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Employers Used Facebook to Keep Women and Older Workers from Seeing Job Ads (propublica.org)
353 points by shrikant 24 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 459 comments



There are job boards that SPECIFICALLY make it their business to target women and deliver female candidates looking for tech roles (in organizations that are in need of diversity hires):

  https://powertofly.com/
...and companies pay a premium for those job advertising channels.

Why is it a great business and an initiative to be applauded if it is about excluding men and a scandal if it is about excluding women?


> Why is it a great business and an initiative to be applauded if it is about excluding men and a scandal if it is about excluding women?

Because the one aims to reduce an imbalance in the workforce, which leads to a particular section being under represented.

Thwe other aims to increase an imbalance in the workforce, which leads to a particular section being under represented.


I think this comes up against a fairly fundamental difference in opinions that people have.

Some people believe that discrimination on the basis of race/sex/etc is bad. By that standard, discrimination in favor of women is also bad.

Other people believe that imbalance is bad, and thus discrimination should be used to counteract this.

IMO people with the second opinion probably shouldn't call what they dislike "discrimination".


Why do we think the imbalance is bad?


It's not, it's actually natural.

Presenting it as bad is simply, at worst: propaganda espoused by sheep and their shepherds, and at best: ignornace.

There has been a ton of research done on "Thing vs People" career interests, which show very clearly that men prefer working with Things, whereas Women prefer working with People.

(When I say prefer, I mean the average in a normal distribution)

Simply google: occupational interests people vs things

Ex1: "Men and Things, Women and People: A Meta-Analysis of Sex Differences in Interests"

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/38061313_Men_and_Th...

Ex2: "Straight Talk About Sex Differences in Occupational Choices and Work-Family Tradeoffs"

"Sex differences in occupational interests have been known for decades, and a recent aggregate analysis of the interests of more than 500,000 people shows that some of these differences are quite large.1 The most relevant finding here is that about 15% of women have the same level of interest in engineering as the average man; 50% of men, by definition, would have stronger interests in engineering than the average man."

https://ifstudies.org/blog/straight-talk-about-sex-differenc...

Ex3: "Brainwash: The Gender Equality Paradox"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tiJVJ5QRRUE


Exactly what proportion of the gender imbalance is accounted for by a "Thing vs People" disparity, according to those studies?

Is it only a question of sex-related disposition? If so, what has caused disposition to change so radically over the last 30 years?

And why, for example where over 50% of nurses men in the 1900s in the US, but it is now only around 7%? What caused men to apparently become so much less interested in people over the last 100 years, starting to become more interested in people again in the last 10?


Historically most nurses were related to war, men fight war and thus become nurses. Even in the modern military you learn how to apply bandages, identify different kinds of wounds and how to treat them etc to keep your mates alive even in the modern military, so you could call everyone in the army a "nurse". But of course they are not modern nurses, the profession changed over time from mostly patching up people after fights to mostly treating diseases as our understanding of diseases improved.

The same thing with programming, women were dominant when it was mostly low level computations, but more and more men joined the field as computers grew more powerful and people saw the breadth of programs you could create. So the job changed, early it was more about maths and algorithms, and then we added more and more engineering tasks on top and people started to create huge programs which doesn't resemble math at all. So the gender balance of programmers shifted from the relatively equal applied math field to the extremely male dominated field of engineering. You can look it up, STEM without E has a very balanced gender ratio, while E tend to have above 80% men.


Gender Imbalance is a presupposition -- it begins from the place that a "gender imbalance" exists.

I can't justify for you your presupposition [nor demonstrate the existence of your chosen, yet unjustified presupposition given the evidence], you'll need to do that for yourself. Sounds like the news & entertainment media told you something repeatedly (without evidence), and you accepted it on its face without critical analysis.

Now, like many, when presented with evidence, you feel a sense of cognitive dissonance and would prefer to refute clear evidence rather than adjust your public opinion-- as to be expected given human nature of desire to save face.

However, what is apparently demonstrated in the studies is that the vast majority of individuals in a normal distribution favor a particular occupational set of interests based on gender: Men -> Things/Systems. Women -> People.

"The most relevant finding here is that about 15% of women have the same level of interest in engineering as the average (Read: 50% i.e. 50th percentile) man;"

"Straight Talk About Sex Differences in Occupational Choices and Work-Family Tradeoffs"

https://ifstudies.org/blog/straight-talk-about-sex-differenc...


> I can't justify for you your presupposition [nor demonstrate the existence of your chosen, yet unjustified presupposition given the evidence], you'll need to do that for yourself. Sounds like the news & entertainment media told you something repeatedly (without evidence), and you accepted it on its face without critical analysis

But you're pointing out the imbalance yourself...

> The most relevant finding here is that about 15% of women have the same level of interest in engineering as the average.

But when presented with evidence, you feel a sense of cognitive dissonance and would prefer to simply presume some biological effect. Is there any evidence that this is a biological effect?


No, imbalance would presume things are out of balance.

Your presumtion is that balance = men and women have the exact same interests and should therefore be represented exactly identically in occupations of things & people.

That is an irrational posture, foisted upon you by your media overlords, and accepted by you wholeheartedly without critical analysis.

I do not believe men and women are equal-- if they were, we wouldn't have two names for two genders in a dimorphic species.

If apples equal oranges, we wouldn't have two names for them.

I don't know what sort of mentality you live within, but it isn't a rational nor informed one, in my estimation.

Given the psychological science (again, many studies over the course of decades), and given the biological science (hormonal and brain differences between sexes), I think it is very clear: Women prefer working with people, men prefer working with things -- On average.

I don't think you understand how statistical distributions work. There are two distributions here: One for men, one for women.

They don't both fit onto the same normal distribution-- if they did, it would be bimodal, not normal.

Good lord, I see you're trying to argue against biological differences between men and women-- You must not be aware of hormone differences, which in fetal development, yield either a male or female.

OK, I am done talking with such a brainwashed person. Your ignorance does not offend me, I just think it's pointless to discuss this with an irrational person who prefers to block out the daylight of reality falling upon their presuppositions, and media-informed (not science-informed) perspective.


I don't know for sure whether it's natural or not, but I keep wondering: imagine someone runs a groundbreaking research which eliminates all the possible biases and digs to the root of the issue. And it turns out the difference is natural Is any member of our corporation diversity board going to apologize then?


Imbalance is bad because participation in civil society, to include employment, should be representative of society as a whole.

Besides, inclusive and diverse workforces have been repeatedly shown to be better for the bottom line because organizations are more able to serve a wider market when they are made up people more representative of the total market.

Revenue for the division I work in at my current employer exploded when we started hiring people outside of the traditional avenue for new hires. Until a couple of years ago we had been staffed by traditional government/military-focused scientists and engineers with narrowly-focused aerospace engineering backgrounds. Our customer base was 100% domestic government/military because that's who we knew and had relationships with. Outside consultants recommended non-"traditional" hires, and we followed their recommendations.

New hires in the environmental sciences (mainly women) and personnel with foreign language experience opened up market opportunities that we had been unable to see before and by diversifying our workforce we were able to diversify our customer base to include foreign environmental management organizations, agricultural, and natural resource-based markets.

My employer develops and sells a pretty unique Synthetic Aperture Radar system with capabilities not found in competing platforms. We had been trickling out systems to the Navy and Air Force on a onesy-twosy basis every year.

People with a diverse background said "hey we can sell this to oil and gas companies, departments of agriculture and environmental science all over the world, and we can work with all of these universities on terrestrial surveying projects and make more money".

And we did.

I imagine for mass-market consumer products and services the impact of understanding the needs of the market by having a workforce representative of the market as a whole would be even greater than what we experienced.


> Imbalance is bad because participation in civil society, to include employment, should be representative of society as a whole.

So when society changes the demographics we have to fire and hire the right amount? Sorry you're the best candidate we've ever interviewed but we have hired too many black men and are above our diversity quota.

> Besides, inclusive and diverse workforces have been repeatedly shown to be better for the bottom line because organizations are more able to serve a wider market when they are made up people more representative of the total market.

Is it the diversity of color or diversity of thought that is what drives a better bottom line? I'm gonna go on a hunch it's the diversity of thought that you're taking credit for.


Imbalance is bad because participation in civil society, to include employment, should be representative of society as a whole.

But why?

I understand the point that diverse workforce leads to diverse ideas. But will fifty women per hundred employees produce five times more diverse ideas than, say, ten women?

Hiring women just for the sake of hiring women looks like a cargo cult.


I agree that "increase diversity" is a rather obtuse meta argument, and using it implicitly argues that there are not other significant discrimination issues facing these groups. Maybe it is a better argument to make in certain settings though. For example, a company wouldn't want to admit to having discriminatory biases in hiring, so "increase diversity" is a much more palatable objective.

The more honest, less PR answer is that people still discriminate on huge range of factors. Race and Gender are just the most obvious and egregious.


You are being deliberately disingenuous.

The post you're replying to specifically claims that it is to make employment more representative of the whole of society. Your statement that it's "hiring women just for the sake of hiring women" completely ignores the very words you're quoting.


Sex is a federally protected class[1]. Discrimination in employment decisions based on any federally protected class is illegal, and can carry rather large fines.

Using a job board that explicitly discriminates based on a protected class is a very, very risky idea. If a member of the untargeted portion of the class (a male) sees a job ad there and is denied employment they have very good evidence for a sex discrimination lawsuit.

[1] https://content.next.westlaw.com/Document/Ibb0a38daef0511e28...


The next time I (male) am looking for a job, I will make a specific point of seeking out job advertisements targeted at women in tech and applying, just to see what happens.


Unfortunately, the Department of Justice chooses to not enforce this law when the offending objective is to hire anything but white males. It should be enforced equally.


Do you have any sources for that?


I think for similar reasons like it generally being seen as a good thing to give free food and housing to the poor, but frowned upon to do the same for the rich.


I have trouble to understand your message behind your analogy...

From what I get is that you are referring to woman as the poor, and man as the rich.

Just because it's a man dominated field, does it mean the others remaining have no chance to get anything in that field?

If so, do you suggest that one half of the world is not allowed to have these jobs at the same condition because some people already do, just because they have a male reproductive system? --- Meaning that all men are representative for all men, the same for women?

This is not equality.


I object to the use of "dominated". In a herd, a "dominant" animal will actively work to keep others away from food sources and mating opportunities when those are scarce. This is not what this is.

Strictly my opinion: There are few women in software engineering because few women WANT to be in software engineering, period. ...and it's not a given that this is by definition a bad thing for them either.


Maybe one of the reasons women do not want to work in IT is, that the atmosphere is still sometimes sexist?

Or at least arkward. When I started to study IT, I was surprised to see, that the stereotypes were the majority. Meaning, long, oily hair, etc.

So I guess that is still changing, and I really do not believe 50% women should be the goal, but maybe the IT world still needs reflection sometimes, why so little women want to get into it.


