of the patriarchy, that is also advanced by feminism. Traditional, toxic masculinity does not recognize 'non-manly' roles for men, their emotional and intellectual needs, etc.

It does not, however, follow, that it does not repress women. "But not all mens!" is true, but is also a bit of a red herring. Most members of both genders suffer it to their detriment.


“Non-manly” men suffer just as much, if not more at the hands of women. “Toxic masculinity” is the red herring here.


If the "patriarchy" is perpetrated by both men and women and negatively affects both men and women, maybe "patriarchy" is a bit of a misnomer?


It is, the term was inherited from angry 2nd and 3rd wavers. Trans inclusionnary feminism tries to frame the discuss1ion more around the concept of gender normativity for this exact reason.


Why? Nobody has ever thought that a society where only men can be kings must mean that all men are kings.


why quibble over the word? you're talking about gender roles, men are supposed to be big and tough and take charge, and womem are supposed to be nurturing and demure and receptive to being taken charge of. it's a model with men in control, patriarchy is a fine word for that. of course if you can't hack your assigned gender role you'll catch shit from those that can. those that can hack their gender role may be men or women; those that can't may be men or women-- this is your observation. but how do you go from that to patriarchy is a misnomer?


It’s not a useful term because it bakes a ton of political ideas into a concept everyone is expected to accept. Mainly that our society is somehow intelligently designed to put men in charge and that it’s not a mix of biology and random happenstance that got us where we are today. It also implies that men actually are in charge. Some men may be but the vast majority are not. If incarceration and university enrollment numbers are examined, it might even look like men as a class are the oppressed not the oppressors.


"Mainly that our society is somehow intelligently designed to put men in charge and that it’s not a mix of biology and random happenstance that got us where we are today."

i don't believe anyone thinks this a or that anyone cares if we're here by accident of history or by intention.

"It also implies that men actually are in charge. Some men may be but the vast majority are not."

of course, and the vast majority of women aren't in charge either, but the topic has been gender roles, not who's in charge. recall that i was questioning the claim that patriarchy is a misnomer because it's bad for men too. the subject at hand is gender roles and gender expectations.

"If incarceration and university enrollment numbers are examined, it might even look like men as a class are the oppressed not the oppressors."

yes, patriarchy is bad for men. and if you look at the number of people murdered by their spouse it also looks pretty oppressive to women. that's the point, patriarchy is oppressive to everyone.


> claim that patriarchy is a misnomer because it's bad for men too.

Nope. What I wrote that it is perpetuated/enforced by both men and women (arguably by women more than men) and has both negative and positive effects for both men and women.


yeah, that's the one. thanks for clearing up any confusion that i might have caused by not reproducing your post verbatim.

anyway, gender roles and gender expectations.


Yes. "Gender roles exist, and they come with expectations for everyone" is a lot different from "the evil patriarchy is a conspiracy by men to oppress women".


By looking it up in the dictionary. Patriarchy are about the dominance of the _father_ figure. Fathers can be lots of things, and not all of those things require overturning.


> why quibble over the word?

Framing, which is very important in political discussion (e.g. estate tax vs. death tax).


yeah, that's what i suspect.


Not if you are attempting to co-opt the situation.


Just because a particular man does not benefit from his role in a patriarchical society does not mean that he doesn't live in one. It's entirely possible to support a social order without deriving any personal benefit from it, or without even being a member of the benefiting class.


> What we do know, however, is that while girls and women do meet the diagnosis for

>autism spectrum disorder, the ratio between men and women sits somewhere between 5:1 to

>3:1. We also know that men and women’s interests diverge in ways that are congruent with

>Baron-Cohen’s systematising- empathising spectrum. Women overwhelmingly prefer working

>with people, and have “artistic” and “social” vocational interests, and men

>overwhelmingly prefer working with things and have “investigative,” “enterprising,”

>“realistic,” and “conventional,” interests.

I feel, after having worked with kids (boys and girls) with Asperger's, that we as a society have historically missed (or dismissed) the signs of Asperger's in girls, and have done them a disservice in life by not helping them with those challenges. This book opened my eyes to some of the specific problems that girls (particularly young ones) face:

https://www.amazon.com/Aspergirls-Empowering-Females-Asperge...

