If the percentage of female computer science graduates (as a strong proxy for the available candidate population) is 18% (Google for the facts and stats), how is every company to hit an idealistic goal of 50% representation?
A while back, I did rough envelope calculations that if one of the major FAANG companies hit their diversity goal, there would be none left for any of the rest of them. Look at these percentages and you can see unsentimentally that this must be true.
Why do we place the blame and assign malice of intent to those who have little control over the constraints? If we put actual performance metrics and pay on the line for achieving these physically unattainable goals, everyone would be fired.
Not to mention, if the other companies also wish to hit their diversity goals, they will be forced to take on weaker hires, since the (already small) pool of adequate hires has been exhausted. In my opinion, diversity hiring is an anti-pattern. Hiring should instead ignore demographics information rather than use it to try and achieve some optimal representational balance. If demographics information are completely ignored in the hiring process (which is impossible if you do on-site hiring), then no one can accuse you of favoring a particular group of people.
What I have seen in my experience is not a lowering of the bar for more diverse hires, but a lowering of the bar when a company wants to drastically increase its number of engineers. Yet the lowered bar does not increase the percentage of diverse hires, quite the opposite. I've seen lowering the bar for white men, but no other group.
I say this as a white man who doesn't want to work with poor quality engineers who are uncoachable. It infuriates my sense of logic when they cry about not wanting to lower the bar while doing exactly that.
It will always make the most sense to source the best people without regard to anything but job skill. If the best people aren't diverse, then chasing diversity requires you to look outside the set of best people, by construction. You can't have your cake and eat it, too.
Definitely worth a look, even if you don't think it applies here.
Having no CS degree myself and excelling in a top 10 company I agree with this sentiment, especially seeing the epidemic of “over leveling” the small pool of CS graduates occurring. I’d rather work with correctly leveled non-CS graduates than over-leveled CS graduates
Internal training, ok, but are you going to only provide internal training to women? Is this even legal?
Basecamp training, ok, but are you going to only provide basecamp training to women? Is this even legal?
Special talents (dropouts etc.), ok, but are you going to only hire special talents who are women? Is this even legal?
Non-traditional education, ok, but are you going to only hire non-traditional education candidates who are women? Is this even legal?
The whole idea that there is a social engineering way to make programmers 50% male/female is not based on any facts as we know in a free society. On the contrary, there is evidence that the more gender equal society, the fewer women choose STEM. https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/02/the-more...
The obsession of 50% is not only anti-science, it is also demeaning to other great contributions women provide to society. Yes, nurses and teachers make less money than programmers, but it does not mean nurses and teachers are less important than programmers. It is because personal caring kind of job is less scalable than STEM jobs, so a team of 10 programmers can provide services to far more people than 10 nurses.
Oh, are you going to disagree that caring for people is more a part of female nature than male nature? Are you going to say this is actually a result of society oppressed women and tricked them to care more about others? Because female psychology is exactly the same as male psychology? So maybe we should expect a gender equal society there are 50% male/female in murders and rapists?
Unless it is about starting a business and making money via ads.... Then they're willing to devote thousand of hours of their life thinking creatively about how to solve problems to "change the world".
In contrast nobody has changed the gender ratio in tech without discriminating against men: a zero sum game that definitely does not increase wealth for everyone.
As for your dismissal of people's 83 reasons, why not show us how it's done and address them?
It certainly doesn't increase the wealth of people who are persuaded to buy stuff that really isn't worthwhile for them.
Just because I cannot extract monetary value by buying another MIDI controller for my hobby doesn't mean it isn't a worthwhile purchase. If you derived enjoyment from a purchase, it increased your [non-material] wealth and added value.
The same way, Gmail and FB make money by selling ads, but if they didn't exist without ads, it is easily arguable that people would have missed out on a lot of wealth and benefits that comes with those things. I use Gmail, because I extract value from using it. And I pay for it by letting Google personalize my ads and sell them. For me, that exchange is absolutely worth it. If it wasn't, I wouldn't have been using it.
They do support initiatives to help but realize it is essentially generational at this point.
Good luck with that. People who profit exploiting "gender gap" like bootcamps, hr firms, speaker agencies, will never be happy.
I'm a middle-aged white male who's been working with software development for 25+ years. I don't like being around the typical dev shop - the culture isn't usually much of a fit (whether 'bro' or 'sci-fi' or 'gamer' oriented), often a focus on 'free beer!' and similar 'perks' - so much so that I stay way clear of most typical software/dev jobs. I can pass in those environments (and have), and it's still uncomfortable for me - it must be 10x worse for people who are that much more 'other'. :/
Is it just me? Does anyone find that their workplace is even 50% brogrammer?