I see that theory pop up from times to times, but it only really sounds plausible if we look at the IT sector in isolation. Here in Sweden around 85% of men and 85% of women work in a profession that is gender segregated, and the national employment rate for both is practical identical.

Not only is 85% a really large part of the majority of everyone employed, and a higher number than in the US, but for any male dominated sector there is a equal large female dominated one. In addition, the trend has been for the last 50 years of ever increasing gender segregation.

If sexist atmosphere is the culprit then the numbers makes no sense at all. People like to throw in the gender paradox, but that is more of an observation rather than explanation. If we go by the data the cause must be very fundamental, exist in practically all work places, and have equal force at both women and men.

I personally ascribe the phenomenon to a pretty old theory from the 1970. People feel slightly more confident and secure in a decision when they mimic decisions of people they identify with. From the first moment someone choose a education path, to succeeding and failing with exams, to applying for jobs, to succeeding and failing in the job, each time the benefit of feeling more confident and secure apply a small bias. You thus get a leaky pipe, and the more equality in choice people have in every step the higher the probability is that you end up with a gender segregated work place by the time people are in the mid 40s or 50s. If we wanted to prevent this we would need to raise confidence of any minority (gender, race, wealth, background, anything that people identify with) to be identical to the observed effect. In my view this is the primary reason mentor programs actually work, while looking at atmosphere (sensitivity training comes to mind) is unlikely to change the outcome.


Sexist -> awkward -> long hair is quite a series of leaps, and I'm mighty curious as to the underlying mental model. You appear to be implying that women might not want to go into IT because the men are unattractive. But unattractive is not the same as hostile. If you enjoy something, ugly people won't keep you away.

Of note is that the percentage of open source programmers who are women is half that of the broader industry, despite open source programming generally involving less face-to-face interaction. Surely, if women were scared away by ugly creepy nerds, the safety from behind a screen and absence of compelled personal interaction would tend to bring them out? It would seem to be suggestive that far fewer women enjoy doing that sort of thing for fun.

Incidentally, we have a nursing shortage. The incidence of male nurses is similarly low to female programmers. I find it amusing that no one hand wrings about this, or would dare make comments like "maybe men don't want to be nurses because nurses are ugly".


...I agree. I find it disturbing, how quick women are to bring up notions like "awkward" and "creepy" in discussions such as this. 80% of "awkward" is about social interactions unfolding in a way that are outside the norm. 80% of "creepy" is about being unattractive. Not being socialized to conform with the norms is mostly a function of your childhood upbringing. Not being attractive is a function of your genes. Both are elements of a destiny that is cast upon you from outside and not within your control, like what gender you are born into.

I don't see at all how an environment full of unattractive and not well-socialized people create an environment that is in any way hostile to women.

But superficial people who, when female, will play the feminism card against people who happen to be unattractive and not well-socialized do create a hostile work environment for the latter group.


"Not being attractive is a function of your genes"

No. Genes play a role, but attractiveness is not so much about looks as it is about confidence and self esteem (and smell, of course).

I was considered very ugly in my youth. And yes, I compensated with computers. I did not got much experience with girls in teenage years.

Then I traveled, studied and grew in my mind and confidence.

And today, well, lets just say, sometimes I am still confused, when very attractive women flirt with me, as my old me would have considered them to be way out of league.

Now I know how to play the game, so to say, but in the beginning, I know I hurt quite some feelings and was probably considered arrogant, when I simply did not know how to respond.

So, I got out of the basement. But:

"I don't see at all how an environment full of unattractive and not well-socialized people create an environment that is in any way hostile to women."

many nerds never did. They long for women, but never learned the game and sometimes think, they are too ugly etc. bullshit.

So when you have lots of men with unfullfiled desires and weak confidence or knowledge regarding women ... then yes, they act awkward towards women. They would like to bond, but don't knowmhow and think they never can. So not hostile, but awkward, so quite some women feel uncomfortable and rather leave.

Now to be clear, no, not every IT nerd is like this. But too many. I was one of them once.


...actually, the stuff you are saying is precisely the kind of thinking that will turn somebody who is merely unattractive into somebody who is creepy as hell.

Exhibit A: Physical unattractiveness pairing off with acting like you're not unattractive, perhaps because of some misguided Disney-movie philosophy about how self-confidence makes you attractive. Somebody acting like Johnny Depp when they look like Patton Oswalt is pretty much the definition of creepy, while somebody acting like Patton Oswalt when they look like Patton Oswalt may be perfectly acceptable.

Exhibit B: Up until this point of the conversation, attractive/unattractive was in reference to the presence/absence of factors that make women uncomfortable when being around you, which does not really extend very far into the sexual realm. And all of a sudden you start talking about bonding, longing, unfulfilled desires, flirting, playing the game, hurt feelings, etc. That is precisely what women want men in the workplace to steer clear of, when they look like Patton Oswalt.

I rest my case.


You missunderstood most of it, but you are correct:

It is even more creepy, when someone "acts" like looking good, when he actually believes inside, he does not.

But when someone believes he looks good and feels actually good in his body, no matter the weight fot example, then this person does look good. (to most people) But that does not mean, that suddenly everyone wants to have sex with him or her.

You seem to took the hollywood definition, that attractiveness is objectivly measurable on a linear scale. With sexiest woman toplist etc. That is bullshit. There are general things if course, like healthy body and mind, but attractiveness is highly subjectiv. Eastern areas for example love fat women. Weetern not so much (in general)

And I have seen really "ugly" men (by common standard) with very beautiful women in true love. Because the men had confidence amd strenght and knew is way around in this crazy world and the women loved that strength to feel save.


I have long hair myself. But I wash it.

At university .. I got the impression that quite some people forgot that. Regulary. Also to wash clothes. There is a difference between unattractive and disgusting. And I love open source and fresh air. But I did not enjoy some linux convention for example, because I seemed to be the only one, who minded the bad, worn out air in the rooms. So all of this I find offputting, I suppose is putting of women as well. What is the problem with more hygiene and fresh air and more sensitivity?

And the number of male nurses is increasing.


Why would it disproportionately put off women?


Because in general women take care more about their outfit?

Why? Complex, I guess. But also not too interesting to me. I am more interested in motivating people in IT towards a healthier live style in general.


> When I started to study IT, I was surprised to see, that the stereotypes were the majority. Meaning, long, oily hair, etc.

Do you realize how this comment would come off if you were talking about women and judging them for their appearance when they went to school to study something utterly unrelated to appearance?


Tell me.

I believe body hygiene is wanted in all professions. (btw. my hair is long, too)


It's wanted in all professions; it's absence is tolerated in some more than others.


"Long, oily hair" is not really saying anything about body hygiene though.


Women don't study IT because they dislike the grooming habits of their peers? And that is the fault of those icky nerds themselves? Because their hair is evidence of sexism?

This is hilarious. I don't know if it is more insulting to nerds or to women, but I somehow like it.

Seriously, I don't even know how to begin here...


It's simply propaganda.

It's the concept that women have no agency. That other people are responsible for the choices of individual women.

Check out my other post on this thread-- I show three different investigations into the reality:

Regarding occupational interests:

Men prefer working with things, women prefer working with people


People only read, what they want to read it seems. Nothing new.

But if you want it explained, well above I just said, that many (not all!) IT nerds still fullfill the stereotype in my experience.

And the stereotype is unwashed nerds, who have never been close to a women in a way they wanted, but they want to, but don't know how. So they behave weird with women around.

That makes women uncomfortable and avoiding the scene. Not long hair.


If they cannot accept shy and awkward nerds, it is on themselves to find arrangements. Still absolutely ridiculous assessment.


> Or at least arkward. When I started to study IT, I was surprised to see, that the stereotypes were the majority. Meaning, long, oily hair, etc.

I see what you mean, the real discrimination in tech is against well groomed people! So all the well groomed men and women get pushed out and are forced to study things like business, medicine or law instead!

How do we solve that? I know, we put up posters like "Deodorant is not a sin", have mandatory diversity training days teaching the nerds how to properly shave, and have recruiters float well groomed peoples applications to the top!


So you didn't want to enter IT because the men had long oily hair in your clasz?

Hmm, this is a reason I never heard of. Honestly I haven't come across many men with long hair in 20 years.

Do you think this might be regional? Are there a lot of men with long hair in your area? Perhaps moving countries might help.


how much of that atmosphere is simply the result of the socially underdeveloped individuals (asd and otherwise)gravitating towards technical fields that play to their few strengths? does making those fields more welcoming for a desired group, in this case women, also result in creating an environment that's less welcoming for people who really have nothing else going for them?


I really do not want to have conventional social norms established. I like nerds and freaks of all sorts.

I was more speaking of things like body hygiene ...


What’s wrong with long oily hair? Are you judging engineers by their appearance? And somehow you find _them_ sexist?


> the stereotypes were the majority.

well, stereotypes don't appear out of thin air.

but think about it : when you started to study IT, you had to enroll a few months before, right ? the 1B$ question is why, with the information you had you chose to enroll, while many women with the same information do not. If we don't solve this, there's no chance to get anywhere near 50% parity in the workplace.


Awkward for you maybe. If women don’t want careers in IT because it is filled with socially awkward men then whose fault is it really?


There is ample evidence that women were pushed out of IT. Educate yourself.

Edit: citation https://www.theguardian.com/careers/2017/aug/10/how-the-tech...


This appears to discuss secretarial work like data entry which women weren't so much suited for as pushed into by limited options.

The fact that data entry was a female dominated profession because women were pushed into it and men discouraged from it doesn't serve to prove that current women are not able to work in the field.


Ask me how I know you didn't read the article. It touches on that, but mostly talks about how women were seen as convenient because they were cheap. The conventional wisdom was also that women would leave when they got married or had kids, but as computers got more powerful; the old boys club decided they needed to own those jobs too.


I read the article and still don't understand how women are really prevented from working in IT in the present day unless its mostly because many don't desire to.


Like hires like. It's incredibly difficult to be the odd one out.


The narrative that a boys club consciously conspired to take any jobs is quite a silly one.


Conscious or unconscious is really irrelevant.

There was a time that nobody would have considered education peasants. It was not a conscious bias.

Times have changed and will continue to do so, we need to do what we can to correct the mistakes of the past.


It’s quite relevant. The point is nobody pushed anyone out.

Independent autonomous people making decisions about which field they would like to study and seek employment in is not a mistake that needs correcting.


Your ignoring history. The ones making the decisions pushed them out. The ones doing the hiring, not the women deciding what to do.


Welk i think not all women Want a job in it. propably because when they were Kids they were stereotyped. A lot of them thus didn‘t liked math.


IT is not about math


Programming is pretty strongly about math, especially in university when you learn the theory and not just how to link an API to a database.

In order to study CS at my school you had to take some fairly advanced Math classes including Calculus and Linear Algebra, which are not easy unless you are comfortable with Math.


