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Google Moves to Address Wage Equity, and Finds It’s Underpaying Many Men (nytimes.com)
614 points by gatsby 22 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 591 comments



Reminiscent of Simpson's Paradox, the most famous example being a gender discrimination lawsuit alleging UC Berkeley discriminated against women in admissions (57% men vs. 43% women).

It turned out there WAS bias - in favor of the women!

"The lawsuit triggered a study. The study results showed that not only were women not discriminated against, but that women had a statistically significant advantage!

Here’s what happened. Some departments had high acceptance rates and some had low acceptance rates. Women applied to more competitive departments. Men applied to more accessible departments. Taken on the whole men had an advantage. When broken down per department it was women who were more favored."

https://www.forrestthewoods.com/blog/my_favorite_paradox/


You got too distracted by the Simpson's Paradox reference to see the actual Simpson's Paradox in play. As sokoloff [1] pointed out in a below thread, Google having an overwhelming male workforce means that there could still be a large bias against women at the same time that more man are being underpaid.

There is simply not enough information presented in this article to know whether there is truly a gender bias (in either direction) regarding how Google pays their employees.

[1] - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19303989


I think you're right.

E.g.: Google is 70% men. At 100,000 employees: 70,000 Male 30,000 Female

If 5% of men are underpaid that's 3,500 men. If 10% of women are underpaid that's 3,000 women.

More men are underpaid (3,500 > 3,000). But women are twice as likely to be underpaid (10% > 5%).


The article said disproportionately more underpayment was to men. Therefore your hypothetical scenario (which posits that the difference was measured in absolute terms) is not what Google found.


It wouldn't be the first time a news article had a poor understanding of statistics. But more importantly, you may find men occupy high salary roles in engineering whilst women work in HR - resulting in the salary changes going disproportionately to men, because a % increase in their salary is far higher than the women on lower salaries.


> But more importantly, you may find men occupy high salary roles in engineering whilst women work in HR - resulting in the salary changes going disproportionately to men, because a % increase in their salary is far higher than the women on lower salaries.

The article says the opposite with regard to where the salary adjustments went:

> One effect of the adjustments was to create a pronounced imbalance in compensation among lower-level software engineers, one of Google’s largest job groups, with a large number of men identified as being underpaid compared with their female peers. To offset that, further adjustments were made. Google said it saw no pattern in the reasons women were receiving more discretionary pay.


The passage you quote makes it clear the disparity is in absolute numbers, not proportions, as your earlier comment suggests.

Btw, note that this passage (that I also quoted yesterday for a comment of my own) is now nowhere to be found in the article, that has been heaviy edited since it was posted on HN.


> The passage you quote makes it clear the disparity is in absolute numbers, not proportions, as your earlier comment suggests.

It says no such thing. The "large number" of underpaid men is not being compared against the number of underpaid women.

The article still contains these quotes, which clearly establish that the equity pay raises went disproportionately to men:

> The study, which disproportionately led to pay raises for thousands of men [...]

> In response to the study, Google gave $9.7 million in additional compensation to 10,677 employees for this year. Men account for about 69 percent of the company’s work force, but they received a higher percentage of the money.


>> a large number of men identified as being underpaid compared with their female peers

This sentence compares the number of men identified as underpaid to the number of women identified as underpaid.

>> The study, which disproportionately led to pay raises for thousands of men

"Disproportionate" is used to signify something that is "out of proportion", in a lay sense, not in the mathematical sense of the ratio between two numbers. It is not a mathematical term that signifies a comparison between percentages, as your comment seems to suggest.

>> they received a higher percentage of the money.

This says nothing about the proportion of men or women who were found to be underpaid. It refers to the percentage of men who received more money. The justification for that is that there are more men in the company.


> This sentence compares the number of men identified as underpaid to the number of women identified as underpaid.

No, it is saying that the definition of "underpaid" is "making less money than women at the same level."

> This says nothing about the proportion of men or women who were found to be underpaid. It refers to the percentage of men who received more money. The justification for that is that there are more men in the company.

It says that men accounted for 69% of the work force, but received more than 69% of the money that went to equity raises.


Unrelated- is your handle inspired by Scanners Live in Vain?


And it can easily be justified by two assumptions:

1. The average under-compensated man had worked there longer or had been under-compensated longer

AND/OR

2. The average under-compensated man was in a higher paid role.


Both of these assumptions are false.


In the same example, 10% of men = 7,000 where as 10% of women = 3,000. That qualifies as disproportionately more and yet it remains a fallacy.


That would be proportionately more men, not disproportionately.


> There is simply not enough information...

Hmm...

"Men account for about 69 percent of the company’s work force, but they received a disproportionately higher percentage of the money. "

So, yes, we do have that information.


Yet we don't know what jobs women and men do at Google. There can be bias elsewhere in the system. For example women might be disproportionately hired as administrative assistants and men might be disproportionately hired as senior engineers. Both groups could then be compensated fairly and it would result in men receiving a disproportionately higher percentage of the money.


You've missed the point entirely. The comparisons are among peers in the same jobs. But it sounds like Google can't get its own data together in a sensible way, so you can't really trust any numbers in this article.


Totaling up all money men make vs all money women make regardless of the job is not a valid argument for pay discrimination.


I think we're moving the goalposts here: are we talking an abstract man, on average, in general earning more than an abstract, average women or we're talking about a different pay for the same work?

My understanding is that we're talking about the latter.


Does "same work" also include the hours worked? Usually not. If someone completes x projects in y hours, and someone else completes the same x projects in z hours, are they the same? Both did "the same work," but one was more efficient and did it faster (presuming the quality of the work by both parties was equal).


I assume most of Google employees are exempt, so the exact number of hours spent on a job is hard to calculate.


Agreed, “hours worked” is starting to look like a dog whistle in these threads


How is it a dog whistle? How can you accurately compare unless you take such factors into account? Are you saying it's statistically insignificant?


I’m saying “hours worked” is a straw man to some extent since everybody is exempt so what does it matter?


This is a good hint, but it's not enough information. Specifically, the jobs where the pay imbalance is likely greatest also would also likely have a more skewed gender ratio. But we can't know, because the article doesn't say, and just trusts Google's word on everything.


We had something similar in France. There was enough people saying and believing that (ethnic) minorities are discriminated for employment to trigger a governmental supported study on the use of anonymous CV. The conclusion was that minorities were even less likely to get an interview with anonymized CV and were actually positivity discriminated against. Authors of study supposed that it is because some issues in the CV are judged less harshly if coming from a minority.


Same experiment, same result in Australia:

https://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-30/bilnd-recruitment-...

In a bid to eliminate sexism, thousands of public servants have been told to pick recruits who have had all mention of their gender and ethnic background stripped from their CVs

The trial found assigning a male name to a candidate made them 3.2 per cent less likely to get a job interview.

Adding a woman's name to a CV made the candidate 2.9 per cent more likely to get a foot in the door.

...

Leaders of the Australian public service will today be told to "hit pause" on blind recruitment trials.


Fascinating. I wonder why we these studies and their findings never gain much attention?


For one, it's not surprising; generally people prefer to help underdogs, not take advantage of them.

For two, it doesn't make people angry, it just confuses the issue.


Exactly what I thought. How this is even considered a paradox is a paradox to me.

Human beings just have very strange presuppositions regarding probability and statistics that are almost always wrong.


Simpson's paradox is a statistical phenomenon where you can measure one outcome in aggregate (e.g. total average pay by gender) and the opposite outcome when you segment (e.g average pay by gender AND job).

Univariate analyses can hide lots of interesting things!

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simpson's_paradox


Simpson's paradox is easily my favorite paradox. Anyone interested in interpreting stats, even from a lay perspective, should familiarize themselves with it.


what is not paradoxical about it


There was no lawsuit in that Berkeley case. The article's source also does not claim there was a lawsuit. The author made that up out of whole cloth.

The real reason for the Berkeley study is that the seeming acceptance disparity worried administrators, who proactively asked Bickel to look into it. https://outline.com/2HMrKV


The study [1] didn't "show" what you say. It claimed there was a bias towards female applicants.

To support this claim the study pointed out that the percentage of male applicants _out of all male_ applicants that were granted admission was lower than the percentage for female applicants, for all (examined) departments.

However, according to the study, there were 8442 male applicants and 4321 female applicants. So while a larger proportion of female applicants were granted admission, it still meant that many fewer women were addmitted.

To clarify, a higher proportion of a smaller number can still be a smaller number. 5% of 1000 is 50, 10% of 100 is 10.

Imagine we split a pie in 10 pieces, you keep 8 and I keep 2. I eat my 2, you eat 4 of your 8 and then you accuse me of hogging the pie because I ate 100% of my share while you ate only half of yours.

That is what the study actually showed happenned with admissions in Berkeley.

_________________________

[1] Sex Bias in Graduate Admissions: Data from Berkeley

https://homepage.stat.uiowa.edu/~mbognar/1030/Bickel-Berkele...


> the study pointed out that the percentage of male applicants _out of all male_ applicants that were granted admission was lower than the percentage for female applicants, for all (examined) departments.

Where does the study say that? I find it saying that 44 percent of male applicants and 35 percent of female applicants were admitted, when totaled over all 101 departments.


It's on section "Pooling", on page 7 of the pdf (400 in the original), second column, last parargraph starting with "We reanalyze Table 1, ...".

In that paragraph, the authors state that they estimate the probability of admission of a female applicant "by multiplying the estimated probability of admission of any applicant (regardless of sex) to that department by the number of women applying to it", which I find reasonable.

However, immediately afterwards they compare that probability with the probability of an applicant being admitted given that the applicant is female. I quote from the end of the second column and the start of the third one:

"Thus, if the chances of getting into a department were one-half for all applicants to it, and 100 women applied, we would expect 50 women to be admitted if they were being treated just like the men".

In other words, bias depends on whether the proportion of applicants of one sex, out of all applicants of _that_ sex, was higher than the expectation formed for applicants of any sex. It's a little confusing and the language in the article is not very precise. But that's what's up.


> It's on section "Pooling", on page 7 of the pdf

Ah, I see; I was misunderstanding which part of the study you were referring to.


So, they identified how discrimination was happening?


stats. few are qualified to use them.


The gender wage gap is real in the sense that there is a gap, but when you analyze it, they are comparing apples to oranges. I'm sure everyone here knows this.

https://data.oecd.org/earnwage/gender-wage-gap.htm

The countries with the highest wage gaps are the countries with the most equality in the workplace. Women in Korea are not treated poorly.

The important thing though is the people proposing that the wage gap is a problem has a solution. They are pushing equality of outcome. They want everyone to be paid exactly the same. That's the problem that they have. They don't care that they are comparing apples to oranges. They want pay to be exactly the same.


>The countries with the highest wage gaps are the countries with the most equality in the workplace. Women in Korea are not treated poorly.

I'm not sure what this is supposed to mean. Korea most assuredly is not a country with "the most equality in the workplace". It routinely ranks as having the worst gender inequality of any developed nation, and one of the worst in the world generally. It came in 115th out of 149 countries in the World Economic Forum's 2018 Global Gender Gap Report* and has hovered around that number for years.

*http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GGGR_2018.pdf


We have exchanged sources. Thank you.

Your assertion is that Japan and Korea are highly discriminatory against women? That's certainly interesting and I'm not sure I can defend against that position. Perhaps women in japan and korea are extremely oppressed. This is certainly not what I thought after reading for example or just seeing what's portrayed in the media. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_South_Korea

Meanwhile your source has Rwanda as #6 most equal. I'm very confused about what the data is saying. It's certainly feeling more like a checkbox list.

So let's look at Canada. Both my data and your data have them with poor performance. Mind you my data is just looking at wage gap.

Women in Canada for ECONOMIC PARTICIPATION AND OPPORTUNITY is 27th place behind Brunai and Ghana. This seems quite incorrect. Women have completely the same economic opportunity as men in Canada. So this is a debateable number. Women are educated BETTER than men and certainly work. So I'm not sure how this data was determined. The actual number should be showing discrimination against me.

Women in Canada are 1.0 for education. That's good. Like I just said https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/81-004-x/2008001/article... Women outnumber men. So this is actually false information. They capped the number wrongly at 1.0.

Women in Canada for HEALTH AND SURVIVAL aren't in the list? USA is in 71st place. I happen to know this statistic. Women live longer than men. So they cherry picked and removed this data? https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/82-624-x/2011001/article... This another number completely false.

Women in Canada for POLITICAL EMPOWERMENT are 21st place behind india and nambia. Except we live in a democratic society with no barriers. Women can run for politics. So this should be a 1.0.

So I guess in conclusion I find your study to be biased, false, and wrong.

Let me explain to you what's happening. Women have the CHOICE. They choose careers that they get paid less in. This is a good thing. They have the freedom. The gap is not a problem.


De jure and de facto equality are different things. Do you honestly believe that African Americans faced no discrimination after July, 3 1964? Because at that point they lived in a democratic society with no barriers. They could run for political office. Under your definition, that's a 1.0.

I guess you could say they just didn't choose to run for office. Or to get educated. The cross burning was coincidental.


So lets say I have a new country. The laws are 100% equal and there's absolutely no discrimination against women.

But an election occurs and there's not a perfect representation of the people. Only 25% of the elected MPs are women. But there's no actual discrimination happening.

What's the fix? THERE IS NO FIX. It's exactly how it should be. We absolutely should not say 50% of MPs must be women. That is not how democracy works.

>Because at that point they lived in a democratic society with no barriers. They could run for political office. Under your definition, that's a 1.0.

Yes that is a 1.0. Was there discrimination? I'm sure there is still today. However there is no fix. That is a 1.0. We are equal.

We dont need to have a rule saying 50% of the elected positions must be black people. That would be discrimination and wrong.


>So lets say I have a new country. The laws are 100% equal and there's absolutely no discrimination against women. But an election occurs and there's not a perfect representation of the people. Only 25% of the elected MPs are women. But there's no actual discrimination happening.

Its very easy to think up improbable, and even impossible, hypothetical situations. This is one such hypothetical and it adds no value to this discussion. We live in a world with discrimination. What you're suggesting is as fantastical as imagining a country where everyone can fly and then asking what we would do for the car companies. It assumes so many unrealistic things that its not a good faith attempt at conversation.