I would LOVE to create a large curriculum in house that aims to teach non degree holding individuals these skill sets because it would have tremendous return on investment. Be we are a small company (<100) with limited resources that can not afford to have a six month on boarding process to Do it properly (and I am not a professor).
It is an unrealistic burden to any small or medium org to do what is required by your comment.
Having a CS degree perhaps helps a little for general background, but not every CS major has taken a db class and even then, they won't have learned many useful practical skills, like analyzing and fixing a slow production query. And conversely the folks who have been through bootcamps (that we have hired!) are all very self-directed and highly motivated to learn. So I'm not sure that the difference is quite as clear cut as you make it out to be.
I do completely agree with you that this is important, and that it's very hard to get companies to devote resources to it. Taking 6-8 hours a week out of a senior engineer's time to prepare and teach an effective class is a big ask; I had a lot of support from management to do this but I think that might be a rare luxury at other companies.
It's just sad that the tech industry doesn't invest more in high-quality structured teaching, when it could so clearly deliver benefits in terms of growing skills for engineers from both CS and non CS backgrounds. Assuming that they'll somehow learn everything they need without structure or direction might work in a few cases, but in general it's a poor long term strategy for both companies and the industry as a whole.
I used to be very degree-centric in my recruiting. But some time ago I started hiring from boothcamps, particularly for frontend jobs. The fact I saw is that as part of the development needs of the companies I have been at, there is a good amount of work that can be done by developers of these skill levels. Once my team was able to organize the work, we were able to make jr people productive.
This not only made us capable of hiring jr devs. It actually made more Sr devs happy because they did not have to do that work and made mid levels happy because they own the growth of the jr devs .
Depends on what you classify as serious work, I guess?
From years of reading similar comments and my own experience, I was under the impression most “software developer” jobs only lightly touch on anything complex - most of us aren’t designing databases and complex low-level stuff day-to-day, but we do need to know enough to not do something terribly inefficient and stupid in basic plumbing code.
I think what you really need are smart people, and people who are willing to put in the work to get past the first few years of stumbling and not knowing what anything means. Likewise, young developers need good mentors and patient senior developers to lean on and who they can pick this stuff up from.
Not sure what your company is doing, but if what you say is true, maybe you are one of the rarer groups actually doing the hard stuff.
I totally agree with you, but that doesn't solve the issue, there are not that many of those people out there struggling to get jobs, because employers already know about this trick. That's why a bunch of quant and other top-tier finance shops are full of math and physics grads who had almost zero knowledge of finance before getting hired for those jobs.
The value of a degree is less the information it teaches, and more as a filter for people who are unusually smart and/or self-motivated. Those people coming with the requisite CS theory is merely a bonus.
I took the intended sentiment to be that of finding talent among non-degree holders that won't necessarily present itself in a typical CS interview scenario. Thus we need a way to identify future CS talent that is merely in need of training and mentoring. And so the problem reduces to, in my opinion, to finding people who are smart and unusually self-motivated. But there is just no good way of doing this.
What do I mean by personal questions? My favorite interview so far left all the academic quizzing aside and asked me to talk in-depth about a particular real-world project I worked on. What patterns did I use? How did it interact with the database? How did I model the problem? This was not something that would be easily googled and it let me convey how I think about software on my own terms. Then it was up to the interviewer if my approach to software would be useful to them.
You don’t need much to be productive. There’s plenty of great guardrails like code reviews, pair programming and shadowing that can make someone surprisingly productive.
The value of a degree is social signaling that you are the “type” of person to be able get that degree, socioeconomically and temperamentally. Plenty of people out there for whom the economics of a degree didn’t make any sense, or they had bigger needs that had to be filled immediately so didn’t have the ability to sacrifice for the long term.
Sometimes you go ahead and walk the fine line of the no true scotsman argument - a degree without this basic math isn't CS. And any "reputable" CS degree - and by "reputable" I don't mean top 10 or even top 50, I just mean a fine university with a proper curriculum - will absolutely have this requirement.
It might depend on how the degree is taught I guess, mine had very little actual programming.
Where did you get your info from? Because I just checked the Stanford CS curriculum requirements for Bachelors degree, and it clearly has "Computers, Ethics, and Public Policy" requirement, along with a senior project requirement (that would, I assume, includes writing), as well as 3-5 credit units from the list of approved "Technology in Society" courses.
My engineering program required an upper-division course from the philosophy department on the development of rigorously ethical systems of thought.
Counterpoint: the overwhelming majority of software companies out there do not work on problems and develop products that warrant deep computer science expertise.
I mean, if you're doing cutting edge and/or highly technical stuff, great, go nuts, recruit only those with CS degrees. But most software out there is your run-of-the-mill line of business software, mostly CRUD with a bit of specialized functionality. And the bar for working on that is way lower.