But selection usually happens way before that. Probably at latest in middle school.


In germany it even happens before. parenting has a real impact on any child. it starts with the color of their cloths. some people really live the old way and belive and tell their boys that boys don't cry and they don't wear certain colors, etc. while girls need to behave girly wear nice looking cloths, etc. and then when it comes to homework they try to push their childs in certain directions. or tell/force their childs their dream.


I don't know how much I'd attribute this to choosing programming later in life. At 5 I was building Lego technics and my sisters were playing with dolls, though they got as much Lego as I did and our parents very much encouraged us all to fiddle with electronics and tech.

My SO codes but hated anything girly from a very young age and was constantly told she wasn't acting ladylike.

Those experiences are from prior to encountering the effects from the rest of society. My SO was diagnosed with ASD as an adult but has had elevated testosterone levels found at a young age. So just personally it feels weird attributing those things to upbringing.

And Sweden where I am really shouldn't have as few women in tech as we do either if it was based on gender roles in upbringing.


"Some"?

I wish. I have a baby and the most important question is allways: a boy or a girl? (Not: healthy? Everything allright? Hard birth? (Yes, allmost, yes))

And clothes, very important the distinction between boy and girl. We got a lot of second hand clothing ... and people did not understand, that I really don't car about the color shades. They should be comfortable, good to the babyskin and fitting for the weather. And good looking, yeah, that comes afterwards. But underlining that it is a son? Why?


If parenting had such an impact, there would be no female software engineers in/from India, and many in/from the US and Western Europe.

The reality is pretty much the opposite, with Eastern Europeans, Indians and Chinese being overrepresented in software engineering and higher degrees in STEM subjects.


To be fair, IT was (and I'm guessing still is) perceived as something associated strongly with maths, even though actual jobs are year by year becoming increasingly less so.


...actually, it occurs to me that the animal kingdom comparison is kind of funny, because it shows the absurdity of the claim that an entire gender of a species dominates another. If, in some herd, all animals of a given gender were actually kept away from food sources and/or mating opportunities, that herd would die out.


> Just because it's a man dominated field, does it mean the others remaining have no chance to get anything in that field?

Maybe women have less of a chance to get something in that field because employers are specifically excluding them from their job ad targeting?


I upvoted your comment because I think the reasoning reflects people's actual reasoning. That said, I don't think techy women can be described as metaphorically "poor" these days. Big tech firms are desperate for more women.

For women as a whole it's another issue, but very few are going to learn an entirely new skillset just because they saw an ad.


>Big tech firms are desperate for more women.

I can't talk about everyone's experience, but this is true in a "We desperately want to have more women", but not true in the sense of "We're willing to address the systematic reasons women don't join our company". It doesn't matter how much you advertise on a website for women if you're advertising a job with no maternity benefits, or one of your engineers remarks "Oh! Is this our new HR lady?" when you're showing the prospective employee around the office.


How many companies in the US have paid paternity leave?


How many firms don't offer maternity leave? Outside of tiny 5 person startups that don't have any HR policies at all that seems like a strawman.

As for men making condescending comments towards women, that's not a systematic problem with a systematic solution. And women (or really, feminists) pretty routinely make condescending comments towards men in my experience, at a much, much greater rate. The idea that women face a hostile work environment and men don't is the inversion of my own experience. Men face a much more hostile environment. The last thing the software industry needs is ramping up the hostility towards men even more because that's the only way feminists can think of to increase the number of female hires.


I think what the warring feminist faction doesn't understand (or does and ignores) is that their actions are breeding fear and resentment towards women. There's a spectrum here, On the consequence-less wrong end you have assholes getting away with sexist comments toward their women colleagues[0]. In the desirable middle, you have everyone treating everyone else with proper professional respect. But on the other bad end, you have every male in the office becoming tense and extremely self-conscious in presence of their women co-workers, because of the perceived risk that they may be dealing with someone that gets easily offended about random things and is ready to create a stink with HR for it[1].

Now, I see the feminist movement in our industry definitely overshooting towards that other bad end, and it doesn't really matter that most women are reasonable - the mere possibility of chancing into someone unreasonable drives overly cautious behavior. There is such a thing as pushing too hard. Stirring a conflict of sexes may have been the fastest way to enact change, but the antagonistic atmosphere isn't going to just dissipate itself.

--

[0] - I mean the cases that make women uncomfortable; I've worked with women whose sexual innuendos during regular office chats made me uncomfortable.

[1] - Or, worst case, someone who does that on purpose, to advance their career at the expense of others. There's always a fraction of people of both genders ready to play dirty, but in current environment one of them is now armed with a superweapon.


I wonder how widespread this really is, though. Before I retired I worked in IT, an my particular team was about 50-50 men and women. I certainly didn't feel anything like

> every male in the office becoming tense and extremely self-conscious in presence of their women co-workers, because of the perceived risk that they may be dealing with someone that gets easily offended about random things and is ready to create a stink with HR


The largest employer in the United States does not offer paid maternity leave — the U.S. Government. My wife whom is a federal employee did not receive maternity leave. Instead she was forced to use two years of forwarded sick leave.


Why isn't it a law like everywhere else in the world. In Canada men and women get maternity leave at the country level. Why put this in the hands of employers? or on the backs of a 5 person company?

Seems like things are setup to fail.


I didn't know that! Thanks. I wonder why that's the case. Is that normal in the States?


It blew my mind too. No it isn't normal at all in the states which is why I found it so unbelievable until I researched it. All of my commercial employers offered paid maternity and paternity leave. There are movements now for passing legislation to get federal employees paid maternity leave but nothing has come of it yet from what I understand.


That's a poor comparison and I think most people understand that, even if the current environment discourages them from admitting it.


Why do you think that it's a poor comparison?


there are more homeless men than women. So that's like targeting men to give free food and shelter because more men need it, which wouldn't happen.


i think you are trying to stretch the metaphor too far


its more accurate. targeting the underrepresented cohort.


no, you are applying the thing "metaphorised" inside the metaphor. it is quite wrongheaded tbh


As someone pointed out further down the comment thread, we do not give out free food and housing exclusively to the demographic that has more poor people. Doing so would be inhumane and heartless.


Not all women are poor, not all men are rich.

If discrimination is THE issue, then woman specific job ads also needs to be banned.


and specifically targeting men with free food and housing, who have higher rates of homelessness...


Wouldn't a better analogy be to give free food and housing to women, but not to men?


Because it's the current year and men never complain.


Because certain groups have abandoned the pursuit of equality for the pursuit of equity, and you can't have both.


> Why is it a great business and an initiative to be applauded if it is about excluding men and a scandal if it is about excluding women?

I suspect you probably know the reason (even if you disagree with it) and you're making a polemic point rather than genuinely asking this question.

If I'm mistaken then forgive me. In short - certain sectors have a very skewed gender bias and it's regarded as a good thing to try and correct for that.


Gender bias is when a company doesn't decide by anything relevant to the job (such as skills, quality or work discipline), but instead decided mostly by the sex. And this is happening. Female programmers are getting hired even when their skills/productivity/experience is way lower than male programmers.


I don't want to get into the whole "positive discrimination" debate and my own thoughts on the matter are complex and change frequently.

However - the arguments for, against and for many points in between have been stated many times. Either you already are aware of them in which case you should be engaging with those rather than restating a starting position - or you can just do a Google search and get up to date with what is a fairly complex and nuanced topic.


Because “punching up” is allowed, apparently.


When someone is sitting on you and you're punching up it can be seen as a fight for liberation, when you're sitting on someone and punching down it can be seen as violent oppression.


Bullying and punching of any kind, by any person or group, is unacceptable and not to be tolerated.


The thing is, a person "punching up" will inevitably found herself being "punched up" by someone else in future '_'


I mean, yes? That's where a lot of comedy has historically come from, it's not necessarily a problem.


Because the goal may not be 'fair' for all individuals but instead 'equal' for groups of individuals, especially those who have been traditionally discriminated against.


I expect that most of the people applauding women-targetted recruiting are not the same people disliking men-targetted recruiting.


It has to do with the philosophical point of what you’re trying to do, doesn’t it? When you target your job-advertising at groups who are minorities in your field of expertise, then you’re being inclusive from an equality point of view. On the other hand, if your job-advertising targets members of the majority, then you’re being exclusive.

The degree of “unfairness” is the same, but the goal isn’t “fairness” as such but rather equality. Whether we personally agree with forced equality or not is really beyond the point in a society that views inclusiveness as good and exclusion as bad.


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Everytime you think "it is naturally so" you need to take a step back and wonder why you think that is. My experience is that most of my male coworkers do not have a natural interest in computer science or engineering. They are here for the money.


I will ignore how untrue that is for now and tell me why is it the same situation in university CS/engineering courses too then, 99% is men? Tech doesn't even make as much money as other industries such as sales/recruitment so doing it only for the money is not a valid point


What do you mean by "naturally so"? In my work place there are about 20% women doing hard CS things, my point is that for some reason it gets easier to hire women when you already have alot of them doing the same interesting stuff.

I think I interpret "naturally so" as some biological argument, but even if it alludes to what society makes us do, I still think it is incorrect. The reason is that working at broculture dev shops killed my will to code, so I really think it's a question of how a vocal fraction those 95% men create a culture of exclusion.

Remember we are both talking about personal experiences here, I do not think that all workplaces that do not have women are broshops, nor do I have solutions for more women in CS. For me it has been a pleasure to work in places with a lot of women doing "things that are naturally ment for men", that's one of the reasons why I do not like the term "naturally".


> My experience is that most of my male coworkers do not have a natural interest in computer science or engineering. They are here for the money.

So the conclusion we draw from that is ... women aren't as interested in money as men?


I'm not saying quotas and affirmative action are the way to go, but it should be pointed out that women are still heavily outnumbered in the tech industry and STEM education. My personal view is that I'm not sure it's actually an issue that needs to (or can) be fixed, I think we should let people do what they want to do. Turns out that means bigger gender differences in career choice.


I don't think there is anything wrong with gender difference in subjects. Psychology for example is 95% women. Some professions are naturally more interesting for men other for women. Don't see why policy is trying to fore women into tech


Why do you conclude that the cause is "natural interest"?

I've heard a number of other theories that also sound plausible, and they sound like problems that should be addressed.

Examples of other theories (not exhaustive): alienated by brogrammer/strutting/aggressive culture many places, discriminated against in hiring many places, harassed by some individuals, not trying due to belief that they'll be discriminated against, not trying due to belief that they'll face harassment or other hostile culture.


what you said can be applied to literally any job. Not a valid point when it comes to tech in particular


Many tech organizations talk a lot about culture, put effort into cultivating culture, develop their own hiring processes unique to tech, etc.

There are also, for whatever reason, differences of employee distribution across gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic, etc.