Or another way of putting this is: I claim that your situation will occur with only some miniscule probability such that it is indistinguishable from impossible in practice. You're welcome to prove me wrong. But to be clear, I ask for a proof, and the burden is on you, to show that in a society truly free of discrimination, both de jure and de facto, that things would be as you claim with any regularity. Put plainly, such a feat isn't possible. So your hypothetical isn't worth spending time pondering.

>Was there discrimination? I'm sure there is still today.

Then it's not a 1.0. The WEF report is measuring discrimination, which you just said still exists. By your own admission, this shouldn't be a 1.0.


Japan is very well known for gender inequality in the workplace and Rwanda is also well known as an example of significant legal and social support for gender equality. If your intuition and awareness doesn't include either of these facts then you should not trust yourself on this area at all.


I'm not going to defend Japan. As I said I'm happy to believe they treat women worse than Saudi Arabia; which is what my source provided.

As for Rwanda, this is just plain absurd. This is at best a checkbox study where they are looking to confirm reverse sexism. Yes I did read Rwanda has significant reverse sexism. After the genocide their society was over 70% women and they elected leaders to provide sexist policies.

Reverse sexism is not an ideal to be aiming toward.


You are defining equality of participation as evidence of reverse sexism and you appear happy to believe whatever random things cross your screen that don't disagree with your core beliefs. I hope someone else has the patience to talk to you more.


You just ignored the study's definitions for all the terms and then claimed them false by supplying your own which is pretty classic confirmation bias. Just for "political empowerment" for example, the study did not define political empowerment as "can run for politics."


Lets say Canada passes legislation saying >50% of MPs must be women.

That would be an extreme abuse of democracy. If only 50% of ridings have a woman running. It would mean those riding automatically go to those women. Those ridings don't get to vote.

So yes, political empowerment only goes so in far as women having the right to run. Not confirmation bias; I simply believe in democracy.

I also note you never commented on the other points which were much more egregious and clearly make things appear much worse than it actually is.

I also go back and recalculate Canada's score. We are the MOST equal country surpassing Iceland and Rwanda by gigantic strides it also makes the study look pretty stupid because our equality is perfect and yet we have a large wage gap still.

This is because the gender wage gap isn't discrimination. It's entirely based on decisions made by women.


I'm trying to tell you that for each of your criticisms of the study you ignored their definitions and evidence and applied your own based on your feelings. For another example, 'Health and Survival' was not based on if women lived longer than men but "an estimate of the number of years that women and men can expect to live in good health by taking into account the years lost to violence, disease, malnutrition and other relevant factor." This was defined in the paper but you either chose to ignore it or didn't bother to read how they defined it.


> The countries with the highest wage gaps are the countries with the most equality in the workplace.

Yeah, I am not sure what to think of the data. It's not what I would expect.

How is US, Canada, Austria having such a large gender wage gap, followed by Canada.

Then Greece, Bulgaria and Romania are all the way on the left. Having lived in Eastern Europe, I would not consider it overall a bastion of women's equality and rights, not according to the West European standards at least. Granted though, during the Soviet times women and girls were studying math and science just as well as the boys even if not better and it was never specifically promoted or pushed via a "women in STEM" or such similar programs I have seen here, it just happened. Perhaps there is a remnant of that mentality and maybe there is something to be learned from there.


This horse has been beaten to death, beaten again, and is now resembling something less than horse-like, but women that are given equal opportunity to pursue any career path they want will choose paths they enjoy instead of paths that offer raw financial gain. Same is true for men too, actually. It just so happens that more women prefer socially oriented jobs like teaching and nursing than men do. It's not complicated. Freedom doesn't mean everyone is equal in every aspect, it just means that everyone can choose what to be instead of being told what to be and - shockingly - not everyone wants to be the same thing.


The explanation is simple.

When you provide women the opportunity to become anything they want. They choose the careers that they choose. Which tend to me more social related careers. Teaching or nursing for example does not scale well; therefore salaries are limited.

Whereas men pick more "stuff" categories. It's men who work in STEM creating things. A car or an iphone is going to be generally speaking men who design it. These scale very well and salaries can be larger.

By these modern approaches that allow women to go into whatever they want to do. This is what creates the gender wage gap.


The 'people just choosing different careers' throws a lot of inequality under a rug and calls the problem solved.

1) If we tell women their whole childhood that some jobs are for men and some are for women and vice versa for men then ask them when they turn 18 what job they want we'll get horrendously unequal outcomes even though people are completely free to choose.

2) Valuation of jobs is based partially on the view of the value of the work in addition to the actual value provided. e.g. there's huge amount of societal gain to be reaped by providing better education to our children but various forces keeps the wages to teachers depressed relative to the gains to be had from providing smaller classrooms. In a more solid sense it's much harder to evaluate the value provided by a better elementary school teacher because most of the metrics for success are either years in the future (wages, college graduation rates, etc) or tied up in a huge number of other influences.

These kinds of defuse benefit jobs are a lot of what have been traditionally gendered as women's jobs and in the past were just part of the huge unpaid work that women were expected to do and often are unfairly characterized as easier or less educated/lower skilled jobs. There's a whole gendered history tied up in just how we evaluate these jobs and their benefits.


1) Except that in the western world we do not tell people their whole childhood that they are to do X because of their gender. We actively tell people they can be whatever they want, and as far back I can remember in primary school (early 80s) that's been the case.

2) Valuation doesn't always equate to monetary remuneration. For example (at least in Australia), police, teachers etc get FAR more leave and holidays compared to the rest of the country. That needs to be taken into account as part of the valuation. Stress also factors into why certain professions are "worth" more than others. IT is highly stressful, in comparison to other social professions.


Not explicitly can't but there's a lot of 'boys work' and 'girls work' gendering around work and skills. Progress has been made sure but there'll be a lag of decades before changes at the childhood education level work their way through to employment stats.


> If we tell women their whole childhood that some jobs are for men and some are for women and vice versa for men then ask them when they turn 18 what job they want we'll get horrendously unequal outcomes even though people are completely free to choose.

This would make some sense if women had been in the workforce for centuries and were well-established in particular fields, but women have only been in the workforce for a relatively short period of time and the cultural influences that might direct them into one job over another are not even remotely strong enough to play the role you think they do. There is almost nothing except the non-stop message of "you can do anything you want to do" given to little girls today and they are electing to do what they want to do. To assume they are trapped by some sort of cultural force that prefers them to do medicine instead of engineering (neither of which existed as a female field prior to the 20th century) is nonsense. Today, most medical school and law school graduates are women. Most engineering graduates are men. Unless men are fiercely protecting engineering for some weird, inexplicable reason, it would seem like women have had their say and chosen what they want to do.


> Valuation of jobs is based partially on the view of the value of the work

This is false on multiple levels. Functional water treatment have a much bigger effect on health then functional health care, but water treatment employees are paid far less than doctors. We can likely make a similar argument for sewer treatment, garbage collection and mortuaries. We can see similar disconnect between teachers and veterinarians, where those that work with our children are paid less than those working with our pets.

A large part of Marxism is the disconnection between pay and value. There is no easy answers and bias is a poor explanation in order to understand the issue.


1. Could you provide a source showing this discrimination in school? I went to school, men and women were definitely told they could be anything. Also the schools are extremely left-wing SJW(Canadian schools teach children that the right-wing are all racists) so I find this assertion to be immensely unlikely.

2. Teachers in Ontario receive ~$140,000/year for 8 months of work, 5 hours a day. This is publicly available via the sunshine list. If you're using teachers as an example of bias. You're barking up the wrong tree here these inflated teacher wages raise the wages of women on average.

Furthermore, teachers are outside the standard capitalist system. If you want to use them as an example of valuation of you must support the privatization of teachers. I would support that idea. Might not end up well for those $140,000 teachers.

The point is though, women are not 100% teachers and the teacher unions are extremely strong; women and men are being paid the same as teachers.


> 2. Teachers in Ontario receive ~$140,000/year for 8 months of work, 5 hours a day. This is publicly available via the sunshine list. If you're using teachers as an example of bias. You're barking up the wrong tree here these inflated teacher wages raise the wages of women on average.

"5 hours a day" because all the material and lesson plans just appears out of nowhere along with all the graded work and administrative work...

Also I'm very happy that Ontario seems to have a good grasp on the value of teaching but that REALLY isn't true in the US where our average salary in 2016-17 was ~$38k [0].

Also my point wasn't that women are being paid less as teacher but the kind of 'social jobs' typically filled by women that the OP was talking about are valued less. Gender equality within that job isn't particularly relevant there I was talking about the profession as a whole vs other professions.

[0] http://www.nea.org/home/2016-2017-average-starting-teacher-s...


>> average salary in 2016-17 was ~$38k [0]

average STARTING salary -- I think you knew that and "conveniently" left out that one important word. Big difference.

A very brief look at your NEA source (i.e. the lobbying org for teachers, so of course it is biased) reveals that it is obviously flawed. $38+change is the average of each state's average salary -- like the Senate, it gives equal representation to California and to Wyoming. It's pretty easy to see that the most populous states tend to have averages above $38k, in fact many well above $40 (Cali, Texas, NY, PA) while many of the lowest salaries are from much smaller states (W.Va, Montana, Idaho). There is no way, if the state averages are accurate, that the national average is only $38+change. I think you know this too but choose to quote these stats verbatim anyway.

I will also note public school teachers have almost zero chance of getting fired, no worries about their "company" going out of business or bought out or taken over, and become eligible for generous pensions.


I think it is worth noting that the quality of the data can vary a lot from country to country. On average, governments in countries such as Germany and Norway tend to be more critical and transparent of their own actions while others may try to swipe the issue under the rug of inflate numbers when they deem appropriate. Of course, it doesn't mean there are no truths to the data, it just needs to be taken with a grain of salt even if it is the OECD.


> On average, governments in countries such as Germany and Norway tend to be more critical and transparent of their own actions while others may try to swipe the issue under the rug of inflate numbers when they deem appropriate.

Great point. Yeah I can see that happening.


> The important thing though is the people proposing that the wage gap is a problem has a solution. They are pushing equality of outcome.

That's not a solution, that's another problem.


Exactly my point.

The mcdonalds cashier should not be compensated the same as someone like a neuroscientist.

If we get replicators invented and everyone can have whatever they please like in star trek. We still don't need communism. Capitalism will still work, stuff will just be free but if you want a PERSON to do something you still would need to pay.


Actually I find that table a bit suspicious. The sequence of countries ordered by pay gap (lowest to highest) is the following:

Romania, Costa Rica, Luxembourg, Belgium, Bulgaria, Greece, Slovenia, Italy, Denmark, Turkey, Norway, New Zealand, Colombia, Malta, Hungary, Poland, France, Iceland, Ireland, Mexico, Spain, Lithuania, Cyprus, Netherlands, Portugal, Australia, Switzerland, Slovak Republic, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Finland, United Kingdom, Canada, United States, Chile, Latvia, Israel, Japan, Estonia, Korea.

See the pattern there? Neither do I. Usually there is some correlation by continent, cultural area, GDP, HDI, etc. In this case there seems to be nothing. Romania and Costa Rica and Luxembourg are the countries with the smallest wage gap; Netherlands, UK and US are way up there, in company of Chile, Canada and Estonia. Turkey is wedged right in between Denmark and Norway. Netherlands' pay gap is 4 times that of neighbouring Belgium. Mexico and Ireland are the same. Lithuania's gap is half that of Estonia and Latvia. Strange.


> Women in Korea are not treated poorly.

Do you know this for sure? Developed East Asian countries are some of the worst in terms of work equality for women, particularly if they want to have children. Not a good example to use.


Japan and Korea are 'very gendered' countries.

Technically, everything could be equal, but men and women have much stronger gender roles there, it's very deeply ingrained into culture.


I admittedly do not know this. I just replied to another person who provided a source which asserts that Korea is the worst country for equality. Which if true would explain why Korea has a large wage gap.

I'm not defending this at all however. I'm perfectly happy to believe that South Korea is worse than Saudi Arabia toward treatment of women.


It's only "apples to oranges" if you're willing to beg the entire question. Why is elementary teaching less highly paid than university teaching? Why is nurse practitioning less highly paid than anaesthesiologizing?


Let's not act as though those are in any ways similar. Elementary school teaching does require less academic rigor than a university professor. Same applies to RNs vs an anesthesiologist.

I do not mean to belittle those career choices (if anything, I myself want to become a k12 school teacher at some point in life). But, there are a certain set of traits that are needed to excel at the 'prestigious' careers. Disposition towards hard work beyond the standard 9-5, an acumen for logical reasoning, ability to retain large quantities of information are all more rare than social skills and empathy, which take precedence in elementary teaching or nursing.

Our culture idolizes the hard working, career oriented person, that sacrifice other things in life to singularly chase this money and fame driven idea of success. This is irrespective of how physically/mentally healthy it is, or if it positively correlates to long term happiness.

IMO, it leads to an obsession to prove that men and women being equal, would have equal outcomes on this narrow benchmark for success. It both neglects the fact that that social norms haven't changed as much and that equal outcome is meaningless without context.

p.s: nice to see someone use 'beg the question' in the correct context.


> Elementary school teaching does require less academic rigor than a university professor.

But you replace that with a need for a lot more knowledge of teaching and child psychology, so I'd say doing a good job is significantly harder even in the sense of requiring a lot of education.


> a lot more knowledge of teaching and child psychology

Do they really though? In my experience, school teachers don't really have either and both are either learned on the job or academically taught when pursuing the major. Being a great teacher is tough, but very few teachers are actually great.

Being a university professor is IMO, among the hardest positions to get. In my experience, the smartest people I know are university professors.

If anything, many university professors are grossly underpaid (for what they offer) in exchange for job security and complete freedom to pursue what they love.


Well there's a reason I said 'need' not 'reliably get'.

Also the original quote was university teaching. The whole professorship and tenure thing is a separate giant ball of complication, and you're right that all that non-teaching stuff is extremely difficult.


There is a relative recent (<10 years) government study in Sweden that looked at gender segregation of the teaching profession, and one suggestion they made to make the profession more gender equal and bring more men into the profession was to focus the program to include more academic studies.


> so I'd say doing a good job is significantly harder

Maybe, but this highlights another problem in "soft" careers (social, marketing, teaching etc). It's very hard to objectively qualify candidates. In programming, it's easy: you can program, or not. If you can, the question is likely how fast can you learn new things, and how complex programs you can design & write. Good lawyers win cases. Good traders make money. And so on... How do you compare teachers, marketers (except bullshit "increased engagement by 1600%" claims on their CVs), etc?


In case anyone isn't aware of the obvious answer it is at least partially because of supply and demand.

