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Women: Learn to Program This Summer (foundersatwork.posthaven.com)
268 points by jl 32 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 536 comments

Here's the blog post explaining why Jessica is doing this


All: there's room on HN for good-faith debate, but not for ideological flamebait (regardless of which flavor), so can you please not post that? It's tedious, off topic, and boy does it suck the oxygen out of a thread.

Here's a test: ask yourself how much intellectual curiosity there is in your comment or your motivation for posting. If you don't find much, please hold off until you do. Intellectual curiosity is the reason this site exists [1], and it's a fragile factor nowadays amid the rage and hysteria online. Keep HN curious.

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

hey dang, ask yourself how much intellectual curiosity is there in this promo post?! quite disingenuous on your side.

It's true that moderation comments are out-of-band for the site. But they're necessary, because the system just can't right itself without them. If it helps at all, they're even more tedious to write than they are to read.

Edit: mlevental points out that you were referring to the article, not my comment. I think there's plenty of intellectual curiosity in what Jessica wrote, especially in the blog post explaining why she did it. In fact, I'd say it's obvious. That commenters don't always respond to curiosity with curiosity of their own is a separate issue.

Certainly it's also a promotional post in the sense of wanting to call attention to the program, but that sort of mix is common on HN, and it's where it is on the front page because users upvoted it.

the person you're responding to here is trying to point out that the article is disingenuous and so only can generate the same. I don't agree/disagree. just clarifying.

Now that you mention it, I see that I misread the comment. Thanks!

What about the article is disingenuous? It doesn't even seem to be making any arguments.

Seriously. It's 100% factual. "I'm ponying up money for so-and-so program. Here are the qualifications and stipulations."

It's only disingenuous if she's lying about these things and actually not doing this, which seems like an absurd accusation.

The downvoted user clearly claims dang is disingenuous, not the article...


The linked webpage does not spark my curiosity, it inflames me because I'm against any type of discrimination. Discrimination against men is sex based discrimination.

The webpage naturally attracts political and ideological flame bait and these kind of links should have no place on HN.

EDIT: To clarify that the money is going directly to private individuals, as per Austen.

Incredible, thanks for putting your money where your values are @jl.

As for the numerous comments in this post around reverse sexism / reverse discrimination:

1. This is a private individual giving personal capital to other private individuals, supporting a personal cause. It is hard to both claim principles of free market and rally against this.

2. Private companies making hiring decisions are correcting for an indefinite history of bias. That doesn't mean they're hiring unqualified individuals, simply that they're making sure they put in measure to correct for biases and can identify individuals with the great qualifications that in the past would have been past up due to arbitrary euphemisms for gender / racial bias like 'bad culture fit'.

3. None of this is to say that you personally are not experiencing a challenging time or are not subject to bias in any way. None of this should diminish your personal challenges in the work environment. That should be addressed. This particular individual (@jl) and this particular company (Lambda School) are just not addressing that particular cause at this moment. And that should be ok.

> arbitrary euphemisms for gender / racial bias like 'bad culture fit'.

You make it sound like there are people out there saying to themselves, "I know I should stop discriminating against under-represented minorities, but I just can't seem to stop myself" as if discriminating were addictive like smoking. If somebody used to discriminate and wants to stop, the solution is to stop discriminating, not discriminate in the other direction. But this isn't somebody who used to reject people under vague euphemisms and needs this "nicotine patch" to help them kick the habit - this is somebody who's creating new euphemisms to discriminate in a way that's socially acceptable.

Rarely are people deliberately discriminating. Instead they have erected systems that, for one reason or another, lead to biases. You cannot stop discriminating while continuing to use these systems.

If they did exist they were accidental. But now there are overt discriminations being baked into various initiatives including recruiting.

Not so much these days, but back in the day I came across plenty of very explicit, very deliberate gender and racial bias. Talking to my mother, her whole career as a teacher was shaped by it.

The way I see it, there is very clear gender and racial and other minority under-representation in some areas of tech and employment. Some of the reasons for that might be benign, others might not. It makes sense to me to poke at this problem and explore it and push against it's boundaries, obviously in a non-damaging way.

This seems to me to be a positive way to do this. If women going to coding camps typically find themselves in a small minority among a big room full of guys, that isn't necessarily ideal for them. It's not anybody's fault, it's not like anybody has done anything wrong, but it can be an obstacle for those women to overcome. So why not try to minimise that obstacle?

Are you seriously suggesting no one intentionally discriminated against women or minorities? It was legally enshrined for centuries.

That's not exactly what OP means. What's actually going on is that we have certain expectations around candidates' behavior and the wording they use on their resumes and the way that they respond to technical interviews. These are behaviors that are ingrained for most white men but tend to be less ingrained for women and non-white men. So our hiring processes are subtly biased against anyone who isn't like us.

The interview process is all about being biased against certain candidates. But what often happens is that the biases we hold when interviewing and working with candidates don't matter to the job but happen to exclude people who would otherwise do quite well.

It's not like interviewers are all twirling their waxed mustaches and snickering about how many women they've excluded. But what they do is listen to how someone describes a problem or how they behave during a whiteboard interview and interpret that negatively simply because it's different from what they were expecting. And so they don't hire the person because they're a "bad culture fit." Some women have been trained by our culture to use less assertive terms to avoid showing dominance in a discussion. And they tend to wait for you to finish before they talk.

Or suppose that the people at the company tend to wear a certain gamut of colors because they're all white and blue-ish and grey-ish colors tend to look better on white guys. So when someone shows up with a redder shirt that person might be taken as "too flamboyant" when in reality they're just picking a good neutral color for their skin tone. It just happens to be a significantly different tone from the rest of the office.

It could even be as subtle as discomfort with inexact or flowery speech. I had a lead who would get very uncomfortable when I would talk in metaphor and use metaphors and different words to describe things in terms that he wasn't used to. He would try to get me to tone it down. But everyone else on the team was perfectly okay with it so I kept doing it. That's another form of useless bias, because I was understood and could do my job but probably wouldn't have been as hire-able if I had talked like that during my interview.

My point and OP's point is that discrimination is frequently not overt. We have to look past these superficial differences and really think about whether someone can do the job. And we also need to be exposed to more candidates who are not like this. So a program like this stuffs the pipeline and gets us more exposure, and it's now up to us to challenge our existing biases and try a more diverse array of people out.

>non-white men

I assume Asian men are actually "white men" for the purposes of your example?

Can you explain a little more what you mean by this or where the disagreement is? I'm not sure what you're getting at.


It's not quite true to say tech startups are made up of predominantly white men, but also men of East Asian and Indian descent. So you can't just use "white men" as a euphemism for the dominant culture of tech start ups.

Journalists do it all the time so you obviously can[1]. Google is less white than the US is and journalists talk about their diversity problem. The definition of white is shifting as has been obvious for decades[2]. Asians are white when convenient and not when not.



If you ever make it out to the bay, you’ll see that white men, Asian men, and, to a much lesser extent (though much more represented than everyone other than the first two), Asian women make up the majority of the engineering workforce here.

Which clearly demonstrates that just because you belong to a minority, it does not mean you will be "oppressed" or whatever the current narrative is. There are successful groups of people belonging to a minority, i.e. it is not the fact of belonging to a minority that is the problem, is it?

What consists of a minority is of course contingent and relative. A group that is a minority in one setting can be the majority in another. In one situation a group can be the oppressed, in another 'they' (different individuals but of the same 'group') can be the oppressors. Unfortunately that's human nature, but it doesn't mean we have to just sit back and accept it.

If course it's also possible to overcome obstacles like these. Some people are very successful at doing so, but unfortunately others are not and shouldn't really have to.

This is even the case in the midwest

> These are behaviors that are ingrained for most white men but tend to be less ingrained for women and non-white men

Do you have any reputable sources for this?

Of course not.

Look, I get it, people turn you down for jobs all the time. I am a white male, and I HATE looking for a job in my non-mainstream market, because I am constantly passed over for being a generalist/introvert/socially awkward/you-name-my-worst-social-traits-and-recruiters-and-hiring-staff-hate-it. When I get my foot in the actual door, my bosses always LOVE my work.

If I wasn't a, you know, a non-protected demographic, I could just hop on the internet and whine about how these strangers are discriminating against me for my [protected status] and that we need to fix years of bias, when it's really that they binned my resume for being too weird, too non-specialized, too X for their tastes.

The basic problem here is that there are too many confounders in why a particular individual is denied a particular position, and it's way too easy to cry "X-ism!" instead of actually breaking down the hiring process into actionable feedback for everyone.

Unconscious bias is a real thing. You can easily have a situation in which no one is intentionally discriminating and yet end up with decidedly non-equal outcomes.

sisu2019 31 days ago [flagged]

this unconcious bias stuff is unfalsifiable ideological garbage.

> equal outcomes

Equal outcomes is a truly horrible and disgusting goal.

Would you stop please stop posting unsubstantive comments and ideological flamebait to HN? Your comments in this thread have been well below the standard HN users are asked to stick to, and even well below the median comment in this pretty bad thread.


No, I will speak the truth as I know it and so should everyone else, now more than ever.

Any truth you have to offer can be expressed without violating the site guidelines.

I doubt it. You don't like what I say so you apply the strictest standard while OP is clearly ideological but yet, magically, not flagged or so very helpfully nitpicked on style.

Have you missed the studies on blind auditions for orchestras and the CV name switching studies? Entirely falsifiable (as well as real)

The blind cv experiments so far got shutdown pretty quickly when it turned out that with those the wrong group had even better chances.


One of my favorite examples from the Boston Symphony Orchestra[1]:

> For the auditions, the musicians would be playing behind a screen, in an effort to remove all chance of bias and allow for a merit based selection only - a selection that would hopefully increase the number of women in the orchestra.

> To their surprise, their initial audition results still skewed male.

> Then they asked the musicians to take off their shoes. The reason? The sound of the women's heels as they entered the audition unknowingly influenced the adjudicators. Once the musicians removed their shoes, almost 50% of the women made it past the first audition.

[1] https://www.upworthy.com/this-orchestras-blind-audition-prov...

Results are not statistically significant.


>> Women are about 5 percentage points more likely to be hired than are men in a completely blind audition, although the effect is not statistically significant. The effect is nil, however, when there is a semifinal round, perhaps as a result of the unusual effects of the semifinal round. The impact for all rounds [columns (5) and (6)] is about 1 percentage point, although the standard errors are large and thus the effect is not statistically significant.

> So, in conclusion, this study presents no statistically significant evidence that blind auditions increase the chances of female applicants. In my reading, the unadjusted results seem to weakly indicate the opposite, that male applicants have a slightly increased chance in blind auditions; but this advantage disappears with controls.

> Private companies making hiring decisions are correcting for an indefinite history of bias. That doesn't mean they're hiring unqualified individuals, simply that they're making sure they put in measure to correct for biases and can identify individuals with the great qualifications that in the past would have been past up due to arbitrary euphemisms for gender / racial bias like 'bad culture fit'.

Perhaps at some companies but not at mine. We do deny employment on the basis of sex and race, in order to increase percentages of women and URM. It's not just including women and URM that would otherwise be left out. It's also about making that a significant chunk of qualified white and Asian males don't get offers.


As to #2, is it bias when the candidate pool is self-selecting? I mean, generally we're talking about an industry where a self-starter can learn, get their foot in the door and build a career. Every actual study I've seen actually indicates bias in favor of women. The fact that the candidate pool is so unbalanced to me seems to indicate an issue in education or no issue at all (self-selecting), not corporate hiring.

But not everybody is a self starter. We also have a ton of people who were nudged in this direction and men get those nudges far more often. I certainly didn't learn software totally independent of other structures. Both my parents were software engineers. I had toys (marketed at boys) that encouraged creativity with computers. I had teachers who encouraged me to work in software. Etc etc.

But those nudges are LONG before the hiring process, which as I mention seems to be biased in favor of women in the field. Education and other bits take a different approach.

Media changes:

* Don't show techs/ops and programmers as interchangeable in practice * Don't make techs or programmers look uncool * Show more diverse techs and programmers in roles * Don't dumb down smart female characters (some seasons of Arrow) * Don't turn smart female tech characters out of tech (Daisy on Agents of Shield)

Education Changes:

I'm not sure here, between K-12 vs >12, as I really think better normalization in media would go a long way. I also think actual gaming with broader appeal is helping a lot too.

I do find it interesting that given college women outnumber men by almost 2:1 that the majority of STEM and more specifically CS graduates are men. I think that colleges really need to look at their own practices here more and that cuts both ways. I find a lot of modern progressive feminist extremism to be far different than any classic goal of equal opportunity which is disenfranchising.

I was searching for this and it seems like Harvey Mudd has had some pretty good success in increasing the percentage of women CS graduates: https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-harvey-mudd-tec...

A bit more on operations, management, development and deeper technology. I think a clearer understanding of the different roles that people play in development of technology systems is important. Men and women typically have different personality leanings (that broadly overlap), and understanding different roles and their focus would allow for people to understand and better choose towards their own interests.

In media, a lot of the time all the roles in IT/Development are interchangeable and muddled and there's almost no insight into where one role might end and another might begin.

As well as nudges (often subconscious ones) away from it that are more frequent for girls/women.

>3. None of this is to say that you personally are not experiencing a challenging time or are not subject to bias in any way. None of this should diminish your personal challenges in the work environment. That should be addressed. This particular individual (@jl) and this particular company (Lambda School) are just not addressing that particular cause at this moment. And that should be ok.

I think you summed up perfectly what causes people to have knee-jerk reactions against correcting biases.

Just because one effort doesn't address all issues at once, doesn't mean its futile.

Progress isn't instantaneous. It takes many attempts over long periods of time to move the needle. I'm not sure why people feel the need to criticize any and all attempts at doing so.

It's generally always the same groups that receive these advantages, and other groups that never do.

So this is helping those who are already privileged, while the actual underprivileged are ignored once again.

This is an excellent comment. As it stands only the already privileged will be accepted into the program which I find to be disgusting. At least the financial status of applicants should be taken into account.

Which underpriviledged groups are never supported?

Isn't it obvious? Poor people. The politically favored are women but by opening this to all women you only help women who are already privileged not poor women living in ghettos or from other poor backgrounds

I’m not sure I follow or maybe you have a step in your head that I can’t see.

@jl is literally giving money for living expenses for women to do this program. How does that help a rich or middle class woman more than a poor woman interested in the program? If anything, I’d expect the impact of $9K to be far greater for the last than the first (and presumably able to be treated as a tax-free gift or even if not, taxed at a low rate). If that’s the case, it seems more enabling, not less.