I think it's reasonable to suspect that tech organizations overall would tend to have different hiring practices, cultures, and distributions of individual behavior than organizations in other fields overall.

I don't know the research on this, but there's a lot of grassroots talk that they do.


If it can be applied to any job, why is it unfair to apply it to tech.


Because it's a specialized channel where companies can specifically advertise their inclusiveness, which is important for a number of reasons.

First, we need to stem the losses of women in tech that happen due to the traditionally woman-hostile culture that has pervaded the industry for so long, and is only now beginning to recede. Women (and in fact all minority groups) get pushed out of the industry by hostile work environments. A specialized channel like this allows companies to say "We don't tolerate that, so come work for us." It allows them to tap a potentially huge labor force before it shrinks too much.

Second, markets like these offer a less stressful job search for marginalized groups, because they can have greater confidence that they won't get jerked around this time. It means that less women get so fed up that they quit, which means less time and effort is required to reach a critical mass where the momentum of women in tech begets more women in tech on its own.

This isn't about excluding men; it's about providing a more confidence-inducing hiring process for marginalized groups.


FYI: the more choices women have, the less like are they to choose IT. Nothing to do with "hostility". Sitting for hours in front of the screen starring at code may not seem so appealing to everyone.


Last year my main competitor went on a diversity hire drive. After hiring a bunch they tried to fire one of them due to poor performance. It ended up as a legal battle that is still ongoing. A number of the the other diversity hires got the message that they were now unfirable and decided to start slacking off as well. Now work there is pretty much frozen and they're bleeding customers. Im told they're 6 months away from mass layoffs.

This company dominated my industry. I always planned on the taillight following strategy where you follow a leading company and wait for them to screw up. I'm now happily taking full advantage of their situation.

I actually have a way more 'diverse' staff. I offshored the work (and myself) to a non-white country where for a weird historical reason this work was mostly done by women. The main difference is that they're not a protected class here so I don't have to worry about lawsuits.

The most lucrative customers will only buy American so once my competitor goes under I'll open up a US office which will mean exposure to US laws but by that stage I'll be ready to package the company off and sell it to someone else to worry about.


I want to apply the principal of generosity here, but the fact that your post perfectly illustrates the alleged perils of hiring non-white or Asian men--from a new account no less!--makes me wonder if anything resembling this story ever happened. Then again, everything in your narrative is so vague it's literally impossible to disprove.


Do people really know such detailed information of the HR issues of their competitors?

Plus it just sounds like a shit post - "You can't hire black people, they'll just slack off and sue you when you fire them."


> Not just Facebook, but any targeted advertising platform that can target based on demographic could do this.

I'd like to point out that specifically you can NOT do this on Facebook any more, or at least not if Facebook find it out. They make you mark your ads as being job posts, and remove demographic targeting from that.

The headline here is irritating, because the headline being shown is two years old. The headline should be the second half of it, which is:

"After two years the Federal Government confirms demographic advertising of jobs is illegal"


> The headline here is irritating

A newly-public EEOC ruling resulting from investigative journalism around explicitly discriminatory hiring practices facilitated (and profited from) by one of the more morally-bankrupt technology companies of our time is announced, and your gripe is the journalists aren’t giving Facebook enough credit?

A lot of discrimination happened while Facebook hadn’t fixed the problem. Discrimination which Facebook profited from. Facebook decided to enter the job, credit and real estate ad markets, but didn’t care enough to think through the details.

Recent history has been Facebook et al being brazenly lawless, making money from it, and then getting away with a slap on the wrist. The government starting to show teeth is news, and stating their confirmed finding is a fair headline.


> and your gripe is the journalists aren’t giving Facebook enough credit?

My gripe is that the headline _as it currently is on HN_ is two years out of date, and that the real headline is "Government rules targeting job ads using demographics is illegal".


The headline is “Employers Used Facebook to Keep Women and Older Workers From Seeing Job Ads. The Federal Government Thinks That’s Illegal.“ On HN, that’s truncates to the first sentence, but “used” is in the past tense. The information you claim lost was just compressed into the grammar.

In contrast, one of the contemporaneous headlines was “Facebook Is Letting Job Advertisers Target Only Men” [1], i.e. in the present tense.

[1] https://www.propublica.org/article/facebook-is-letting-job-a...


I guess GP is essentially (fairly) complaining that "used" can mean both "a week ago" and "two years ago", and this being headline of news strongly implies the former over the latter. Try to mentally prepend "Two years ago," to the existing headline, and notice how much less outrageous it reads.


Seems pointless to me. What are they gonna do, hire those folks they meant to exclude anyway when they show up?


I think the idea here is to reduce ad spend rather than to discriminate, but it has the side effect of the latter.

You can be perfectly willing to hire a 55 year old female construction worker, but you’ll probably save money by only advertising construction jobs to men aged 20-50.


It depends. If the goal was to exclude women or old people no matter how qualified they are then you're right, they could just be excluded at a later stage. But if goal was to save money or reach more relevant people based on the assumption that there are fewer old people and women with necessary qualifications then they actually might hire them once they've applied.

Now I think about it, even in the first case it could make a difference. Rejecting an application from a real individual based on prejudice might be harder to do, due to a stronger feeling of wrongness, than just unchecking a box labelled "female".


As someone who is not really young anymore, I would prefer not being shown those ads. They are not going to hire me anyway when I show up and they see me so I am just going to waste my time... and even if they were somehow forced to hire me, I don't want to work with people who do not want work with me. Some problems cannot be illegalized away.


While we're at it: why bother with any sort of anti-discrimination effort? Haters' gonna hate after all. /s


There is a difference between accepting discrimination, or trying to enforce antidiscrimination. Make such things open, talk and discuss about it, yes! But when you discriminate to counter discrimination for example, than I believe something went wrong.


I have mixed feelings about this. I am absolutely aware this can be a means to intentionally exclude specific groups due to prejudice and can be a polite way to do terrible things. I get that.

But the reality is that the modern world seems to seriously suck at figuring out how to help people find the right kind of job for themselves or help employers find the right people for the job. I keep thinking "Surely, there must be a better way than what we are doing currently."

Maybe if we worked on solving that issue we would see less of this issue. Like if it is a job for writing HTML and you write HTML, there are ways to find you based on that and it won't matter what your gender or age is.


The "modern world" sucks at figuring out how to help people find the right kind of job for one of two reasons:

1) they keep thinking about gender and age as qualifiers for jobs for which those factors have absolutely zero relevance (girls are bad at math! Old people can't learn new things!), or

2) They invent the delusion that gender and age disqualifies you for a job (girls will just get pregnant and leave! oldster can only do Cobol, they'll never learn Python!).


> They invent the delusion that gender and age disqualifies you for a job (girls will just get pregnant and leave!

This is not a delusion, and it's a thing commonly talked about in my country (Poland). It's not just about that girls will get pregnant and leave - it'll be that girls will get pregnant and out of the sudden[0] go on paid maternity leave, which they can extend to a year, during which you have to keep their position open, after which you can't legally fire them even if you've already found a replacement, and there are many women[1] who plan another pregnancy just after the leave period ends, in order to extend their employment period by another two years. The incentive here is that health leave and maternity leave both count as employment, so they don't have a break in years of employment on their CV (and both are paid, too).

Overall effect of our legal landscape makes companies prefer men over women, and/or prefer employment contracts that don't offer these legal guarantees, and there's always noise being made whenever our government (which is currently pro-family) starts talking about adjustments that would extend some protections to those other work contract types.

(Now I'm not saying this to justify the bias in general, but just to point out that there are real economic pressures in play that do get considered by the employers.)

--

[0] - You don't have a "notice period" on maternity live; if a doctor decides there are concerns about the health of a mother or a child, your employee can just give you the doctor's note and stop coming to work.

[1] - And I've personally heard parents encouraging their daughters to do that. It seems to be a common theme, at least among the less well-off parts of our population. The boss-employee relationship is pretty antagonistic.


This is actually a hard problem to genuinely solve. I don't know what the solution is, but I'm not really happy with the current way we typically talk about such things, which often amounts to denying that such issues exist.

You can't solve problems while pretending they don't exist and making it Verboten to speak of them.


Exactly.

Beyond inertia of the traditional family model, there are real biological constraints that you can't bulldoze with calls to equality - pregnancy is taxing on the body, childbirth doubly so, the mother needs time to recover, and she's arguably the more important parent in early stages of a child's life. You can't e.g. declare equal amount of childbirth leave for both genders and call it a day.

(Though equal, paid mandatory leave for both parents would probably be fairer and also more beneficial for the child.)

I don't have first clue what the optimal, or "most fair", way of equalizing career prospects in context of childbirth is. But as you write, we can't reach it if people are pretending that the problem doesn't exist. And in context of companies, that means realizing employers aren't discriminating here out of spite or evil nature, but because there are economical considerations in play, and with them comes market pressure.


Thank you for leaving substantive and reasoned comments on the topic.


It is a good thing that parents can do that, for some reason these issues do not come up when men take paternity leave here. It is very common for fathers to be gone for a 6-12 months after their babies are born.

You just need to change the laws, and how you deal with parenting socially, then it will all make sense ("just").


Our laws allow for two types of paternity leave; one is 14 days, the other is 6 weeks for a single child and taking it reduces mother's maternity leave. This makes it impossible for a man to play shenanigans that make them stay on leave while employed for couple years.

Definitely there's a lot of work to be done on parenting in Poland, both in regulatory and social fashion. Currently it's a tension between the traditional family model and the desire to allow women to have equal career prospects to men.


I'm not sure what "play shenanigans" means in this context, but it seems out of context? I agree that the laws and socialnorms surrounding the care of children are complex. But being able to spend time with my children was of immense value to me, and as you said it allowed my partner to have a very productive career.


By "play shenanigans" I meant what I described about how it commonly works in Poland - a mother going on an early health leave, followed by a year of maternity leave, followed by another pregnancy, rinse repeat. Basically, intentionally stacking planned pregnancies in a way that maximally exploits a single employer.


I'm glad you care about these things, but to say those are the only two reasons why we have trouble correctly matching people to fulfilling jobs is asinine.


This very post is about targeted advertising to keep women and older people from seeing job ads. You then went off a tangent about employer-prospect matching in general.

What other reasons are there that lead women and older people to be excluded? I'd probably add salary as a factor with older people.


Older people and women: usually prefer a good work life balance. So they're harder to exploit.


Dude:

> The "modern world" sucks at figuring out how to help people find the right kind of job for one of two reasons:

> 1) they keep thinking about gender and age as qualifiers for jobs for which those factors have absolutely zero relevance (girls are bad at math! Old people can't learn new things!), or

> 2) They invent the delusion that gender and age disqualifies you for a job (girls will just get pregnant and leave! oldster can only do Cobol, they'll never learn Python!).