More people are considered qualified as elementary school teachers than those qualified for university teaching. Same with nurses and doctors.


Is this really a question? It takes more dedicated study to become an anesthesiologist than an elementary school teacher.


Does it? Both require professional degrees and a practical internship.


I know of no jurisdiction where becoming an elementary school teacher requires a professional degree or practical internship.


Amount of training required.

I'd be fine with a random anesthesiologist teaching my grade schooler, but I'd hesitate to have a random elementary school teacher giving him anesthesia.

Elementary school teaching: a teaching certificate.

University professor: PhD, pre-tenure work & published research (Note that there are less-qualified people teaching in universities that are compensated much less.)

Nurse practitioner: Master's degree (undergraduate plus 2 years)

Anesthesiologist: Undergraduate + medical degree (4 years) + residency (4 years) + possible specialty training.


How do software developers fare under that regime? I make 3x more as a software developer than my teacher friends that have had far more schooling (masters degrees in many cases, plus continuing education requirements). I don't know where you live, but in my state (Michigan) teachers have rigorous certification requirements.

And I definitely would NOT expect someone without training to be an effective teacher. I'm in awe of what my kids' teachers are able to do. Classroom management is a skill that is incredibly difficult to master.


Successful software engineers have a lot of knowledge & skill that is often acquired informally, so it may not be reflected in university history. Because of the demand for developers and the apparent difficulty of acquiring the skills, they are well-compensated.

If a person has a bachelor's degree, they can get a Michigan interim teaching certificate by passing a test. https://www.teachercertificationdegrees.com/certification/mi... Permanent certification then requires 12 hours (1 semester full-time) of courses, or working toward a masters degree would probably give an immediate and permanent bump in pay.

Imagine a random liberal arts graduate: Would it be easier to go into elementary teaching in Michigan or software development?


I see a lot of parallels between this alternative certification route and a bootcamp: yes, the route is shorter, but you're at a huge disadvantage when applying for entry-level positions.

The teachers I know personally obtained traditional four-plus-year bachelors degrees before applying for jobs. In most cases, they had to do a year or more of subbing before finding a permanent position.

(edit to add: education degrees are very hard to get done in four years, especially with the aiding, student teaching, etc.)


I think how far you are removed from the direct financial impact of your job plays a major role in it.

It is harder to measure a cost on society inflicted by poorly educated students than it is to measure the cost of buggy, failing commercial software. Also, students who were academic failures are not necessarily guaranteed to fail in life, since there are ways to succeed in life other than by being good at school subjects, whereas an incorrect software program can never succeed.

The same holds true even inside the same field. It depends whether you are near a cash cow or a cost center. Working on infrastructure, building tooling for other developers is not likely to be rewarded as well as writing code that could cost your company millions if there is a bug.

There are also differences in specialization. An average game dev is probably going to make less than an average mobile dev, who in turn is going to make less than what a random quant makes.


Intellectual capacity- programming requires a certain ability towards abstract thinking and logic that a minority of the population is comfortable with.

I actually believe a greater percentage of the population, by far, is CAPABLE of this, but very few choose a path that gives them a self idealization that they believe they can or want to be a computer expert of any sort.


I'd argue that the skill-set to be an effective teacher is also not prevalent in the general population. This includes not only intellectual capacity (effective pedagogy is hardly a cakewalk) but also the emotional intelligence required to manage a classroom.


I think it gets back to self-image. Many many women can 'see' themselves as a teacher. Relatively few imagine themselves in a career in tech.

This is very much a cultural issue- the messages women receive from their media sources rarely contain reinforcement towards technical excellence.

This is a frustration for technically oriented men, I believe, because we aren't directly the source of this disparity- I think the vast majority of STEMish career men would welcome more women into the fold as true peers, but are somewhat aggravated by messages that we are somehow directly responsible for large cultural forces we have little/no power over.

Its been positive to see more girls get into sports as that message has permeated into the culture. Hopeful an equivalent message about women and STEM will percolate into the larger collective id.


Amount of training is not the reason. It's supply and demand. Training requirements reduce supply, but that's only part of it.

Not many people can play bagpipes, so supply is low. But not many people will pay to hear bagpipes, so demand is low, too. Bagpiping doesn't pay well.

Nearly everyone needs food cooked, so demand is high. But nearly everyone can cook, so supply is high, too. Cooking doesn't pay well.

Not many people can do surgery, so supply is low. Many people need surgery, so demand is high. Surgery pays well.

Supply and demand explains why surgeons make more than teachers, why basketball stars make more than nurses, and why programmers make more than janitors. It isn't about how hard something is or how noble it is. It's just supply and demand.


I agree that training requirements affect salary primarily by limiting supply. But I think the description of supply and demand above is inaccurate because of the many distortions in these markets, including teachers unions, monopsony providers/employers in public education, insurance company contracts, lack of price information, etc.

These market distortions affect the prices and thus the salaries in various ways. Teacher shortages show that the wage is not sensitive to the supply and demand for teachers. Do people shop around for price on needed surgeries? Do they even know the price before receiving the surgery? Do they even pay the price of the surgery? (usually paying some subsidized part of a contractually limited price).

Basketball stars show another market distortion, particularly in college basketball. The player salary is not governed by supply and demand, but by the cartel of college sports (though colleges do compete on non-salary benefits they provide...)

You could assert that these factors just inflate or reduce the supply or the demand, but it's not simply "lots of people want but few provide therefore it pays well".


> Elementary school teaching: a teaching certificate and a Master's degree

FTFY


Does any state require a Masters for elementary ed?

Generally only specialized teaching areas require a master's degree.

A Bachelors and a teacher training program w/ possible test is generally sufficient - and you can usually begin teaching with an interim/provisional certificate, and work on the certification as you go.

https://www.teacher.org/how-to-become/ https://www.alleducationschools.com/teacher-certification/


Supply and demand. Easier to become an elementary teacher, more qualified elementary teachers available compared to the need


I'm not sure if that's a good thing. the bar for elementary teachers might just be too low


>It's only "apples to oranges" if you're willing to beg the entire question. Why is elementary teaching less highly paid than university teaching? Why is nurse practitioning less highly paid than anaesthesiologizing?

Because of education level?

A university professor has a PHD. An elementary teacher has a bachelors degree.

If you think a PHD and a bachelors degree should be paid the same. That's perfectly fine, that's called communism. It's perfectly fine to be a communist.


This isn't quite right. People are paid such that the amount is enough to attract needed workers and less than the value those workers provide. Education isn't a critical factor except that it enables people to be more productive and therefore more desirable to employers.

As an example: a middle school dropout who self learned machine learning, became a master, published papers, worked at a successful startup etc, will likely be better paid than your average History PhD.


Calling it "apples to oranges" is overlooking how some fields are broadly underpaid, which often (though not always) overlaps with gender disparity. For example, primary and secondary school teaching is a 'traditionally female' field that gets massively underpaid compared to tertiary education, despite if anything being much more important to society.




Nope, not that, either: the supply of doctors, for instance, is deliberately restricted by the American Medical Association; whereas the supply of elementary teachers is not restricted by the CAEP. Supply and demand are still second-order effects here.


If the supply of doctors is restricted, then you'd expect them to get higher pay, and vice versa with teachers. I agree it is a secondary effect. The cost of training/education required to perform the job is bigger, though it ultimately has the same effect of reducing supply.


Were we to, say, stop the cap on H1-Bs in the medical profession, doctors' pay might migrate down towards teachers' and the OECD average (and US healthcare might be affordable).


The “underpay” of teachers is due to supply and demand.


[flagged]


> High school teachers should be paid much less than university professors.

Why?


I imagine you want to make the point that primary School education is more important than secondary School education (which may be true) and thus should be paid better.

I disagree with this in general, because I don't feel like the skills and knowledge needed to be a successful primary School educator are as difficult or unique as those needed to be a secondary School educator.

My reasoning is that a good percentage of the value that comes from primary School education is based around behavioural education, such as learning how to interact and behave with peers and teams. It also is a place where students learn authority and social heptarchy, and punishment and consequence. In addition to learning the foundations of school subjects.

In secondary education, it's assumed that the student has learned all that, and their attention will be focused on difficult study of each of their subjects. The professor should be an embodiment of that subject, with understanding beyond primary School educators. Likewise it's arguably more difficult to keep the attention of University students than primary students.

On the other hand (as in not in general), if someone was a truly exceptional primary educator / early life coach / babysitter, what have you, then the private sector would be a better place for them I imagine.


High school, college, any STEM fields are all overwhelmingly biased in terms of favoring women. 57% of college graduates are women. Men are not only getting the short end of the stick but are being told by every voice that they are privileged, it’s their fault, they are bad whereas women have sooooo many extra programs and positive reinforcement to succeed.

No one with a straight face can tell me women in entry level tech programs are not incredibly favored. All my below average coder friends that are women got awesome jobs with high salaries extremely easily. Yes, I talk with them and they agree with what I’m saying.

The actual discrimination against women comes in PhD programs, programs where their success is determined by 1 or 2 superiors (mostly men in advanced research programs), areas with primarily male coworkers, and creepy bosses. The area with most discrimination for women is in non major liberal cities. I went to the Midwest twice and saw more blatant sexism in the workforce than I have my entire life. 2 friends confided that they were asked to trade sexual favors for promotions albeit this was 20 years ago and that was the deciding factor for them moving to the Bay. These things are horrible and I can’t imagime the emotional trauma for that.

However, in the Bay Area and the majority of society the pendulum has swung way too far the other way. I don’t care if people think me sexist, these are my observations over my lifetime from both sides and unlesss convinced otherwise this is what I believe.


[edited for typos and grammer] Anecdotally, I've run a couple of tech conferences and know others who have as well fairly recently. We've made a point to hold workshops for under represented groups, had the Codes of Conduct, make a lot of extra effort to reach out to women as speakers etc..

In the end, we would get 5 to 10 times as many talk submissions from men, accept nearly all of the talks by women (often turning down higher quality talks from men) trying to get diversity numbers and have a much higher cancellation rate form the women for various reasons, especially money. If we were lucky we would get 20-30% women speakers when all of that was done. I've also been told by some diversity activists that, in order to get women to speak and to get higher percentages of women as speakers etc., unlike most of the men, you need to pay for their travel etc., offer free tickets for women attendees, consider offering stipends for women who speak etc..

Others, organizing other conferences have shared similar experiences. It's one thing to fight against blatant sexism which I'm for, but this is turning into something else.


I’ll repeat points that aren’t my original ideas, but are painfully obvious here.

It’s very simple what it’s become: sexist against men.

This is what happens when you aim for equality of outcome instead of equality of opportunity.

I believe we’re in a Kantian second stage. We were sexist against women. Now, we’re sexist against men. The hopeful third step


I think I prefer dynamic systems view. We're oscillating. We've been under the target, overcorrected, and we're above the target now. Like always in (widely-understood) politics, this will be met with another overcorrection; all we can hope for is that there's dampening in the system, so that we'll converge on target at some point.


It doesn't seem like the system dampens. Instead, there seems to be some kind of anger that for 99% of men "privilege" means working hard, making compromises, and other stuff that's roughly as crappy as being a housewife. Men aren't all that happy they've got this "privilege", and when women have the option of being a salaryman they feel like they must have been cheated because it's not a top-floor office where everyone just sips whisky on leather lounges.


Having to deal with men who "aren't happy" that they exist sure sounds like something that would make the job suck more for women than it does for men.


Why?


I don’t really like being accepting of oscillation.

Forward movement, progress, shouldn’t be defined as updating who we discriminate against.

Progress would be to stop discriminating. Optimizing for equality of outcome seems to be causing discrimination. That doesn’t look like progress to me.


It is not progress at all. The pendulum of who to discriminate against has been swinging back and forth for hundreds of years. And every time a new group is targeted, it is to the cheers of some other group.

It's difficult to have a factual debate around workplace discrimination because anyone who suggests that women are being favoured, is instantly attacked by social justice activists who rely more on moral outrage rather than facts or logic. A lot of the discussion on this thread today would not be something that people would say out loud near coworkers.


I agree with you strongly. This isn't progress. This is essentially the same shit on a different day, and amplified by social media. I'm by no means accepting of it, I just feel this analogy is more accurate.

I brought up dynamic systems to point out that this isn't and won't be a three-step process of "the extreme, the other extreme, the golden middle". This phenomenon is continuous and oscillating; more than that, it can be dampened, stable or runaway, and which of those it is, depends on a lot of factors. If we manage to dampen it down, then we'll have made progress.


If you aren't just hiring every person who walks through the door, you are discriminating. The question is whether you are hiring on relevant characteristics or irrelevant bullshit, and whether your job is more appealing to people on the basis of protected characteristics in ways that end up with an overwhelmingly-male workforce of people willing to be treated unfairly. Being thoughtful and taking responsibility for which people you are choosing to include is at least honest, unlike accepting a sexist status quo as magically "neutral".


How do you factor in path dependence? (A kind of inertia, that either requires some affirmative action style correction, or an "unfairly" long time to overcome.)


I don't see path dependence as explicit component of this model; "affirmative action style corrections" however are accounted for in the amplitude; they're part of the corrections that happen (or increasingly, IMO, overcorrections).


Kantian second stage

For those who slept through the philosophy class, what these stages are?



Kant and Hegel are... different.


> Kant and Hegel are... different

Hegel, when discussing his dialectic, ascribed it to Kant. Presumably to keep philosophy majors on their toes.


And the Marxian dialectic is supposed to be different still.


It's this kind of thing which gets abused in politics. You see the same thing with a certain countries in the Middle East.

So, you're a boring white male who works in one of these industries. You're told constantly that you benefit from "white male privilege". Your experience, the statistics, clearly show this to be bullst.

What do you do? Do you trust anything that other authority figures tell you? Of course not. So you stop your kids getting vaccinated and vote for your country to leave the EU because it means 350 million a week more for your National Health Service..

This is the trap progressives - whose number I count myself in - must do better to avoid if they want to progress towards a fairer and better world.


There are a lot of clueless "progressives" out there. Usually more focused on their ideology/dogma, than on actual problems and solutions.


I'm interested in what you think of actions that aim to correct entrenched issues by forcing them. eg affirmative action.


I'm genuinely curious how we might factor in the differences between genders in occupation selection and that women and men may innately value different types of work e.g. women are more empathic than men and dominate the nursing field etc


By keeping an open mind. It's ok if 90% of women want to just play with kids all day, and 90% of men want to play with guns all day. But telling, suggesting, stopping the other 10% from trying the other side is the problem.