Providing money to attend this kind of program is awesome, but there are many people who, despite having expenses paid, still could not afford to take advantage of this kind of program. The more financially stable you are, the more likely you would be able to drop your life for x weeks to take advantage of this kind of program. Its not that what she is doing is "helping rich people more", but it will still favour them.

There are so many initiatives out there supporting poor people. True, this one does not. But it seems a bit far-fetched to conclude from this one example that the poor are not supported at all.

Only 4% of Stanford students come from the bottom 20% of family incomes, while 66% come from the top 20%. That's 15 times as many students from wealthy families as poor families.[1]

The numbers are similar at other top schools, and feed into everything beyond, including startups.

1: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/college-mobilit...

I'm not sure how Stanford's economic disparity supports that there are no programs to assist people who are economically disadvantaged. Harvard, Stanford, and Yale offer free tuition for students with family income below 65,000 a year, Princeton for below 54,000, and Cornell, Brown, Columbia and Duke for families with income below 60,000.

There's no data in the article about the income level of the students applying. Are there 15 times as many wealthy applicants? Disparity is often contextualized in terms of systems of oppression and discrimination. Individual behavior, influenced by the effect being poor has psychologically, is likely to contribute to the difference in economic diversity.

I didn't make that claim. I explained what I was talking about here:


I also see balancing out the disadvantages of children, teenagers, and young adults from poor families as way more important than balancing out the disadvantages of well-off women. I totally agree that we have a long road ahead of us in this respect, as the Stanford numbers clearly show.

Still, your claim that nobody cares about the poor is not justified. Also, there are many just causes, and we can work on all of them in parallel.

I didn't make the claim that nobody cares about the poor, that was a response to my comment and I added some relevant information.

The groups I was talking about, the ones that "nobody cares about" might not come to mind immediately, precisely because one rarely hears about them, but there are so many examples of disadvantaged people who are never the beneficiaries of such efforts.

For example: numerous physical traits other than sex or skin color. Invisible minorities like eastern Europeans or middle eastern Christians. People who grew up in rural areas.

It's probably absurd to expect to define categories and provide special help to every group that could be defined. Instead, people should be judged as individuals, each of whom has faced a variety of obstacles and benefited from a variety of privileges, and whose potential can only be evaluated by considering the whole person, not a few checkboxes.

People in the sex offender registry. And no, not only rapists are in there, consider https://www.nytimes.com/2001/06/16/nyregion/10-year-old-s-cr... and https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/03/14/when-kids-are-... for example.

To be clear, nobody is giving money to Lambda School.

Jessica is giving people money directly to help them be able to participate.

Lambda School is also making the course work available for free.

Lambda School is not being paid by anyone, and no money is changing hands, other than Jessica literally giving money away.

Overcorrecting for bias is not the same as removing bias.

You never heard the phrase "two wrongs don't make a right?"

You're the one calling it an overcorrection. To me it is a weight scaling correction

Obviously I now can’t prove it as I didn’t take a screenshot, but when I wrote my reply their comment specifically used the word “overcorrecting”. Clearly, they have edited their comment.

I was quoting that commenter.

What do 'reverse sexism' and 'reverse discrimination' mean?

I would understand reverse sexism to mean consciously giving preferential treatment to women, all other things being equal (because sexism, bizarrly, means discrimination against women, not just discrimination based on sex/gender). But, of course many versed in feminist theory would disagree with such definition.

Discrimination benefiting historically under represented or discriminated against groups.

Sexism and racism in favor of a group which is usually hurt by sexism or racism. Or equivalently, sexism and racism against a group which usually benefits from sexism and racism.


I'd like to think HN is a place where people can have debate without resorting to saying things like "very stupid point" ;)

You're absolutely right that free market doesn't mean your choices are exempt from criticism. That isn't my point, nor where I applied 'Free Market'.

My point was: If you're going to argue against this donation, saying that it fuels the trend of reverse racism / sexism that makes the free market more distorted, I would argue that this donation is very much a part of the free market. Private donations to private organizations for private causes.

> My point was: If you're going to argue against this donation, saying that it fuels the trend of reverse racism / sexism that makes the free market more distorted, I would argue that this donation is very much a part of the free market. Private donations to private organizations for private causes.

This is trying to eat your cake and still have it though.

If you ask a staunch free market person whether we should have laws restricting private activity or freedom of association, they say no. If you want to have a private organization and only invite women or only invite men then have at it.

But if you're going to have a law against that, over their objection, then it should at least be enforced consistently against everyone.

Objecting to the lack of consistency is different than objecting to the original principle.

That's a very intriguing point!

Can you help me understand it better? Are you saying that it is currently against the law for @jl to donate to Lambda School to sponsor 40 men to attend for free? I don't think that is your point, but I'm having trouble interpreting it any other way.

I'm not going to pretend to know the specific details of every law in every jurisdiction regarding what organizational purpose or member threshold or funding source or the like is required before sex discrimination is unlawful, but I'm fairly confident there are a number of laws to that effect on the books.

Maybe none of them apply in this case. But given the complexity and somewhat arbitrary nature of the requirements, that seems more like happenstance than some reasoned choice to have this specific type of thing excluded as opposed to the others, and we probably ought to be more consistent one way or the other.

For example, if MIT (a private university) wanted to have a program like this, should it be allowed in this case but not in their case just because their institution does some unrelated publicly funded research or whatever the restriction is?

But then you're also opening them up to being an entirely or almost-entirely gender segregated school if they want to be. So which one is it?


There are plenty of other words, and you're breaking the site guidelines. Please read them, especially the one about calling names: https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

My girlfriend, a nurse of 10+ years, just started learning to code on her own, built her first (basic) website (https://www.nataliepeterson.dev) and is applying to Lambda School already. I sent this to her this morning and she was elated.

Programs like this really work.

For whatever reason this website feels so personal. Instant flashbacks to the 2000s. I love it.

Hint for picking a random image when clicking on the image: The currently shown image should be excluded from the list of images to draw from. This prevents the problem that sometimes clicks appear to do nothing, although in reality the same image was randomly picked again.

This is what the web would look like if everyone learned to program and got off Facebook. I can only dream!

It's https and 100 speed score on https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/?url=.... I'm guessing this is on something like Netlify, as it's fast and there is HN hug of death.

I got the same vibe, so much of ones self just thrown onto a page to see what will happen. Super fun to see.

Good luck to the author :)

Great suggestion. I will pass along the feedback to the developer :)

A carrousel could work as well

This reminds me so much of when I started (almost 5 years ago now). My then boyfriend shared his interest in design and development and I ended up taking some programming courses for fun. I had no clue wtf I was doing for so long but I liked it...I also made a little app and made my brother click a button that spit out the text "You're stupid".

The courses and self teaching went a long way. I started at a crappy digital design agency and now work at a company many people have heard of!

Good luck to your girlfriend! I'm inspired by her.

"I have no idea what I'm doing, but I like it." This sums up pretty much the entire field ;)

I've been really happy to see all the nice personal sites and blogs that people have been creating on .dev domains, this included. It feels like the Web of the late 90s that I grew up in.

She can send a oneliner PR to get her site included on https//fullname.dev if she wants, and if she hasn't yet started using GutHub this would be a good learning opportunity for it.

I love that site! Feels refreshing and old. Nice to see that not everyone learns to code these days by following a terrible React tutorial that gives them nearly a gigabyte of dependencies for a simple project.

"hi cutie" lol... someone knows how to market well

I forgot she added this for me. She doesn't know I posted this here and thinks I'm her only visitor still. She'll be embarrassed, but I told her if she's not embarrassed with her first version, she's shipping too late.

> she's not embarrassed with her first version, she's shipping too late.

Valuable wisdom! Thus inspired, I might make it "If you aren't embarrassed, you haven't shipped yet"

i meant that in a positive/fun way, sorry if it came across as rude :-)

Not at all!

Yeah, it was certainly one of the more flattering websites I've seen all week. :)

> I have no idea what I am doing, but I like it.

Talk about relatable. 10 years in and I still feel this way.

Since it was brought up by @CydeWeys, here is Natalie's GitHub repository of this website: https://github.com/nataliepeterson/coconut. PR's (and issues) are welcome :)

She should definitely send a PR to add herself to fullname.dev then! https://github.com/CydeWeys/fullname.dev

Thanks, I just passed this along to her!

My girlfriend is in an incredibly similar position, shes an embryologist pursuing a CS degree, but it's at a super old traditional school and their tech isn't sexy web dev javascript type tech.

Do you or your girlfriend have any advice for her? A good tutorial or course or book that's been really helpful to your girlfriend and can help mine ship something soon?

Lovely website! One suggestion: it looks like the image is randomized on each click - the UX is that sometimes it doesn't work, because the randomly chosen image is (presumably) the same one - so probably the better choice would be to randomly chose a different image.

My girlfriend is in an incredibly similar position, shes an embryologist pursuing a CS degree, but it's at a super old traditional school and their tech isn't sexy web dev javascript type tech.

Do you or your girlfriend have any advice for her? A good tutorial or course or book that's been really helpful to your girlfriend and can help mine ship something soon?

“I have no idea what I am doing but I like it!”

Haha what a fun website.

lol I love this, especially the little easter eggs.

Some of the comments in this thread is a master class of how discrimination and gatekeeping work not just in our industry but in society as a whole.

How can we simultaneously be an industry built on free an open source software and yet try to put up walls around our industry when efforts are made to make it more accessible to others?

The barriers to programming are being lowered and this is an excellent thing. More diverse companies, different types of people to bounce ideas on, new perspectives. This is what our industry needs more than ever, and yet so many feel a threat veiled by concerns of affirmative action and 'reverse discrimination'.

We need to acknowledge the barriers that have existed in our industry but may be blind to you personally because you never had to deal with it. For one, access to a PC for a long time was restricted to those with low incomes. My mother saved her income tax refund for two years to buy our first PC, the one I learned to program on. The schools I attended didn't have a computer lab until my junior year of high school. It's a great thing that programming is being spread to those who did not have access before. If software is eating the world everyone had better become familiar.

This, I feel, is a disingenuous summary of the concerns with explicitly discriminatory policies voiced in the comments here. The issue is not that people don't want to make coding more accessible. The issue most serm to be taking is that many places are pursuing diversity by deliberately making it less accessible for undesireable demographics. See my company's policies for one example: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19464944

I don't take any issue with boot camps that are exclusive to women, but I can definitely see how people are worried that it reinforces the general atttide that "white/Asian men in tech = bad, women & URM in tech = good"

Barriers aren't just being lowered. The're also being erected for some types of people.

Is there any evidence of a "general attitude" that white and asian men are bad in technology? Because if they are, they must be incredible at what they do as they keep getting hired in droves. I think the view is they're overrepresented, but the "bad" part of that is the overrepresentation, not the race or gender.

For example the American Association of Educators is trying to encourage more men to become elementary school teachers, where women are drastically overrepresented (It makes tech look like a utopian melting pot). By doing so, they're not saying women are bad, but they are saying the profession would benefit significantly from more male participation, particularly when addressing concerns specific to young boys who are more likely to struggle in school.

Sure, but are they explicitly discriminating against women in hiring teachers in order to increase the percentage of male teachers? Because more and more that's what's going on in tech companies (with the genders reversed).

Of course. If a man and a women apply for the same primary school teacher position with the same skill level, they will hire the man.

But do they explicitly deny women jobs for a position where they would have hired a man? As in do men get two chances to pass an interview when women get one? Do they have blanket policies to not hire women of certain backgrounds where they do hire men of those backgrounds?

I don't know that. But even what I described disadvantages female teachers, and rightfully so.

Well in my company we are using those policies. And besides just because it's happening to women in other industries does not make it any less immoral.


This is bad policy, but in my experience also an outlier. I'm actually quite surprised that a company would publish this policy, as opposed to simply executing it under the rug. I have to ask -- how large is your company? Is it public?

Secondly, I'd also disagree that about the general attitudes of folks pushing diversity initiatives. No one is trying to eliminate white and Asian men from the workforce. This is more about bringing people in, not excluding populations.

It's in the San Francisco Bay Area and it's between 1,000 and 10,000 people. I'm not going to say anything more than that because I've already posted specific statistics that can probably identify the company for people who work there. I've also probably posted enough info about myself on this profile to identify me if people really try.

It's somewhat under the rug, but it's basically an open secret like Area 51. I explain in greater detail here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19465891

Again maybe it's a regional thing, but in silicon valley policies like these are pretty standard in my experience. In fact, many of my colleagues have called people racist and sexist for opposing these policies. These poilicies aren't just accepted, they're expected. I really don't think a lot of people understand just how social acceptable it is to discriminate against white and Asian men. Multiple managers have written in public email lists that they don't intend to hire white or Asian men for certain roles, and nobody took issue with this.

I get that inclusion of women and URM doesn't have to come at the exclusion of white and Asian men, but many companies are framing diversity in terms of percentages. That inherently puts it in zero sum terms. Everyone wants to have > 30% but there aren't enough women to go around. So the only way to achieve that goal is to deny employment to qualified men. It is indeed pursuing diversity through exclusion.

I get that having boot camps to get women into tech doesn't inherently cause companies to enact discriminatory policies like these. But saying outright that men are not welcome is a clear reminder that in many peoples' eyes, men's opportunities do not deserve the same protection as other groups. Replace men with pretty much any other group (except maybe Asians) and this situation would be outrageous. If we genuinely do believe in equality, then it needs to be just as unacceptable to do the same to men.


Over 35% of my company's tech hires we're women in Q1, as compared to an industry representation of 20%. 39% of new grad hires we're women when tech grads were about 20% women. When women join the company they received additional mentorship and leadership opportunities that are exclusive to women. They are also promoted at higher rates than men (albeit slightly). This is in addition to the explicitly discriminatory hiring policies I detailed elsewhere in this thread.

What about this situation makes you think that white and Asian men are privileged as compared to women?

The assumption that women are underprivileged in tech often does not hold up to scrutiny. Many studies have found significant bias in favor of women. When Google studies it's wages recently it found proportionally more men were underpaid.

Again in case you missed it, my company does explicitly deny employment opportunities to white and Asian men where they would have been hired were they women: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19464944

Barriers are going up. Perhaps at the moment this is limited to certain places like San Francisco and silicon valley. But to say barriers aren't going up for white and Asian men is counterfactual.

And besides, I'm Cuban myself so I ostensibly belong to an "underprivileged" group (though I would be among the first to tell you that this is a BS generalization. I am not by any means underprivileged).

What about this situation makes you think that white and Asian men are privileged as compared to women?