Additionally, if you meant specifically without CS degrees, I think a lot of companies accept unrelated degrees + experience.
> I am one of them
You, yourself, are a large pool? Or you, yourself are one instance of a fairly small pool (like OP suggests).
> Why do we place the blame and assign malice of intent to those who have little control over the constraints?
The post suggests searching and hiring outside of the traditional pipeline, which is something that is within control. The comment is then topped off with a strawman argument:
> If we put actual performance metrics and pay on the line for achieving these physically unattainable goals, everyone would be fired.
50% is clearly a goal that is a long way away but it doesn't mean we cannot work towards it. Yes, it's probably unrealistic to expect anyone to bring 50% representation to a significant sized workforce within an average tenure. It doesn't mean that the pursuit of gender parity is delusional or that meaningful and achievable targets cannot be set.
If anything this top comment is a prime example of the prevailing biased and unwilling attutide to improve representation in the industry, that has been placed on a pedestal.
And this also just illustrates how difficult it is to debate on similar ground with a random person in a well-defined scope on these kinds of issues.
I speak concretely of the things companies are able to achieve within the constraints and resources they're given. You speak of hopes and dreams. But more importantly (and worse), I think you seek to turn your hopes and dreams into unworkable policies that penalize people for not achieving your hopes and dreams.
Do you believe if the world was completely fair we would have 50/50 in every industry or is there (shock and horror) perhaps an uncomfortable biological difference driving our interests.
To hit 50% when the hiring pool is less than 50% women would require women to get accepted at a higher rate than men.
Because it spells out a view that the majority agrees with.
The post suggests searching and hiring outside of the traditional pipeline
It suggests the only way to hire more women is to discriminate against the best credentialed candidates.
It doesn't mean that the pursuit of gender parity is delusional
Lots of us believe it's actually, truly delusional.
How long have women been encouraged to go into engineering? Decades. My entire life. The numbers studying it don't shift. Diversity initiatives have long ago passed the King Canute stage and turned into full blown reality denial based on a big pile of nasty conspiracy theories about men. Aline Lerner is one of the better "women in tech" out there but even she goes there:
hostile university culture in male-dominated CS programs, biased hiring practices, and ultimately non-inclusive work environments that force women and people of color to leave tech
Ugh. Women would prefer teaching children to software? It must be that men are hostile, biased and "force" women to leave!
What about the fact that most childcare workers are women? Is it due to rampant bias, hostility and discrimination by women that "force" men to leave? Where are the hundreds of millions spent on fixing that? At least with teaching there's some slightly plausible argument about why gender diversity might be useful, whereas in engineering there is none.
These beliefs are insulting, demeaning, condescending and ultimately false. The vast, vast majority of men I've encountered in the tech world bend over backwards to give women anything they want if they even so much as express an interest in tech. Sometimes they push them to the front even if they don't. The idea that women's lack of interest in tech is all the nasty male's fault is absurd and is the inverse of the reality: namely, women routinely campaign hard to exclude men from opportunities. All in the name of "equality".
Similar situation is when my non-minority friends are surprised that racism still exists in <area>. "I know racism exits, but that kind of thing cannot happen <here>!" Well, my friend, you wouldn't feel that way if you looked like me.
Or they can say yes and enjoy a romantic relationship - as for example happened with Bill Gates and Sergey Brin (twice). Clearly, not every woman thinks it's "vile" to be asked out at work. If I recall correctly Melinda Gates even said no the first time. Lucky for her she wasn't meeting Bill in 2019.
Regardless of how these women felt, being asked out by a married guy is simply not as bad as being openly excluded from promotions and job opportunities because of your gender or race: as happens regularly to men these days, usually at the behest of activist female workers.
Mine, too, and I'm in my 40's now.
Companies used to train internally - watch an older TV show (or even something like Better Call Saul) and see how many characters "worked their way up from the mail room". The death of company loyalty goes both ways but I'm sure it can be mended with some effort. Where I work one of the better programmers I knew was an immigrant from south east Asia who started in the warehouse and had an interest in programming. I don't know whether or not he had a degree, but the point was he worked hard to prove himself, and they took a chance to give him a go.
So I guess my point is, graduate statistics isn't the end of the story.
Please no. Japan is that way. Japan pays programmers $20k to start, no better than working fast food. Their salaries go up to $60k at the top end at most big Japanese companies and they have the attitude that anyone over 35 is too old to code. I feel the fact they hire grads with zero experience is one of the reasons. Why pay someone $$$ if they can't actually do the job yet? Conversely interns at Google make $70k-$100k yearly equivalent. The two might not be connected but I feel they are and so AFAIK the "pay for experience" is better than "pay with free training" for employees.