It's inherently hard. After all, statistically 9 out of 10 will match your expectations, but you should embrace the outliers, help them understand, that they're perfectly okay, and capable of doing whatever they think they want, be it guns, C++, teacher, nurse, etc.


> This is what happens when you aim for equality of outcome instead of equality of opportunity.

People throw this accusation around all the time, but it doesn't make much sense. Outcomes are the only holistic way to measure opportunity.

If you're seeing one group getting lesser outcomes, there are only two possibilities: Their opportunities are being artificially limited somewhere, or one of the groups is simply better than the other. So if you really believe this is a meaningful distinction to draw — that measuring outcomes can't tell us about opportunity — what you're really saying is, "The groups who haven't traditionally been in power are in that position because they are innately less capable."


There's a third possibility: men and women really do have different interests. Further evidence for this comes from the observation that:

The More Gender Equality, the Fewer Women in STEM

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/02/the-more...


That doesn't seem like a third possibility — it sounds like the same thing as "The groups who haven't traditionally been in power are in that position because they are innately less capable."

It's theoretically possible that women just generally suck at computers, but if that's someone's argument, I'd prefer they come out and actually make the argument instead of throwing around smokescreens about "equality of outcomes vs. equality of opportunity."


Capable isn't the same thing as interested. I know many smart people who have no interest in programming (and wonder why I enjoy it). As The Atlantic said:

> Then again, it could just be that, feeling financially secure and on equal footing with men, some women will always choose to follow their passions, rather than whatever labor economists recommend. And those passions don’t always lie within science [or technology].


I know many smart people who have no interest in programming (and wonder why I enjoy it)

I had an ex-girlfriend who could code, but had no interest in doing that for a job. I'm currently married to a woman with 3 degrees, one of which is a PhD, and she also can code, but says she feels sorry for me, because it's my job.


It is when we're talking about outcomes within a field. Either you think women deserve to be paid less or not — there isn't really a third possibility there. If they do deserve worse outcomes, then either they suck innately or they suck because they're not interested, but either way you're saying they suck.


Don't try to put words in my mouth with that false dichotomy.

If someone isn't interested in programming, they don't "suck" at it. They just don't do it.


I'm talking about outcomes for female programmers here. You're saying that female programmers don't program, and therefore they deserve to be paid less than male programmers, who presumably do program? Or what? Who are these female programmers who don't program that you're apparently so interested in talking about?


Women who achieve the same things as men deserve the same compensation. I don't think anyone on this thread disagrees with that.

This article is about a comprehensive review of salaries at Google that concluded that overall, women who achieved the same job levels as men were being paid more.

The opportunity vs. outcome question is applied to the question of representation. How many women should we expect to see at Google, across job levels, if the process for selecting and promoting people is fair?


You're saying that female programmers don't program, and therefore they deserve to be paid less

This is weird. That's not how I read what leereeves wrote at all. Yet you repeatedly insist that's what he's saying. Are you perhaps projecting an opinion onto leereeves? Preferences can very much influence the outcomes of a training pipeline for a field. (I say this as someone who taught a class attended by Chic Tech students.) That's just common sense.


I'm trying to get leereeves to actually explain what he means. What sort of difference do people think exists between men and women that makes them deserve to, for example, be paid less for the same work (i.e. worse outcome) without being worse at the job?


You're asking me to explain something that may not even be true. According to the article, your scenario is not reality:

> When Google conducted a study recently to determine whether the company was underpaying women and members of minority groups, it found, to the surprise of just about everyone, that men were paid less money than women for doing similar work.

men were paid less money than women for doing similar work.


My room mate works fewer hours than me and doesn't have oncall rotations. He makes less money accordingly.

Are you willing to walk up to his face and tell him that he "sucks" because he doesn't work as hard and doesn't have the same TC as I do?

To be frank, your posts are pretty denigrating to people who choose to have better work life balance. Not everyone sees their self worth in terms of dollars.


It's interesting that you still don't understand the third possibility. I wonder if it has something to do with why many hard-leaning leftists also only consider the first two as possibilities.


OK, let me give you an example outcome and maybe you can explain to me how the third possibility applies in a way that is meaningfully distinct from the first two.

Outcome: The women working as programmers at FooSoft make on average 10% less than the men working there.

Possible reasons:

1. Lack of opportunity (e.g. people in power at FooSoft have bias against them makes it harder for them to have their contributions valued)

2. They just aren't as good as the men

3. They...have different interests in some way that apparently doesn't make them worse but does make them deserve to be paid less?


Let's be specific and replace FooSoft with Google.

A quick search suggests that only 20% of programmers in general are female, but 30% of Google programmers are female. I'm not certain these numbers are accurate, but if they are, female programmers are over represented at Google.

That would mean Google hired a greater percentage of female programmers than male programmers. That is, if Google hired the top 0.1% of male programmers, they hired the top 0.15% of female programmers.

If we assume two groups have identical distribution of qualifications, the female programmers hired would have lower qualifications, as an obvious consequence of a hiring policy that favors women. That's not saying women are less qualified, it's saying that Google hires women who are less qualified because they want to hire more women than the 20% that sex-blind hiring would result in.


A quick search suggests that only 20% of programmers in general are female, but 30% of Google programmers are female. I'm not certain these numbers are accurate, but if they are, female programmers are over represented at Google.

Going by the "logic" of outcomes being the "only holistic measure" this would indicate that Google is biased against male programmers within the context of the pool of available candidates. Yet if we change the scope of our consideration to that of the general population, Google would be biased against females.

Seems like the "only holistic measure" has some kind of issue with logical consistency. One has to be careful with how the population sample relates to the specific pipeline of available candidates. If one isn't careful, then the interpretation of the numbers might as well be fiction. You can't just stop at, "Does it match the general population? No? Then BIAS!"


> Yet if we change the scope of our consideration to that of the general population, Google would be biased against females.

That would be expecting Google to hire untrained people as programmers, which would be absurd.

If we compare with the general population, any bias found wouldn't be at Google, but in the school system, children's entertainment, parenting, or some other group that influences people long before they apply to Google.


> A quick search suggests that only 20% of programmers in general are female, but 30% of Google programmers are female. I'm not certain these numbers are accurate, but if they are, female programmers are over represented at Google.

The pool of programmers "In general" is not relevant for Google. They don't hire programmers in general, but are focused on a specific subset (usually from some big universities).


What's the gender distribution of graduates from those big universities?


Let me get this straight: When women are hired less, it's because they're simply not interested. But when men are hired less, it's because they're being discriminated against?

I think my hypothesis is simpler:

- Women are discriminated against in the industry as a whole

- Google actively discriminates in favor of women

It's discrimination both times.


What makes you think women are hired less?

When Google (and other top tech companies) actively discriminate in favor of women, that causes the appearance of discrimination elsewhere in the industry, because the top tech companies have taken more of the best female programmers and those who weren't hired by Google et al are, on average, worse than the men who weren't hired by Google et al.

And when I spoke about interests, I was discussing why few women choose to study computer science.


Women are discriminated against in the industry as a whole

I would expect in 2019, that the industry as a whole discriminates in favor of women, but I'm just a layperson when it comes to that. Do you have citations?

- Google actively discriminates in favor of women

It's discrimination both times.

I agree.


It may be that it has changed very recently, but a few years ago there were quite a few studies that showed an anti-women bias in evaluating employees. For example, here's a quickly Googled cite that talks about a preference for resumes with male names over female: https://www.aauw.org/2015/06/11/john-or-jennifer/

This could even still be true at Google, though I don't have insight into whether or not it is. It seems at least plausible that Google has put systemic biases in place to balance out more diffuse bias among individual humans, but has done too thorough a job.


When orchestras started using blinds for auditions, the population of women hired shot up. Have there been attempts to do blind hiring? If so, what were the results?


Excellent question. There was an article a few years ago about an interviewing platform that tried using voice modulation to play with the gender of candidates:

"Contrary to what we expected (and probably contrary to what you expected as well!), masking gender had no effect on interview performance with respect to any of the scoring criteria (would advance to next round, technical ability, problem solving ability). If anything, we started to notice some trends in the opposite direction of what we expected: for technical ability, it appeared that men who were modulated to sound like women did a bit better than unmodulated men and that women who were modulated to sound like men did a bit worse than unmodulated women. Though these trends weren’t statistically significant, I am mentioning them because they were unexpected and definitely something to watch for as we collect more data." http://blog.interviewing.io/we-built-voice-modulation-to-mas...


I'd had that study in my mental lexicon of "gender bias studies that aren't total bullshit" for a long time until recently. Seemed like a pretty black and white way to isolate gender discrimination. Turns out it - or rather the reporting on it - is also bullshit[1].

[1] https://medium.com/@jsmp/orchestrating-false-beliefs-about-g...


You've jumped into a discussion about the ratio of men to women in STEM and started talking about equal pay, when none of the parent comments were taking about pay, and the article we are discussing is a study that found women at Google get paid more than their male peers. I'm not sure what's going on here.


Yeah, this isn't what we're talking about at all.

Outcome: Women working as programmers at FooSoft comprise 10% less of the workforce than men working there.

Possible reasons

1. Hiring bias

2. Not as qualified

3. Less applicants due to disinterest in programming as a vocation


Outcomes are the only holistic way to measure opportunity.

I'm sorry, but that's "not even wrong" as Pauli would say.

what you're really saying is, "The groups who haven't traditionally been in power are in that position because they are innately less capable."

Group cultures/subcultures can pass on knowledge, which can then provide advantages and then be transmitted to different groups. No racial or innate superiority or inferiority is needed for such an explanation. This is well corroborated by history. (See Thomas Sowell's Migrations And Cultures: A World View) An example of this is found in the German influences in Mexico, and the part of Monterrey one of my old hackerspace colleagues is from. He's quite proud of the progressive schooling he had and of the engineering culture there. (The story of German emigration has its stories of misfortune as well, including examples of German ethnic disadvantage as well.)

20th century hacker culture has its roots in the model railway building scene, which was largely a male space. There's nothing inherently male about model railway building or hacking itself, but there was something about the subculture which was. If we're to change this, then it shouldn't be done from the punitive and negative standpoint of blame, but from a positive view of transmission. No "inherent" or identitarian notions are needed at all.


> Outcomes are the only holistic way to measure opportunity.

Additionally, this is also affected by Simpson's paradox. Without conditioning on the correct causal effects, you may end up at exactly the opposite conclusion to the truth.


What you're describing here is a disparity of outcomes reflecting a disparity of opportunity, isn't it? I agree with everything you said here, but you're presenting it as a disagreement, so I'm a little bit confused.


What you're describing here is a disparity of outcomes reflecting a disparity of opportunity, isn't it?

What I'm talking about is a kind of "grassroots" disparity of opportunity. It's not necessarily the same as a "systemic" disparity of opportunity. The former can often be available to people who are literally poorer than the poor. (As has been the case for Chinese immigrants at times.) Irish Traditional music contains another example of the former.

Often, disparities can be a mix of these two things.

I agree with everything you said here, but you're presenting it as a disagreement, so I'm a little bit confused

I'm glad you're feeling a little bit confused. Often, this can be a good sign!

The problem with how such disparities are talked about and acted upon, is that the complexity of the situation is often downplayed or drastically underestimated, then combined with a punitive attitude of blame and compensation. This isn't how these things are known to work. The best way to transmit cultural knowledge is through some form of competition. (Friendly and peaceful are best, of course.)


I don't think anyone here is arguing for punishment or blame, though — I certainly wasn't. All I said was that if you look at a group getting much worse outcomes and declare that their opportunities were at least as good as the group getting better outcomes, it logically follows that the members of the group are simply not capable. If you wouldn't feel confident saying that explicitly, then comments about "outcomes vs. opportunity" are misguided and there's probably some kind of opportunity disparity that you've missed but which is reflected in the outcome.


I don't think anyone here is arguing for punishment or blame, though

An old schoolmate of mine who was at Google before the James Damore thing happened, was saying stuff just afterwards like, maybe it's time that males got stuff taken away from them.

All I said was that if you look at a group getting much worse outcomes and declare that their opportunities were at least as good as the group getting better outcomes, it logically follows that the members of the group are simply not capable.

Sorry, but it doesn't follow logically. I've dated two women who can code, and who can outperform students I've taught in that, but who don't like doing it at all. Their employment outcomes as programmers would be nil, because that's not what they want to do. People keep explaining this to you, and yet you keep coming out with, "it logically follows that the members of the group are simply not capable." I got a group of two who are capable, but have an outcome of zero. Proof by example, your logical assertion is wrong. (No guff about anecdotes vs. data. You're the one who said, "it logically follows," and even a group of two is enough to refute "logic.")


Your problem is that you're measuring outcomes only in terms of money. Maybe women value time & family more than money & success?!

Women do yoga. Men do martial arts. Which is "better"? Which is the "lesser outcome"? None. It's just a difference (in preferences and therefore outcome).


Seems like an extremely reductive view to take: you can't use time and family to buy food.

Gender roles aren't so cut and dry any more. Given that, maybe outcomes should be considered independent of gender?


> you can't use time and family to buy food.

Yes, but you also don't need millions. Any measures of pay inequality will be skewed by extreme outcomes (as the distribution is floored), so people who decide they earn enough and prioritize time/family over further career progress will appear in statistics as "inequality" (edit: even though it's actually good that our society is so wealthy and productive that some people can afford to do that).


> so people who decide they earn enough and prioritize time/family over further career progress will appear in statistics as "inequality"

It's even worse than that. According to the same statistics, a person who bought a ticket for their favourite band's performance last night is worse off than a day before, whereas their favourite band are better off. In fact, the statistics would show that inequality increased dramatically last night, the band was famous and there were 10k+ people giving away their money, whereas - let's say, five - random guys got "significantly richer" at the same time.

The value of the emotional uplifting and sense of life after the gig? Nah, not an asset to rely upon in "strict" statistics.


I know a man who does yoga and martial arts.


Reminds me of Electroconf. A GitHub conference where they did blind selection in an effort to avoid biases. Everyone selected ended up being male. Someone complained on Twitter and they had to cancel the whole event.


That's interesting. I have seen a number of female tech personalities being pretty critical of being asked to speak for free. I have never been paid by a conference I spoke at, speaking as a male. I never connected that maybe having that expectation of getting remuneration discourages people from speaking since most conferences probably don't.