I realize that only recently have we begun treating boys who are on the spectrum, and I'm happy about that, but we need to do better with girls and young women as well.


In case you're interested and aren't already aware:

UC Davis seems to be investing a bit in ASD research. This one, for instance, focuses on girls:

http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/mindinstitute/research/gain/ind...

..and there are a few others. Most focus on the intersection of Children and Autism in some form or another.

Alternatively SciAm ran an article a while back around just this issue of how and why we're "missing it" when it comes to recognizing ASD early (or at all) for girls.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/autism-it-s-diffe...


His childhood mirrors my own, although academic success is inverted.

I wonder if there is some trait which transfixed us for life, I am certain that the interviewee (Gideon) and I are not alone.

It also beggars the question. Although very non-PC. That were I a girl I would not be dissuaded from this course. I know this because there was literally zero support from anyone regarding computing as a hobby or profession. In fact the opposite, they actively fought against it.

Again. I think I'm very unalone in this regard.


I have seen multiple women express surprise that I am programmer because "but you are women" or "I did not knew women can do that". I live in a bit behind the times place, obviously. Conversely, I have seen parents shocked that someone would put boy on art lesson.

Is that part of your answer?

Nevertheless, among my friends, parents agains boy doing computing were practically nonexistent. Computer was usually in boy room and boys were heavily praised for every tiny thing they knew and expected to deal. Their sisters largely aware that it is for boys and not expected of anything (not in my familly I found out only much later).

Note that my parents seen spending much time with computer as waste of time and were systematically attempting to send me out - but they did not seen it boyish nor seen me fundamentally incapable to master it. I had reasonable access to computer and to some books that were in household.


> Computer was usually in boy room and boys were heavily praised for every tiny thing they knew and expected to deal. Their sisters largely aware that it is for boys

Among my friends, it was the opposite. I have two close male friends who, like me, were obsessed with computers for at least 20 years. In both cases, their parents bought computers for their sisters, not them. Their parents encouraged their sisters to get into computers, but it was the guys who became obsessed with computers and programming, having never particularly been encouraged to do so.


> Computer was usually in boy room and boys were heavily praised for every tiny thing they knew and expected to deal. Their sisters largely aware that it is for boys

Thats notable. I can see the opposite is true among my friends who are younger, the girls got laptops because they need to socialise (and privately). Boys use the family computer placed in a communal area for fear they were going to watch porn I suppose. But I'm older and when I was young the Internet was not entirely common. Computers were not ubiquitous and those who worked with them were considered sub-human. I can understand a parent not wanting their child to be a "loser" and I believe it cuts over gendered lines.


I count myself lucky to never having to deal with that "who uses computer is subhuman" thing. It was more of admired, because it implied that you have money. But interesting thing is, most of the time people back then speent on irc and muds.

I frankly find this setup quite unfair too, but don't see it around me being repeated. Not just because of boy access to private chat, but because of assumption parents openly makes about him. "You would mostly watched porn" is terrible message to the kid. I am also trying to teach my kids that computers are for more then just socializing and porn and show them productive things and puzzlers and such.


> It also beggars the question. Although very non-PC. That were I a girl I would not be dissuaded from this course. I know this because there was literally zero support from anyone regarding computing as a hobby or profession. In fact the opposite, they actively fought against it.

That's not "non-PC" on Hacker News. A lot of people here belive that there are few to no legitimate reasons for women to not be programmers and that they just don't want to. What isn't PC on Hacker News is the idea that it isn't society who is against women as programmers, but the environment built by "us". That maybe it isn't this environment that is more accepting than all others, but that "we" just fit in.


> What isn't PC on Hacker News is the idea that it isn't society who is against women as programmers, but the environment built by "us". That maybe it isn't this environment that is more accepting than all others, but that "we" just fit in.

I don't find your comment un-PC, because I fail to understand it. What are you trying to say?


They are saying that people on Hacker News like to believe that the reason for the lack of gender diversity in technology culture is not due to a problem with technology culture, but rather due to a problem in other parts of society (gender norms). People on Hacker News think this because they feel safe and accommodated by technology culture and assume that it must be the same for other women.


Oh, so just garden variety tech feminism then. So what specifically do we need to do in tech? This is all very vague generalities at this point.