It also seems better for the employer. Japan still has a culture of lifetime employment so the employer invests the equivalent of a college education into the employee and gets a lifetime commitment. That would never work in the west. People would take the free education and then leave for greener pastures the first chance they got.
When I was younger, my mother worked as a freight forwarder. After she'd been there for awhile, the company paid to send her for training and certification to work with hazardous materials. If I recall correctly, she signed a contract agreeing to repay the costs of the courses if she left the company before a certain period of time had passed.
Essentially, rather than hiring externally a freight forwarder who is already certified to handle dangerous goods, they identified their strongest existing employee without that certification and paid for them to learn what they needed for a more advanced position, with conditions to assure they recoup their investment. The way I read it, I thought the person you replied to was suggesting identifying existing employees with potential and paying to expand their skillsets for a different role, e.g. with bootcamps or MOOCs, not hiring fresh graduates for low pay.
I had a similar clause in my first contract. Since the team I was hired into was a Perl shop and I hadn't done any Perl before starting there, they sent me on a week-long Perl training early on. The contract said that if I quit within the first year, I would have to reimburse them for the cost of the training (going down progressively by 1/12th of the price per month that I'm staying with the company).
I personally value stability and would prefer to stay in one place if it were more feasible. Training can be at all career stages, not just the beginning.
Japan, yeah, I don't want that. It's a unique beast with a lot of dysfunctions, both anecdotally from friends and all the stories online. I'd say the things you listed are outcomes from lingering cultural problems rather than causes.
What stuck me as ridiculous was some owner who said something about having invested 30 years in these guys. He hadn't invested shit as far as I could see. He has a handfull of employees that had invested in their own skills. If he had invested in his employees he have a new generation ready or almost ready to step up as one retired.
CEO : « We should train our workers. »
CFO : « It will be expensive and what do we do if we train them and they leave ? »
CEO : « What do we do if we don't and they stay ? »
Finally I think the parable is initially french, as it's harder to fire people just for lack of training here.
Senior devs have to come from somewhere.
yeah, other companies that invested in them but tried not to give them market raises.
I guess you meant to say unmarried, not that they were all cheating on their partners.
I'm not saying a company should throw up its hands and do nothing. But why are we looking to assign to companies the solving of a 50% problem (if that's the goal), when they can only ever achieve 15% within their reasonable powers?
There's a pipeline problem if you are only taking a specific output and society is not producing it. As an individual company then you can either broaden what you accept (and I don't think this will lower quality, but it will make hiring harder), or take charge and extend the pipeline in your own backyard through training or probationary periods to trial someone.
> As you can see, broadening your pipeline isn’t a magic pill, and as long as demand for software engineers continues to grow, it’s still going to be really hard, systemic changes to our society notwithstanding. If we do make these changes, however, the tech industry as a whole can accelerate its path toward gender parity and potentially get there within a decade.
There's probably a feedback loop here where if they can broaden their intake, it will help accelerate societal change. The largest companies will have the most trouble, because they have the most seats to fill, but they also have the resources to try something different to fix this if they really want to.
On your last point, I think having a hard target like 50% can be damaging since it is demoralising to look at the gap and it might all feel like too much to deal with. I'd personally prefer to work towards 'a bit better than last year' with some achievable (non-startup) growth rates.
Except it is, because of course it is.
Who is responsible for fixing the gender imbalance in tech, if not the leaders in tech?
(Of course the housing thing may just be a cynical calculation that it’s cheaper than the toxic public relations of doing nothing. But maybe that should be the case for the gender thing too.)
An imbalance doesn't inherently need to be fixed. If the imbalance is because women are simply less interested- an imbalance is desirable.
Equality in opportunity will not neccessarily lead to equality in outcome. Any argument on this topic that is rooted in outcomes can be immediately dismissed. Attempt to measure the actual source of the problem- which is opportunity.
In a particular well-known American tech company with a large office in Tokyo, our recruiters were in part responsible for the pipeline of new recruits from abroad. I began to notice the recruiters feeding the pipeline with people that were essentially cookie-cutter templates of themselves.
I would say 90% of the interviewees had the same background: 30s-40s white male with a Japanese girlfriend/wife that wanted to move to Tokyo for family reasons. At one point, it just became a cliche.
I have no opinion on whether this was a good or bad thing, but it definitely overfitted for that particular persona and shifted the company's internal culture and diversity.
So while the source of the pipeline is definitely skewed, I would argue that whoever is doing the recruiting and subsequent hiring need also be evaluated regarding their criteria for employee selection.
We still have very little understanding of the human brain- but we understand enough to know that women and men are different.
The theory of evolution also provides strong support for this idea. Women and men have had different selection criteria, and therefore have evolved differences.
You’d be better off being diverse in major. When I think of the smartest developers or IT people I know, one was a sociologist who learned programming as a labor department statistician, another had an MFA in Piano, and the other was in pharmacy school and dropped out after an injury.