That said, I have come to see some pushes for diversity in tech as being extortionist. Some of the tactics used by some specific women who push for diversity in tech are blatantly self-serving like offering workplace diversity consulting but also naming and shaming corporations and individuals for lack of diversity.


If conferences were built by men for men and are, in some inadvertent way, less rewarding for women to attend, it would make sense that women substitute monetary compensation for the non-monetary compensation they don't get.


Is there a fairness issue if the conf is not gender diverse enough? (but does blind speaker selection, and offers the same compensation to any prospective speaker)

If it seems like a literal boys club, maybe it's ok if organizers don't cajole women to attend, who don't seem to want to.


It's one thing to fight against blatant sexism which I'm for, but this is turning into something else.

Maybe it's the result of individuals asynchronously but collaboratively acting to get the most for their class of people. Since there isn't a "council of women in technology" that meets bi-weekly to decide what each speaker should do for each conference, the women speakers act independently much of the time. To get the best for women they know they have to ask for stuff: fees, travel, tickets for other women. Men are not going to just give it to them. They try to do their level best there every time they get an invite. Every so often -- through casual conversation, meet-ups, online communities, articles in magazines, letters to the editor -- there is a chance to communicate about what worked and what didn't. There isn't an easy way for communication to happen about the net effect of speakers' actions for a particular conference when it's happening, or even afterward. There is a ratchet effect and in, addition, a general sense that "there is still more to be done" for women in technology. When the next conference rolls around, still more is attempted...


What are the downvotes about?


High school, college, any STEM fields are all overwhelmingly biased in terms of favoring women.

My daughter who is finishing the primary school has recently asked me if it's okay if she doesn't like math, but likes animals and babies.

Sounds like some pressure is being applied...


Or maybe sexual differences cause men and women, on average, to have different interests.

edit: thanks for pointing out that I misread which type of pressure is being applied.


That's what the poster meant. She was being pressured to like math; her inherent interest was in animals and babies.


Did you know that men sometimes like babies and animals too? Crazy I know.

What is taught in 4th-5th grade math? Fractions? Decimals? Multiplication and division of larger numbers (maybe the accursed "Long Division")?

These are not exactly the most exciting or interesting things to learn... If I was a parent of this child, I'd take it as a notice that they are falling behind, probably from lousy teaching and parenting. It's not going to get any better by ignoring the problem. They've got another 8+ years of school to go, they aren't even halfway done. You need to show them why they can find it interesting, the same way you would show a student who really loves math why reading/writing is important. Or why history matters... If you just assume a 10 year old can fully decide what their adult self likes/doesn't like and what they need to know, then you are failing as a parent.


Are you a parent?

I ask because I remember saying stuff like this before I had kids. I don't anymore. I've tried to learn not to judge others parenting but hey that's just me.

No one, at least that I've seen. Is saying men don't like babies and animals too. There is nothing wrong with that. To assume that you have to like something based on your gender is ignorant.

To assume that you can't like what is "stereotypical" liked by your gender is equally ignorant.

People have a massive amount of fluctuation in what they like and don't like, part of being a parent is about recognizing the individual that your kid is and not pressing what YOU want on them, but balancing that with what's best for them based on what you know that they don't.

I also know that as a parent, you're always failing. You just do your best to fail as little as possible.


I don't think you're listening to the above poster very well; or giving them the benefit of the doubt.

Boys are statistically over prescribed ADD medication in schools because, studies show, teachers are more likely to write them up for being a distraction to class.

So, this thread says the daughter is being pushed to like math over animals, yet, you doubt that a son (there is no gender gap pre-high school in math, infact, females earn higher grades) is being pushed to study math over animals, recess, or babies.

https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a32858/drugging-of-the...

https://insight.kellogg.northwestern.edu/article/women_and_m...


You are correct, my comment assumes more of a gender bias discussion from the OP then their words deserve.

You are wrong in that my assertion about parenting and that the parent is the best fit to make that call.

Their claim of "If I was a parent of this child..." Is exactly the kind of stuff I'd spout before I had children. And in your comment you completely disregard this point I'm making.

So in a way, you aren't listening to my post very well, or giving me the benefit of the doubt. You don't address many of my points either, but dive right back into gender studies and ADD medication (over prescription of medication is a problem in our society in general).

Final thought.

>there is no gender gap pre-high school in math, infact, females earn higher grades

That is a gender gap, just not one where males are on top.

Edit: I'd also argue that trade schools are under-represented in our current education system, but that's kind of why I think it's up to the parent to make these calls rather than some person on the internet.


Thanks for the great reply. Funnily enough, I was originally was going to say that females are better at math in grade school, but the source I chose didn't dig into that claim.

I think we're on the fluctuation - and the ways that we're taught in school. Anecdotally, I'm under the impression (based mostly on conversations with other now adults - and teachers) that "regular ed" likely wouldn't have unlocked the same passions that "gifted"/advanced classes opened in me.

To emphasize your note about failure, my education was so changed because I was allowed to fail (38% on a test in 3rd grade advanced math is a memory). Whether it's Mike Tyson, Wayne Gretzky, Lombari, Bruce Wayne, or parenting advice - if we take shots, we're going to fail, we're going to get punched in the face, but will we get back up, and most importantly, will our children, students do it again until they succeed their way.

[Though, after I type that, I remember the point of the OP, you don't have to like math, you often times don't even have to do it the prescribed way - but it's important to learn it, you'll one day apply the concepts -- even when dealing with babies or animals.]


ADD is interesting and a clear example of bias, in that it is over-diagnosed and over-medicated in boys and under-diagnosed and under-medicated in girls. Simply saying it is "over prescribed" can make things worse for the people who are already being most neglected.


Perhaps it's the bias of the article I linked to, but this is the first I've heard that girls are under diagnosed and under medicated for ADD.

It seems most of the doctors in the article would prefer no medication for ADD though.


you're assuming that men and women have sexual differences? it's 2019.


Unfortunately I can no longer tell is this statement is meant in jest or not.


This is the subtle part of social conditioning.

It's not that boys will all like math either, but society makes sure they can't like animals and babies. Higher expectations of children (within reason) typically leads to higher achievement.


> Sounds like some pressure is being applied...

Maybe, rightly so? It doesn't matter if you like reading, you need to learn it. For a toddler in 2019, I think coding and some math is getting close to this level of importance.


Pressured is applied to make people fit into the working machine. We're okay with our kids being farmed because we want them to have good money and as good or better a life than ourselves.

My dad wanted to go into art school, but he went into engineering instead, got a visa and moved our entire family to the US. I wanted to go into journalism, but my sister kept telling me I needed to think about my future family, so I went into Computer Science (I'm also in my 30s with no family .. so, yea).

How about instead of telling women they should go for higher paying jobs, we tell men it's okay to go after your dreams. How about we find a way to support artists so they're not selling everything under iTunes/Google/Amazon at a 30% cut!

There is a much bigger problem here of people taking jobs they know they'll probably be unhappy with because they need the money. We are a factory pipeline of misery.


> How about we find a way to support artists so they're not selling everything under iTunes/Google/Amazon at a 30% cut!

> We are a factory pipeline of misery.

yep, but even to address that, you need to learn math, reading, and critical thinking.

and unfortunately our schools suck at all of them, and to change that you again need those.


She didn't ask if she has to learn math at all, but if she has to like math.


I think this is a valid point, but a kid would have to be pretty aloof these days to not recognize the expectations being placed on them. I have memories as early as Kindergarten and Pre-K, where it was really clear that adults wanted us to know that boys weren't better than girls.

(as a bit of an aside, I always wished at that time that people wouldn't push the issue. Bringing it to the forefront forced the topic, and one group of kids would "win" the argument at the expense of the other kids.)


I hope you told her that liking math is not a prerequisite to liking animals and babies. Surely these interests can be decoupled - unless she has some kind of socio-mathematical synesthesia.


I love math. I tried to make her a mathematician. But nope. Doesn't work. At all.

I'm still available if she changes her mind one day!


This is a mistake of the parent. You can't "make" them become something. That's why they hate it, not because of the school. You are forcing them to do it.

I've seen this with people who are coders trying to force their kids to make websites (like they did when they were a kid). But guess what: maybe you did it because it was fun, but for her it's a chore because she didn't come up with the idea!

If she likes animals, show her science about animals. The math will come into play naturally. You could ask her about how many babies certain animals have each year. Let her find the problems that interest her, and show her that math is a tool that can solve those problems.


This, I see burnout in college athletes because they didn't actually want to be good at their sport, but mom and dad made them.


In which direction?


In "we-need-more-girls-in-science-club" one.


It's too bad she has to ask what is ok to like.


> areas with primarily male coworkers, and creepy bosses

This describes basically every tech job I have ever had. Real life engineering woman here reporting in.

In 2014 I joined a series B startup as engineer #15 and was the only woman in the office other than the admin; food delivery dudes often brought things to my desk, assuming I must be the office mother. When I was late to work one day after being groped by a strange man on Caltrain, my supervisor questioned my commitment to meeting deadlines. When I moved on, they returned to being a 100% straight white male company.

In 2015, I was the first female engineering hire at the new office of a growing mid-size tech company. A second woman wasn't hired until we'd reached a headcount of about 20. Men, especially clients, often forgot my name. E.g. Janice vs Janet vs Jan (none of these my real name, but you get the idea. The point is that I wasn't important enough to these men to remember.)

Fast forward a few years. Now I am by far the most senior of four engineering ladies at the satellite campus of a household name tech company. Total headcount at this office is about 100 engineers.

I have never had a female manager.

For those keeping score, I have never worked anywhere with more than 5-10% female engineers. For my entire career, even as a noob, I have been the most senior female engineer I know.

I count myself lucky because I've never had to deal with anything resembling actual harassment. (It helps that I am not conventionally attractive). But there is a psychological burden of always feeling alone, always being the first or only, worrying that your actions will be taken to represent all people of your kind, and wondering if assholes in your midst think you've only got where you've gotten because you're a woman.

Your dismissive attitude toward women's supposed advantages is as common as it is damaging. Whatever unfair advantages you think your women colleagues have, unless you are black or latinx, it is unlikely you will ever experience the feelings of isolation and otherness that most women deal with throughout their tech careers.


> Men, especially clients, often forgot my name. E.g. Janice vs Janet vs Jan (none of these my real name, but you get the idea. The point is that I wasn't important enough to these men to remember.)

Are you aware this kind of thing happens to everyone? Do you expect people to remember your name just because you're a woman? Or would you rather they remembered your name because you've accomplished something beyond the ordinary? I'm a black male, by the way.


I’m not talking about one-off meetings where the name doesn’t stick. That happens to everyone, of course. I’m talking about working on projects with the same group of people over a period of months. I have not seen the Matts and Ryans of the world have this problem.


I don't think there is anyway to know if that's because you're female or not. It could be personality, politics, among many different factors. I think it's unfair to assume that people don't remember your name because you're a female.

I've worked with people for almost a year without remembering their name, because I'm awful with names. They were also very quiet and introverted, rarely said much and I suspect that had something to do it.


Hey, so I'm sure you didn't mean it this way, but this comment sounds like gaslighting: a woman told you about her experience, and you immediately disbelieved her and told her she is not only incorrect about her experience but that it must be her fault for being "quiet and introverted"?

I recommend starting out by assuming she has knowledge and experiences you don't have access to and learning from it, rather than trying to explain away this new information.


I really don't appreciate you misusing the term since I've had to deal with actual gaslighting in real life. You cannot be gaslit by some random stranger making a single post on the internet. This isn't an obsessed stalker that we're talking about here, it's just a one-off comment that will probably be glanced over and then never thought of again, if it's ever read at all.

Gaslighting is something that happens over a long period of time, with someone you know well and that you trust. The person you are defending is not going to be questioning their sanity or who they are as a person because of one HN post.

Asking someone to reconsider why they were treated a certain way by other people is not gaslighting. Calling someone a liar is not gaslighting. Countering someone's anecdotal evidence with your own is not gaslighting. Please stop trivializing the term, because it's a serious form of emotional and mental abuse, and you're downplaying its severity by tossing the word around like this.


I'm not trying to gaslight or explain anything away. I'm saying there is a multitude of factors as to why you'd be at work and someone wouldn't remember your name.

I'm not blaming anyone, just trying to share another perspective. I personally think it's dangerous to think in black and white. I try to remain a healthy skeptic, and I'm welcome to new perspectives.


I've been called Sean more times than I can count and by people I've been acquainted with for a long time, including higher ups. I can't imagine "Seth" is _that_ rare.


Correlation =/ causation

You could be experiencing this phenomenon for a handful of reasons, none of which being the reason you stated.


Tough shit. Some people just don't manage to attach names to faces, and it sucks way more for us than for you.


I'm sorry you've had shitty experiences. No on deserves that.

Honestly I'm terrible at names and people only remember mine because it's ethnic. I wouldn't read too much in clients not remembering your name correctly. Humans are generally just bad at names and it might not have anything to do with their perception of you.

I have to ask though, why do you think you were often one of the few/only women/woman at these shops. Did they actively try to recruit women? Did you see women get interviewed but who just didn't make the cut? The last time I was at a shop where they made me go through resumes, I rarely even saw women in the application stack.

I worked with an amazingly talented woman who started back in the day at RealMedia writing C++ codecs. She told me about several cases of harassment or even things like asking her to wear a certain dress a manager liked when she was at trade shows/booths.

I also worked with an English woman at the same company several years my senior, who's been both a developer and product manager, and who says she hasn't experienced that type of harassment while in the tech sector.

I hate anecdotal stuff like this though, because it just doesn't build a big enough picture, which is why actual studies are insightful.

But going back to my question: do you think these shops were actively discriminating against women, passively (subconsciously) discriminating or there simply weren't enough women applicants (they do tend to get sucked up by the big players like Google/Facebook/etc.)


Whatever unfair advantages you think your women colleagues have, unless you are black or latinx, it is unlikely you will ever experience the feelings of isolation and otherness that most women deal with throughout their tech careers.

Are these two things mutually exclusive? Women could both have the advantages outlined by OP and feel more isolated.


It's even likely! There are still relatively few women in tech, but they are at the same time pushed, expected to do well (to show they are not just the token gals), and are helped to be there. This is a pretty stressful position to be in.


You should check out "women who code"


I'm honestly quite taken aback by this.

I want to say sorry, and I will, but I know it's not personally my fault and I know it won't make much of a difference to your circumstances now or in the future. But still, I'm sorry you've had this experience.