> Oh, so just garden variety tech feminism then.

Dismissing opnions you disagree with as inconsequential or belonging to some agenda is essentially the core of political correctness. (At least if with the definition of "things hard to talk about", rather than which words to use).

> So what specifically do we need to do in tech?

What to do isn't the problem. Not only can you find far better writing on the subject in the wild, but there are people are already doing it. But since you are asking I will give you an example.

Hacker culture puts a large, disproportionately so even, emphasis on hobbyism. Stories like the one in the article, getting started when you were young and not doing much else are meriting. For a women to have be able have the same experience they would have to engage in a largely male dominated culture at an age (as in seniority) when many boys nor girls aren't particularly sociable with people of the opposite sex and when fitting in is especially important. So when we value things in computer culture other than things with technical merit and instead put merit in peoples backgrounds or the tools they use we do so with a culture that largely isn't accessible to women.

Maybe that is vague to you, but not everything is clear cut. As a said, people doing things change this. They give girls opportunities to get excited by technology in their own way. They give women from other fields a chance to get acclimated at tech companies on their own terms. They try to emphasis the things you can do with technology instead of the culture etc.


> For a women to have be able have the same experience they would have to engage in a largely male dominated culture ...

I'm not so sure about that. While my initial contact with programming was via other boys in school, most of the following journey I spent absorbing knowledge from faceless entities on the internet. I think that kind of development is quite common among the early starter/hobbyist programmer types. Maybe it's just that initial opportunity of contact that makes all the difference, but otherwise I think hacker culture is pretty ungendered in the interactions of its members.


There is truth to that of course. At the same time it is about percentages. The more "opportunities" you have to do something the more likely it is that you do. If your friends are doing it, you have role models you can identify with, you don't have to give up something that is expected of you etc. all add up. A lot of boys in e.g. the 90s got in to programming because quake was awesome and/or they wanted to be a hacker like Linus.

> [...] otherwise I think hacker culture is pretty ungendered in the interactions of its members.

I think a large part of the culture can be very macho, even stereotypically so, and that arguing over programming and something like martial arts can be very similar. But it depends on where you look of course.


> Because contemporary moral codes delineate women as vulnerable or marginalised, we stop seeing them as individuals with unique talents and idiosyncrasies, but as representatives of a victimised class. The reverse is true of men. Because women are now a victimised class, men are increasingly seen as victimisers, irrespective of their individual attributes or actions.

I cannot agree with this more. Very, very well observed and phrased.


We really have to stop seeing people as members of a group first and an individual second. It is lazy thinking.


Survival on planet Earth has critically depended on lazy thinking: generalizing from incomplete scraps of information, and acting in real-time.


Maybe I am just being an old-timer grouch, but it seems to be getting worse. As people attention is diverted from one topic to another with increasing speed, avoiding lazy thinking gets harder and harder. We do still need to fight against it :)


What is there to fight? You will never have all the data to make a perfect decision, and even if you have all the data you can possibly have, you don't know which evaluation functions are the right ones to use that will work in your favor.

These are fundamentals of the Universe, as such.


While true, our current environment of organized society of billions of humans, all within the same info-sphere[0] is significantly different than the environment our species developed in. A lot of our natural tendencies end up being maladaptive in this new world.

--

[0] - communication transcends distance now, and if something of importance happens anywhere in the world, almost everyone else on the planet knows about it in real-time.


"natural tendencies end up being maladaptive in this new world"

Couldn't agree more, but I read the gp as being descriptive, not prescriptive. While I think we should work to be better, I think some people need to be more realistic in their expectations of time scale. That is, stop being so upset that human nature didn't change today because you said it was bad yesterday.


It's the same zoo out there, only with mass communication, transportation, comforts and gadgets.

You meet someone in a deserted street, you have the same three seconds to evaluate their threat potential that your ape ancestors had.


No, it's not the same zoo, unless you live in Somalia.

Rule of law and working policing changes everything about your reactions to other people. In a typical western country, most of the time you feel threatened just by seeing someone on the street, you're imagining it (proof: count how many times "feeling threatened" turned into "actually being threatened"). Other people don't want to go into jail either, and violence achieves very little compared to patience and civil agreements.