Oddly enough, I've never met a single one that was female, though that's only anecdotal of course. The only female devs I know have CS degrees.
The focus on CS is important. Developers who don't have it are generally not educated in how to write good code. Many people do get into the field without the degree, but many of them are very bad at programming. I've had to rewrite O(n!) algorithms written by some of them, and they really didn't even understand why the algorithm was bad even when I broke it down to them.
My CS education absolutely gave me many of the tools I need for a career in software engineering. It didn't give me everything to be sure -- there's a lot of learning that still goes on in the job, but having a solid foundation is crucial to being a good engineer.
Anecdote is not data, and it's only my individual anecdote, but it's my experience that breaking through into the industry to be incredibly hard. Since then I've made up for lost time and advanced faster than a college grad would expect (junior dev in a shitty agency to enterprise lead dev in about four years), and I attribute that to spending so incredibly long as essentially a junior dev freelancer and just being older.
So it can be done, certainly, but I strongly suspect there are several filters working against self-taught developer women making that transition into the industry, and one of them is definitely gender discrimination. And no, aside from sending out resumes with a man's name on them, I don't know how to fix it.
Definitely? As in, you have actual proof? Or even some evidence? Because if you do, that’s illegal, and ought to be reported to the DOL.
If you can demonstrate evidence of this, you absolutely should, because that would be a particularly surprising finding considering how many organizations state upfront that they have preferential hiring for women. I’ve hired software developers for decades, and the resumes are dominated by Indian-sounding names: I don’t know about you, but I usually can’t tell whether those names are masculine or feminine. I’m shocked on the rare occasion I come across a resume with an American sounding name like Jim or Mary.
I keep hearing about gender discrimination, and maybe this is a market segment thing, but everywhere I've worked is actively recruiting female devs. Also the places I've worked as a dev typically require a CS degree though for what that's worth. Many of them even require an MSCS -- I've actually been turned down for one job because even though I have an MS it wasn't an MSCS (gov contracts get very specific).
I am absolutely willing to believe it's a market segment thing. I live in a smaller city full of colleges, so the handful of large companies hiring want all of their jr devs to be right out of college, and that's straight from the recruiter's mouths. I was forced to apply to all the small companies.
And, for what it's worth, my current job and the two before it "required" a degree. From what I can tell, that requirement is to filter people on the low end of years of experience. Old age and treachery counts for a lot more than you may think.
If you have a background in any science, or even a good analysis ability in a liberal arts field, you can be trained pretty quickly to be a functional developer. I'm surprised this doesn't happen more given the absurd salaries people are getting paid these days!
A CS degree is supposed to educate you in how to think, not train you to write software. Being able to properly decompose a problem and use the right data structures and algorithms to solve it is more than just training. You need education in the fundamentals to do that effectively.
I don't believe that it is impossible for someone without a CS degree to be a developer -- far from it -- but in my experience most of the really good ones have CS or CE or EE degrees. YMMV of course.
I think women in tech is a very similar situation. The article states that women graduate from bootcamps at a rate twice that of traditional CS courses. I'd say this is because there's less friction to join, so anything pushing them away is more easily overcome.
Sorry for the harsh formulation, but the point is, we really don't actually know what is going on. It is not legitimate to just assume women are being pushed away from traditional career paths in IT.
As for Military, I think the idea to become a Software Developer is by now a very common one, you don't have to come from a specific demographic to have heard of that option. Women come from the same backgrounds as men, the odds to have a baby girl or a baby boy are the same at all levels of society.
Women willingly choose different education paths because of different interests.
It is: less than 900 students and less than 13%. They can have whatever gender ratio they want, more or less, with essentially no effort. I'm not sure they have cleverly solved "insidious bias", more than they are simply selecting for the gender ratio they want as they send out acceptance letters. It would be nice if a much larger school with a much higher acceptance rate adopted identical curriculum, so we could have real data on the idea. But until that happens I would be somewhat cautious about declaring success here.
That wouldn't fly in the workplace. I'm surprised it's acceptable under Title IX.
What if there are way more males applying to Harvey Mudd, thus, assuming equal ability levels of people in both groups, resulting in a higher women admission rate?
What if the women applying to Harvey Mudd are, on average, more competent than males applying for whatever reason? E.g., women being less confident about applying to schools like MIT, so a bunch of them would apply to Harvey Mudd instead, while all MIT-capable males wouldn't apply to Harvey Mudd.
I am not claiming whether that specific situation they have at Harvey Mudd is acceptable or not under Title IX, but the numbers your bring up should not be problematic on its own under Title IX imo, it is how those numbers were arrived at and other numbers in the context that make all the difference.