I have to be honest and say this, but I think what you've experienced is very much an American culture kind-of-thing. Every time I read a comment like this, besides making me sad and angry, it tends to always come from somewhere in America.

I'm sure something similar has happened and continues to happen here in Australia, but I've seen little of it. That being said, as I sit here now in a very large, well known company, my line of sight gives me a head count of about 30 men and 2 women. This makes me sad and angry, too.

I don't know what to do about this besides encouraging women to come into the industry and protecting them in a none condescending, white-knight, women-are-weak sort of way...


> tends to always come from somewhere in America

In a Chinese forum about knitting nonetheless


I've never worked in a field where I could compete for a job with a woman, they'd always get first dibs. It is pretty unfair.

However a distinction must be made between the formal systems (extremely sexist favouring women), informal systems (potentially extremely sexist favouring men) and workplace environment (women are continuously sexually propositioned; pretty overwhelming evidence for that IMO).

Making the formal systems sexist is a stupid response to the informal systems being sexist. I wish that people would stop advocating that and instead work on the informal issue - if it isn't due to innate ability (a safe bet) then there must be something that can be done. The propositioning thing is a bit of a poser though, it is so pervasive that I suspect it points to deeper issues.

Also the anecdotal evidence is that if propositioning was successfully stamped out that would do crazy things to the fabric of how relationships get established. Might be a net good or bad.


It is really tough to measure performance in 'creative' fields. I've never ever seen anyone do it correctly (and would love to hear counter examples!); I've not even got a good place to start that wouldn't lead to some things being gamed, or end up being a popularity contest (like the informal systems).

As far as trying to address the... over-solicitation issue, I am trying to be constructive with this set of suggestions.

  * Diversify corporate offices to promote mixing in to cities rather than within the company.
  * Have strong work life balance allowing external socialization.
  * Apply political and economic pressure on civic infrastructure to promote:
  * * mass transit (more, better, cleaner, safer)
  * * quantity and quality of housing (lower prices for all)
  * * "livable" cities in general
Most of these solutions would also, over the 10-20+ year term, lead to more //opportunity// for all, and would also in the short term improve corporate culture and worker relations to make entering the field more appealing to a wider range of audiences.

Specific incentives for FAMILIES (not just women) could include additional career help and planning:

  * Part time work, fully async, from 'home' (or a more local office sometimes) for moms/dads.
  * Remote 'first' (only?) participation; meetings online, rather than by the water-cooler.
  * Have a presence in a given region that is stable
  * * with actual career paths in the area, allowing home-buying (rather than renting)


> I've never worked in a field where I could compete for a job with a woman, they'd always get first dibs. It is pretty unfair.

(As a white, straight male,) I have absolutely no issue with a woman being offered a role over me as a tie-breaker or an epsilon-advantage. A company who would go significantly farther than that is one that I don’t want to work for anyway as they’re not interested in being competitive.


That's a very interesting take. I know as a man, I'd rather work in a place where anyone propositioning someone else would be fired (man or woman) than a place where I may not even get the job because I'm male.


Romances between colleagues is a fairly common and natural thing. It seems quite excessive for all propositions to result in termination.


There is a difference between building an acquaintance, then friendship, and asking them out, and between offering explicit sexual acts right after/instead hello.


That 57% of STEM grads statistic is misleading when commenting about an article about Google. The 18% CS grads in 2015 would be more appropriate to quote.

http://newsroom.ucla.edu/stories/cracking-the-code:-why-aren...


The funny thing is it's all open. Women-only positions in unis and so. My wife was even invited to a women-only conference! I asked her if she would go to a "white only" or "Christian only" event.


My wife was invited to a women-only wedding.

I wish that all people would be open minded and just treat everyone equally by default no matter what they look like, what genitalia they have or their wealth level.

Save the exclusion for people who show themselves to be *s (i.e. who cause harm to others). So ban smokers / drinkers from your wedding not men.


What large scale white & Christian discrimination has existed historically, in the US? When were white Christians not allowed to vote or paid less? What's wrong with a conference for women, how exactly is that different than a conference for engineers, or a store for pet owners?


> What large scale white & Christian discrimination has existed historically, in the US? When were white Christians not allowed to vote or paid less?

The Irish[1] and Italians[2] have something to say about this. In the past, the US has not been all that kind to non-Protestants in general. In particular, there used to be a strong anti-Catholic sentiment, so much so that it was one of the original "cornerstones" of the KKK.

> What's wrong with a conference for women, how exactly is that different than a conference for engineers, or a store for pet owners?

I can choose whether or not to be an engineer or a pet owner. I can't choose whether or not to be a man or a woman (gender reassignment surgery notwithstanding).

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Irish_sentiment

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Italianism


> The Irish[1] and Italians[2] have something to say about this.

Right, those minority groups have been discriminated against. I think I screwed up my point; I was trying to point out that women have also been discriminated against, and that a conference for women doesn't equate to reverse discrimination nor is it remotely equal in magnitude to what women have gone through. The same does go for other historically discriminated groups.

> I can choose whether or not to be an engineer or a pet owner. I can't choose whether or not to be a man or a woman

That is true, but you can also choose whether to attend a conference without affecting your life, unlike having a job. Being born a male doesn't mean a product designed for women is some kind of discrimination against men, right? Not having a choice still doesn't explain what is wrong with a conference for women. Jobs and conferences aren't the same things; conferences are not paying people and do not directly represent social mobility or opportunity. What specifically is wrong with an event designed for females, and how is it different from a product specifically designed for women (or men, or children, or Irish people...)?

There are conferences for men too, notably not being complained about here: http://elitemanconference.com/ https://bettermanconference.com/ http://www.menstuff.org/


It probably creates an unhelpful artificial environment. (Which is okay for teaching, learning, healing, etc.) But society supposedly tries to integrate women into higher paying fields. Those fields are not going to be all women.

Now, of course as we see from the stats, anecdotes and other hints, we're pretty far from a women dominated higj tech sector, but there is already polarization. There are already women run companies actively trying to hire only women. This is not constructive on the long run. Just as the X-gender-only conferences.

I'm of course interested in arguments that say otherwise, so if you have, please share them.


> there is already polarization

Yes there is already polarization, the global polarization that exists already is known and documented to be in favor of men, on average. There is still a pay gap in favor of men. You’re trying to argue there is reverse discrimination, but without any evidence. There are some affirmative actions for women. Do you consider affirmative actions for women to be discrimination?

If a cultural polarization occurred naturally without any intentional effort, meaning people exhibited and acted on biases without knowing it, and it was hurting a class of people, what would you do to fix it?

> There are already women run companies actively trying to hire only women. This is not constructive on the long run. Just as the X-gender-only conferences.

Those seem like two different things to me. Do you see the same difference I do between a job that pays you and a product you have to pay for? While it depends quite a bit on what conference we’re talking about, I don’t see a general problem with conference products made for women. I don’t believe that is automatically discriminatory or polarizing. If you do, I’d like to hear more about what you think is wrong with it. Tampons are made for women, and I don’t know any men that are mad about it or think is polarizing.

There is a reason that there are laws surrounding job discrimination and no laws surrounding conference discrimination. It’s because it is perfectly fine to sell products to a specific audience.

Jobs are required by law to not discriminate, though I’m sure there are some jobs that require a woman and not a man. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it was legal and acceptable to hire a woman to teach Women’s Studies.

Personally, I’ll wait to be concerned about jobs reserved for women until women are the majority of the workforce and management structure at all companies on average. Right now, they’re not.


I'm not talking for the US but for what I experienced in France.

In France there is a dedicated system for engineering studies (Classes preparatoires + Grandes Ecoles).

You do 2 years of intensive Math and Physics (classe preparatoire), than pass a ranking exam, then go to the school of your choice provided you ranked high enough to get into this specific school.

Basically, the ratio was 1/3 women 2/3 men at the "classe preparatoire" stage, and overall it's the ratio for engineer when all specialties are mixed together.

But then you have disparities between fields, CS schools get between 10 to 15% of women while Chemistry is about 50%, other fields like Electronic, Civil Engineering, Applied Physics are roughly in the average of 30%. Only the schools to become a military officer have an higher disparity than CS (and the air branch is actually in the same area).

For those who can read French (or have the courage to decipher) the statistics are available here:

* http://www.scei-concours.fr/stat2018/mp.html (math dominant)

* http://www.scei-concours.fr/stat2018/pc.html (physic dominant)

* http://www.scei-concours.fr/stat2018/psi.html (technic and mechanic dominant)

(Hint: CS == Informatique (often abbreviated to "Info")


> 57% of college graduates are women

What's the percentage female graduates in STEM fields? The 57% may not be representative for the fields which matter for engineers. Not saying the delta is big, I honestly don't know and am curious.


Here is some data from the U.S. National Center for Education Statistics:

https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d18/tables/dt18_318.30.a...

In 2017 there were 133,761 Bachelor's degrees conferred in Engineering, 20% of which were conferred to women.

Computers: 71,420 degrees, 19% women

Math: 24,073 degrees, 42% women

Physical sciences: 31,268 degrees, 40% women


Physics hardly any more applicable to software development than biology is, especially areas like biostats or neurophysiology that involve directly writing code.

But these numbers sure suggest that something is wrong with computer science departments.


> sure suggest that something is wrong with computer science departments.

Why? Why do men and women have to have the same preferences in what to study, in your opinion?

Does the fact that 78% of students in veterinary science are female "sure suggest" that something is wrong with veterinary science?

Since there are so many fields where women vastly outnumber men (and women significantly outnumber men overall in college) a corresponding skew in other fields is a necessary outcome: you simply run out of women to fill those seats, they are elsewhere.


Which specific biological mechanism are you hypothesizing is responsible? In combination with which specific cultural construction of computer science that is somehow inalterable?

Whereas we have pretty good evidence that by improving the signaling of ambient belonging for women we can significantly increase their interest in computer science: http://ilabs.uw.edu/sites/default/files/Cheryan_Meltzoff_Kim...

Few things with a biological mechanism are that easy to manipulate.


Look no further than the evolution of our species up to Homo sapiens. Women and men excelled in different 'occupations' related to providing sustenance (hunter-gatherer) and child rearing activities that were vital to the success of their people/tribes.

Is it that hard to believe that these deeply evolutionarily engrained practices have no effect on influencing how the different sexes value spending their time when we control for income gap disparity in choosing a profession w.r.t work life balance?

It takes a very specific type of person that enjoys staring intensely into a computer screen all day, lost in thought and confined in solitude while being unplugged from the human condition which can make you feel like a robot as the years progress.

Humans didn't evolve to sit in front of an artificial light source and forgo human interaction, regardless of gender or race.


> Which specific biological mechanism are you hypothesizing is responsible?

Testosterone, causing male-female behavioral divergence in general. Excerpting from an email...

"The amount of eye-contact shown by infants at 12 months of age is inversely correlated with prenatal testosterone (Lutchmaya, Baron-Cohen & Raggett, submitted), and prenatal testosterone is higher in males than females." That study seems to be here: [1]. "The amount of eye contact varied quadratically with foetal testosterone level when data from both sexes was examined together, and when the data for the boys was examined alone."

(Why not for when the girls were examined alone? "This may be because there were only 30 girls in the sample, making the resulting model under-powered. A sample size of approximately 60 would be required to give the model a power of 0.8, assuming a similar effect size...")

There's another one about testosterone in girls [2]: "Here, we report that fetal testosterone measured from amniotic fluid relates positively to male-typical scores on a standardized questionnaire measure of sex-typical play in both boys and girls."

That study also references others that directly show cause-and-effect on other mammals: "For instance, in rodents and nonhuman primates, treating developing females with testosterone or other androgens increases male-typical play, whereas reducing androgens in developing males reduces it."

To me, the question isn't whether testosterone affects behavior, it's how much.

[1] http://docs.autismresearchcentre.com/papers/2002_Lutch_eyeco...

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2778233/


There is general two conflicting answer to that last question. One is that the effect is very minor and testosterone make certain behavior more likely to occur if and only if specific environment is present. It is very possible that testosterone effect on sex-typical play is dependent if it is the father or mother playing with the child. In addition such experiments in recent time has undergone a lot of methodology criticism. In new studies on primates they found that testosterone secretion is increased after physical fights among males which correlate to how much they fight. Behavior in this case causes high testosterone levels, rather than high testosterone level causing behavior.

The other answer is that practically every behavior is influenced by a combination of hormones, genes, and environment. Everything from athletic skills, obesity, teeth health, stress, sleep, diet, honesty, politics, and so on. To quote a profession, free will likely do not exist and is only the result of all the different biological systems interacting with each other, the environment, and random chance.


>> sure suggest that something is wrong with computer science departments.

> Which specific biological mechanism are you hypothesizing is responsible?

Apparently the only alternative to there being something wrong with CS departments in particular is a specific biological mechanism? How so? And somehow there must also be a "cultural construction" of CS that is "inalterable". Why?

How about there are cultural mechanisms that have nothing to do with CS departments? Is that a possibility? For just one example, just about every study (and there are tons) shows that a dramatic split in preferences is already present in schoolchildren at an early age. How, in your opinion, do CS departments at universities get to shape those preferences?

Also, I don't understand your apparent belief that if something is biological, it therefore must be unalterable (and the inverse that if something is alterable, it must therefore not be biological). Culture can override almost anything. Survival for example is a strong instinct, yet societies impose death penalties and create armies sending people into battle where they are likely to be killed. So is reproduction, yet some societies impose(d) single child policies.

These are very extreme examples, where even the strongest biological imperatives are overrides by strong societal coercion. But it shows that it would be trivial for society to override all other cultural or biological effects by simply mandating that enrolment be 50:50, and enforcing that mandate without compromise. Easy peasy, but is it something we want?

I think what we want is to maximise freedom, personal agency and potential for fulfilment, not enforcement of specific gender distributions.

You may ask how this is relevant. Well, it turns out that female participation is STEM fields is inversely correlated to the freedom and gender equality of the society, not positively as the blank-slate theorists posit. This is called the (STEM) gender equality paradox.

https://researchtheheadlines.org/2018/04/20/the-stem-gender-...

So yes, there is a large cultural effect, but it goes in the opposite direction. The usual counter to this is that "even in western societies equality isn't 100%", but this is irrelevant, because this is not about absolute values, but about the sign of the change of the dependent variable. And that is a simple boolean: positively or negatively correlated.