What fraction of companies would you estimate have policies similar to yours?

I can only talk about my experience in the SF Bay area, but these policies don't seem too out of place. Some of my co-workers go a step further and claim that companies are racist and sexist if they don't use policies like this.

Public figures also agree. Bloomberg's Emily Chang - one of San Francisco's most prominent tech reporters - encouraged adopting explicit reservation systems for women. Even though this is totally illegal in the United States.

I'll admit that at the end of the day I'm only one data point and that maybe I fell in with an especially progressive group. But this is what I'm seeing.

Many studies have found significant bias in favor of women" which studies?

I think you are basing your opinion solely on anecdotes from your company/bubble.

Women are underrepresented in tech - just go any tech conference and see for yourself.

Are women not as smart as men when it comes to tech? Or are there barriers to entry for women?

Here's one that was big news here not long ago:

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.


> Are women not as smart as men when it comes to tech?

I wouldn't say smart because thats a whole other can of worms but generally less suited, yes absolutely no doubt about it. It's weird but outside of the SV-buzzfeed-vice-huffpost filter bubble it's common knowledge that most women would rather do anything else besides stare at a screen all day and do something that neither involves people or art in any way.

It's not exactly rocket science but somehow it has become verboten to point out what everyone across cultures around the world (ex US progressives) and even science can clearly see.


I will say that in the past what I mentioned has been abused to keep out and belittle women who clearly WERE suited to jobs like this. The excellent movie Hidden Figures shows how wrong and sad that is.

But two wrongs don't make a right. Focusing on gender parity is also going to make for lot of miserable women pressured into careers that don't really suit them.

This one found a 2:1 hiring bias in favor of women: https://www.pnas.org/content/112/17/5360

> Are women not as smart as men when it comes to tech? Or are there barriers to entry for women?

Those are not the only options.

Parent linked to their policy, which contains this:

"1. We only accept applicstions from candidate from non-traditional backgrounds if they're diverse. Diverse is defined as any of the following: women, black, Hispanic, or native American - maybe also veterans but I'm not sure. Non-traditional background means coming from a coding boot camp, or majoring in a non-computing related field. I think after 3 years industry experience candidates are considered traditional even if they came from one of those two.*"

Note that this isn't impacting those well represented in tech; a white or asian man from a middle or higher class background.

It is instead rebalancing the priorities of those lacking in representation. A white guy who had to drop out of school to take care of his family? Not interested. Asian woman who decided her previous field wasn't for her, and does a coding bootcamp? Come on in for your interview.

I'm not saying I have an answer, but this is a legitimate concern. Responding with a generic platitude about how OP is merely feeling the effects of losing relative privilege is I think quite belittling and inappropriate.

Lumping all white men together as if they are equally privileged is dishonest.

A poor white boy from Appalachia doesn't benefit from whatever "privilege" young white men in the Bay Area might tend to enjoy as a result of their parents' success.

It's not just white men it's also Asian men.

And you raise a good point. The acceptability of "learn to code" when it was directed at laid off coal miners, but sudden shift to unacceptability when it was directed at journalists is extremely hypocritical. White male coal miners who went to a boot camp would have their resumes rejected on the basis of their race and gender. The same would happen to many journalists, but a substantially larger portion of journalists belong to demographics from which we do give a chance at interviewing when they come from boot camps.

If I want to change careers, but am a white male..how does that make me 'privileged'????

The word privilege do not function on individuals. A barrier is a barrier if it prevent a individual from fulfilling their potential.

That's a very abstract and dismissive take. Having a job isn't a "privileged position" and deciding who gets to be employed based on race and gender is more than "rebalancing scales". It's discrimination and people who have their life and family on the line aren't going to just smile and take one for the team while people push for them to be unemployed.

Extremely naive and condescending take. You and people who think this way are on an elementary school mindset of “justice” and fighting against the man combined with a misplaced ego power trip.

This has also been formulated even more succinctly/pithily as

> When you're accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.

(Unknown author.)

Barriers to programming are very, very low:

1. no degree is required, not even a high school diploma

2. a Windows laptop can be had for $100 at a pawn shop

3. an incredible amount of programming tutorials exist for free on the internet, including a complete CS degree course from MIT

4. a business license can be had by just filing a bit of paperwork with the state

5. operating a business on the internet means nobody needs to know what sex/religion/age/whatever you are

6. programming tools and SDKs are available for free

7. you can work from home

How much more can one ask for?

When people talk past each other what we get is two sides with genuine concerns feeling that the other side ignores it, thus painting the other in the worst possible interpretation possible.

You want "the other side" to acknowledge the barriers existed in our industry, and yet do not want to acknowledge that reverse discrimination directly hurt people. Being rejected for the identity you are born with hurt on a very personal and primal way.

Then we have cases like my own perspective. I have seen this kind of gender initiative for about 30 years now here in Sweden. Gender segregation in this industry has in the 30 last year gotten worse. I know for example a woman who took a "women only programming course" in the 90s, and she is now the single person left still in the programming profession out of every single person that graduated (she got a job before she graduated but that might be beyond the point). Study after study report the same where if a person belong to the minority gender in the work place, the risk that they will switch work place to one where they are majority is significant every single year. If I recall right it actually increase for each year, in particular after they graduate. Regardless if Men or women are the minority in the study, the result is similar.

The only effective measure I have seen to prevent this pattern is mentorship programs. I have not ready any in-depth explanation why they tend to work, through I strongly suspect it addresses some of the core issues behind gender segregation. An observation I made is that you can offer mentorship to both majority and minority segments of a group and the minority will more likely join and participate, which still focus the effort on the minority but does not exclude if any individuals in the majority have a similar need for the service. Obviously not everyone of that identify as belonging to the majority is identical and individuals have different needs.

> Some of the comments in this thread is a master class of how discrimination and gatekeeping work

All the top comments I see are supportive and encouraging. Maybe there were some negative removed comments, but overall this thread doesn't seem to demonstrate gatekeeping and discrimination.

Enabled flagged/dead in your options. I think it's pretty valuable to see the way moderators are shaping the conversation.

Isn't it a common misconception that flagged/dead comments are because of moderators? Dead comments happen automatically if enough people flag it[0].

[0]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12173836

Moderators aren't doing that, other than by having banned accounts in the past, which makes future comments [dead]. Users are doing the rest.

I think we might have banned a couple of accounts in this thread, but there would be a comment there clearly saying so.

What exactly are the barriers to programming for women?

What barriers are there? Everyone has access to computers and all of our software is out there on github etc. Women have more opportunities to learn to program than men do. They just don't want to. They don't understand it and don't like it. Get over it.

And some of the comments on this thread is a master class of virtue signaling as well. All sides seem well represented here.

Also, who is putting up walls? Be specific please. I too come from a low income "unprivileged" family and got my first computer in high school.

And the tech industry has always been diverse. It has been the most diverse and the most meritocratic industry for a long time. It's the industry where minorities and immigrants like Jerry Yang and Sergei Brin can thrive unlike more establish industries like news, media, oil, finance, transportation, etc.

Why are you painting a false image of what the tech industry is like? There are no barriers to programming. It is the most available and meritocratic and fair industries around.

Also, your entire comment had no relevance to the article. You just went on a stereotypical virtue signaling rant.

Also, do you really want diversity, or do you want a "diverse" group of people who all think like you?

I just can't handle the hypocrisy. All over HN, you support H1-B visas and claim the tech industry's success is due to diversity provided by H1-B visas. And elsewhere, you claim the tech industry is not diverse and the problem with the tech industry is the lack of diversity.

Which is it? You can't have it both ways just to suit your agenda. Be consistent.

I have several female friends who find Affirmative Action campaigns so off-putting, they decide against joining the industry.

One friend recently complained to me that all the AA enthusiasts just want to talk about feminism and women in the workplace, and not about actually writing code. She was incensed because she was invited to a 'Girls Code' meetup, where women would learn about algorithms by modelling their own menstrual cycles[0]. She was (understandably) frustrated, saying that her interests extend beyond what comes out of her genitals.

This is anecdotal, sure, but amongst my social circle, this seems to be the rule rather than the exception.

I sense a bazillion downvotes coming my way. You may think these opinions I am passing along are incredibly incorrect, but they are the opinions of women.

[0]: https://imgur.com/a/jFLU0C8

EDIT: It took no time at all for the downvotes to arrive, as expected. There is no such thing as the sisterhood. Feminists will immediately cast out any woman who doesn't hold the "right" opinions.

This isn't as rare as it sounds, when I was young and a lot more arrogant+principled, I refused to go to my (not actually paying/good) college's Oxbridge interview prep, also ruled out medicine as a career choice partly because in the UK at the time to get in you had to do charity work/specific extra-curriculars.

Insane reasoning looking back, but hey 17 year olds are often principled nutcases. I can definitely imagine doing what you describe re compsci if I was a 17 year old girl in 2019. Hope any principled girls (in my biased opinion the brightest/best people in the end) we lose from information tech go into something else useful, kind of a sad thought.

>Please don't comment about the voting on comments. It never does any good, and it makes boring reading.


I am also a woman and feel similarly, although it didn't deter me from working in the industry (or at least adjacent to it).

Thanks for chiming in. I’m not a woman, but I think it’s important to highlight these opinions because people like you and my friends do exist, although you’d never think it from the typical discourse on this topic.

From the discussion/debate I’ve had in the past, I perceive a strong overlap between people who would aggressively dismiss these women’s opinions, and also people who say we should “just listen to women”.

I have no agenda to push women into tech specifically, but coincidentally most of the people I have mentored and brought into tech have been women. This is likely because I’m in tech, and I’ve always spent more time with women. It puts me in an awkward position when I encourage a woman to attend an event like Rails Girls (which I had heard is an excellent experience for women), and then that woman comes back and says she hated it, and that very few of the women there actually wanted to do any programming, and that most of them just wanted to talk about gender politics.

In any case, I’m glad you weren’t deterred.

I recently completed a very difficult job search where I unfortunately had to lean on my ethnicity (I’m Mexican) to pass through very overt screening against white men. I was shocked to hear from multiple companies, large and small, that they did not want men and white men in particular.

Now we see a YC co-founder giving 40 women $9000 to learn to program.

Where does it end? I was really sad that while I personally can survive in this environment (if I abandon my ideals of not being judged by my genetics), many good men who are passionate about their work are being pressured from all sides.

I honestly don’t see how any of this is legal but it’s such a taboo to talk about that fixing the problem seems impossible without a major shift back to valuing skills above demographics.

I can confirm your observations. At my company we have a couple policies.

1. We only accept applicstions from candidate from non-traditional backgrounds if they're diverse. Diverse is defined as any of the following: women, black, Hispanic, or native American - maybe also veterans but I'm not sure. Non-traditional background means coming from a coding boot camp, or majoring in a non-computing related field. I think after 3 years industry experience candidates are considered traditional even if they came from one of those two.*

2. Diverse candidates get two attempts to pass the technical phone interview, non diverse get one.*

That said, when it comes to the hiring decision we don't discriminate. No disrespect for those candidates considered diverse, just take what you get. And I'm Cuban myself (but not visibly Latino) so I may have benefitted from that part of my identity myself.

Untimely I think the lower representation of Black and Hispanic people in tech roles is reflective of education rates. I suspect that were incomes and education more equal that would make representation in tech more equal. There also geography. Not many tech companies in the south where most black people live.

As for women thats a more difficult situation. I think that there's strong evidence to back up the claim that women may not choose to enter tech on their own volition. I think the solution to that is to emphasize the value of fields other than tech. Being coder at Google doesn't make a person any more valuable than a lawyer, marketer, salesperson, etc. Sure they may make more money, but that's the product of the labor market. And not to mention the average lawyer probably makes more than the average coder.

I've anecdotally seen a growing portion of coding boot camp that are exclusive to certain demographics. I wonder how much of that is due to policies like these. Especially for boot camps that only charge if the graduates get jobs in tech, I can see how it would be disadvantageous to admit white and Asian men.

* Edit: I just checked and these policies also apply to people with referrals. So one could justify this by saying we treat diverse candidates as though they have a referral.

> Diverse candidates get two attempts to pass the technical phone interview, non diverse get one.

These rhyme with soviet era policies circa 1950-1960 in Eastern Europe. At universities, there was an admission exam for 'healthy origin' people for the majority of the spots, and then another exam where everybody, including those failing the first time, could compete for the scraps. We all know how that turned out economically speaking.

Seeing the same policies in XXI century USA is surreal.

To be fair, the tech companies are stuck between a rock and a hard place. The media has been heavily pushing the narrative that women are underrepresented at these tech companies - and they are compared to the general population. But I've seen plenty of stories, even from reputable sources like the NYT, criticizing tech companies for only hiring 20-25% women while failing to mention that this is exactly in line with the percentages of tech workers that are women. Same sort of deal with URM.

Ironically, the concern over discrimination in tech is itself the cause of a significant amount of explicit discrimination.

Maybe tech companies shouldn't let journalists tell them how to run their companies.

> But I've seen plenty of stories, even from reputable sources like the NYT, criticizing tech companies for only hiring 20-25% women while failing to mention that this is exactly in line with the percentages of tech workers that are women.

If the industry is systematically unfavorable to women, hiring at the same percentage as the industry as a whole (which is what matching the “percentage of tech workers that are women” is) is indicative of being fully on-line with the average degree to which the industry is systematically unfavorable to women.

It would be inconsistent to criticize the industry but not firms that were dead in the middle of the pack.

>If the industry is systematically unfavorable to women

It's not. The CS graduation ratio is just as bad.

> The CS graduation ratio is just as bad.

If the industry were either actually or even merely perceived as systematically unfavorable to women, a natural consequence would be women being less likely to pursue education focussed on the field in preference to other fields that were less unfavorable.

There are many other factors that can come into play. It is simply incorrect to draw the conclusions you do.

One example is earning prospects, which might matter more for men than for women. Personally, I was torn between studying maths and film making, for example. I decided to go for maths because of the better money making prospects (I thought), thinking I could still go into film making later.

If you don't worry about income prospects, maybe you are more likely to choose English literature of the 16th century over engineering.

Just one example.

Sure, but everyone seems to be assuming that it's systematically unfavorable towards women solely based on the fact that women make up less than parity.

That claim only works if one assumes that any disparity is the result of systematic bias.

I don't think the person you're replying to is criticizing the industry though. From what I can tell, they're saying it's not the industry's fault that it lacks women.

That's how I see it anyway: mainly based on the fact that women make up only around 20% of CS majors, I don't think the issue lies in the hiring practices of most tech companies.

> I don't think the person you're replying to is criticizing the industry though.