There are more than enough women interested in computing to make up 50% of a tiny school's program. There aren't nearly enough women interested in computing to make up 50% of the market.
Well, probably because the environment in all parts of the tech pipeline, is often times toxic the entire way through, and women don't want to deal with that.
So part of solving the pipeline problem means trying to solve it in many different parts of the pipeline, and recognizing that even if a previous part failed, you can still do stuff to fix it, later on.
At a certain point you are clearly dealing with bad actors and the default assumption stops being any attempt to accomidate them and starts being to tell them to fuck off.
Because basically every women in tech has many many many stories of their bad experiences, all the way through the pipeline.
If you want to talk about universities, the problem with them is often the culture. Women are second guessed, every step of the way, and are often told that they don't belong there, and they have their abilities questions much more often than men.
This very common toxic culture of universities, often drives women out of the industry, because they feel like they don't belong, and aren't as good as their peers, even though they might actually be getting better grades than their peers.
If you speak to almost any woman in tech, they will be able to tell you this, and they will be able to give you many examples of the horrible experiences that they had to go through, every step of the way, through the pipeline.
It might not be all women that have these experiences. But it is most of them. Polling and data collection supports this conclusion.
That latter thing might be the biggest issue. The basic assumptions seems to be that things always come easy for men and they are always welcome.
And yes I know many women in tech, as I studied with them and worked with them.
I have also seen many articles by women in tech who say they didn't have issues. But somehow they don't count and are quickly forgotten, because they go against the narrative.
And there are many that do have issues. See, thats the thing about this stuff. Some women not having bad experiences, does not overrule the bad experiences of other women.
For what it's worth, many of the accounts of "bad experiences" didn't really convince me, either. It is too easy to attribute all of one's issues to sexism. For example the common complaint of being passed over in promotions, or of having one's opinions not being appreciated. That happens to men all the time, too, they just don't get to claim it is because of sexism.
Confirmation bias may play a huge role in those personal accounts, too.
As I said - usually the comparison to actual experiences of men is missing. There are many, many more men who have been passed over for promotion than women who have been passed over, in the tech industry, for example.
Another thing that is missing is an account of the advantages women have, like men being eager to help, extra funding only for women, hiring quotas, and so on.
Because I am not overruling those womens experiences! So if you were to claim that some women have no problems, thats fine. I am sure there are some. But there still exists bad exeriences for many women, and thats still bad and we should try and solve those bad experiences!
See the difference? I am not saying that good experiences don't exist. I am saying that even if some good experiences exist, we should still try and solve the bad experiences, which definitely do exist.
You, on the other hand, seem to be trying to minimize the real life problems that other women definitely do have. (Whereas I am not denying that some women have no problems. Just that even if this is the case, we should still work to solve the bad experiences)
If you hire only one gender with narrowly targetted job advertisements, the"wronged party is a pool of thousands (or more) of engineers that didn't even know the job existed. If you promote only one gender from the mail room, the wronged party is a small cohort of peers that can visibly see exactly who is promoted above them. Those are much more dangerous waters to tread.
I really thought it was the accepted fact and a starting point of all the discussions on this subject, that the issue is the pool of candidate.
Myself I recently tried to hire a developer and that’s a reality that there is nearly no female candidates. And I‘m not restricting it to CS degree.
I don’t understand how it’s not obvious that what can be done at the hiring process is completely marginal. There is no politics here.
The politics is how much we try to aim for 50% candidates (education, training...)
73.9% of H1B visas are given to Indians, 79.2% of those Indians are males.
The solution is to require at least 50% of all H1B recipients, from all countries, to be female.
High levels of Indian and Chinese migration also produce secondary effects, as families from those communities still carry out sex-selective abortion even into the 2nd and 3rd generations: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6133054/
I don't see why one would assume that gender distribution of CS degree holders is a strong proxy for the gender distribution of available candidates suitable for software development positions. Its true that many big firms (and even a large number of small firms) have a well-known strong bias for CS degree holders (and for CS degree holders from particular elite institutions), but the statistics of the field as a whole, and of CS degree holders, show that that is a bias inconsistent with the real qualifications for the field which cannot avoid exaggerating the gender gap in the field.
> A while back, I did rough envelope calculations that if one of the major FAANG companies hit their diversity goal, there would be none left for any of the rest of them.
That only makes sense if you assume that none of the meeting the target was done by bringing people into the field that otherwise would not be in it, despite the fact that that is typically a focus of such efforts by large firms.
You've made a counter-intuitive point and claimed that it's confirmed by statistics and yet haven't included any...
Some people presume that billionaire multinationals could spend some of their cash fixing the pipeline problem by convincing a few thousand women to take up coding.