But this is a sort of thing we still can handle real-time, reading things off each others' faces as we go along. Where the charade breaks down is all of our intuitions about state of the world, as we consume mass media.

Humans run on availability heuristic[0]. Quoting from the Wiki, "availability heuristic operates on the notion that if something can be recalled, it must be important, or at least more important than alternative solutions which are not as readily recalled". Mass media give us heavily filtered view of the world, which does not, in any way, correspond to the real world we live in. Thanks to news reporting, you feel like you're surrounded by rich and beautiful people, constantly threatened by gangs and terrorists, and that everything around you is going to shit. None of that is true, and yet even knowing that, we all have trouble handling it in our heads.

The heuristics we are born with were optimized for small and very localized group of people, not for large, dense populations, and constant light-speed communication with everyone else on the planet.

--

[0] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Availability_heuristic


Totally agree. But in some parts of society this is now a detriment that we’ve outgrown. But it’s really hard to fight our nature.


Not only that, we're busy teaching computers to replicate it and calling it names like "deep learning".


Idk, I feel like saying that humans should somehow manage to turn off grouping and categorizing things is kind of lazy. Categorization is such a critical part of our ability to navigate and understand the world. I think the trick is to be able to look at both at the same time and to constantly be willing to question your own biases.


> Idk, I feel like saying that humans should somehow manage to turn off grouping and categorizing things is kind of lazy.

I don't think that's what danieltillett was calling for at all. Rather, I think he was arguing for not letting group-level categorisations - such as gender or race - totally dominate over and blind us to attributes of individuals that may differ from what we would expect from our preconceived stereotypes of groups. Because when we do that with race, we do recognise that as racist - maybe not when the race in question is white, but in other cases, yes.


Yes that is exactly what I am saying. We should be viewing people as an individuals first and as a member of a group second. Almost all of us do this with people we know well, but many of fail to do this with strangers or opponents.


I think these kinds of antagonisms are central to American society. Other parts of the world often find them alien and incomprehensible.


Not true - the Karpman drama triangle (victim-aggressor-rescuer) is a fundamentally human way of seeing the world (however dysfunctional and unhelpful) and so it is present all around the world, not just in the US. I would agree that based on what I read about it, the US seems to be particularly in the grip of this perspective though.

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


The question is if other societies also adopt the triangle for classes of people in the way the American society does.

Not all countries have "affirmative action" laws, which essentially codify victimhood large scale - and also beg the question in which other bucket everybody else belongs.

Add an intuitive and statist interpretation of the drama triangle (instead of acknowledging that the same persons can be in different roles at any given time) and you have a society of people rushing to demonstrate that they're not the aggressor, either by ending up protected ("victim") or protecting ("rescuer").


>Not all countries have "affirmative action" laws, which essentially codify victimhood large scale - and also beg the question in which other bucket everybody else belongs.

The US doesn't have any 'affirmative action' laws. It has non-discrimination statutes.


No, there are explicit affirmative action laws too. For example, some federal contracts are set aside for what are known as "8(a) businesses": small businesses owned by disadvantaged groups.


I have extensively studied the statistics about neoteny (=compassion gap) in USA vs Europe and they are very close to each other. If you’re talking about the position of women in the Taliban culture, this is a very interesting talk, despite the title: https://youtu.be/5eqYEVYZgdo


I wasn't talking about compassion (which may differ in shape but not volume) or Taliban culture (that I know little about, nor am particularly interested in).


Sounds like a way of conveniently ignoring my point. I’m aware it’s a caveat to the narrative you explain. That’s why it’s not reasonable to dodge the caveat on the grounds that you see a difference between “compassion” and “empathy” that is so massive that it would invalidate my comment, and that no culture from Europe to Taliban were cultures you were talking about.

So... what countries were you thinking of, when saying “Not all countries have affirmative action laws”, given my comment has covered cultures from Western to Taliban?


Would you please stop using HN for ideological battle? This is not what this site is for. In fact it destroys what it is for.

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


I think what seanhandley meant was that the current obsessions and the particular form they take in the US is highly particular to the US and it is a mistake (often made by Americans and those in the Anglo-American sphere) to universalize and project this American phenomenon outward instead of understanding it as something bizarrely and uniquely American.


More worryingly, it seems that the "anglo" media is expert at exporting their world view to the rest of the world given time.