And yes, I know that "correlation doesn't imply causation", but that's not the issue here: a claim for causation (cultural forces causes unequal representation) is fairly thoroughly debunked when not even the claimed correlation shows up, and even more throughly debunked when a negative correlation shows up.

So unless some new and very compelling evidence shows up, the idea that the surrounding culture/society causes unequal representation is simply wrong, never mind this odd idea that somehow it is the fault of CS departments.

So if you want freedom, you get unequal distributions. If you want equal distributions, you must curtail freedom.

Another alternative to "something wrong in CS departments" is "something very right" in other departments. Take early childhood education. The skew is very much the same as in CS, just the other direction. So let's assume you have 100 women and 100 men and just these two choices for degree. If 80 of the 100 women go into education, only 20 are left to go into CS. Simple arithmetic.

Is it so unthinkable that women choose education degrees because they want to? And not because "hey, I really wanted to go into CS, but the conditions in the CS department are so horrible that I will settle for early childhood education instead"? And is it so unthinkable to posit both cultural and, yes, biological mechanisms why women might be more into early childhood education than men? Mechanisms that come into play as you remove societal pressures to do otherwise?

In fact, it turns out that a "people vs. things" preference difference is one of the stronger findings in psychology. It is present in infants of a few months. It is present in infant monkeys. It is of course, statistical in nature with large overlaps. Again, how does whatever is wrong with CS departments affect the preferences of infants and monkeys?

As to the study. I am not sure what they were trying to show, but (a) I've never seen CS departments decorated like that (b) it was all hypothetical situations that seem to have little to no bearing on actual decision making and (c) if the decor of the classrooms is the deciding factor in your study and career choices, .... ?

Oh, here's another fun one. A difference in ability and preferences that also has some explanatory power. It goes like this:

1. Men who score high on the math part of the SATs (or similar exams) usually score well only on the math part. On the other hand, women who score high on the math part usually also score well on the verbal part.

2. Irrespective of gender, people who score well on both verbal and math scores prefer non-STEM fields of study.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/rabble-rouser/201707...

So men tend to flock into STEM fields because they have no alternatives.


The short answer is yes, all of the statistics which show a deviation from a priori gender balance suggest that there is "something" going on.

That "something" is almost certainly cultural, since there is little evidence that any group based genetic hypothesis has explanatory power, whereas cultural forces have clearly been shown to impact gender balance. e.g. the right to vote.


> yes, all of the statistics which show a deviation from a priori gender balance

Why do you think so?

Regardless of what criteria you use to split human groups, you get non-equal distributions, because people are different.

To me, exact equal balance everywhere would be a much stronger indication that indeed something very fishy is going on.

> any group based genetic hypothesis

Really? All children are born to women, none to men. Obviously cultural forces.

Most women prefer men as mates. Most men prefer women as mates. Obviously cultural forces.

Little infants and even little infant monkeys show gendered toy preferences. Obviously cultural forces.

Women vastly prefer early childhood education as a degree. Obviously cultural forces.


Is something wrong with ballet since it's mostly women?


Yes. There is SO MUCH wrong with ballet. So much. Like, way more than is wrong with tech or computer science. Just... so much is wrong with ballet.

Of course, while a majority of ballet dancers are women the people who run ballets are almost entirely male, which should give you some insight into what is wrong with ballet.

Indeed, if you want to feel better about tech I have never heard of a tech company where developers were openly expected to sleep with the person running the team to get a promotion, so we are beating the New York City ballet by a mile.


Possibly? Or at least in the social pressure at school that stops boys from dancing, and/or the way that dance is taught.


It does not suggest anything is wrong. Seeing any group represented more than another in anything that is due to CHOICE does not correlate to an issue.


"CHOICE" is not a get-out-of-sexism-free card. Anyone who builds products or sells anything to anyone ever should know that we have enormous influence over who chooses to consume our products.


Hey so I know this is n of 1 and off-topic, but as a liberal arts student, I went from music to signal processing to music theory to music analytics to generative music to software engineer. There can be a lot of STEM in non-STEM degrees. I did take a number of CS, acoustics, and electrical courses as a music major, but my degree still says music.

I know once-English majors with a similar story of a passion for what computing can reveal/create around a discipline that resulted in rich software careers. I am over a decade out of college, and in my personal experience passion for computing is more relevant than having a STEM background in software development. All this to say, I’m not sure % STEM focused is necessarily a reliable indicator of “future software engineer.”


Roughly 1/3 of the engineers that I've encountered in my ~17 year career have music degrees (and one guy who went to ballet school and later wrote one of the most well-known O'Reilly books).

And this is mostly on the ops side.


This seems to also be a running theme among clojurists, and the opening question on most episodes of the cognicast was inspired by this correlation.


Oh man. I've never paid much attention to the Clojure community but Russ Olsen is great! Eloquent Ruby is probably in the top 5 as far as books that had an impact on my career.


For n=1, sure, not necessarily.


A quick search confirms your suspicion. The 57% female figure applies overall, but within STEM, the fraction of female graduates is low, except for life sciences:

https://www.catalyst.org/research/women-in-science-technolog...

The section entitled "Few Women Are Earning Degrees in STEM, Except in the Life Sciences" states that 35% of STEM undergrads are female. For engineering and computer-related bachelor's programs, this drops to ~18%(!).


There are many factors to consider in order to interpret the stats.

The data indicates that women are underrepresented in STEM field, but we can also argue that men are underrepresented in educational field. Why aren't there more women in fields like firefighters, oil rigs, dangerous jobs?

Fundamentally, men and women are different both biologically and psychologically. To generalize, men are more interested in things and engineering and women are more interested in people and relationship. But that doesn't mean their intelligences differ. Intelligence expresses itself in different ways.

If a little girl says to her parents that she likes math, it's not like her parents would say, "no, you can't like math, you should go play with your dolls, math is for boys".

We can't equalize outcomes, there's no way we can have 50/50 across every field. What we can do is to equalize opportunity and level the playing field. Accepting women or men for a job just for the same of equal representation at workforce instead of evaluate their abilities for the job is just plain irresponsible.


Between 2004 and 2014 women received 50.4% of undergrad degrees in STEM fields.


STEM includes an awful lot of S, which should not be in the same boat as the T and E parts of that acronym.

Employment prospects for scientists are absolutely dreadful (For someone spending years of training to acquire highly specialized, highly technical, highly difficult skills) compared to those of someone who can hack together a CRUD webapp.


This figure is higher that those cited elsewhere in the discussion thread. Could you provide a source?


https://ngcproject.org/statistics

> Women earned 57.3% of bachelor’s degrees in all fields in 2013 and 50.3% of science and engineering bachelor’s degrees.


Your truncated quote is woefully incomplete at best, and intentionally misleading at worst. The full passage reads as follows, emphasis mine:

Women earned 57.3% of bachelor’s degrees in all fields in 2013 and 50.3% of science and engineering bachelor’s degrees. However, women’s participation in science and engineering at the undergraduate level significantly differs by specific field of study. While women receive over half of bachelor’s degrees awarded in the biological sciences, they receive far fewer in the computer sciences (17.9%), engineering (19.3%), physical sciences (39%) and mathematics (43.1%).

More relevant points appear further down the page which illustrate what people talk about when they lament the underrepresentation of women in STEM:

Women make up half of the total U.S. college-educated workforce, but only 29% of the science and engineering workforce. Female scientists and engineers are concentrated in different occupations than are men, with relatively high shares of women in the social sciences (62%) and biological, agricultural, and environmental life sciences (48%) and relatively low shares in engineering (15%) and computer and mathematical sciences (25%).

For example:

35.2% of chemists are women;

11.1% of physicists and astronomers are women;

33.8% of environmental engineers are women;

22.7% of chemical engineers are women;

17.5% of civil, architectural, and sanitary engineers are women;

17.1% of industrial engineers are women;

10.7% of electrical or computer hardware engineers are women; and

7.9% of mechanical engineers are women.


Yes, the point is that women are already the majority of STEM graduates, they're just graduating in the wrong kinds of STEM.

For example, women are over-represented among social science and biology graduates. Perhaps we should add a quota to make social science and biology graduates 50% men, then women blocked from social science and biology degrees would go into computer science instead and balance things out.

There is also a leaky pipeline where women e.g. study math but then go into teaching, which doesn't count as working in STEM. If we had a quota of 50% men in teaching, this would help make the pipeline leak less gender-biased.

Of course some women end up becoming stay at home moms, so we also need a quota where 50% of stay at home parents must be dads. You probably need the government to enforce that.

But if we have enough quotas to ensure 50% men in female dominated fields, then by elimination, those men have to come from currently male dominated fields, and the women pushed out by quotas have to go into male dominated fields, so things should even out.



Hmmm, that excludes fields like anthropology and geography that the best developers I've worked with studied: understanding systems involving both people and technology is much harder than building an if-loop.


> 2 friends confided that they were asked to trade sexual favors for promotions albeit this was 20 years ago and that was the deciding factor for them moving to the Bay. These things are horrible and I can’t imagime the emotional trauma for that.

Of course, this could have, and does[0] happen in the Bay Area, too - in just the last year even.

[0] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/21/technology/uber-sexual-ha...


"non major liberal cities"

I think the "me too" thing proved the coastal elite were part of the problem.


It'd be perfectly accurate to say that San Francisco has discrimination against homosexuals, but people are still relocating there to avoid the discrimination where they are. Some places are enormously better than other places.


It is perfectly accurate to say that anywhere has discrimination against anybody, because for any moderately sized group there is always going to be someone engaging in a given behavior.

Distributions and nuanced statements are the crux of this entire matter, yet in these discussions they're cast away in favor of simplistic narratives. If you draw the metric this way, "men" are paid more. If you draw the metric that way, "women" are paid more, surprise! This is already headed down the path to madness!

Generalizations using scalar metrics (or even slightly more advanced higher moments) can only inform - they simply cannot form a basis for prescriptive policies to reform! We generally see sexism/racism/xxism as wrong because they ignore individuals in favor of broken-ass group-based narratives. Yet over the past several years this collectivist thinking has re-sprouted in full force, sanctioned as acceptable because it's "helping" - yet it's still fundamentally broken!

Specifically, every company's basic incentive is to cheap out on every single employee as much as possible without having them leave. They are taking advantage of every person's individual reluctance to fully negotiate, essentially arbitraging their human-emotional holdups. Is it terribly surprising that there are going to be wide disparities between what different personalities (regardless of but also including gender) are paid?


Or let's get crazy: they are the problem. People tend to think other people think and act like them. That's why often the first to be vocal against some behavior are part of those displaying this behavior.


Funny how the pendulum hasn't swung in the garbage collection and bricklaying sectors as well though, isn't it? It's all a power struggle at the end of the day.


> High school, college, any STEM fields are all overwhelmingly biased in terms of favoring women. 57% of college graduates are women. Men are not only getting the short end of the stick...

What is the graduation rate of women in STEM fields? 57% is not the graduation rate in STEM fields, which makes it sound like you are cherry picking statistics. What fields are all the women graduating in?

Aside from Google, the pay gap still exists and women earn less than men. The WP article estimates 94 cents on the dollar. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_pay_gap_in_the_United_S...

You're right that women are getting positive reinforcements, it's because (whether you agree with them or not) we have affirmative action programs for women. Affirmative actions always have and always will be debated to death, but the question you should be asking and answering before dismissing this issue is, if there's no affirmative action, how do you equalize opportunities for groups known to have been discriminated against? We already tried not having extra programs and not having extra awareness, and the result was lower pay. How would you correct this?


>any STEM fields are all overwhelmingly biased in terms of favoring women.

This sounds like an uneducated opinion. Sample size of 1: My department had maybe 1 female professor for every 10 male. The student ratio was pretty similar.

In your sample, you asked "your friends", which is a really biased sample. How did you meet them? Did you only meet them because they already had the high paying job? You aren't accounting for variables, and you are ignoring evidence.


I thinks what I see in South Asia, many engineering disciplines have a much more women than men, like CS and Electrical Engineering. It is in disciplines like Mechanical Engineering, Industrial Engineering that there are less women than men. I think in the third world in general more women get engineering degrees than men.q


"In countries that empower women, they are less likely to choose math and science professions."

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/02/the-more...


Despite the media and far left continuing to propagate the gender pay gap especially in technology, the reality seems to indicate the opposite. Women are given a salary boost because companies (specifically those on the west coast) are afraid of being publicly shamed by the media for perceived gender bias. The pendulum has swung way to far, except now if you stand up and try push it toward the middle, you are quickly shamed and labeled a sexist.


Dr. Jordan Peterson has much to say about this in terms of Psychology [1]

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WOjzCi9wIhE


tl;dw please?


play on 2x he's no ben shapiro when it comes to talking fast


> No one with a straight face can tell me women in entry level tech programs are not incredibly favored. All my below average coder friends that are women got awesome jobs with high salaries extremely easily. Yes, I talk with them and they agree with what I’m saying.

.... and yet, how many workplaces have an engineering team which are 50% female? 25% female? 10% female? 5% female?


It's possible to both discriminate against men, yet have more men in the workforce, if women voluntarily are choosing not to enter a profession.

In fact, that seems to be the problem: no amount of discrimination against men resolves that women simply are choosing careers in a different distribution to what men do, but the only policy lever that can really be utilized is discrimination at various stages of education or employment.

This has left people aiming for a fantasy, and using increasingly aggressive discrimination to try and carry it out, biology be damned.


> that women simply are choosing careers in a different distribution to what men do

Why is that, though?

Are women not encouraged to pursue technology careers? Or are they being encouraged to chose other careers instead?

Are they driven away from it by a toxic work place culture?

Or just the perception of tech as having toxic workplace cultures?

Are women moving into roles with more flexibility because they are expected to take on more domestic duties?

Or my hunch... Do women just feel less comfortable entering an industry with such an unbalanced gender ratio to begin with, and it becomes a self perpetuating cycle?

You say Biology be damned, but I don't think it's settled that biology is the main factor here.

And I'm not saying it is or it isn't. I'm saying we don't know.


Or... may I dare to suggest they simply don't like it?

I used to work at school. Not for a long time, but enough to make some observations. One of them: school kids are passionate. If they're interested in something, no amount of persuasion, toxicity or whatever else will distract them.


It’s perfectly reasonable to consider that maybe women are inherently drawn away from the field for whatever reason. There are biological differences between men and women and it’s possible that this is one.