No, but the people they are criticizing for criticizing firms hiring at industrt-average proprotions are also criticizing the industry, which is the issue.

If hiring was the issue, there would have to be a pool of IT women who can't find a job. I don't think such a pool exists.

So 40-45% of the population gets the shaft is what you're saying. While I understand a desire to have a more diverse company in general.. the overall population is definitely not 1:1:1:1 for each ethnic/gender group... And every tech hiring study I've seen seems to indicate a bias in favor of women, meaning the issue is either self-selective or generally in education circles, which is driving the issue.

Is it fair to claim equal opportunity when you give more opportunities to other people?

You are ultimately selecting the factors which could affect the outcome of that opportunity.

How is that not discrimination? How do you pick and choose what you consider diverse?

When you select the factors you're ultimately not an equal opportunity employer anymore in my opinion.

> Is it fair to claim equal opportunity when you give more opportunities to other people?

Googles careers page advertises that they're both in equal opportunity employer and an affirmative action employer:

> Google is proud to be an equal opportunity workplace and is an affirmative action employer.


So I guess the answer is yes.

That's so strange to me, how do you define equal opportunity when you directly affect that opportunity based on third party factors out of someones control.

I believe oxymoron is what its called.

[a figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction]

As a veteran, it has worked against me.

Next time I apply somewhere I am going to check Cajun or other since we have 'ethnic status'. I am certain we Cajuns aren't well represented in tech.

If it's any consolation about how we underrepresented but unqualified idiots are getting hired everywhere, I've interviewed with Mozilla a couple of times now, selecting the "yep, I'm Mexican" tickbox, and this hasn't gotten me any more hired there either of the times I've interviewed.

I must be really awful if I can't get hired as a Mexican, eh?

This misrepresentating my company's approach. We don't hire underqualified applicants if they're diverse. Rather we deliberately make it harder for white and Asian men to get to the on-site.

So the company is openly discriminating then?

Openly... I'm not so sure. In our all hands meeting our head of HR consistently denies that diverse candidates are treated differently. When the Damore memo was sent out one of our senior VPs of engineering explicitly denied preference for diverse candidates.

But we do have tools for recruiters to cross reference applicant names with the US census bureau's data to infer race and gender. We give recruiter bigger bonuses for diverse hires and we set specific % targets for them in their OKRs (basically quarterly goals. They don't get fired if they go under this, so I hesitate to call it a quota). That, and the aforementioned practices surrounding interviews and non traditional backgrounds.

Looking deeper at the documentation, I think the company maintains plausible deniability by giving recruiters discretionary authority over things like number of phone interviews and initial resume review coupled with hiring targets well above the industry average (current target for women is 33%). So the company does openly discriminate, but it gives recruiters the tools and discretion to discriminate as well as goals that essentially require discrimination to achieve - after that it's "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil".

My previous statements about non traditional backgrounds and 2nd phone interviews came from recruiters themselves. I can also confirm that, absent a referral, I've done 2nd phone screens for diverse candidates and have never interviewed a non-diverse candidate from a non-traditional background.

It's like we have given HR an a goal, namely diversity, that's easier to measure and doesn't require the technical knowledge of measuring skill, I can see how that gets very popular, very fast.

How does anyone see this and not think this is absolutely insane? Surely this is illegal?

I have sadly witnessed a lot of discrimination against white men recently as well. God forbid you happen to be a white man from a third-world country, you'll literally never get a single interview anywhere no matter how good you happen to be.

I've seen even more against Asian men (not that it makes discrimination again white men any more okay). After all, if we are going to strive for for equal representation - which seems to be the goal - Asian are going to have to go down from 30-40% of many large companies down to a fraction of that. Asians are 14% of California and 5.2% of the US population.

This is the currently acceptable form of prejudice in this country, yes. It is totally fine to enact policies or make statements that hurt Asian-American men (and women, I don't think gender is much of a factor here).

In things like University it probably holds true. But in my company women of any race (including Asian) are considered diverse.

They were getting lynched up into the 1900s by whites and Hispanics, put in camps in the mid 1900s, and discriminated against up until just a few generations ago, and now they're expected to lay down and be trodden upon, or else. Very cool, very progressive.

Third world country is bad (although maybe the positive racial discrimination will count them in, I don't know) but the people who get screwed by this sort of thing are also the white working class. Most employers have some (fairly rational as well as irrational) desire to screen by class, alongside the people of the upper classes knowing how to game the system of education/etc. So when you push women and ethnicities in, you push white men out, and the ones who feel the pinch are the ones already onto a loser.

Third world country is bad (although maybe the positive racial discrimination will count them in, I don't know)

Being eastern-European myself I can confirm that while the negative stuff applies, the positive doesn't.

But I say let them - I'm honestly curious what the end result of such policies will be.

I thought Visa sponsorship was the issue for third-world countries,I and many of my friends (local code meetup) share the same story ; apply to 150+ companies and not a single response. We are white from North-Africa. I stopped applying abroad because these kind of "diversity" policies scare me because they're mostly ethnic based I believe it should be idea based otherwise you end up with a group that all think alike.

> We use inclusive definitions of “women” and “female” and welcome trans women, genderqueer women, and non-binary people who are female-identified.

If you are interested in the program, it seems like you could identify yourself as female and apply. Especially if there's no in-person interview.

Cynically, if enough [biological males who identify as] men elect to identify as women for this application, the selection team will have some very difficult decisions to make.

This is a great way to get a company to instantly reject you at the interview step if they have one or fired shortly after being hired.

Because, you know, most companies look up the profile of candidates on LinkedIn, social media etc. Unless you actually consider yourself transgender, you would quickly be caught and removed just as quickly.

>Unless you actually consider yourself transgender, you would quickly be caught and removed just as quickly.

In the current cultural zeitgeist it'd be unimaginable to see someone get fired because they didn't conform to someone's rules of "transgender enough" based on their social media profile.

This is both the beauty and the irony of said zeitgeist; make all the rules you want, can't stop someone from playing.

And let's not forget the very real cases where someone may be more comfortable telling a bootcamp something about themselves than _the entire world_ on social media

Yes, you can actually. These sort of arguments remind me of the transgender bathroom fears: What's stopping a man from pretending to be transgender in order to enter the woman's bathroom?

Well, the answer is that people that are transgender will have a history of being transgender or acting in such a way that confirms they consider themselves that gender. So any lawsuit as a result of this would look into your past, see that you lied about being transgender and make it an open and shut case. If that case became public then you could say goodbye to your job prospects.

You either accept that people can choose their own gender or you don't. People don't get to police the reason someone may identify as female or male. History on social media should have nothing to do with it. Do you think everyone makes this choice at an early age and broadcasts it publicly?

That's not exactly right.

As I understand it, you sort of get to choose your gender, but society has to accept your choice.

If I declare myself a woman but make no attempt to "live as a woman" as society sees it, I'll appear to be taking advantage of the system, and my choice will be rejected and there will be social consequences.

Conversely, if I do appear to be making an honest attempt to be a woman, and you don't accept it because of your conservative values, then you cannot reject my choice, because that's bigoted.

Yes, you can change your mind about your gender, but you really need to do it in a life-upending way that feels risky and permanent and committed, then you'll be celebrated. If you phone it in, people are going to be offended and you'll be rejected.

How would you define "live as a woman" in a way that would be acceptable to all women?

It would be both sexist and transphobic to expect trans-women to "appear to be making an honest attempt to be a woman" by conforming to some outdated view of womanhood.

Cis-women can do anything (including any traditionally male activity like date other women, wear jeans, like football and monster trucks, like anime and video games, and in some cases, even grow beards) so why can't trans-women?

Trans women can do whatever they want, all I meant is that if people are only changing their gender on paper to have more opportunities, that's considered dishonest and unacceptable... At least, I thought that's how it worked.

People have been doing this for a very long time:


As I mention in my other comments on this thread, it's not right to judge people on why they identify with a particular gender. Whether it's economically motivated or not, if you accept that people can choose their own gender, the reason for the choice doesn't matter.

So they will create a transgender bathroom for you, but before you enter it you have to wonder if society will accept your choice?

I think that is exactly not how it is supposed to work.

It's weird that you bring this up in a comment thread about someone literally advocating for lying about their gender for the sake of some perceived competitive advantage.

Do you believe this to be ethical? Because to me I find it rather offensive considering it harms actual transgender candidates.

You're right. It's weird to bring up. It's offensive, It's harmful. It's definitely unethical. None of those things stop it from being true.

I wouldn’t judge someone for changing their gender for economic purposes. It’s a personal decision and a slippery slope to decide when it’s ok and when it’s not ok.

There is a level of salary discrepancy where I would transition and start living as a woman, probably somewhere around the point of women earning 50 to 60% more. I'm not even sure it would be a lie; gender is pretty unimportant to me, and at some point the potential gains overcome inertia and habit.

I'm seeing this as well and it isn't in any way positive experience. There is not much we can do without being labeled.

I don't live in USA but a couple of years back I was working for a large financial organization in my country and was flat out told don't even think you are getting promoted because we need to lift our diversity so no white men will be promoted.

I left not too long after that.

I have applied for women's scholarships but not without feeling guilty. Why do I get a chance at something while as many eager men in need of financial assistance or technical mentorship do not?

I am appreciative of every opportunity I have been given and will continue to take advantage of any opportunity afforded to me, even if it is on the base of my gender. If an investor wants to help a certain group of people, I will value that they are providing opportunities even though I may disagree with the idea of providing opportunities based on immutable characteristics.

I'm a white man, and sometimes I fear that the best thing I ever did for my son was give him Hispanic heritage through his mother.

I'm in the same situation.

I've already resigned myself that I must tell him to always check those minority boxes and he may want to consider only using his mother's surname on his resume, instead of the traditional dual surname he legally has (Example: Lopez, instead of Smith Lopez).

My plan would be to send my kids to dual language programs. If you're a somewhat native Spanish speaker, you can claim to be Hispanic with a clear conscience. "Hispanic" is, legally speaking (for now), an "ethnicity", not a race, which means it is independent of blood (but apparently race is a "socio-political construct" according to the US Census). People are already doing this, plus the people with one Mexican grandparent or something.

This farcical system can't go on forever as is. Either racial preferences in hiring will be banned under the 14th amendment, or the US will adopt a Brazil-style racial preference system, where they will actually test your blood and have technicians measure the tone of your skin and the shape of your face in order to fit you into a category.

> I honestly don’t see how any of this is legal

It is illegal to discriminate for jobs on the basis of sex in the US (as per the Civil Rights Act of 1964). If you believe yourself to be the victim of discrimination, then submit a complaint the the EEOC [1] who will investigate.

That being said, a large gap between the number men and women (or whites and blacks, etc) working at companies exist can be considered evidence of systematic discrimination. Increasing the pool of unrepresented applicants is a great way to ensure that a diverse pool of qualified candidates get interviews, thus reduce the likelihood that a company appears to be practicing discrimination during hiring.

[1] https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/sex.cfm

Good luck with that complaint to the EEOC as a white man.

The EEOC absolutely investigates discrimination against white males.


I never said it's not possible. I said good luck. Pointing out a handful of cases hardly proves that they're given the same level of consideration.

I can accept either point but not both.

It is illegal to discriminate based on sex.

By not discriminating based on sex to fix a ratio/percent you could be found discriminating

Statistically speaking, an equal opportunity workforce should be comprised of some demographic makeup. If a company deviates dramatically from that target makeup, the implication is that hiring practices are unfair. Addressing the unfairness will cause the issue to naturally correct itself.

This is a sound strategy that's commonly applied to other areas of engineering. If a company produces bearings and their QA department measures bearing tolerances from a shipment sample to deviate wildly from what is expected, then the implication is their is an issue with the manufacturing process that needs to be addressed. They don't just toss a handful of under-tolerant bearing in the shipment to bring the median value inline.

In other words:

> By not discriminating based on sex to fix a ratio/percent

...Is where your misunderstanding is. This idea is not over-correction -- you do no need to discriminate to achieve a specific makeup. You explicitly need to NOT discriminate and the problem will be correct itself.

ELI5: If a company was found to have a workforce that was too short. An appropriate response is to notice the problem an conduct an investigation, which determines tall people were put off from applying because the doors were too short. They correct the doors and the average height of employees naturally correct.

A wrong approach is to explicitly weight taller people more favorable in interviews.

What is the desired demographic makeup? Is it 50:50? Should it be across all professions?

>working at companies exist can be considered evidence of systematic discrimination.

No it can't unless you show that there are an equal number of qualified candidates, which there aren't in tech. CS grad rates for women are much lower.

Please don’t forget that it is her private money (I don’t know about tax benefits). So it’s like paying for the education of your children.

Inheritance is also private money, yet this case in Canada shows race/sexuality/gender-conditions in a will getting overturned: https://globalnews.ca/news/2533006/ontario-court-rejects-sch...

Except it's not your children, it's your arbitrary fashion-based tribal identity. (Gender isn't a fashion choice, no, but the choice to focus on gender over height, good looks, class, race, etc is very much a fashion that quickly shifts).

I'm sympathetic to anyone who's had a challenging job search, and am glad that you found something.

Society is worse off for having barriers that prevent anyone who wants to code from being able to do so. That includes the inefficiencies of the job industry not placing you into a productive coding role faster. But it also includes the lower salaries, lack of support/representation, belittling, and near-universal campaign of horrible harassment that every woman I've talked to in the field has experienced.

Everyone in the field of software development struggles, and I don't want to take away from that. We should be making life easier for everyone. But doing so involves recognizing problems specifically and succinctly, and building solutions that fit those problems. One of society's many problems is that women in tech have to contend with a nightmarish swirl of negative distractions that I've never had to think about as a white man. In the face of such a problem, giving resources to the effected population makes total sense, and it's a good thing that more organizations/companies are doing so. Even more than that, it brings us closer to meritocratic equality.

Women are in extremely high demand in the tech industry. This post is just another example of a benefit women get but men don't. As a hiring manager I can say I've definitely been encouraged to pay women more than equally equipped men because their presence on the team is deemed so valuable.

How did you leverage your ethnicity to get a competitive advantage in your job search?

Without doxing myself...

It’s not apparently obvious what ethnicity I am based on looks. I had already been told there was a focus on diversity at the company I ended up getting an offer at and they “really want to build a diverse team from the ground up”. The conversation had been dragging for months and I resisted bringing up my background out of principle. I saw the hiring manager tweeting about a Latinx conference (I hate that term) and bit the bullet and told them I’m Latinx. I had an offer by the end of the week. This was after months of similar discussions with other companies where I stuck to my ideal of being hired for what I’ve accomplished and the skills I can prove I have. Ultimately I was running out of money and got desperate. I still feel terrible and angry but I have to put food on the table.