This is definitely an interesting point. There are quite a few people on social media sites acting like US specific outrages are somehow common to the whole world, despite their area not actually being affected by those issues (like police violence in the UK where it's mostly nonexistent). Seems the internet and popular media has given people the impression they're all Americans and that American issues and cultural norms are true everywhere on the planet.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/EaglelandOsmosis

Or how in other cases, there are quite a critical comments on media from other countries because they don't go by cultural norms in the US, or what not.


Not fundamentally human! Animals can recognize aggression and intervene in favor of the perceived victim.


> The technology industry is one of the most Aspie-friendly places that there is.

Amen. I think this is something we should be proud of.


> But we don’t have the same reaction for “geeks,” or “techbros”. Because our understanding of neurodiversity is painfully lacking, our culture tends to view men as a homogenous category, seeing all men as inheritors of privilege and all men as possessing the masculine traits that foster toughness and resilience.

Back in reality, the stereotypes of male nerds/geeks are:

* not interested in activities that leverage masculine traits, like sports

* not interested in the "rough" and often physically abusive hazing activities that go along with sports

* publicly ridiculed for being socially inept, having a hard time interacting with members of the opposite sex, not grooming in the typical way "tough and resilient" males do

Like any stereotypes those are often wrong. Nevertheless they come with enormous empathy-- most humans I know don't condone adolescents getting choked by bullies and will get sad when you tell them stories about it.

Furthermore-- and I don't think I'm alone in this-- my own empathy gap between my stereotype of male "geeks" and male "techbros" couldn't be any wider. I thought people only referred to each other as ${topic}bros to be ironic, the joke being that anyone who would do that seriously is worthy of derision.


In the wider world, the stereotype of male geeks seems to be that having endured all the above we're seeking revenge on society (and especially women) for the wrongs they have inflicted on us. Admittedly in my actual life I don't perceive my actual self to be judged harshly by actual people, but in the abstract I get the strong impression that people like me are pretty awful.

Edit: https://encrypted.google.com/search?q=tech+industry+men . You might get different results but for me the first "positive-looking" story is on page 4 - "The Fittest Guys in Tech - These 10 men break the tech-guy stereotype".


I guess it's an incentives thing. How much pushback do journalists ever get in their lives for writing lazy, uninformed and inaccurate articles like that? I'd guess jack squat, because we probably all think we have better things to do with our time than write letters of complaint to the editor. And we're probably right to think so.


> Nevertheless they come with enormous empathy

Where? I find the exact opposite to be the case.


Using a "car company" Like tesla as an example of the tech industry's misogamy is just fracking stupid - does the Atlantic even have an "industrial correspondent"

Teslas a car company and the sexism in those sort of blue collar traditional company's is way more prevalent

To use a slightly more tech example in telecos when was the last time you saw a female lineman (engineer in UK terms)


To follow up my point using an example from a totally separate blue collar industry with massive gender imbalances and much more overt sexual harassment and discrimination allows hr in the tech industry to discredit the journalists and article in question.


Anecdote, not data: Offhand, I can recall three separate times when I've had to have the telco send an engineer out to my house (at three different properties). One out of three was female.


The Wikipedia article on Asperger's doesn't mention hypersensitivity to touch, but this research suggests that a link does exist:

http://docs.autismresearchcentre.com/papers/2006_Blakemore_T...


Became curious and took the Autism Spectrum Quotient test and got a score of 35. Huh, who gives


from the article

> I had also heard something years earlier about autistic people having issues with certain types of clothing similar to my own.

similar in what way? from https://www.autismspeaks.org/blog/2017/06/05/autism-and-resi...

> We know that many people on the autism spectrum prefer relatively snug-fitting clothing that covers their arms and legs.

...i did not know that. however, i did know that incredibly fashionable people prefer relatively snug-fitting clothing that covers their arms and legs, thank you.


Majority of people in tech are not autistic stereotype. The actually autistic were definitely not among the best I have worked with.


Yeah I also observed that most people in tech seem to be kind of "statistically normal". However seeing myself more on the spectrum side and also being perceived as that, I noticed workplaces preferring me and similar people to rather work alone. It matches very much the traditional stereotype of putting the programmers in the cellar, not sure if that makes the workplaces more sociable - probably not.