I didn't "go off on a tangent" about anything. OP already refocused the conversation to apply to the entire problem domain of career matching, which is absolutely absurd, so I teased the two issues back apart. Put on your reading glasses.


What is your proof, that gender and age has zero relevance?

I believe, that yes, for example women of a certain age, have a high statistical chance of getting pregnant soon (or already are pregnant). That is very relevant. As they will suddenly be not avaiable anymore for quite some time. While the employer still hase obligations to them (don't know about US, but definitely in germany).

Now yes, the correct solution can't be to just exclude women of that age or prefer man. But the reality is, that this is happening a lot. And it sucks and is a hard problem for society in general, but I don't believe the mantra helps to exclaim the problem does not exist.


I feel like we might as well be honest that age has an impact on cognition. You do get slower at learning new things but valuable experience can be big, as someone said here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20609100


I can't tell if you are arguing that no job requires learning lots of new things or that old people don't learn any slower than the young...

Are you arguing one of those two things or have I misunderstood?


He's probably arguing against generalization.

You know, "younger people learn faster than older people on average" might be true; but even if it is, it doesn't preclude "I learn faster than you even though I'm significantly older".

Ideally, if you need fast learners, you should hire & test for learning speed, not proxies like age.


> there are ways to find you based on that and it won't matter what your gender or age is.

For the higher paying specialized jobs, it’s called a network. But networking is even more biased than formal recruiting approaches.


Is it biased in a bad way? It’s really hard to measure someone’s ability to do a job, especially for a more senior role. Therefore, I feel comfortable hiring people recommended to me by others that I trust.


'jobs for the boys' is a well known phrase for a reason. It's rarely used in a positive way


I have literally never heard anyone say that in my life.


Its a common phrase in the UK.


“The boys” in this context are a managers cronies, not any random person who happens to be male. In fact the phrase excludes men too, who don’t play golf or whatever.


I would say its a bit more general than that. Family members getting jobs via a parent would also be labelled this way.


Agreed. A manager hiring their daughter over more qualified candidates would be a “jobs for the boys” situation despite her not being a literal boy.


Because white men that dominate those jobs already typically know white men to recommend for those jobs.


Director of engineering at a former employer once said in the span of 30 seconds: “we’re trying to hire more diversity” and “please reach out to your social network”.

To an audience of 98% white males.

The director acknowledged the incongruity, thankfully, but never solved the problem.


I think you're assuming white males don't know how to suggest females and non-whites. We may be statistically more likely to hang out with other white males but I'm pretty sure I can suggest people besides them.


I can and did, but that doesn’t alter the fact that the preponderance of our collective networks were white males. That’s not a strategy for significant diversification.


If the only diversity you acknowledge is just skin deep you may have a lot more problems.


Replace “don’t know how to” with “don’t know” and it would be more appropriate.

I know plenty of women in the industry, but for the specialty I would recommend for, I couldn’t list more than a couple of names (of which are well employed already).


I can't speak for others, but I'm a white male and less than 98% of the people I know are other white males. This is also true when I limit myself to software developers (but to a lesser degree). It seems to me that reaching out to ones social network would be an improvement. At 98% white males there's not much you can do to make it worse.


I must have spent the last 20 years in a parallel universe where every single hiring manager would like nothing more than to hire a minority or a woman because of corporate edicts. At Microsoft today, for instance, they have _quotas_ for hiring women (I don't know about minorities, but they probably have quotas for that, too), and if you don't meet the quota, you're kinda fucked as a manager. At Google, when the hiring committee is in doubt the official position is to make a "hire" decision if the applicant is a woman and "no" if the applicant is a man. A female hiring committee member told me she saw no issue with this policy.

Yet still, very few females apply. I had interviewed 100+ people for Google. Of them IIRC 8 were women and 1 was hired. You can't get more women into the profession if they choose not to apply.


You can't get more women into the profession if they choose not to apply.

And they can't apply if they never see your ad because of practices like the ones described in the article under discussion.


What kind of person would be qualified for a job but not be actively looking at job boards and LinkedIn? This article is only talking about passive job-seekers being targeted on Facebook, not about active job-seekers being discriminated against.


That's only an issue if you get applications only after ads.


I've never got a job in response to an ad either. Have you? Do you personally know anyone who has?

Another issue, with workplace politics and edicts being what they are, wouldn't white men be a better category of applicants to exclude via such targeting? I'm pretty sure this is happening as we speak. I don't view this as a problem, though, for the reason alluded to above: approximately nobody in tech lands jobs in response to ads.


Do you mean ads in general or posting to public job listings? Because all my jobs have come from the later and it's been the primary hiring pipeline everywhere I've worked. Can't say I've seen a lot of hiring from general advertising channels but if they're paying for the ads then they're presumably hiring from that channel.


I thought the issue here was with demographically targetable ads on e.g. Google or Facebook. I've been a hiring manager in the past, and we never used those. Most of our entry level employees were from career fairs at the nearby university. Most of our senior employees were either from the network or from (ultra-expensive) recruiters. Frankly it never even occurred to anyone to purchase targeted ads because they're so uncommon.


That isn’t completely true. You can land a job via an ad, it is very very hard, but it is probably a bit higher than 1%. Especially entry level positions where a professional network isn’t expected anyways.


Be that as it may, if I were a hiring manager today whose bonus and promo opportunities depend on meeting the diversity quota, you can guess how I'd be setting up the targeting on my hiring ad campaign, ethics be damned.

That having been said, I fully agree that such targeting in job ads in particular should be illegal. I agree with this out of my own rational self interest, as a straight white male in my 40s. Other aforementioned types of gender, racial, and age discrimination should be made illegal as well.


Well, if you were smart about it you wouldn’t focus on ads at all. Rather you’d figure out how to poach known talent from other companies. Easier still if you were looking for entry levels, hitting the universities directly would work given recent enrollment increases (start them out with good internships during the sophomore or junior years would be much more useful here).

I don’t see how an ad would be effective at all in this hiring climate. Yes, you might get something, but you would be unlikely to get a woman or underrepresented minority hire, even if they were specifically targeted. They have much better options than to answer these ads.


>> hitting the universities directly

That's exactly what we did, with a modicum of success. The pickings are super slim, though. Most CS students don't really seem to give a shit about CS, meaning they don't do anything other than coursework, at all, and their coursework is pretty primitive, and uses Java which our company had no use for.

Another problem is when you go to career fairs, easily 9 out of 10 people coming to your booth will be looking for an internship rather than a job. This isn't a problem per se, if you're a large company this is actually pretty great. But I was hiring for a small (at the time) startup, so that was a bit of a waste of everyone's time. Still we landed a few diamonds in the rough after a few attempts. 8/10, would hire from local schools again.

Ironically, the most extensively qualified candidate I met at these career fairs was female. She was in grad school and had a resume you wouldn't believe if you'd seen it, and very obviously smart as a whip. She was, however, too smart to work for a startup. Can't say I blame her.


Um... I've never gotten a (software) job any other way than responding to ads. I'm a woman, fwiw. That includes co-ops


Out of curiosity, how where the applicants selected for the interviews? Because first you limit the funnel for a certain group of people at the very start, then you have maybe an algorithm with a selection bias against the same group before we end up with an potentially also biased interview process before we reach an equally biased work life. I less we have reliable numbers for the funnel just looking at the interview stage misses the whole point.


No idea. Likely through the usual (for Google) means: candidate submits a resume directly to the company, resume is reviewed by sourcer, and a decision is made on whether to interview based on qualifications. I can pretty much guarantee that women not only aren't discriminated at this stage, but given preference if there's any doubt at all. Tech companies are under immense pressure nowadays to improve their diversity metrics. The fact that they are unable to do so is quite telling, IMO.


Do you actually know of any high paying jobs completely dominated by white men anymore? Plenty of non-white doctors, scientists and engineers certainly.


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There is nothing racist about my comment, and yes, it does apply to other races to beget similar results.


> Is it biased in a bad way?

Probably in several ways, along with a gender bias in your network there's probably a high likelihood that there's a racial bias, a class/wealth bias and an age bias.

Your network probably has a strong contingent of people you went college with, people with a shared interested in your sports (which can be a proxy for class and race) and people with a similar background.


There's an awful lot of "yes but I..." going on in this thread, finishing with people not seeing their own bias, or not giving enough information to prove they don't have bias in their recommendations.

Let me start by inverting something that Uncle Bob has been saying for years: If you have less than 5 years experience, then 50% of the developers out there are 'older' from your perspective. Are half of your recommendations for people over 28?

Let's see how mine would stack up. If I had to recommend 10 people right now:

If I'm honest, about 6 of mine will be for people over the age of 28. That should be 5. So my recommendations are biased against young devs, which I hated when I was 26. If you asked me to be fair I could come up with 1 or 2 more young developers, but unbidden it would probably be 3-4.

2 or 3 would be female. If you only consider recent grads, that's low. But there's a hole in the older generation, so 25% is probably spot on, even though I think it kinda sucks.

2 should be black, hispanic or asian. I hit that number sort of. Because I could recommend 3 Indian developers and one East Asian from recent jobs. I have to my knowledge only ever worked with two black developers, one of whom was good, and also understandably frustrated that he is a statistic. I have seen him exactly once in 10 years.

I would wager that my numbers are better than most of the people who are getting rustled here (if you know your numbers are fine, you're likely not getting drawn into the conversation), but they're still biased. My recommendations don't make things better. They don't make them much worse, but they still tug the needle toward the unfair end of the gauge.


This is a great idea. What about a service that allows proctored skills tests for applicants? Like Sitepoint but with some additional verification layers.

Hiring managers would then pick a tech stack or set of skills they need, and matches would bubble up based on applicants in the area with the relevant skills.

The "culture fit" question could be another egg to crack. Who knows if interviews are the best way to figure that out...


Any process that attempts to “solve” the technical skills verification problem will not work unless it replaces the technical portion of the on-site interview. Otherwise, companies can still reject based on technical assessments in which case you’ve solved nothing. You’ve simply changed the shape of the hiring funnel.

Also, looking beyond the immediate need, companies would also need to understand that this only applies to very specific positions. You shouldn’t apply this to entry level, nor should you apply this to positions where the employee is expected to adapt quickly to changing tech stacks. What this leaves you with is contracting. You hire experts with a very specific skillset that you need that is verified by an agency. For everything else, there is still not a good generic solution.


You know what's super weird?

My company selects for people who can pass white board interviews. Which are not only terrible in their own right but also not the way anybody I know codes.

And despite that, most of the people I work with are actually below average at explaining things with drawings or whiteboards. And since that average in our industry is already "pretty awful" that's saying something.

So not only are we looking for the wrong thing, but we haven't even proven our own people can do the thing we thought we were looking at. I'm starting to think a lottery system would be better. We know we have algorithms that do better with random sampling. Maybe hiring is one of them.


You’ve simply changed the shape of the hiring funnel.

Sometimes, that's enough to make a real difference.