Thanks for being honest about your experience. Though I wouldn't be surprised if you get downvoted for your unencumbered authenticity because it doesn't match the narrative du jour.

Edit: it does seem like you're being downvoted. I predict manfredo's response will be next[1]. Sigh.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19464944

I've been in the same situation and I cringe about it. I am a Latino but white because I am from Argentina where people are mostly from European backgrounds. It seems that "Latino" is meant to mean a specific group of Latinos actually and not the whites ones but technically with the word "Latino" I also qualify. But I would like to hear them tell me to my face why I am not a Latino.

Asquerosa la situacion, pero entiendo porque lo hiciste. Latinx es un termino gringo que me hace cagar de riza lol. Por el culo, somos Latinos y Latinas. No LaTiNX.

I'm not surprised nonbinary Latinx people hear the same talk about the terms they ask people to use for them. I wasn't sure about Latinx, but now I'm firmly for it.

That's a really odd reaction to have when a bunch of Hispanics tell you they find the term offensive.

The preferred term is "gringx", please...

This can only end when customers - from individuals to corporations - finally get fed up with the identity politics employed by these 'diversity' advocates and start shunning companies which profess adherence to this mantra. If this does not happen it will end when diversity has run its course and the population has been balkanised into nothing but oppressors and oppressed with the average size of the oppressed community being a single individual. Since by that time the economy will have ground to a halt they'll be fighting each other with sticks and stones.

> I honestly don’t see how any of this is legal

Let me help you, fellow Mexican:


The reason it's legal is because there are laws that explicitly allow this for certain underrepresented or disadvantaged groups.

Espero que esto aclare tus dudas.

A legal justification doesn't make something right.

It's also worth mentioning why the term "underrepresented minority" or "underrepresented group" is need in the first place. Considering how sexist and racist people claim tech is Asians seem to be doing perfectly fine which is exactly why the term URM is needed in the first place.

The question was just about the legality of it. It's not a mystery why it's legal and people should be aware of what the laws actually are.

> The question was just about the legality of it

So somebody asked "how can this be legal" and your answer was "because it's a law" and you're actually trying to claim the moral high ground?

Do you live in the US? If so, I think this is a bit exaggerated. There are still a lot of white men from the US at all major tech companies.

Similar scenario that was sadly disturbing. It is quite advantageous to have an ethnic origin as a Pacific Islander.

However some people I have met from southern Asia coming from a farming family background likely have had much worse conditions growing up. But they get lumped into the Asian mass where you must truly excel to get noticed.

I suspect it'll end when people aren't surprised to hear things like this:


I have never encountered this overt screening against white men as a white man.

Do you have any statistical evidence that proves white men are being discriminated against?

Yeah this stuff is getting pretty absurd. Someday in the future we’ll have grants for ugly people or short people because every little inequality must be erased in the human collective.

We should have grants for unemployed people because they are underrepresented in companies.

We never really valued skills over demographics — it's just much less visible where it benefits a dominant group. Consider that the percentage of VC deals with female-founded companies is 5.4% and yet they receive only 2.2% of VC dollars [1]. This has held true for over a decade: the average female founders have received less than their average male counterparts. But for some reason, there aren't many people complaining that VCs are giving men money just because they're men!

[1] http://fortune.com/2019/01/28/funding-female-founders-2018/

Never heard of an open and blatant 'women need not apply' in the 20 years I've been in the US. Not in the universities, not in the workplace, not anywhere. Not sure about NFL policies, though there aren't that many 6 foot 250 pounds fit women out there. Pretty sure there is no VC advertising 'we will fund no women' out there, if it were there would be a huge press coverage.

And yet, the OP is openly and blatant 'men need not apply'. How is that ever OK?

> an open and blatant 'women need not apply'

If anything, it's been the other way around for at least as long as I've been alive.

The NFL does allow women to apply, and one has tried, though that appeared to be just a publicity stunt.

There are a few women who play college football, and they are eligible to apply in the more traditional manner. With college experience and professional coaching it's not completely impossible that they could make it, probably as kickers or punters, who don't need as much upper body strength as other positions.

My point is, blatantly saying "X need not apply" isn't any worse than saying "this opportunity is open to both X and Y" and then only accepting Y. Implicit discrimination isn't somehow better than explicit.

If I read this correctly, what you're saying is:

* Implicit discrimination is bad. I'm saying: To use that as a guide for your actions you need to have an implicit discrimination detector able to account for all the confounding variables.

* Explicit discrimination is also bad. I'm saying: As a corollary, there should not be explicit 'X need not apply' policies.

* Two wrongs make a right.

Because men have many other options. If it was just 1 or 2 places saying 'we won't fund women', then those places don't substantially affect womens' ability to get funded. But that isn't the case.

> Consider that the percentage of VC deals with female-founded companies is 5.4% and yet they receive only 2.2% of VC dollars

Stats like this are so useless. Obviously if males make up 95% of the pool they're more likely to have founded some of the unicorns, therefore skewing the average. If one of the 5% of females founded a unicorn I bet they'd have a greater share of VC dollars.

The reason that companies become unicorns is that VCs invest in them at a certain valuation. You have cause and effect reversed. If VCs are underinvesting in female-founded companies, it's entirely expected that fewer of those companies will become unicorns.

I'm not talking about cause and effect, I'm talking about a lazy misapplication of statistics to bolster a talking point.

How can you separate them? Lack of female-founded unicorns is a direct consequence of underinvestment in female-founded companies.

Anyone who argues that there should be "More women in tech" needs to go visit a medical college. Completely filled with super smart women interested in science.

If STEM women found Coding as interesting as they did Medicine (which is arguably more competitive and prestigious), we wouldn't have any shortage of women writing code. There is nothing wrong with either way, just let people do what they like to do.

What's the evidence that women aren't coding because they aren't "interested"? If you want to make that argument, don't you need to go and refute all the anecdotal evidence that women aren't entering tech careers because they don't feel welcome?

I cite as evidence the fact that women in med schools have not, in fact, always been well represented and that the same kind of rhetoric about their "interests" was used to exclude them from medicine as recently as our parents' generation.

So... given a choice between "tech is fundamentally different from medicine and chicks don't like it" and "tech is behind medicine's adoption curve with resepect to gender inclusion", I'm taking the later as the obvious hypothesis.

The gender equality paradox is one strong example. Contrary to the narrative that women don't go into tech because of restrictive gender roles, the countries with the greatest amounts of gender equality, the highest male child rearing participation, the most generous parental leave, the smallest wage gap, etc. actually have the lowest rates of women in tech. By comparison the countries that have the most restrictive gender roles and worst gender inequality have some of the highest percentages of women in tech. The Scandinavian countries have 10-20% women in tech. Many gender- oppressive middle eastern and southeast Asian countries have a figure in the 30% or even 40% ballpark.

Edit, here's an article explaining this since judging by subsequent comments I may have done a poor job: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.theatlantic.com/amp/article...

Why is that "tech" and not just "time"?

Tech careers have only been spoken of as such for about a quarter century. Where were scandanavian female doctors as far as representation in the 1970s?

I mean, you're still sort of sidestepping the issue, but you brought up the analogy: what is it about tech that is fundamentally more gender-selective than medicine?

I think you're missing the core point. It's not that industries are selective of gender. It's that people are selective of the industry they work in, and on average women select things other than tech. The agency is on the part of people.

So the less restrictions there are on gender roles, the more agency people have to select fields based on their own preferences.

ajross 31 days ago [flagged]

No no, I get your point. I'm saying there's a much more obvious hypothesis for why "people are selective of the industry they work in", and you need to refute that instead of circularly insisting on its truth as the basis for your argument.

Basically, you're saying "chicks don't like tech", and I'm saying "prove it". And you won't. And then you try to tell me that I'm missing the point because I failed to note that chicks don't like tech.

> I'm saying there's a much more obvious hypothesis for why "people are selective of the industry they work in", and you need to refute that instead of circularly insisting on its truth as the basis for your argument.

...no? It's your responsibility to provide evidence for your "much more obvious hypothesis". I provided evidence for my claim that women choose not to go into tech on their own volition. I provided global statistics that demonstrate that the more freedom and equality women have, the less they choose to go into tech. I did "prove it" as you insist I need to do, so I'm confused why you continue to say that I have not provided evidence . It's your turn to provide evidence in refutation of this claim.

The way you keep summarizing this as "chicks don't like tech" and insisting that I provide evidence of my claim while simultaneously calling your explanation "much more obvious" without providing evidence to back it up is not indicative of a good faith discussion.

> I provided evidence for my claim that women choose not to go into tech on their own volition.

Uh... no, you didn't? I don't see it. All I see is circular logic: you're citing the lack of women in tech as evidence that they don't want to be there in response to a thread that says the lack of women in tech is a problem.

My point is that there are dozens or hundreds of other career paths where women used to be excluded and are now at parity, so I don't see any reason (other than novelty -- tech is still new, comparatively) for things to be any different here.

And your logic doesn't speak to that at all.

> All I see is circular logic: you're citing the lack of women in tech as evidence that they don't want to be there

If this is all you see then you did not get the underlying point I'm making. I provided evidence that there is the least representation of women in tech in countries with the most gender equality and gender freedom. The countries with the least gender equality and most restrictive gender roles have the most women in tech. The evidence lies in the inverse relationship between greater gender equality and more flexible gender roles with the percentage of women in tech. If all you took away from this was that women are underrepresented in tech worldwide, then you did not see the evidence I was actually referring to.

The evidence is not the small proportion of women in tech, but that it gets smaller when you compare countries where women have little freedom to decide for themselves to countries where gender equality is enshrined into law and women earn as much as men. So individual freedom appears to lead to fewer women choosing a career in tech.

That doesn't necessarily mean that no discrimination is going on. For example, both medicine and tech could be discriminatory, but medicine slightly less so, and women choose the better one. But any possible explanation needs to take into account that women do have a choice and they choose differently from men.

Offering scholarships might be able to tease out the difference, although it would have to be applied at much larger scale. If every student of medicine were offered a scholarship to learn programming instead, how many would switch?

If women have surpassed parity in other (far more demanding), more prestigious and better paying fields, why do you think that at the same time, the trend went in the other direction in our field? Do you think the tech workers of Silicon Valley - probably the most left leaning white collar professionals in the most left leaning part of the country simultaneously put up barriers for women at the same time that doctors and lawyers were taking them down? Do you think that demographic became more sexist from the 70s to the 10s to the exclusion of women?

> I'm saying "prove it".

There is a rather obvious finding in a study quite a long time ago that simplistically said: individuals in a group who belonging to a minority feel less secure than those individuals belonging to a majority.

From there we can make a relative small jump to say that when everything else is equal, individuals like to feel safe over not feeling safe. In additional when faced with adversity, how safe a individual feel has a strong potential to effect the outcome.

Those points is actually from a gender study looking at gender segregation. It doesn't say anything about "chicks don't like tech" or that "dudes don't like teaching", nor is parent comment.

> The Scandinavian countries have 10-20% women in tech.

Wait, 10%-20% of what? 20% of all women (or all men) involved in tech work seems like a lot.

Female representation in tech. I meant that 10-20% of tech workers are women.

It blows my mind that so many people are still unaware of the gender equality paradox. People constantly bring this up, constantly ask that same question, constantly get the same response. Women self-select into certain fields at higher rates than others, men do the exact same thing. Can we move on now? There is no problem to solve.

Is it not important to understand where these choices come from? Not because we have to enforce any particular distribution of genders, rather because it is useful to understand any differences that exist and whether they are truly personal choices.

Surely the reason is obvious, as it pervades all of society. Women are, generally speaking, more interested in people than men are, and men are more interested in things. Yes there is a big overlap, and yes there are plenty of exceptions, but the trend is very clear. And yes it is present from birth, so it can’t be just society.

> Surely the reason is obvious

Most human behavior is not obvious on close inspection. And when what seems "obvious" happens to align with traditional expectations of historically oppressed groups we should be very very skeptical of our personal gut feelings.

It’s not just a gut feeling though, there is plenty of scientific evidence. And given our evolutionary history and the fact that women give birth, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that women are more interested in people.

I really don’t see the point in denying this, it certainly doesn’t benefit women. Most women probably wouldn’t like to be men.

I have somehow missed all that scientific evidence (I am not trying to sound sarcastic). I am generally very sceptical of "evolutionary psychology" and claims that are based on popsci biology that neglect cultural factors. It might turn out that you are right, but there is no evidence yet, definitely not in our "evolutionary history", that women and men are inherently different in the way you described. The fact is, we do not know how much of these differences in choice are cultural and how much is biological. And from my work with students, and from the studies (reproducible studies) I have read, much of it can be easily explained as an "artificial" cultural artefact.

I guess I was not very clear in my statements, but to reiterate: yes, we all know these observations about interests are true, but no, we do not know whether they are biological. On the contrary, we have strong evidence that these preferences stem from the way we talk to young boys and girls.

There was a video documentary by someone in Scandinavia where they did experiments on infants, and from a very early age, the differences between male and females start to manifest, even before any sort of social input and differences in treatment. It seems to be biological. Females are more interested in "faces" and the males were more interested in "things".

That doesn't mean women are not interested in STEM though. I've seen a very interesting anecdote at a university in the middle east. It was segregated (men and women had different campuses), and for a certain amount of time, there were the same number, if not more, women than men in the engineering colleges. A nearby university, which was not segregated, and offered practically the same curriculum, had very few women in STEM, most women there ended up in business and media majors. Though things could probably change after graduation where female STEM graduates end up taking work that is less hands on and involves more dealing with people.

In the Middle East there is absolutely societal pressure against women, I’m only saying there’s none of that in the West.

I’ve lived in Jordan, one of the freest and most tolerant countries in the region and I could definitely imagine that women would like to avoid atudying with men.

That's not what I've seen. Plus, that's not the point of discussion here.

This was in a Gulf country. And it's not about avoiding studying with men (the majority of the population there are foreigners, and those schools attracted non-Arabs as well). Again, repeating what I saw, in the segregated school, the ratio of men to women in engineering was almost 1:1 (I don't know if that changed recently). In the university next door, it was closer to what we see in the West (way less women in engineering). However, in that same coed university, women ended up more in business majors where they were also studying alongside men. I've also seen a lot of women enter pharmacy and architecture majors.