More precisely: while technical proclivity and skill are obviously not uniformly distributed across the population, some people believe they "should" be more uniformly distributed than they currently are (because those things can correlate with wealth/power), and that whoever has the power to fix a gender imbalance in wealth/power-probability has the responsibility to do so.
Aside: Interesting how people push for these demographics at software companies but not at elementary/middle/high schools. Maybe if we solve that problem (which is literally just a matter of salaries) then there would be more openings in the tech industry for women and other under-represented groups.
Because we all know how well people react to being told "Hey, you should learn to code!"
Perhaps employers can expand the search to those with degrees in statistics, mathematics, physics, econometrics?
What I've seen time and time again is that when people dont want to hire, they come up with excuse after excuse. When they really want to hire [a VP's brother-in-low, or whatever], even the flimsiest of cases suddenly get made for the hire.
I'd say, we should look think bigger.
Just to be clear, I am not saying there is anything wrong with looking for candidates from those areas, companies should, and already did source candidates from more than CS degrees. But the company should do that because those candidates were qualified, not because they have to hire to sastify a demographic composition requirements for the company
I thought the tech industry had pioneered the idea that a degree shouldn’t be the yard stick that all potential hires are judged against. And yet every time there’s a discussion about diversity in tech it’s the first excuse brought up. Suddenly a CS degree is a necessity.
If fund managers are on average no more lucky than just following the market then it'd stand to reason it doesn't matter what their degrees are in because they had no real skill to begin with.
My own experience of finance has been that jobs are handed out in ways and for reasons that would seem extremely lax to someone from the tech world.
Why do you assume there won't be a similar (or worse) gender bias in those fields too? And if you expand the search in some way or loosen the requirements, then you can't do it only for women, that wouldn't be legal. That's why there is a real pipeline problem that needs to be addressed by getting more women into STEM.
Not only is there a financial incentive (if you get people new to the field, you can pay them less until they get a new job or sufficient raises, and this is a benefit for both parties due to the lessened educational cost), it also creates loyalty out of almost nothing.
If not university classes or a bootcamp-like setup, apprenticeships would probably work amazingly for the purpose.
b) suggesting that those people should be paid less is immoral
Because 1) there is a feedback loop that does show that having role models at the end of the pipeline does help the entire pipeline. 2) It is easier than restructuring the entire pipeline than admitting that it is a societal problem rather than big bad Google being sexist (I'm not saying Google isn't sexist).
This is kind of a pattern in problems that don't have smoking guns. We like to pretend that things are first order problems (problem causes an effect, directly) when most problems are pretty high order and complex. First order problems are usually easier to solve because they have a clear smoking gun. You take care of the bad person that fired the gun and the problem is solved. I actually suspect that this is an evolutionary problem, being that most of our early problems could be approximated by first or second order and thus increase our survival rate. I'm also pretty convinced that we've solved most of those now, and thus that line of thinking doesn't work for modern problems.
But for part 1), if you have the flu, tissues help. They don't cure the flu, but they help you from preventing the spread and alleviate the symptoms. So if you take my preposition about first order problems, I don't think it is hard to see why people would get stuck at that stage. Essentially "we did something and it had a positive effect. So let's keep doing that thing!" That's not bad logic. You admit that they do have __a little__ control over the constraints, so it isn't surprising that they have __a little__ impact. The failure is not continuing to look for more potential solutions and stagnating. Just need to do some PCA, find the other factors, and push on those (as well as what we've already found to have positive effects). But this is much easier said than done, and I think that is part of the problem. Difficult problems are tautologically difficult, but we as a society like to pretend there are simple solutions (come on, admit it, you do this too).
So why do we do this? Well, how many people do you know break down complex problems into multiple components? I know very few, and even then they don't consistently do it.
I'd argue that they would just start cheating. Which I think that there is evidence that this is happening (some being given in this article).
The assumption you're making is that everyone who is capable of doing a dev job manages to get one, so if you remove all the hiring biases all those people will continue to get dev jobs and nothing will really change.
That assumption is wrong.
There are thousands of people who can't get dev jobs for reasons other than lacking technical ability. Some hiring managers filter out candidates before the make it to interview for absolutely stupid reasons. Some companies have hiring practices that are plain stupid and select out capable engineers for dumb reasons. If hiring was a multiple choice exam those people would be able to enter the industry and there'd be fewer companies with unfilled positions.
Also, even if you don't think it'd have much of an impact on the numbers across the industry, the numbers at the specific companies that have bad hiring biases obviously would change. That could be useful.
I think the idea behind diversity targets is an implicit assumption that they do. In subtle ways like how/where they advertise, and in more obvious ways like funding educational programs etc. It's there that diversity programs/targets need to start, not at the hiring stage.
Its entire premise is "there aren't enough women with CS degrees, there is a pipeline problem, here are some things to get around it".