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


What about a service that allows proctored skills tests for applicants?

You mean like... a university?


Do universities provide employers with the results of skills tests on things like Git?


Sounds like you are hiring faceless nameless cogs in a machine.


Most coding and other jobs these days are cogs in the machine. The amount of jobs where one can have individual impact is next to negligible.


Depends on which side of the industry you are I guess. In bespoke software most of the work is either customer facing or at the very least would require team skills, even for 'coders'.


like college?


I think even more generally, companies suck at ad targeting. Companies may have all the data in the world about their targets, but they don't particularly have the time nor the will nor the incentives to think about good segmentation, so they fall back to the "tried and true /s" age and gender segments.


The simple question is: Does everyone have an equal opportunity to this position or not? If you can't even see the ads then the answer is no, and so it's a violation.

If there were different ads for different groups but everyone still had the opportunity to see, apply and acquire the position then it's fair game.

Perhaps Facebook could improve job ads to allow for more specific targeting but always have a fallback ad in that campaign for any non-targeted users. This would help employers without excluding anyone.


> The simple question is: Does everyone have an equal opportunity to this position or not? If you can't even see the ads then the answer is no, and so it's a violation.

Do these cases involve advertising positions that are not listed elsewhere? Because obviously no company can afford to reach everyone who might be interested in a position. I would agree that selective advertising would be much more of a problem if the positions are not listed on employers' websites.


I'm not sure if there is a perfect answer there. It might be best to scope it down to a certain medium and channel and say that all users on that channel have the ability to either see the ad or browse a directory of all listings.

If Facebook also had a jobs board that anyone can search and find ads where employers aren't paying for impressions then I think that would offset a targeted campaign to select groups.


I agree. As a female software developer, I would like to see those ads so I can get better jobs. If I don't even see the ads, then I would not even know about opportunity. Without opportunity, I cannot really progress.

If only men see the ads, apply jobs and get interviews, then the employers may think that they shouldn't advertise to women. This is just circular thinking.


Not in the steel mill in my town: no woman ever applied in 50 years, why spend money on advertising to them? Nobody rejects female applicants (they don't reject practically anybody), but no woman wants to work there, they can barely find men. Same with any highway construction site: there is no woman in the entire country, the working conditions are too harsh. They accept anyone willing to work (there is much more demand than supply), but no woman applied. Why spend good money on meaningless advertising?


In addition to wanting to work in a steel mill, you'd have to want to be the only woman in a steel mill, which adds an additional layer of difficulties to what is already a difficult job. Likewise men in unpleasant female-coded jobs like cleaning.

I was a male typist for a while when I was at university. I found the weird experience of breaking gender roles quite entertaining, but it was definitely an addition to the usual do-work-and-get-paid deal. And secretarial work is not intrinsically unpleasant, so I was already doing better than most people in my position.

FWIW there are women on highway construction sites in the UK. Not many (construction as a whole is very male) but not none. I think the only industry which is entirely male here is mining, and that's because of a 19th Century law prohibiting women and children from doing it.


>>you'd have to want to be the only woman in a steel mill

I guess that's the question being asked here. Why would that one woman be the only woman in the steel mill. Why aren't thousands of women rushing to work at steel mills, or in war fronts, or in coal mines, or in any other stereotypical male dominated jobs. And you can't even blame this on some modern world conspiracy. These things have been true throughout history across times and cultures.

The answer to that question is simple. Women are under represented but they are definitely far more cleverer than men. Once you prove you are likely to die from cave ins or lung disease in a mine, or that you are almost assured to get killed in a war, that fact now begins to itself act as a filter as to who wishes to sign up and who doesn't. You have to be stupid and brave beyond belief, to sign up for this kind of stuff. But then what happens is those people who fight wars, eventually dictate politics and positions of power. This ain't exactly a grand conspiracy. But millions of men have to die in battles for a few to be in power and become Generals/Rulers. So the process is largely self sustaining. You can chose to break this, then eventually you face a stronger army and get eliminated.

This is where problems in software show up too. For years we have talked about open source work being unpaid labor. Now which intelligent person man or woman would sign up for this? So now you see if there is no gate keeping, no criteria apart from plain merit, ability to work and contribute code. Then the biggest bottleneck is you yourself. The fact that awkward nerds dominate this area is because you have to be that crazy and stupid enough to work for free building things for others. Eventually some crazy nerds will indeed write Linux or Perl or Emacs. Again its not exactly conspiracy. But it's a kind of brutal filter.

In a way men are stupid, but that kind of stupidity leads to a better positions on the very long term, because last ones standing hold positions of power over whatever is left. But in the process millions of men have to suffer in wars, refugee zones, mines and highway labor to make it happen.


It's the law, and most jobs can be done by both sexes so there should be equal opportunity regardless of whether one group applies more often than the other.

It's not worth making exceptions on case-by-case basis for each industry and position, especially when the final outcome could very well be affected by the initial ads.

Also ad campaigns are always optimized and should naturally show more to demographics that are responsive as they are run.


>Why spend good money on meaningless advertising?

Simply put: because the law says you must.

FWIW highway construction is around ~5% female in the US.


[flagged]


These same things were said in the civil rights movement. Parts of the company may be biased now but letting more of these groups apply has an impact. The specific interviewers you get might not share the bias and more members of the group there will contribute to the culture changing over time as people get used to it.


I understand the reason some people are upset with this, but one issue I find interesting is that this is exactly how 'fair' advertising works, but implicitly.

For instance if I advertise a position in, as some random example, Popular Mechanics, I'm going to get an extremely biased sample. And I'm putting my position there specifically because I want to appeal to that demographic. This is also why, for instance, in times past if you stayed at home and watched broadcast television there would be a disproportionate number of ads for things such as tampons, diapers (adult and child alike), and job injury lawyers. It was targeting the demographic watching television at that time.

Perhaps one fair solution here would be an opt-in demographic profile override. What a mouth full. What I mean is that if you want, you can require Facebook to set your demographics to whatever you like. In other words, imagine you're a woman and you want to be shown ads targeting men, well you can opt-in to require your account profile to be a hit for man or woman.

The curious thing is that I imagine almost nobody would actually choose to opt-in there. It'd probably be more used as a protest tool to destroy the value of advertising (by large numbers of people opting into everything), than a tool to get more ads you're interested in. Can't say I'm particularly upset by that outcome though.


All this will do is force companies which are not open to hiring older people and women will have to spend money interviewing them. They will still reject them and waste everyone’s time.


So... good? If companies that reject good candidates for no good reason find themselves having higher hiring costs, they'll have to either reajust their hiring criteria or spend more than their competitors.

Sure, it sucks for the interviewees for now, but there's potential to make things better for everyone in the long term.


>Three companies were cited for discrimination by both age and gender: Nebraska Furniture Mart, Renewal by Andersen LLC

First two are presumably looking for manual laborers who can lift heavy furniture and install heavy windows.

I previously worked for a moving company and tried to help fill my vacancy when I left the company. We would have been happy to hire a woman who could move sofas and dressers all day in a safe and controlled manner. (The company had previously had one female employee). There just aren't that many of them out there. The resumes I got from women had no indication of manual labor in their work history (they were just shotgunning applications out to every recent job listing). They would have been rejected based on work history (just the same as men) if we weren't desperate. However the company was very short on labor and I called every applicant. None of the female applicants showed up for a working interview

>and Sandhills Publishing Company.

The third is a software company that forces its employees to wear a suit to work. So maybe they're stuck in an antiquated sexist mindset. Maybe they just realized 82% of CS majors are young men.

I do think it's good to remove discriminatory job ad placement, for the sake of that 18% of the population. But don't think for a minute that this will change the gender imbalance in certain industries. It's a pipeline problem.


So the solution is to what, just look away and shrug ?

It's a process, you move goal posts one tiny step at a time and eventually it will become less and less acceptable.


Yes fair point, I was going to say biased people will not hire anyway but you have a point. This way you are leveling the playing field.


Don't even look away. Just accept that people do differ by birth characteristics and that there are often legitimate reasons to discriminate based on those factors. There's no shame in that.

Look at firefighters. To get a female firefighter in New York they had to lower the strength tests. Those tests were calibrated to be able to carry people out of a burning building. Do you really want a 'process' that one tiny step at a time leads to people eventually burning to death because their rescuer was a tiny 5ft girl who couldn't lift them?

https://nypost.com/2015/05/03/woman-to-become-ny-firefighter...

Or more prosaically, do you think men should be lingerie models? Or people too old to run should be hired to take care of very young children?


I Disagree with you on the word "often". There are far many jobs where physical body doesn't matter (and even there, you wont accept fat young guy either, so you might as well just list what do you expect candidate to be able to preform), than those that do.

Now lets look at a story in question:

> In the latest rulings, the EEOC cited four companies for age discrimination: > Capital One, Edwards Jones, Enterprise Holdings and DriveTime Automotive Group. > Three companies were cited for discrimination by both age and gender: Nebraska Furniture Mart, > Renewal by Andersen LLC and Sandhills Publishing Company.

No firefighters, no lingerie models ( I thought there were male underwear models).

As far as who do I expect to become firefighter ? Anyone who can do the job. If it means only males can do the job (I have no idea hoe true that is), I am fine with that exception. But if there is a woman who can lift just as much as average firefighter, and want to do the job, why would you prevent her from doing it ?


You may expect that about firefighters, but people with the same definition of progress as you see that as a problem to be solved by lowering the bar.

I think you're also drawing a rather arbitrary line here, based on assuming the differences between young/old/male/female are purely physical. But that's clearly not the case. If you're looking for a salesperson for your motorbike store, you'll probably have more luck fishing amongst men than women and that's not discrimination unless your job ad literally says "no women allowed".

That said, I do agree programming is not a job where there's any obvious way or reason to do such targeting. But presumably these companies had reasons for making those choices. Why don't we hear their side of the story?


Could these legal arguments be extended to lookalike audiences that are built off of email lists that have a gender imbalance? That is, imagine I go to a university to recruit, and I talk with 200 male students and 10 female students. I then take their email addresses and make a lookalike audience to advertise my jobs to. Could that be challenged on the grounds that I am trying to advertise to male students? What if I don't know what goes into the algorithm of creating lookalike audiences — for example, how important gender is versus interests.


The ad must have discriminatory intent [1]. So if you're selecting candidates with a black box ML model and you didn't explicitly include racial/gender preferences...

But "the algorithm was sexist, not me" is probably going to be a losing argument in any court case.

[1] Well, not entirely, but that's another can of worms.


Yeah, I was asking what the requisite intent is. Is it The intent to knowingly discriminate, intent to do the thing that is discriminatory (a lesser standard), or merely a disparate impact (which does not require any particular state of mind)?

Edited for clarity


Disparate impact (without valid justification) and discriminatory intent are both illegal.