Sure it's important and maybe one day we will understand:

1. Why it happens

2. Whether or not it is positive or negative

3. How to engineer society to work differently

But as it stands now, we don't know any of that and programs that try to force women into STEM fields are just weird. I mean, I am all for programs that help them feel welcome and accepted and uninhibited in STEM careers because some of them do choose to be programmers and such and they should be respected and treated fairly. But programs that look at the gender gap and assume it is a problem that needs to be fixed are just dumb.

Well the people that profit from this kind of narrative haven't gotten enough corporate influence and money from beating us over the head with it yet so it has to continue.

> There is no problem to solve.

Which is exactly what people said about unrepresented demographics in career XXX, for literally every XXX of the past few centuries in which the representation has since normalized. The example above was medicine, but we can play it with any high-status career you want: law, government, corporate middle management, academics, finance... Back up a hundred years and there were effectively no women (or african americans, pick your demographic) in those careers. Now they're much closer to parity.

And in all those cases, small-c conservatives interested in preserving the status quo trotted out all sorts of arguments just like this. And they were wrong every time.

So tell me again how your cool bit of jargon makes this all go away like magic?

Could you please stop prosecuting your points with edgy snark on HN? You've done it an awful lot.

I realize it's frustrating when it feels like you're surrounded by people who are wrong and unfriendly (and believe me I know how that feels), but everyone here needs to stick to the site guidelines no matter how wrong other people are or one feels they are.


The gender equality paradox is the observation that offering men and women more freedom increases the degree to which they self-select. In other words, offering people more freedom of choice increases the under-representation.

The alternative - shaming women who do not go into tech - is unpalatable to most.

The gender equality paradox is like a religion to you people. It's being vastly misapplied here, and the authors of that study (it was one study) would be horrified to see this rhetoric.

Go back and look at the scatter plot. It's a weak, but real correlation. The random deltas between nations are well above the significance of the gender signal. There's good science to be argued about there.

But it's being used here to justify an outrageous outlier. Women aren't just "less interested" in sofware at the scale we see in that study, they're outnumbered by literally a whole order of magnitude. Nothing from that study argues for this kind of effect, nothing at all.

>The gender equality paradox is like a religion to you people. Lumping everyone who mentions it together and othering them does not seem constructive.

>Women aren't just "less interested" in sofware at the scale we see in that study, they're outnumbered by literally a whole order of magnitude.

How can you be sure? Men are on average more interested in working with things, and women are on average more interested in working with people [1]. "...non-biology STEM majors showed lower [people-orientation] and higher [thing-orientation] interests than biology and health majors."[2] Self-efficacy and competence beliefs tend to be a factor that keep women away from tech [3]. The Gender Equality Paradox also mentions competency as a factor.

1. https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2Fa0017364 2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S00018... 3. https://portal.research.lu.se/portal/en/publications/will-i-...

> But it's being used here to justify an outrageous outlier. Women aren't just "less interested" in sofware at the scale we see in that study, they're outnumbered by literally a whole order of magnitude. Nothing from that study argues for this kind of effect, nothing at all.

This claim doesn't hold up to scrutiny. Tech is not an "outrageous outlier". there are plenty of jobs that are over 95% male and female respectively: https://www.cheatsheet.com/money-career/segregation-work-ame...

Here's a much larger list: https://fourpillarfreedom.com/visualizing-u-s-occupational-e...

Software isn't an outlier. In terms of representation of men, it's just behind "printing press operators" and just ahead of "taxi drivers and chauffeurs". Women are about as overrepresented in "File clerks" and "loan interviewers and clerks".

Software is an "outrageous outlier".

Ok, so let's have 50 more years of social engineering. What would you do if the trend does not reverse? Would that be enough for you?

Shouting "gender equality paradox!" doesn't warrant a mic drop. Aside from particular policies in Scandinavian countries that might actually limit women's options[1], the underlying issue is we don't know what a "natural" allocation by gender in STEM might look like. It's not like we can eliminate all societal/cultural barriers in a given population and run an experiment over time to observe how many women self select into STEM in some context free state of nature.

And so, while we might hypothesize that a "natural/biologically driven" allocation be uneven (and I'm willing to grant), we have no idea by how much. Perhaps it's really 95/5, or who knows, perhaps it's 60/40.

The argument that where we're at now is where we should be (and thus why we shouldn't try to eliminate various obstacles to entry) is really just a form of status quo bias. It's the same argument that's been used over the years to justify why women couldn't go to college, be lawyers, etc... etc...

[1] https://capx.co/what-jordan-peterson-gets-wrong-about-the-no...

> particular policies in Scandinavian countries

The gender-equality paradox does not just apply to Scandinavian countries, but reproduces pretty much around the world: female participation in engineering etc. is inversely proportional to HDI.

In fact, it even reproduces over time! I think we can all agree that, for example, the US is more egalitarian now than it was in the past. Yet female participation in CS has actually dropped since the 60s or 70s.

> we don't know what a "natural" allocation by gender in STEM might look like

This is both true and, maybe somewhat surprisingly, irrelevant. The reason is that the GEP is not about the absolute levels, but about the sign of the change. To be more precise:

If your hypothesis is that "societal forces/sexism/oppression are the main causes for lack of female representation", then you would expect higher levels of participation in societies that are generally more egalitarian and more free than in societies that are generally less egalitarian or not free, regardless of the absolute levels.

So your theory demands that there is a positive correlation between HDI and STEM participation.

If there were no correlation, that would probably already disprove that hypothesis.

However, it is worse than that, much worse, because the correlation is actually negative. I have to admit that this stunned me, as it apparently stunned the researchers working in the field, because it is such an unexpected and hugely significant result.

And once again, absolute levels are completely irrelevant here, it's just pretty clear that when you remove oppression, you get more gender-segregated workplaces at least when it comes to the empathising/systematising divide.

> The argument that where we're at now is where we should be

Who "should" be deciding where we "should" be? To me, it should be the people who decide what they want to do. If many more women than men now decide to go into veterinary medicine (used to be the other way around), who are we to second-guess them? If many more women than men prefer to go into early childhood education, who is to say that this is "wrong"?

That's the part I really don't understand, quite frankly.

I think it is misleading to use the lowering rates of women in computer science as proof of anything, especially when you look back to the 60s or 70s. Unlike many scientific fields computer science was much more of a womans field when it started off than it is now, for instance (and I am aware this is quite possibly cherry picking) if you look at images of the bletchely park codebreakers who worked on the origial turing machines to break encryption you'll notice a majority are women. One explanation I found of why this changed in america was the marketting of console video games, up until around the 90s these were not sold as toys and when it came for atari and such to choose between marketting to boys or girls, they chose to sell to boys, leading to connections between boys and computers or electronics.

I don't think this has anything to do with how sexist america is at any time, but rather how the gender roles have changed over a relatively short time period.

Most people get interested in computers early on in life, when there is nothing at all stopping them. You can’t blame society that many more 12 year old boys than 12 year old girls are obsessed with computers.

It is a fact that even at birth, girls are more interested in people where boys are more interested in things. This is even true for newborn chimpanzees. You can’t really blame society for this.

Surely this is a more plausible explanation why there are more women in medicine than in programming?

Society still has an immense effect on what children and teenagers prefer to do, via instilling role models. There is an amazing small experiment with primary school children. First, no girl in the class even has the idea she could become a pilot, because this is seen as a boy's/men's profession. Then a female pilots and a female car mechanic visit the kids, and explain what they are doing. Afterwards, half of the girls want to become pilot. Excerpts from this feature are available here (only in German): https://www.zdf.de/dokumentation/no-more-boys-and-girls/beru...

Ok, for how long did this wish remain? Of course society has an effect on people, but you really have to ask yourself, if it is known that even newborns show these tendecies, can’t you at least entertain the idea that women actually on average prefer medicine to programming? At some point, with enough scholarships, free code schools for women, female founder conferences etc, you need to just accept that there is a pretty significant difference between what men and women like, on average, it will just become ridiculous otherwise.

For example, especially young men are much much more risk loving than women. They are also much more aggressive and competitive. This is true for a lot of social animals, but definitely for humans. You can imagine that there used to be strong evolutionary advantages from this. These differences may have arisen in a very different world, but they are still here today, in men and women born in 2019. Testosterone is real. Why insist on denying and fighting these biological realities? Better to accept them, let people make their choices and make the best of the situation?

No matter how many awareness campaings and female coding scholarships you launch, women will still prefer to work with people rather than computers if they can help it. And that’s not a bad thing. The issue if anything is that some people centric jobs are underpaid. Nurses and kindergarten teachers do some of the most valuable work in society.

I'm working in tech as a man, and spend more than half of my work time in talking to people. Actually, the higher you go up in your career, the more you will spend time interacting with people, and the less with things. So should we aim to keep male coders, and foster female tech managers, because that fits the biological tendencies?

I definitely would like to see more male kindergarten teachers, because the fact that there are no role models for boys in kindergarten and primary school also has detrimental effects on boys and girls.

Finally, let's first agree that society still has a big impact. Then, we can discuss if it's worthwhile to do something about it or not.

I don’t think we should “aim” to do anythinf, that’s the whole point. We should just trust grown up educated people to make their own choices. Even women!

Ok, then let me ask differently: if upper management in all companies were mostly women, and they would justify this fact with the argument that they are naturally better with people, would it be ok for you if these women would prefer other women for open manager positions?

Nobody argues against letting people make their own choices. This whole discussion is about equal opportunities. And it starts in kindergarten, not with grown-ups

I’m not saying hiring managers should favour men for developer jobs. I’m saying many more men are into computers, so it’s natural that people hire more male developers.

You are aware that men are much more likely to be autistic, right? Don’t you feel that it’s at least conceivable that men are also more likely to be interested in spending their day writing instructions to computers?

Yes, I think it is conceivable. But at the same time, I have a hard time explaining a 10%/90% distribution just with biological differences. It seems to me that the biological differences are too small to explain such a huge skew. In particular, because the gender distribution for programmers was very different in the 1940s/1950s. At the same time, the cultural biases seem so obvious to me, that I think acknowledging them too would be a better basis for further discussion.

Why do you find such a skew unbelievable? For example, close to 95% of colorblind people are men. 80%+ of people with autism and like 99.9% of bald people.

But it’s not all bad, men have 20 times more testosterone, which makes them stronger and faster. So clearly there are lots of biological differences with a 90/10 distribution.

We are talking about software developers. In the 1950s, most programmers were female. It doesn't seem to be a profession where male biological characteristics are essential to be successful. All the examples you mentioned are non-essential for being a good software developer.

We were talking about the existence of gender based 90/10 skews.

As to femle programmers in the 1950’s, do you really think that is comparable?

Yes, in the context of a program to educate women specifically about how to code.

Comparable to what? I mentioned programming in the 1950s because all traits labeled in this discussion as "boys/males biologically have more of it than girls/women" have been as important for programming in the 1950s as they are now, it seems to me

So you think the women that worked as “computers” in the fifties entered the field because they had a passion for electronic machines?

These women were much more into 'things' than 'people'.

It would be your turn now to explain which biological characteristics of men cause a 90/10 distribution in coders today, and do not apply to coding in the 1950s.

Not the person you were talking to, but to me this just feels like a MASSIVE straw man. If you can show that some company prefers men and actually discriminates against women, I think most people would agree with taking action against this. Unfortunately, you are very far from being able to show such a thing AFAICS. Instead it seems you are working backwards and inferring that there must be some discrimination because the outcomes are so skewed.

For large parts of my life I've seen massive and explicit discrimination against men. In junior high/high school various programs intended to increase interest in tech enforced a quota on 50% girls. Of course, this quota was never written down in public anywhere, I just accidentally overheard the organizers talking about this. Then at university I had male friends who wanted to help out on a similar program, and apparently their applications were "lost". Then the next year the organizers added text in small print somewhere that they were going to enforce a quota on the genders. Similarly, I've heard professors comment on hiring decisions with saying that if they don't hire a woman, then they've basically failed.

Again, at work I very often hear similar things when people talk about hiring in both private and even more in public sector, "Wouldn't it be very nice if we hired a woman", "You know it will look very good if had a few more women on the team", bla bla bla.

I can't say I've ever heard anything remotely similar to this which is negative to women. Maybe I'm wrong or biased here, idk. Maybe this discrimination occurs in different places/positions in the organizations to where I am at. I'm trying to keep an open mind about this, but nothing really comes to mind.

I think there are two things which concerns me. Firstly, there is the difference between how explicit and clear the discrimination against men are when you are "backstage". From this side it is completely clear and there is no real attempt to hide it. But from the side of the person applying for the job/position/program, it really isn't very visible at all in most cases. If you are lucky there is some fine print somewhere. From my experience, like I write above, the discrimination against men/whatever is extremely frequent and pervasive in today's society, but of course, I just have my own observations and maybe it's different in other companies, etc.

Secondly, I feel the proponents of discrimination against men never point to anything remotely specific. It's always just "oh, there isn't enough women in tech", there is some "glass ceiling" stopping women, there are "hidden structures acting against women", etc. And at some point this starts to get ridiculous, like I've pointed out above, for more or less my whole life I've seen massive and completely open discrimination against men, and now I'm supposed to believe in some "invisible structure" which is acting against women all over the place?

Let me just finish by saying that I don't really claim to know why the world works the way it does, or why things are the way they are. And I don't think one should pay too much attention to all of these biology based explanations for why there are fewer women than men in tech. To me they are more just like "this could be one possible explanation for the phenomena as well". The main take away from them should, in my opinion at least, be that we don't understand this area very well. Unfortunately, I think people who propose biology based explanations often pushes these theories like we know they are true and that this is the explanation. I have not looked at the studies they refer to in any detail, but I have a hard time believing this is the case.

It seems that we mainly disagree about what constitutes discrimination. In my opinion, it is about opportunities. When 90% of the developer jobs are performed by men, it is really hard for me to see how men as a group can be disadvantaged.

It might be that the 91st man will not get a job because it is given to the 10th woman. But as 90 out of 100 jobs are given to men, it seems obvious to me that the group of men has all the opportunities they can wish for.

Note that every explicit action taken to even out a disadvantage will hit individuals in the group which is not disadvantaged. For example, if a prestigious university hands out scholarships to poor students, fewer students from rich families will be accepted as a result. This is not disadvantaging the rich applicants, it is reducing their advantage a little.

So, OK, taking a step back and thinking about this. So my impression from the public debate and so on in the western world is that discrimination is seen as unacceptable and really not at all OK. From the impression I get it is probably something like a less severe human rights violation or something like that. Of course, not comparable to truly horrible things, but still it has no real place in any civilized society. So this the background I'm coming from, I'm not sure if I've misunderstood something, I'm not sure.