There's in my opinion a lot wrong in tech but I think one cannot say that it's the fault of a certain group. It's rather the habits and "traditions" of the people working in the tech industry that need an upgrade.


Do you see that working more alone as a bad thing? One of my gripes with scrum and such is that such a thing is not possible.


I like working alone when building new things, so I can do what I want. (Also at that stage there is little risk of possibly annoying discussions.) But when there are problem, whether dev, op or requirements related, then being alone sucks.

I was working at one place for almost 2 years and I ended up working almost completely alone on the dev side (+ most of the ops). Things worked actually quite well and I could even work with some really crazy JS framework but it just started to become boring as hell. Because with work colleagues I could only talk about the superficial parts of my job - the rest was some kind of rabbit hole.

Not sure about the Scrum. I mean when the colleagues rather work alone, I guess each task can be done in solitude. That's at least more or less the case where I work.


Did you ask everyone you worked with if they were autistic, or is this based on gut feeling?


They did not displayed syptomps. They were able to to correctly guess other peoples emotions or imagine themselves in their situation. They did not had single minded obsession nor routines that must happen. You could negotiate with them easily. They were, otherwise said, normal.

Of course I might have missed some very mild case or something. And of course opposite, determining whether someone who kind of have some symptoms would be harder for non profesional. There were some where I suspect that and it did impacted work.

Nevertheless, majority of people were normal, well adjusted with ordinary social lives and ordinary undrstanding of humans. That includes assholes I met - when your jerkiness is limited to those under you and you are charismatic treasure to bosses, you not autistic.


>They did not displayed syptomps. They were able to to correctly guess other peoples emotions or imagine themselves in their situation. They did not had single minded obsession nor routines that must happen. You could negotiate with them easily. They were, otherwise said, normal.

High-functioning people with ASD invest enormous cognitive resources in passing for "normal". They memorise facial expressions and learn to decode them like hieroglyphics. They reverse-engineer social behaviour, learning to imitate normal behaviour and interpret the behaviour of others. They hide their stereotypies and preoccupations behind an affected facade.

The fact that someone looks "normal" doesn't mean that they don't have ASD, it may mean that they're managing their condition effectively in a hostile environment.


I think the correct way to understand autistic people vis-a-vis the industry is not by placing such people up on a pedestal as "special", but that tech is an environment where people with social deficits (whether related to autism or simply a lack of social skills) are more likely to survive career-wise precisely because they skills they lack are not needed and are not a selection criteria that words against their survival.


I agree with that. I also think it would not hurt much to educate others how to communicate functionally with someone like that, so that it does not end as ugly as it sometimes is (it can turn to bullying in tech too, especially in those highly competitive cut through environnement).

I would say that autistic are in disadvantage also in tech, just less so. Because those social skills are needed for anything except most junior positions and situations with managent capable to crete few positions with absolutely clear requirements and no need to cooperate closely.

However, I strongly dislike when autistic person is framed as average or typical programmer.Note how often is discussion framed in exactly those terms. Or when social skills are framed as somehow in opposition to ability to learn algorithms, design or "computer". You can indeed be interested in both people and programming and even have other constantly changing side interests. And nine of it implies you are bound to be weaker programmer.


The author is walking on thin ice by suggesting that sexual dimorphism has a significant effect on cognitive abilities. For her own safety, I hope she doesn’t live in San Francisco.


Hence the pseudonym and the quote saying "If he didn’t get the message that the women in science movement wasn’t interested in dialogue and is glad to destroy anyone who questioned it then he must be [on the spectrum]. The only reason why it was him rather than me winding up that [kind of] situation is that I realized what was happening well enough to keep my mouth shut at work and to also turn down an offer from Google, since I knew that they [are] one of the worst offenders, if not the worst."


Hmm, isn't it more about a tendency of where interest is directed rather than cognitive ability? Girls do better than boys in school (1). Which is arguably also about motivation rather than ability. It seems that they are systematically discouraged to go towards a math/logic path though (2).

It's complicated. The truth seems to be more nuanced than what we have ever been able to fit into a single narrative.

(1) - https://www.education.com/reference/article/gender-academic-...

(2) - https://www.google.se/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/education/20...


You think it doesn't?