Yes, easily because only thing that is necessary (in the US) is the disparate effect of your employment policies (edit: and the relevancy of those policies to the position being filled):

> The laws enforced by EEOC prohibit an employer or other covered entity from using neutral employment policies and practices that have a disproportionately negative effect on applicants or employees of a particular race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy), or national origin, or on an individual with a disability or class of individuals with disabilities, if the polices or practices at issue are not job-related and necessary to the operation of the business. [0]

[0] https://www.eeoc.gov//laws/practices/



I came to read "and what about the men? Men are discriminated against too", was not disappointed


Posting a job on social media -- and not dedicated job sites -- is already reducing the number of people likely to see the listing. A lot of people don't use social media.

I did a digital marketing course and have met a few digital marketers. When asked if they use social media themselves, most if not all answer "oh GOD no."


You can choose whether to use social media or not. You can't choose your gender.


From the comments below on testing one’s experience, I don’t think that there is a way to actually test one’s soft skill experience, and if they are the right candidate for the job, other than leveraging the networking aspect for recommending a candidate for a job.

One important requirement for a senior executive job these days is their Soft Skills. If you can find a way to measure that, well you have solved a major issue.


So does this mean that targeted ads are now considered discrimination?


Yes. If you are, for example, placing rental or property ads that filter by race, age, or gender that is the official description of it.


and yet, by having a profile of the user, it is quite possible to "easily" find proxies for the above traits, and target those proxies instead, and thus dodge the legality issue. For example, using income.


Does that really dodge the legal issue?

I thought it had been shown that using proxies to discriminate is still illegal if the intention was to discriminate against a protected class.


I was under the impression that any kind of "disparate impact" crossed the line of legality regardless of intent


It dodges the legal issue if you're very careful with your paper trail and get a sympathetic jury.

You won't get a sympathetic jury. People don't have a lot of empathy for algorithms. Maybe empathy for the people who write them, and then only maybe. But you'll be up against a huge slate of expert witnesses explaining how we already have lots of open sourced methods for teasing out these sorts of indirect indicators.


The paper trail won't matter if your "accidentally" discriminatory policies are not directly related to the position you are hiring for. It is the effect of the employment policies that matter under US law.

> The laws enforced by EEOC prohibit an employer or other covered entity from using neutral employment policies and practices that have a disproportionately negative effect on applicants or employees of a particular race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy), or national origin, or on an individual with a disability or class of individuals with disabilities, if the polices or practices at issue are not job-related and necessary to the operation of the business. [0]

[0] https://www.eeoc.gov//laws/practices/


And if you have an algorithm, that algorithm can be dragged into court itself. The prosecutor can show what happens when inputs are fed into it that are identical except for specific information (age, race, sex).


No actually you can’t use such things legally. Discrimination is discrimination no matter how you bury it with indirection.


At which point virtually any targeting criterion is, to some degree, a proxy for criterion targeting a protected class, and targeting at all becomes impossible.

Even by advertising on Facebook in the first place, you could argue they're discriminating against people who don't use Facebook. I'm sure you could find a protected demographic with lower-than-average Facebook usage to support this.


Going one step forward, you can say that any company that advertises on any channel and not on all other possible channels (TV, outdoor, print) is discriminating. If you can prove a gender is watching more TV than the other, then it is gender discrimination.

This entire discrimination thing is crazy. Yes, a company can discriminate intentionally and not accepting or failing certain candidates based on demographics OR it simply chooses where to spend the marketing money for the best impact. Like not advertising a bra to men, not because men don't wear a bra (some may do), but because the impact per dollar of advertising it to men is reduced. Discrimination!!!


First, your argument is completely silly to the point of not being taken seriously.

Now, no one gives a shit about how advertising tampons to women discriminates against men. And no one gives a shit that Axe body spray is targeted to males of a certain demographic. What the government is concerned about is how advertising jobs, housing, and finance can be discriminatory.

If you post an ad for a job that targets exclusively men, you are in violation of the Civil Rights Act (Title IX), and the American Disabilities Act.

If you post an ad for an apartment that targets white males you are in violation of the Housing and Community Development Act and the Civil Rights Act.

If you post an ad for mortgages or other financial vehicles that targets a certain demographic and even certain neighborhoods you are in violation of the Civil Rights Act, and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.

There is no law against marketing bras to women, beers to men, or Cialis to the elderly. Housing, employment, and access to credit are some of the foundational services that the government has deemed any discrimination is bad. There is no one step forward because there is a clear line drawn in the sand that anyone with a basic understanding of these laws will know.


"Dodging" legality issues creates new, and much more exciting for your defense attorney, legality issues.


Other commenters have said that disparate impact is enough to trigger liability, so targeting proxy characteristics would not help in that case.


redlining and similar practices are still usually illegal, although it is probably easier to cover up.


I wonder what would happen if someone found out that Facebook's algorithm was discriminating based on race, age, or gender for any of these categories that are illegal.



When you target against protected classes, yes.

Facebook has a history of facilitating this type of thing and crying ignorance later. A local landlord was caught using Facebook to target apartment listings to people who weren’t black, Hispanic, Jewish, or gay.


As a white male, I'd like to get in on that protected class bit. No one should be seeing targeted ads if they don't want to, regardless of birth status.


You're in! Race, color, and sex are all federally protected classes[1]. So for things like employment or housing ads it's illegal to exclude (or include) you based on being white or a male.

[1] https://content.next.westlaw.com/Document/Ibb0a38daef0511e28...


Is it enforced that way?


Targeted ads for some things, like jobs or housing, are considered discrimination. Ads for most products can be targeted.


What is the difference between those classes of goods? What non-arbitrary rule should we use as a society to determine if a product/service can be targeted or not? Seems to me that every time this subject comes up, an arbitrary list of things are considered protected by whoever is making that point.


> Seems to me that every time this subject comes up, an arbitrary list of things are considered protected by whoever is making that point.

It might feel that way to you, but it seems you haven't bothered to look into the history of why certain classes are protected against discrimination in housing, employment, medical treatment etc.

One of those reasons is to fight the tendency for discrimination to create second-class citizens[1]. Along with our society's past and its contemporary history, we also have a several millennia of written history to look back upon to see just how easily and willing we are to make life very bad for people who are discriminated against.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second-class_citizen


These aren't arbitrary judgment calls. There are laws.

And sure, the existence of those laws might be arbitrary. But the laws themselves are specific.


Except the existence of laws against racial/age discrimination in housing and employment are not arbitrary. Those laws were passed in response to actual and widespread discriminatory behavior in the mid 20th century.


OK, maybe arbitrary isn't exactly the right word. I meant that there's no indisputable link between ethics/morality and law.

You say that they "were passed in response to actual and widespread discriminatory behavior". That's true. But they wouldn't have been passed, notwithstanding discrimination, without enough political support (of one sort or another).

I mean, there's also been discrimination in health insurance rates based on preexisting conditions. And gender-based discrimination in vehicle insurance rates. The Affordable Care Act more-or-less restricted the first. But the second is still the norm in the US.


I would say the second one should be illegal.

There is plenty of ways to lawfully discriminate in this country. You can even still have discriminatory policies in employment if you can show it directly relates to the job.


I guess the poor guy did not ask about the law, that part was obvious. Some people choose to ignore the logic and morality and hide behind "this is the law" excuse, that does not help in this case: if the law is right, just explain how, if the law is broken, say it so.


Fair enough. But it's murky. I mean, it's arguable that any discrimination based on existential stuff -- such as gender, "race" and disability -- is immoral. Because it's just who you are, not something that you've chosen, something that you're responsible for.

Also, when it's about stuff like housing and services, there's not much basis for discrimination. Except for providing access to those with disabilities. And that seems fair.

When it's about employment, even if there are data that might justify discrimination, it's all about statistical distributions for populations. So there's too much uncertainty when you apply it to individuals. And there's also the fact that untangling innate/genetic and developmental/sociological factors is impossible.

For health and life insurance, basing rates on age and preexisting conditions clearly makes economic sense. Older people will likely cost more than younger people. And people diagnosed with cancer etc will likely cost more than people generlly. But for health insurance, there are social justice arguments that discrimination is unfair.

For vehicle insurance, it's undeniable that young men have more accidents than young women, and middle-aged people generally. And that old people people also have more accidents. At least two factors distinguish that from health insurance. First, there's the sense that people can choose to drive more carefully, and have fewer accidents. Also, there's the argument that driving isn't as essential as medical care.


> What non-arbitrary rule should we use as a society to determine if a product/service can be targeted or not?

Actual past experience with specific, widespread, and demonstrably harmful discriminatory practices.

Widespread discrimination in housing during the 20th century -- and the negative effects that had on certain communities -- resulted in laws prohibiting discrimination in housing ads.

Widespread discrimination in employment during the 20th century -- and the negative effects that had on certain communities -- resulted in laws prohibiting discrimination in employment ads.

BTW, these categories also make sense. Housing (i.e., schooling) and employment have a huge impact on your life outcomes in the USA. Choice of hair product, not so much.


There is actually a minimal agreed upon set of goods, espoused in the Universal declaration of human rights (or your country's equivalent).

For instance, travel services must be free from discrimination:

> Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State.

Or buying property

> Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.

Or the issues of this thread

> Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.

Or general social servies

> Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, ...

specifically education

> Everyone has the right to education.


A declaration is not a law and there are many countries without an equivalent, some don't even have a Bill of Rights equivalent (Australia is one). That declaration is just a political statement, nothing more.


Targeted ads when it comes to housing (AKA redlining) are illegal under Fair Housing Act of 1968.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redlining


It seems to be a textbook form of discrimination.


It's not, though. When I buy a page in Cosmo or something, I'm doing that with the intent and result that mostly women will see it. If targeted ads were illegal, it's hard to see how any publication with non-representative demographics could sell ads at all.


The targeted ads in question relate to employment, which is governed by standards for what kinds of discrimination are legal and illegal.


Ok, so are you allowed to place employment ads in Cosmo?

Is it Ok just because it’s overwhelming likely to be women who see it, versus algorithmically targeting women?


That is how it works legally, yes.


No, that is not how it works.

> The laws enforced by EEOC prohibit an employer or other covered entity from using neutral employment policies and practices that have a disproportionately negative effect on applicants or employees of a particular race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy), or national origin, or on an individual with a disability or class of individuals with disabilities, if the polices or practices at issue are not job-related and necessary to the operation of the business. [0]

[0] https://www.eeoc.gov//laws/practices/


Are you a lawyer?

I'm not. But I don't believe you are right - advertising in a magazine doesn't exclude people just because their demographic doesn't target them.

If you ran a job ad for a make-up person in women's magazine there is nothing stopping a man who is also interested in make up seeing it and applying.

That is different to the Facebook system, where there was no way for someone from the excluded classes to see the ad.


I am not a lawyer, but I am directly quoting the US Government Agency that is responsible for enforcing these laws.