So based on this, society then wants to discriminate men as an extraordinary measure, because women has been discriminated in the past and there is a feeling this needs to be done in order to give women a fair chance etc etc etc. And so far I'm following the story and it seems at least understandable.

But now I'm starting to see a situation where it is very unclear to me what "advantage" men have over women. In particular, one thing I tried to raise with my previous post, even if I did not spell this out explicitly, was the question of proportionality. And again, maybe I'm missing something, but to me the discrimination against men seem very much out of proportion to any problems a modern day girl/woman have. (To be clear, say someone in their early/mid 20s.) In particular, given the amount of discrimination we are talking about I would expect something a lot more solid and rigorous than the explanations I'm seeing (e.g. men as a group being more advantaged, whatever this means).

In particular, given the background I give in the first paragraph, I'm honestly a bit shocked to see discrimination being proposed more as some kind of policy tool used to get society to where some people want it to go. Like let's raise the taxes on the rich and discriminate men a bit more. Again, I guess I have misunderstood something, because this conclusion certainly seems absurd, at best.

tl;dr either discrimination is really not OK, but then there needs to be a very good reason why we can discriminate men. Or, discrimination is not a big deal, but then why is this even a question up for discussion?


“It seems that we mainly disagree about what constitutes discrimination. In my opinion, it is about opportunities. When 90% of the developer jobs are performed by men, it is really hard for me to see how men as a group can be disadvantaged.”

If e.g. 95% of the qualified people are men, but only 90% of the accepted applicants (just making up numbers here) then clearly there is discrimination against men. Outcome by itself says nothing about discrimination.

I agree that your hypothetical is possible. However, in a field where men occupy 90% of all positions, I still find it hard to imagine that they discriminate against their own group, i.e. treat their fellow males "in a worse way from the way in which you treat other people" (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/discrimi...)

I wasn’t the one claiming discrimination against men, and I don’t think it comes much from other employees. I will say that at every place I’ve worked men have been much more welcoming and helpful towards women than men, but as an okd-fashioned conservative I think that’s as it should be.

It’s undeniable that formal discrimination against men is common though, with lots of “women can code” programs and similar. Only last week PGs wife launched some initiative to pay women to go to some code camp, that jind of thing is very common. If you don’t think that is discrimination imagine it was exclusively for men or white people.

If there was a program exclusively for men to support male primary school teachers, it would be a really great initiative.

Male software developers are already well off, that's why a program "men can code" already sounds a bit ridiculous. But if any rich guy or girl thinks that this is a great idea, I wouldn't mind. Opening paths that were closed before is always good, regardless if for women or men.

I tried to explain it before, but would like to repeat here again. By opening paths for people who couldn't go there before, you will make life for the ones already traveling on that path less nice. This is not discrimination.

So without these initiatives it would not be possible for women to learn to program? What exactly is stopping them?

Of course it is discrimination to have programs that ezclude one gender. You might think it is justified but there's no doubt that it is discrimination.

Also, since medicine is so much more prestiguous than programming, and probably at least as well paid, why do you even want women to go into programming? Why not let ambitious women study medicine, law and whatever else they do, and be rich and happy?

Because any male dominated space is seen as a threat and must be eliminated, even if men initially gravitated into that space partly due to social rejection outside of it.

It's sad how far down you have to go to find the truth in these comments, even if it's only for a moment while the drones downvote it out of visibility.

All these kinds of studies just expect me to believe that the result is a good thing. Girls want to become pilots? Why is that good? Do we have a shortage of pilots? Would having a female pilot improve your flying experience?

How about making more women want to do manual labour? There is a huge shortage of women in those industries.

It is an empirical experiment, it only expects you to acknowledge that girls will become interested in male-dominated professions when getting in contact with the right role models. That is a fact, good/bad does not apply.

Now, indeed it is an additional question if we should foster such career choices for girls. My personal opinion is: the people most talented for it should become pilots. By further opening this career for girls, the talent pool is increased. Consequently, the pilots who make it will be more talented on average.

Some boys who could have become pilots in the past will now not be able to, because now their talent isn't sufficient anymore. Why should they be protected from the competition?

And to get back to the original topic, we indeed do have a shortage of software developers, so having more female developers would also benefit our economy.

You see, this is the problem when logic is expounded using clever syllogisms.

First of all, If an empirical experiment expects me to only acknowledge something, then it will raise my suspicions higher for nefarious intentions of controlling what I should think or conclude. You laid out its intentions clearly here.

Second, you say talent pool will increase if opening this career for girls and at the same time say some boys aren't able to be pilots for lack of talent. Now combining these two, having more female women in this sector would benefit our economy. Tada!

You didn't consider the case where some women won't be pilots for lack of talent and with opening up of new generation of men to this sector, the talent pool expands just as much.

Look, here are one fact: The tech industry will do fine and surprise itself with high quality talent even without women in it. This is true had the industry been without men in it as well. It doesn't increase or decrease had one sex been not allowed. The economy doesn't benefit except for maybe by diversification and that too can be compensated by methods of reaching out to those spaces where only one class of people could have immensely benefited. So lets say sexual harassment apps. Most of them are made by men only teams in Google Play store and they get reviewed great! Lets say Periods and menstrual conscious exercises and diet. Men have designed great apps in this as well.

This in itself is not reason for discrimination of women or men either way. That is to say, neither women nor men should not be excluded by this reason.

> "tech is behind medicine's adoption curve with resepect to gender inclusion"

also seems like a hard-to-believe hypothesis.

See https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/02/the-more... for an outline of the 'interest' hypothesis - essentially, women are stronger than men in both verbal and math/science domains, but prefer the former, so will pick subjects that more closely align with their interests when society lets them do so. In countries with worse egalitarianism and social security, they'll gravitate towards subjects that bring them more economic freedom.

I don't have evidence why they do not choose tech carriers. But I know that as a kid I was fascinated by being able to program a computer. I have seen many-many likeminded boys in the demoscene (in eastern Europe), but not a single girl. (Entrance was free for girls on demo parties, while boys needed to pay.) And it was absolutely not a career choice, we did not care about the money or a career, we just enjoyed to program, or more precisely we just could not imagine not to program. I never knew why girls do not program but I assumed that they are not that interested. And not just not interested in programming, but also not interested in boys who program. This was 30 years ago. (Things changed since then, it is more cool to be a programmer nowadays.)

> If you want to make that argument, don't you need to go and refute all the anecdotal evidence that women aren't entering tech careers because they don't feel welcome?

Who feels welcome in tech? It's an elitest culture filled with strong personalities that fancies itself a meritocracy.

The same can be said about medicine.

Doctors are not socially awkward, it’s much more fun for a normal person to hang out with medical students than with programmers.

Who could possibly feel welcome in an industry filled with awkward, mostly introverted geeks?

The "awkward" stereotype does not describe most software engineers I've encountered in my career. Even "introverted" only applies to somewhat more than the average percentage in the rest of society, in my experience.

I don’t know where you work but I’ve worked with close to a dozen software teams and in all cases the vast majority of coders have been very awkward. The contrast with other fields I’ve worked in, such as business or finance is sharp.

Maybe it’s different in other countries but i doubt it, based on conferences I’ve attended.

I don’t know who you work with but I don’t find that true at all, so either we have a different definition of awkward or our companies select engineers differently.

Probably because in tech, merit is what matters quite a bit.

Merit is... what skills can you personally bring to the table that can help? In a meritocracy, no-one cares about your race, gender, or sexual orientation.

Diversity of skillsets matter more than diversity of <biological attribute>. The former is useful, the latter is basically meaningless.

To say that "tech is behind medicine's adoption curve with resepect to gender inclusion" suggests that the percentage of women in tech is slowly growing from a low base, on a similar trajectory to women in medicine a generation or two ago.

But that is not the case. In 1984, 37% graduates of computer science were women but in 2017 only 12% were women [0]. How can it be that with so much more focus on diversity and inclusion today so many women are choosing a non-computing career than in 1984? The tech industry does seem to be on a fundamentally different path to medicine and law in this regard.

A second point is that writing computer code seems to have a strong appeal to people close to the autism spectrum - people who love to close the door to their private office, put on their headphones and write code for 6 hours without any interaction with another human being. And men tend to be greatly overrepresented on the autism spectrum.

[0] https://www.thebusinesswomanmedia.com/stats-women-tech-worse...

Personally I think an even bigger factor than not feeling welcome, if we're talking about getting people in the door in the first place, is the negative connotations associated with being in this industry to begin with. As far as social status goes, it's probably below average. Men who work in tech have a pretty negative stereotype. But because we're men, we can't even explore the possibility that this could have an impact because the immediate outrage and accusations of sexism it would cause.

Not GP. But I have seen these kind of studies are often suggested:



We synthesized evidence from interest inventories over four decades and found large sex differences in vocational interests, with men preferring working with things and women preferring working with people.


Engineering can be said to be involved with "things" and "med schools" with people?

Informally we could perhaps translate that to "Just because men like to sit in a cubicle all day and invert binary trees (a small pun on Google's hiring practices https://twitter.com/mxcl/status/608682016205344768?lang=en) that everyone else, namely women, should enjoy doing same". I mean, they might and many do, but it is not an obvious thing like it is often presented and it should be discussed. Of course, we can then ask where do those interests come from and some will say because of how people are socialized and others will say because of hormones and other biological differences.

> Just because men like to sit in a cubicle all day and invert binary trees

Yes. Except that even most men don't want to do this. It's just that of the fairly small percentage of people overall that enjoy this, more are men than women.

I still do not understand why this is even (made into) an issue.

I don't either. It seems there are strong cultural components as well. At least it seems useful to continue talking about and studying.

> still do not understand why this is even (made into) an issue

1) we don't know if it's true or not.

2) population level statistics are used to deny women jobs, so they're losing out on work and companies are losing out on best talent for a job.

> population level statistics are used to deny women jobs

I have never heard of this happening in tech. Can you elaborate?

I have seen population level statistics used to deny men jobs, not the other way around.

A lot of sibling comments stick to the "gender equality paradox" while forgetting all the other research on the topic (this is already a heavy selection bias). Yes, women in Scandinavia and women is Bangladesh, given the chance to pursue a career in STEM, might make choices that superficially support the notion that women self-select out of tech. But this line of reasoning forgets to compare what other choices/opportunities the women in those two countries have and similarly does not compare this to the background rates for these choices in the population at large. It is rife with interesting statistical fallacies that are worthwhile to discuss.

Well but that is the point isn’t it. Women in poor, unfree countries go into tech because it makes a huge difference to their personal finances and comfort. In Scandinavia everyone lives in freedom and comfort, so you can work with something you actually enjoy instead.

Certainly, that is a big part of it. But this should be carefully compared to the "background signal" in these cultures. To take it to an extreme: how certain are you that men go into STEM for reasons different than boys being told "STEM is for boys". Both young boys and young girls have that "common sense" imposed on them by our culture, so it is very unreliable to claim that any choice is unrelated to that cultural experience as a child.

Nobody says “STEM is for boys”. Maybe in the 50’s, but certainly not when I grew up in the 80’s.

Maybe that is true where you are. But I have seen it first hand in parents and teachers in the US, France, and Bulgaria.

OK, if teachers tell girls that they shouldn’t do science that is a real problem. In SCandinavia they definitely don’t, quite the opposite, but women are still not as interested in these subjects as men are. So clearly that is not the main cause.

> What's the evidence that women aren't coding because they aren't "interested"?

There are fewer women doing coding despite no barriers to entry, more opportunities (like this one) and preferential selection (thanks to people like you).

Just look around you for the evidence. Men spend their free time on hobbies, building things, playing with machines. Women call men boys for doing this. They do not want to do it. They do not understand why men do it.

> What's the evidence that women aren't coding because they aren't "interested"?

Every study that actually bothered to ask that question?


For example, there was an ACM study that asked both men and women (most studies do not). To their surprise, they found that women reported greater levels of support from their management than the men did. One of the few things they asked in terms of attitudes where there was a statistically significant difference between men and women was, drumroll, "interest in technology".

And that's for people actually in the profession!


2. Then there was the study that looked at why women leave engineering. #1 reason? "Didn't like the work/not interested in engineering". #2 reason was starting a family, #3 was didn't like the environment.


(Note: look at the actual numbers, not the headlines, because the headlines are very, very selective and do not reflect the actual numbers)

3. There was a study about high school students taking (or not taking) CS in Israel. They looked at all the factors that are usually trotted out, support, role-models, etc. No difference. The one point that showed a difference: "interest in CS", with the boys taking the class at 100% and the girls at 43%. For kids not taking the class the level of interest was gender-neutrally low. Interestingly, this was reported as "no statistical difference", which is...odd.

(Semanticscholar actually has the table in question, it's table 7 in the gallery)


4. The ROSE project showed that non-interest in science and engineering starts at a very early age. It also shows that interest dropping generally in countries with higher HDI, not just for girls, though for girls it drops even more quickly.

So it's not just the Gender Equality Paradox already mentioned quite a bit here, but also a more general Development vs. interest in STEM issue.


And of course there are the more general studies that show that a difference between people vs. things (empathising vs. systematising) is one of the largest and most robust gender differences that has been found (in the same category as the difference in aggression).

> If you want to make that argument, don't you need to go and refute all the anecdotal evidence

Ha. Anecdotal evidence? I thought we had better than that (especially when talking about stuff such as other people's subtle, unconscious biases, as judged by someone who has had a job application accepted or rejected..)

There's some evidence of gender preferences here, that, broadly speaking, women prefer people, men prefer things. This post goes into it more (see section 4): https://slatestarcodex.com/2017/08/07/contra-grant-on-exagge...

> What is this “object vs. people” distinction?

> It’s pretty relevant. Meta-analyses have shown a very large (d = 1.18) difference in healthy men and women (ie without CAH) in this domain. It’s traditionally summarized as “men are more interested in things and women are more interested in people”. I would flesh out “things” to include both physical objects like machines as well as complex abstract systems; I’d also add in another finding from those same studies that men are more risk-taking and like danger. And I would flesh out “people” to include communities, talking, helping, children, and animals.

> So this theory predicts that men will be more likely to choose jobs with objects, machines, systems, and danger; women will be more likely to choose jobs with people, talking, helping, children, and animals.

In there, there's a link to a study, though that link appears to be dead right now. Here's the study's abstract and a different link https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1751-9004....

> How big are gender differences in personality and interests, and how stable are these differences across cultures and over time? To answer these questions, I summarize data from two meta‐analyses and three cross‐cultural studies on gender differences in personality and interests. Results show that gender differences in Big Five personality traits are ‘small’ to ‘moderate,’ with the largest differences occurring for agreeableness and neuroticism (respective ds = 0.40 and 0.34; women higher than men).