What I don’t understand is why so many people insist that this must be the explanation, as if the current state of things is definitely a level playing field (or biased toward women) and the fact that there are so many more men in the field must therefore be due to something innate.

We’re only a few decades out from a time when women couldn’t open a bank account without their husband’s permission, and when raping a woman was perfectly legal as long as you were married to her. I think we should give it a little more time and effort before we declare that everything is now fair and any remaining discrepancies must be biological.


Why do you think your last paragraph hasn't prevented women from becoming numerous and successful in many other fields, such as becoming doctors? Could it be because of one of the most reproducable and statistically significant findings in social psychology, that women are generally more interested in people and men more interested in things?


A quick search shows that male doctors outnumber female doctors in the US by about a 2:1 ratio, so I don’t think that’s the best example. Your point remains, since there are fields where women are at parity or beyond.

I think that because it seems unlikely that we’ve managed to completely eliminate thousands of years’ worth of systemic sexism in such a short time. It’s highly improbable that, with so many things changing all the time, this just happens to be the moment when we’ve achieved a level playing field.

And to address the specific claim, why would being interested in people keep women away from computer jobs? It’s an intensely collaborative field. And why didn’t this keep women out of the field a few decades ago when women programmers were much more (relatively) numerous? If women are generally more interested in people and this drives sex disparities in different professions, why are there so few women in politics, the most people-heavy profession imaginable?


> A quick search shows that male doctors outnumber female doctors in the US by about a 2:1 ratio, so I don’t think that’s the best example.

I think it's a good example, you (and GP) just missed the more interesting part: Nurses handle the patients on a more intimate level than doctors, and female nurses outnumber male nurses roughly 10:1 in the US.

https://www.kff.org/other/state-indicator/total-number-of-pr...


> why so many people insist that this must be the explanation

These people who insist the explanation comes down to preference are basing this on their own lived experience, on the women they've met and what their interests are. 18% just doesn't strike them as being out-of-the-ordinary.

The percentage of women who own a set of wrenches is even smaller. Should we assume that is also due to unjust influence?


Funny how that personal experience angle is so commonly used to justify conservative viewpoints. The lived experience of some random person is completely worthless in answering this question.

Even if it were worth something, am I to believe that those people have never observed sexism? Regarding your bit about wrenches, have you never wandered into a toy store and seen the toy wrenches filed under “boys”?


That's certainly a possibility. In fact, maybe most people wouldn't enjoy a career in STEM.

Or, like another commented suggested, maybe something about STEM appeals to men disproportionately.

If I had to guess, it's probably a combination of multiple factors. STEM isn't for everyone. But at a young age, more men are encouraged to pursue it. The high salary of tech jobs might attract men more than women, if men face more pressure to make a lot of money. Now you have a male dominated industry. And that starts to self perpetuate. Young boys see role models and women don't. Women outnumbered in male dominated workplaces become subject to more harassment. STEM starts to become a "man" thing, and less women feel like pursuing the career, especially when there are so many other occupations that seem more interesting. I think that's a plausible explanation for how we got to where we are today.

But nobody knows for sure. My point is, biology shouldn't be the default answer whenever we see gender gaps.


You might find this an interesting read.

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/02/the-more...

Quote:

The upshot of this research is neither especially feminist nor especially sad: It’s not that gender equality discourages girls from pursuing science. It’s that it allows them not to if they’re not interested.


I think you are asking the wrong questions. Why not ask: Why are there so many men in tech?

To answer that I would compare it to a field like finance, where people are well paid and over worked. I think the money comes first, then the men, and with them the bro culture. So my hunch is that men will disproportionately do anything for a dollar. And no-one notices because they are busy wondering where the women are.


That's also a possibility. I think men are pressured more to earn a lot of money. The traditional mindset was that women didn't need to be breadwinners.


There is a very small (albeit vocal) minority on the left side of the political spectrum that thinks that equality in outcome is a worthy goal.

This this is a minority, that stance does not generalize to people on the left in general.


And yet Google fired the guy who expressed this sentiment in the internal memo.


Are you saying there are biological differences that are preventing women from entering the software industry?

Because historically the trends of CS grads proves this is a false statement [1] so I'm curious where this statement comes from.

[1] https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2014/10/21/357629765/when...


All the talk of discrimination against women requires that they be helpless damsels in distress in all this, when their dominance of college graduation suggests the opposite.

Biology is not "preventing" women, it's directing their inclination. Women have a ton of opportunities, and it's just as likely that as CS blew up they decided they didn't want to and didn't need to take on the long hours and relative social isolation that professional engineering entails.


No, it does not require women to be damsels in distress and to suggest that is to be highly disengenous. It requires discussing greater trends in terms of what career paths women are considering and general industry trends. Women may be a majority of college grads, but that says very little about what they choose to major in, what states they're located in and so forth.

And making biological arguments without any sort of citation or statistical inference is illinformed. You haven't explained what exactly caused the trend reversal in the 80s other than an incredibly strained appeal to biology, which also mischaracterizes software engineering as a whole. Professional engineering is hardly a socially isolated career.


[flagged]


> lack of parental leave policies in most software firms that would allow their partners to stay at home should a child be born in their household,

I've never heard of such a policy, or perhaps I'm misunderstanding your comment. Are you suggesting that companies should have policies that affect what the spouses/partners of employees do in terms of caring for children? Why would an employer have any right to say what their employee's spouses/partners do with their time? Or are you suggesting that employers should somehow provide compensation in this situation? I also don't understand how that would work (and I don't think the lack of such policies is specific to software firms).


Amazon has exactly such a policy.


Wow, indeed they do. [1] Do any other companies? The original comment indicated that such policies were not common at software companies, but Amazon is obviously a software company...

1: https://www.monster.com/career-advice/article/amazon-parenta...


That's the point — most don't, and most men don't seem to understand why it's a problem (your comment above is not atypical).


I'm not sure how this proves the point that the lack of such policies at tech companies discourages women from working there. Only one company has been mentioned as offering this policy, and it's a major tech company. Are there others? Are there fields where it is common?

I've never heard of it before now, and I worked for years as a corporate lawyer. And my lack of awareness isn't because I'm a man, as you've implied — my wife has also never heard of such a policy (and she works outside tech). Both of us have heavily researched the leave policies in our respective fields, as we have used them on multiple occasions.

If there are a bunch of non-tech companies offering this policy, then perhaps that could lead to your conclusion that it's one of the reasons women choose other fields. But based on what has been described so far, it's equally likely that this is an incredibly rare policy that does pull people into or push people from the tech sector. If there are sectors where this is common, please enlighten us!


When you can make a new person and shape their entire life vs. being largely secondary to that role, that completely alters your horizon of opportunities.

Visualize it like large numbers of people are creating characters for an RPG.

For the female version of the character generator, "mother" is a class with a shitload of XP bonuses and it's the only way to complete the "bear a child" quest. Not all of them are going to do it, many will multi-class, but they have very strong non-economic incentives to do so.


I'm not sure if you are being sarcastic, but yes; it seems to be biology.

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/02/the-more...


You're making a logical error here in assuming that it's related to biology.

If we were to assume that biology is the reason why women avoid certain fields, then this logic should hold true irrespective of the amount of gender equality a region might have. In fact we should assume that the two factors should compound: That is, if a region heavily discourages women from entering into STEM careers then that combined with their biological inclination to avoid said careers means we should see the numbers crater.

So given that this hypothesis does not hold to be true we can clearly show that it's not biology that's the case. It's far more complex than that and is the result of various social and economical factors. Reducing the entire argument into 'it's biology' does a disservice to examining social trends and is mentally rather lazy in my opinion, considering it can be easily used to explain everything.


That chart shows relative numbers. A chart which shows absolute numbers tells a somewhat different story: http://blog.bethcodes.com/is-the-internet-convincing-women-n...

Women’s interest in comp sci has experienced two booms and is otherwise somewhat stable.


In my company in the IT department (over 1000 people) more than 50% are women, reaching around 60%. In the past 5-6 years the promotions were 4 to 1 in favor of women and when hiring, female candidates come first if the skills are comparable or not much lower than male candidates.

This is because we used to have a female CIO that set diversity targets that were mandatory for all levels, so in less than 10 years we went from 15-20% females to 55-60% females by rejecting male new hires and promoting females by the dozen.


Makes me wonder how many men left the IT department in order to prevent career-suicide.


Just a few that are located in countries with good opportunities, not the ones outside USA or West Europe. A few like me still believe something can be done to fix it (the CIO retired), so we did not leave yet. The ones close to retirement don't care anymore.


Anyone who realized the jig and rolled out.


> .... and yet, how many workplaces have an engineering team which are 50% female? 25% female? 10% female? 5% female?

So you're saying, to achieve parity, we need 80-90% of STEM grads to be female and only 10% men?

Or do you think we should bypass the job interview process for women entirely, until we get a 50-50 ratio in software engineering teams?

Shouldn't we apply this to nurses and teachers (for male equality) as well? That is, have more accelerated job and education programs for men?


>Shouldn't we apply this to nurses and teachers (for male equality) as well? That is, have more accelerated job and education programs for men?

I'm not sure if that's a good argument, because maybe male teachers and nurses are disadvantaged. I have no way to tell. Instead I think it's easier to agree that it's better for everyone when everything is merit-based, especially for outsiders who have a much harder time socially (because they're outsiders) than they do professionally (because businesses are usually more rational water cooler clubs, although neither are very rational overall). Not every woman wants to be a woman in tech, some people just want to be in tech.


I’d wager it’s the same as the composition of females in any Engineering program. If there were 25 women in your CS program out of a 100 (being generous), they can’t magically multiply and somehow end up 50 in the workforce.

No one is forcing them to NOT join a STEM field. Everyone is telling them to specifically join STEM and giving likely billions of dollars in support aiding the increase.


As someone who's raised funds for a program for HS girls in STEM recently, it seems like those 'billions of dollars' are all going to advertising or something 'cause they're sure not coming to, say, pay for teachers for my artificial intelligence camp.


It doesn't require magic, just discrimination.


Exactly right, people don't seem to understand this basic concept.

The only way to achieve an equal split with anything is to discriminate.


What do you think the breakdown of applicants by gender is for these roles? Are you suggesting that females should be forced into occupations they don't voluntarily choose? The countries that have the most egalitarian societies show difference in gender preference maximizing, not minimizing.


This seems to be a valid observation (see https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/02/the-more...), it is not insulting or demeaning and it contributes to the discussion.

So, why is this downvoted?


It's not being down-voted because it's not a valid discussion point, but instead probably just because HN has a very liberal audience.

Even the most educated are still capable of bias, and many here do not like the opinion that it is possible that women differ from men in any significant ways.

Don't take the down-votes too personally. As long as you are posting constructive feedback with some evidence to your hypothesizes they will be appreciated by many even if the vote count doesn't make it appear to be so.


I don't take the downvotes personally (it's not my post, after all) but it makes me rather curious.

I think it strange that a liberal audience would dispute the fact that there are differences between men and women, even significant differences.


You're mistaking noise for signal. Even the most innocent comments get down-voted in a random drive-by on occasion; they usually recover.


Prepare for the hardest facepalm you've probably ever experienced: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10fDRERJh4w


>how many workplaces have an engineering team which are 50% female? 25% female? 10% female? 5% female?

All I can find is data from 2012[1], but <20% of engineering and computer science graduates are female. I help with interviews for the group I work in and just skimmed every job announcement (intern through senior level) to see the breakdown of who applied. In 5 years we had 81 people apply for jobs, which included only 3 women. Although I don't have access to any data, the previous job I had was similar: I estimate that I screened 30-40 candidates over 2 years and only one was female in that time.

Our job postings (and those of my previous employer) were generic descriptions of the work and benefits. Perhaps generic job descriptions are inherently hostile towards women?

[1] https://www.ncwit.org/sites/default/files/resources/girlsini...


How many schools have 50% make teachers? Is it because education has a rampant sexism problem? Or is it because men and women have different preferences?


Anecdotal of course, but I have an education degree. Also learned to code. (Also, am male.)

Why am I not a teacher but instead a programmer?

Money. I feel, as a male, I need to be the "bread winner". Sure, that's something society has imposed on me — or perhaps I allowed to impose on me. But there you are.

If other men feel as I do, they may be drawn away from the notoriously underpaid field of education.

Too bad. If money were not in the equation, I am fairly sure I would have found more personal satisfaction from that career than the one I chose.


It's at least partly because of rampant sexism and social suspicion of men who want to spend time around children.


Your argument doesn't counter his/hers.

It could be that fewer women are entering engineering fields at the top of the funnel (after high school). So every woman who applies for a job in the field could be getting one while on the whole, women still making up a tiny proportion of the workforce in that field.

In any case even if every engineering class in college has women in the majority, and every one of them is getting a job that a man previously held, it will still take a generation for parity to become visible in the workplace.


Why are you assuming the women are below average?

Though even if they were, maybe they are making a premium because they aren't adding sexism to their workplaces and exposing their company to the legal liabilities you are.

rhegart 21 days ago [flagged]

Because their grades were average, they are friends and I’ve helped them. Are you threatening me? Is it because I’m making sense and instead of offering a counter argument you resort to this? Well luckily for me I’m my own boss, I’m on a forum which let’s me discuss ideas with many members who I know are far smarter than me in every field. Maybe a counter argument here makes sense, convinces me, and brings me more to your side even by 1%. Or you can vaguely threaten me, push me to more obscure extreme parts of the internet and a year from now see my relatively moderate opinions become extreme because people like you have pushed me to the fringes where I’m surrounded by likeminded people some terrible but others who have also been pushed out and don’t hear any good counter arguments.

Because that’s happening all over lately.

Edit: I’m using “me” as an example, I’m obviously not going to do that but I’m trying to make a point that others who speak against the majority opinion absolutely might and there are bad actors who are trying to manipulate that with intersecrionality of their own kind. Just like being against sexism is intersectional with anti racism, gun control, pro choice etc. when someone gets sucked into something seemingly innocuous as this, it’s very likely they’ll start believing a whole lot of similar ideas. That can be good or bad I suppose.


> Why are you assuming the women are below average?

He said they're his friends and they agree with him. Why would you assume that he's lying about people he knows?

> Though even if they were, maybe they are making a premium because they aren't adding sexism to their workplaces and exposing their company to the legal liabilities you are.

By being paid more than their male counterparts while being less qualified for the job, they most definitely are adding sexism to the work place.


I read that as an AND as opposed to a singular entity.

Below average AND woman.


Are women never sexist?


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