US employment law prohibits a large number of normally OK employment practices when they have a disparate impact on protected classes.

> For example, an employer's reliance on word-of-mouth recruitment by its mostly Hispanic work force may violate the law if the result is that almost all new hires are Hispanic. [0]

[0] https://www.eeoc.gov//laws/practices/


> Ok, so are you allowed to place employment ads in Cosmo?

Yes, if you take care to balance your ad placement so that your job opening advertising policy is not biased against protected classes.

> because it’s overwhelming likely to be women who see it, versus algorithmically targeting women?

That doesn't matter. What matters is the end effect of the advertising policy.


In that case the targeted facebook ads would not be illegal if they were balanced by targeted ads at the groups excluded from the first? Or also not illegal if it can't be proven to have had an actual effect?


Can someone tell me, does Cosmopolitan magazine run job ads?


It doesn't.


Working Mother Magazine runs ads for jobs if someone wants a more concrete example to use one way or another

https://jobs.workingmother.com/


Yes but you don't control if a man or an old person can buy the magazine or not.


Serious question: How is that relevant though?

Here is how I think about it: If my intention is to discriminate against men and publish an ad in a female magazine, sure, I cant control if a man buys and sees the ad or not. But discrimination was my intention to begin with regardless of how effective my efforts were. Besides, those efforts will be pretty effective. Instead of magazine advertising being 100% effective - as is in the case of FB targeted advertising - they will be just slightly less effective (lets say 90% or w/e number you want to put here). That´s because in the magazine´s case we know for certain that that vast majority of female magazine consumption is done by women - That´s literally what they are made for.

So in a sense, we are arguing about degrees of effectiveness rather than the nature of discrimination. Not only is this a slippery slope, but imo it flips everything in business on its head as having a target audience for your product or a service will be considered discriminatory!


> Not only is this a slippery slope, but imo it flips everything in business on its head as having a target audience for your product or a service will be considered discriminatory!

No, it doesn't. If you determine that your target audience watches BET, and you decide to only advertise your product on BET, that's 100% legal.

If you prevented anyone but your target audience from using your service, and you end up discriminating against a protected class, that's a different story.

There are entirely different standards when it comes to hiring and employment.


There is no need for slippery slopes or hypotheticals. All physical advertising platforms have policies against discrimination for job ads and rentals. Newspapers have had stricter requirements for those two areas for years and there are specific laws governing them. Just because it is “on the internet” doesn’t change anything.

Yes you can advertise jobs in Ebony or Cosmopolitan. There is nothing stopping a non Black or man from picking up those magazines.


> How is that relevant though?

It is not. Your intent to discriminate is not necessary for you to fall afoul of US equal opportunity laws. Demonstrating disparate impact of your employment policies on a protected class without a valid business is can be sufficient for you to lose your case.


Facebook is way more like a newspaper than a target demo periodical but even when you put the Ad in Cosmo, you pay for the Ad impression no matter who views the Ad. You, as the advertiser have no control over that impression.


If it were common for, say, nursing positions to be advertised in Cosmo, then presumably male nurses looking for work would know this and be able to buy that magazine.


When you're discriminating illegally, it doesn't usually matter whether it's possible for someone to subvert your discrimination.


While true, its a bit of a nitpick and misses the point GP made.


No. If you place an ad on Facebook for housing and choose to exclude people who identify as "black", there's no way for those people to find your ad, save for creating a new Facebook account and pretending to be white.

Anyone is welcome to purchase a copy of Ebony magazine. It's targeted, but it's not exclusive.


But should Ebony be allowed to market ads on Facebook and exclude white people? I honestly don’t know where I come down on this issue: it feels different to say, “we have a better ROI if we exclude certain demographics from seeing our ads” than to say “black people can’t eat at this diner.”

Let’s take a company like REI: is it wrong for them to put their stores in places that are most profitable? Should luxury good companies be required to have store fronts in inner cities?

I’m legitimately not sure I’m comfortable with either answer. “Women / older people are unlikely to respond to this ad; so we’ll have a better ROI by excluding those groups” feels awkward but like a legitimate business interest. If I sell male hygiene products can I exclude women from seeing the ads, not because I don’t like women but because the ad is less likely to be relevant?

“I don’t want to work with women or older people so I’ll not show them the ad” feels unquestionably wrong.


The short answer is: it depends. I don't think you'll run into much trouble in excluding women from your ads for beard care products, but you might of you're excluding them from your ads for housing.

I think you have to consider intent as well as outcome.


There is no might there are specific laws governing advertising when it comes to jobs and housing that don’t apply to other areas.


Magazine buyer's aren't a protected class.


Um.. I think most luxury goods stores are in inner cities.


> But should Ebony be allowed to market ads on Facebook and exclude white people?

That's not what this thread is about. The question here is what is the difference between advertising on Facebook and excluding some demographics, and advertising in a paper magazine where you don't have the power to exclude anyone from viewing the ad.


Is it really any better to make people choose just really good proxies for their intended audience which theoretically anyone could be a member of but in practice is not that way?

And if this isn’t really any better, where does that leave you?


Where else would you draw the line? I don't think what I described is a real problem in practice. Housing and jobs are often advertised in rather neutral publications, not special interest ones. But what Facebook enables goes beyond targeting based on interest, it's explicitly exclusionary.

If your local newspaper could print a special edition for minority subscribers that didn't include job listings, that would be a problem. Advertising in a special interest publication is not, on its own, a problem. Of course there's no clear lines in reality, everything must be evaluated in context.


not really, because people are aware of the fact that they're going to find say, women targeted ads in cosmo, so they can seek them out. The 'discrimination' in this case is simply aggregate consumer preference, every individual outlier still gets precisely the content and ads they want.

If facebook displays housing ads only to white people a black person is very likely not even aware that they're being discriminated against in some specific way, the entire control is in the hands of facebook and the ad buyer, and intransparent.

The situation would be equivalent if facebook gave you complete control over their algorithm and let you choose what type of ads you want to be exposed to. Which would make discrimination much less of an issue. Or the other way around, the current facebook situation would be akin to the store owner quickly cutting the housing ads out of cosmo as soon as black people walk into the store.


I think that's the main reason why buying an ad in Cosmo is different from buying a targeted Facebook ad in terms of discrimination. Cosmo might be written with women in mind but anybody can go and buy it. But it's pretty much impossible for someone who identifies as a man on Facebook to see ads that are only targeted towards women. The Facebook example is more similar to a real estate agent who only shows certain properties to white families.


You hire people through ads in Cosmo? I doubt that.


I don't think the original comment was asking about employment discrimination specifically. I've seen a lot of people get confused on this topic, and end up thinking it's illegal to discriminate by gender on any advertising at all.


[flagged]


Not really, because it's a question of principle: is it okay to target to a specific demographic, or not; and does that vary based on whether we are discussing a legally-protected class? The significance of what is being advertised doesn't exactly change the definition of right and wrong. If we're being honest, cosmo is probably as accurate a filtering mechanism for white, middle-aged, middle-class women as facebook could be.

The issue seems to be when people _exclude_ certain groups, rather than when people _target_ specific ones; i.e. I can filter for middle-aged white guys for testosterone-boosting pills, but most would balk at filtering _out_ blacks, young people, etc. for rental ads. The question is, is there an ethical difference, and why? I think all of us can agree that a cosmo ad for women is fine, and tossing out a black guy's resume is not; the question is where is that line, and why? These sorts of technologies are bringing us closer to either side, so it's relevant to figure out where it is.


> The significance of what is being advertised doesn't exactly change the definition of right and wrong.

We are discussing legality and yes, what is being advertised has a significant impact. The rules around employment and housing are VERY different from the rules around makeup and viagra.

> The issue seems to be when people _exclude_ certain groups, rather than when people _target_ specific ones;

Nope, both are illegal (for protected classes) when it comes to housing and employment.

kjs3 24 days ago [flagged]

Quit conflating the issue.

The poster you're defending (and, frankly, the whole argument) was trying to make the point that "targeted ads", as a category and devoid of context, was a good thing because you reach the target you want to reach. Fair enough. But if it's an employment ad, and you only want to reach upper class white males, well, that's discrimination. Period. If your "principles" enable that, well there you go.


Conflating the issue with what?

Let's take the flip side. Pretend I am one of the many companies which have adopted discriminatory hiring practices in favor of certain minorities. I want to hire more of said minorities. I target facebook ads towards them. Is that any better or worse? As far as I'm concerned, they are the same; but many people I know would say that's fine.


> Pretend I am one of the many companies which have adopted discriminatory hiring practices in favor of certain minorities. I want to hire more of said minorities.

Yup, that is illegal. Discriminating based on protected classes is illegal, regardless of which groups within that class you are discriminating for/against.

>> For example, an employer's reliance on word-of-mouth recruitment by its mostly Hispanic work force may violate the law if the result is that almost all new hires are Hispanic. [0]

[0] https://www.eeoc.gov//laws/practices/


"I've been given advantage for decades/centuries. We're giving an advantage to the disadvantaged so they have a chance to catch up for years/months. I'm being discriminated against!". Got it.


People today have not been given such advantages. Example: let's say I'm a poor white guy from Appalachia. Will you really tell me I have been given advatages for centuries? When you hire normally, you can somewhat absolve yourself of concern for personal situation; you judge based on emperical information as presented by the candidate. When you play God and take it upon yourself to be the judge, you are morally responsible for discovering everything about some one's life and weighing each impartially against the other. How arrogant must one be to believe himself capable of such a judgement; the judgement not of one resume against another, but of one soul against another? If we could evaluate people's whole selves; we would not have resumes, nor references, nor interviews.


> Example: let's say I'm a poor white guy from Appalachia. Will you really tell me I have been given advatages for centuries?

Yes. That you happen to be poor, in that situation, does not obviate the cultural and sociodynamic power, in this country, from being white. And it's those advantages that just--for example--mean that if you are walking on a dark street in a city at night, a cop is orders of magnitude less likely to stop you and ask "hey, boy, what are you doing out so late?". That you might be poor, of course, is a reason why you are not as culturally or sociodynamically powerful as a middle-class or a rich white man, or maybe even a rich--gasp!--black man. But that white skin is an implicit handicap in your (and, as it happens, my) favor, even if other accidents of birth or providence happen to stack up on the other side. And it is downright immoral not to acknowledge it.

"Play god"--hogwash and worse words. Acknowledge structural imbalances. Poverty is one. Racism in a country that makes racists powerful is another, and it's bigger, and it's multiplicative with the aforementioned poverty in the first place.

And while we're being real about this, it is also worth noting that the historical fear of being "lesser than the black man" is one of the sadder causes of poor whites aligning with rich whites against the poor whites' economic and social interests--that is, the racial fear and resentment helps keep them poor. "Racial unity of poor whites with their economic exploiters" is a pretty good one-line summary of the post-Colonial American South in general, now that I think about it.


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