> In contrast, gender differences on the people–things dimension of interests are ‘very large’ (d = 1.18), with women more people‐oriented and less thing‐oriented than men. Gender differences in personality tend to be larger in gender‐egalitarian societies than in gender‐inegalitarian societies, a finding that contradicts social role theory but is consistent with evolutionary, attributional, and social comparison theories. In contrast, gender differences in interests appear to be consistent across cultures and over time, a finding that suggests possible biologic influences.

Anyway, while it's not an open and shut case, it's very hard to explain why these preferences are stronger in more egalitarian/less sexist societies, rather than weaker, using conventional social progressive thinking. If the idea behind these preferences and decisions is "well, that's because of societal sexism", why are the least sexist societies doing the worst there, and the most sexist societies the best?

I'm socially progressive on most issues, but I find much of the arguments and reasoning from other social progressives for this topic to be fairly disingenuous. They often strongly give the impression of having decided that basically all strong gender preferences must be because of some kind of oppression or stereotyping, any scientific inquiry that indicates otherwise is morally unacceptable, facts be damned.

> "tech is behind medicine's adoption curve with resepect to gender inclusion"

This is a testable hypothesis and wrong. Women's participation in CS is dropping, so it absolutely is not the same curve, just a little behind.

> > "tech is behind medicine's adoption curve with resepect to gender inclusion"

> This is a testable hypothesis and wrong. Women's participation in CS is dropping, so it absolutely is not the same curve, just a little behind.

Women's inclusion dropped in medicine between the late 19th and mid 20th centuries, and came up after that, IIRC, so it could well be the same curve just 100 years or so behind.

Hmm...do you have evidence for that?

Looking at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_medicine#History seems to say quite the opposite.

Jessica Livingston, an investor who happens to be female, isn't saying "There should be more women in tech." She's saying "If women want to found tech companies, they need to learn to code. Not coding is a barrier to successfully founding a tech company that trips up lots of women interested in founding a company of this sort." and putting her money where her mouth is and offering women an opportunity to learn to code.

A scholarship for a CS program seems a much more worthy cause, as everyone with an internet connection has access to learn everything needed to begin a career in tech.

It's funny how the same people who argue that there are real differences between men and women that are biological in origin which produce all of the differences in representation in tech can't imagine that there might be real, at least on-average, differences between men and women (whether of biological or socialization-rooted origin) that affect what learning methods and contexts they are most successful with and in.

I find it very easy to imagine. So if women on-average would be more successful with "Learning Method X in Context Y" what's stopping someone from simply creating a school or company which facilitates people learning from that method? We wouldn't have to resort to "we're giving women $9000 to help them learn to code".

You realize scholarships are way more exclusive than half of all people right?

I got a scholarship based off of the street I lived on. I got a scholarship based off of the career choice of my fraternal grandmother (e.g. if she had been my maternal grandmother I would not have qualified). I got a scholarship based off of how similar I was able to make architecture sound to programming.

Women only scholarships are barely even notable.

Nitpick: you mean “paternal”.


For those folks downvoting me, please note that the thing I replied to was substantially edited. I don't recall the exact original wording. But this was a reasonable reply to the original text.

No, I'm not removing it to accommodate someone's else's bad faith shenanigans and help them look good at my expense. The topic here is sexism. I'm a woman. I'm probably the most "prominent" woman here in terms of participation on HN.

I'm leaving the link here.

> Anyone who argues that there should be "More women in tech"

I don't think there is any problem (shortage) of women in tech, but this is a substantial deficit of women in startup tech. There could be many reasons for this, but I suspect this is due to the personalities needed at an early stage startup and some degree of narcissism or self-interest that many developers (particularly women developers) find less appealing.

Perhaps this is also due to risk aversion?

Women tend to be more risk averse in part because they are capable of getting pregnant and women are generally expected to put their kids first. A man puts his career first and hardly sees his kids, he's a good provider. A woman puts her career first and misses a birthday party, she's a bad mother and a monster.

In order to raise a child with someone so you can make parenting a priority, you need to put their career first. In order to raise a child alone, you need to make so much money that you can afford a nanny and that still is tough because good childcare you trust is tough to find. (A US senator recently gave a speech about how the challenges of finding good childcare nearly derailed her career and her aunt resolved it by showing up to do the childcare.)

Yes, this is what I meant. I should have been more clear in my statement. Maybe I'm mistaken, but being in a startup seems like a riskier career move than taking a job with an established player in tech, which is why women would be more averse to joining a startup.

I'm a woman. I was agreeing with you and expanding on some of the why.

It's all good. I saw nothing wrong with you bringing this up.

I'm very aware of the children angle because of having kids. I didn't think it would impact my life in the way it did. So I've thought a lot about it and read up. I try to add some female perspective to the HN discussion because it's an overwhelmingly male environment.

Carry on.

The evolutionary psychology explanation is a couple steps away from the biological explanation:


I prefer the biological explanation because someone will invariably nit the EP for being infalsifiable, and at least with the bio explanation there is a pharmacological “solution ” to any man or woman who wants to be more risk tolerant.

I generally agree, but with a couple of provisos:

1. Birth control methods are not infallible. They reduce the risk of pregnancy. They don't eliminate it.

I knew a woman whose mom was diagnosed with a tumor when they thought she was tool to have a baby. They scheduled her for surgery. The "tumor" they removed turned out to be an unplanned pregnancy.

My life changed course when I turned up unexpectedly pregnant due to the failure of my (admittedly not terribly reliable) birth control method. I was already married and wanted kids, so I kind of shrugged and took it philosophically, but it sensitized me to the fact that, no, "just take birth control" isn't some magically perfect answer here.

Even if a woman is celibate, she can be raped and wind up pregnant. This reality means that fertile women can never feel 100 percent in control of their bodies and lives.

2. The personal behaviors that women logically choose to protect themselves and their children end up shaping the culture. Those become expected social norms for women.

Those social norms can be very hard to try to defy and it can cost a woman big time to succeed in defying them. This is likely the real source of the evolutionary psychology explanation.

People get raised with a lot of messaging about what is or is not appropriate behavior and a lot of that messaging is gender specific. "Girls do or don't do this." "Boys do or don't do that."

Some people get more of that kind of messaging than others. It can take a lot of years for a grown woman to question such messaging and decide she can reasonably and safely disregard it.

People who grow up in very strict households often go through a rebellious phase in their youth. A common outcome is they get burned in some manner, such as ending up pregnant out of wedlock while drunkenly hooking up with a stranger.

Such people often wind up even more strict than their parents. Their takeaway is they should have listened to their parents. Their parents were right. These restriction are good and necessary and important.

I'm quite convinced that a lot of religious edicts and cultural norms of the "morality" variety are shorthand explanations for what not to do if you don't want to horrifyingly derail your life in an unrecoverable manner that will also negatively impact the lives of other people.

Before we had antibiotics and birth control, just don't have sex outside of a monogamous, committed relationship was the only real answer to issues like venereal disease and a child you couldn't support. Once you had either of those, you were pretty much stuck with it and your life was basically ruined.

Now we have antibiotics and birth control, some people are still saddled with edicts of "no sex before marriage" and some people are informed "Use a condom. Practice safe sex...etc" Still, there is no cure for AIDS, so we still have diseases where the only good answer is "Jut don't get it to begin with.

Behaviors like "no sex before marriage" don't stand alone. They get paired with edicts concerning myriad other behaviors that are "risk factors" or slippery slopes.

Don't be alone with a boy. Don't drink or do drugs. Etc.

It's quite challenging to unpack all that as an individual within your own lifetime in a timely enough manner to go ahead and accomplish things before you are like 80 years old. Even if you can unpack it for yourself, now you have to deal with everyone else you know still going "You shouldn't be doing that!"

Some of that is slowly changing organically over time. But some of it only happens if you actively push against "But why can't I do x, y or z?" And that's almost always drama.

That may be how it is now in medical colleges but it was a long road in getting there, starting with being allowed to even attend medical school in the first place, and some would say we're still on it. It didn't just go from 0 to where it is now overnight.

Yeah, I don't see how the example of medicine is anything except further reason to encourage women to join tech fields.


I disagree with your comparison saying Medicine is to Tech, as Secretarial Work is to Medicine. The entry to tech is extremely forgiving and easy compared to Medicine. I believe Medicine is much more important to society on an individual level than tech ever will be. A more accurate comparison would have been Law.

My sister works in an O.R. performing heart surgeries, saving lives. I make websites. We both like what we do.

She thinks my job is dreadfully boring. I would hate the hours she works, and the finality (lack of version control/ctrl-z) that comes with working in the medical field would stress me out every day.

Different strokes for different folks.

The difference being, being a doctor is (in many parts of the world) both more challenging/competitive and better paid than programming.

You explain with discrimination (which was real in the 50s according to most evidence we have) what is in parent's case better explained as a difference in motivation (making a five-figure salary by being responsible for humans is more attractive to the average US woman than being responsible for modules of code is).

Your secretarial school figure is a strawman to make the parent post look like a strawman. There's a legitimate discussion to be had on why women nowadays are found in a higher proportion in medical school and to law school than to CS, and there is a multitude of reasons that are more plausible than purely discrimination. Let's start to tease them apart without merely stopping at the clichés.

Being a doctor also carries much greater social respect (partially linked to the pay aspect). I expect this social respect gap has eroded in SV, but is still very significant in the remainder of the world.

I started in medicine when I went to university (parent pressure), but swapped to a computer science/engineering combination from the second year. The impact on my dating prospects at that time was very significant.

> You explain with discrimination (which was real in the 50s according to most evidence we have) what is in parent's case better explained as a difference in motivation (making a five-figure salary by being responsible for humans is more attractive to the average US woman than being responsible for modules of code is).

and your evidence for this is ....?

> , and there is a multitude of reasons that are more plausible than purely discrimination.

same? When computer programming was first invented, nearly all programmers were women. Only when the job became prestigious were they pushed out by men. So this would indicate that discrimination, not interest level, is the sole reason we don't have a lot of female programmers today.

evidence: https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-first-women-in-tech-didnt-l...

> When computer programming was first invented nearly all programmers were women. Only when the job became prestigious were they pushed out by men.

Or maybe they were placed in these positions by men and when they were free to select it as a career, they didn't. In the early days of computing, personal interest wasn't a driving factor in selecting it as a career because it was still so new. I really think your example demonstrates the opposite of what you think it does.

> and your evidence for this is ....? If we look at other professions (business, law, medicine), we'd find more discrimination but also more women. So discrimination is unlikely as a sole cause.

> Only when the job became prestigious were they pushed out by men. I clearly recall the days when programming was thought as the domain of the pimple-faced nerds with the thick glasses, way before the brogrammers and other "cool" nerd types came along. Law and medicine are all more prestigious and by your reasoning would have pushed out women even more. So there's something you're missing, and actively missing it even when reality waves its hand to you.

Just one google query gives something more nuanced, such as this: https://austinstartups.com/the-tech-gender-gap-a-2016-progre... which rightly points out that the percentage of women was rising in CS as much as in medical and law until around 1985. And if you look at the graphic here https://blogs.sas.com/content/sascp/2018/12/05/booming-enrol... you notice that it's not women leaving the field, it's more men coming to CS while the number of women stays the same until they leave in troves at the following bust cycle.

You keep using evidence from the 50s (i.e., 70 years back) as explanation of today's state of affairs, but the evidence points that the 50s don't tell us anything about why we don't have more women programmers. Instead, ask why women got pushed away by post-bubble insecurity and maybe (and this is interpretation) some stigma that we as CS people have that pushes out women.

The job never became prestigious. I love computer programming but saying “I’m a programmer” has been one of the best ways to lose interest of people who aren’t programmers. The most common response is just “oh, that must be nice because it pays well, right?”

Compare that to the response people get when they introduce themselves as heart surgeons and you’ll see what prestige amongst the general population (at least in the US) looks like.

> Let's start to tease them apart without merely stopping at the clichés.

Yes, please do so. "They are not interested in computers" is a huge cliché. So which non-cliché reasons do you see?

> "They are not interested in computers" is a huge cliché. So which non-cliché reasons do you see?

Motivation goes beyond "being interested" in something. If you ask why there aren't more men studying art history it would be rather silly to say that men are less interested in art history. Then again, if you said that men don't pursue art history because they (most often) wouldn't be able to sustain a family on an art historian salary - and are expected to do so, while women find it appealing because appreciating art and understanding social and political undercurrents is more important than earning potential to them. (I don't know many art historians but see here for an example: https://www.pomona.edu/academics/departments/art-history/why...)

We could also ask why art history is not a candidate for "new collar jobs" (i.e., having people with associate-level degrees in art history) or why we don't have art history bootcamps for men. Part of the answer is that - at least since GC languages and Ruby on Rails - we do have good uses for people with shallow CS knowledge, or at least that there are less people interested in erecting high barriers of entry. The answer to that is that CS is thought of as skills-based and shallow, another aspect that is more likely to dissuade (especially white middle-class) women from pursuing a 100% CS career while it will help pull in people combining domain expertise with at least some CS skills.

It's also only anecdotically, but I think your art history example doesn't fly: https://art.stanford.edu/people/faculty

My art history example does fly if we're talking about students. The question then would be - what about faculty? Why is faculty still mostly male when students are mostly female.

And the answer is that the faculty selection process is - for art history as much as for other faculties - skewed towards a narrow sub-demographic that is predominantly white and male from a well-to-do background. If you call that discrimination I'll agree with you, but it's not a kind of discrimination that would be specific to either art history or computer science.

Even if you look outside Stanford https://art.vassar.edu/bios/ you can see a definite difference in gender distribution between adjuncts (poorly paid, mostly female) and full professors (mostly male).

At least in Germany, this is being changed by rules that give female applicants preferential treatment when there are (as is common) more male than female applicants for a professorship, and at least in female-dominated courses of studies we now see more female professors.

So we seem to have gender (+other, less visible) discrimination in many cases where managers, professors and other roles are selected in a competitive manner. And we have ways to change this if universities and private enterprise play along. But this has nothing to do with females not choosing CS as a major, and it has nothing to do with females not entering programmer jobs.

You are right, the selection/motivation mechanics for students are very different from the ones for faculty.

I think relative status is implicit in your analogy.

But doctors are higher status than software engineers... I think almost everyone would agree with that. Except maybe the HN crowd - but only if that software engineer is also an entrepreneur, because that's the trump card. But most devs aren't.

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