They are suggesting that SF has a reactionary view to that notion.


> He said that society increasingly sees groups instead of individuals, to the extent that group rights may supersede individual rights in all sorts of contexts, including politicised work environments. Because contemporary moral codes delineate women as vulnerable or marginalised, we stop seeing them as individuals with unique talents and idiosyncrasies, but as representatives of a victimised class. The reverse is true of men. Because women are now a victimised class, men are increasingly seen as victimisers, irrespective of their individual attributes or actions.

> The second factor, he thought, was an attachment to an outdated, blank slate view of human nature. He says that many people still insist on seeing the human brain as predominantly moulded by culture, despite scientific evidence to the contrary. There tends to be a hesitancy towards attributing any differences between people to any cause that is biological in origin. This hesitancy has been around for decades, and appears like it will not be alleviated anytime soon.

I agree with the first paragraph here, but not the second. I really believe that culture plays more of a part than most people think. Cultural differences would explain the higher wages among Asian Americans and Jews, this despite the historic racism that both of those groups have experienced. Both groups are minorities, yet on average still exceed in our society more than others.


Please don't take HN threads in generic ideological directions. Didn't we just discuss this? They lead to the same few black holes over and over again—as demonstrated below.


I was discussing one of the major topics of the post. Quoted directly from the article:

> He said that society increasingly sees groups instead of individuals, to the extent that group rights may supersede individual rights in all sorts of contexts, including politicised work environments. Because contemporary moral codes delineate women as vulnerable or marginalised, we stop seeing them as individuals with unique talents and idiosyncrasies, but as representatives of a victimised class. The reverse is true of men. Because women are now a victimised class, men are increasingly seen as victimisers, irrespective of their individual attributes or actions.

If you don't like discussions on this topic, then perhaps you should stop allowing such topics on this site.


> I really believe that culture plays more of a part than most people think.

Cultural and structural factors swamp genetic factors. At the extreme, you have state-sanctioned systems of discrimination such as apartheid, where people who belong to certain groups are legally impeded from fulfilling their potential. Remove the legal underpinnings and it's not like things are solved all of a sudden -- pervasive, virulent discrimination by the in-group still plays a decisive role. Even as overt discrimination softens, historical factors such as accumulated wealth continue to tilt the playing field.

When do structural factors cease to dominate? That's a never-ending argument. At every point during the evolution of society, there will be people who argue that the status quo is just.


How do you explain the Minnesota Transracial Adoption Study then?


Being adopted by white people doesn't make one magically immune to melanin-based discrimination from society at large, and self-confidence and encouragement from teachers can make up a large part of the mental conditioning that allows one to do well on IQ tests.


To play devils advocate, the success of Asian Americans and Jews could also be explained by genetics.

My own biases as well as basic knowledge of the respective cultures makes me fairly certain that it's culture in both cases rather than genetics, though.


The issue with claiming that genetics causes the success of certain races is that there is greater genetic variation within races than between them, and that there has been no discovered correlation between certain genetic traits and success. Plus that kind of thinking can lead to racist discrimination, which isn't good.


> there is greater genetic variation within races than between them

This is true, which is why we can only say something useful about averages between populations, but not extrapolate to particular individuals.

> there has been no discovered correlation between certain genetic traits and success

This is very false. IQ is largely genetic, and the biggest predictor of life success of any kind, especially in relatively well developed societies.


Have any evidence that IQ is "the biggest predictor of life success of any kind, especially in relatively well developed societies"?


‘Biggest predictor’ sounds like hyperbole. Though, if true, it would be useful to know. Money could then be directed to research and policy that helps increase IQ.


> Though, if true, it would be useful to know. Money could then be directed to research and policy that helps increase IQ.

If I ever get really rich, that is what I plan to do. But the Flynn Effect has started to slow down or stop in many countries, indicating that we've plucked all the low-hanging fruits and we're running out of obvious ways to do that.

We'll probably fall down slightly in terms of average IQs in the population before IVF and genetic selection allows us redress the problem. Don't mention the E word (eugenics) though - germinal choice is a better euphemism.


Hmm, IQ is highly affected by environment though.


IQ also correlates with future-orientation, which is basically self-control and anti-criminal behaviour. Being more or less likely to commit a crime is a huge success predictor.




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