I doubt it is. You’re writing off all the self-taught coders. You’re also writing off all the non-coders.
Most companies seem to think they want a 10:1:1 ratio of engineers:designers:product managers, etc.
I think 3:3:3 would be better, and makes your issue go away.
But we have this worship of “engineering” as some sort of magical thing that happens in a vacuum and requires no cross-discipline input.
Meanwhile every tech company I’ve ever worked for is pathologically rewriting the same code over and over, bashing their heads against the same tech debt over and over, and regularly wasting millions of dollars Building The Wrong Thing.
Heck we should probably have 10:1 masseuses and 10:1 psychotherapists on staff. Productivity would strictly increase.
It's not surprising if the strategies such as diversity quotas are not effective. Because they're not meant to be effective. They're meant to virtue signal. Ergo they are meant to only redirect people's anger towards an ineffective end, not to create an actual improvement.
For another example, take a prevailing narrative in fake feminism that continually tells women they are disempowered victims. This doesn't help bring balance, it only helps disenfranchise women.
Of course, if that were true, why would anyone believe any of these narratives such as diversity quotas? Because they provide the fake victim fake payoff: there's something very compelling about not having to be responsible for your problem but instead being able to blame someone else albeit incorrectly. It's very satisfying and an effective means to redirect anger towards a ineffective but satisfying ends. It's very compelling for people and gets them hooked.
Another place these fake payoffs are used to manipulate people is in terrorist recruitment. You can sublimate raw economic issues and individuals dissatisfaction into blaming and hatred towards another state, you can create armies of willing footsoldiers.
I'd suggest there's a further parallel between armies and the "Twitter armies": legions of ideologues willing to crucify anyone who dares disagrees.
So it's not surprising these so-called strategies do little effective. they're not meant to, they're meant to preserve the status quo. And they do that by the simple psychological mechanism of redirecting people's anger towards something ineffective.
Oh it can be done, it just requires reducing the number of male employees in one way or another. Everyone wants to believe the utopian ideal of perfectly-balanced ratios of employees can be achieved without someone getting the short end of the stick, but reality says otherwise.
So Google wants to reflect the consumer base, so I guess we can take that to mean ~50% female devs?
It is very politically unacceptable to object to this intellectually lazy reasoning.
Which includes a good portion of extremists of all kinds, illiterates, drug dealers, etc. And of course, half of it is made of people with below average IQ.
You want your company to employ the people that are best at the job, not a cross-section of the population along some randomly chosen axis.
Perhaps if you went back to the days of women's liberation and somebody said "what next, gays?" they'd get dismissed too. That might be right, but it's possible they really saw it as a serious issue before its time.
And if people aiming for diversity don't have 50% as a goal, somehow I have never seen them name another number that they would consider satisfactory.
Also, just because you have a goal to aspire to doesn't mean you can realistically meet it. Suppose if every high achiever in a school wants to be valedictorian, but only one of them will make it. That in itself doesn't mean it's a pointless goal.
How? If I interview a bunch of people for programming positions and pick the 10 best men and 10 best women, which group do you think will be best? Statistically I have considered several times more men than women, so the male group will almost surely be stronger. The only way to avoid this is to intentionally pick bad men, or if I just randomly ignore 83% of their resumes.
It's just looking for people who are better than (some arbitrary skill level).
More men than women could bench press 160 lbs, but if your hiring bar is 'we hire people who can bench 160 lbs', you can trivially find as many people from either gender as you want.
Also, if you are buying a car with the goal of being able to accelerate from 0-60mph in under 4 seconds, and you have to choose between two cars priced exactly the same, but one can do it in 3.9 seconds and another one in 3.1 seconds, why would you pick the 3.9 car over the 3.1 one, even though the 3.9 one meets your requirements of under 4 seconds just as well (assuming all the other relevant characteristics are equivalent or about the same)?
I'm not sure if you realize this, but change always seems impossible until it happens. 10 years ago it seemed completely impossible that Facebook would have 1B users, let alone the ~3B it has now.
The same 10 years ago it seemed impossible to that gay people would be able to marry, and even 4 years ago the idea of a Trump presidency was considered a joke.
Change is and will remain hard. That doesn't mean it isn't desirable nor does it mean that people shouldn't bang their heads against walls to make it happen.
I was shocked by how quickly this was downvoted. It went to -4 in minutes! I didn't even think anything I said there was particularly controversial. I think it's pretty well established that social change is hard.
Ironically, in my experience, the companies who figured this out a decade ago are the major finance companies. Hire anyone with a pulse, put in the effort to train them, be the only company on the block that isn't active treating these populations like shit, the you get retention rates that are unheard of in tech (especially for such comparativly shitty jobs by metric of pay and interesting things to do). Talent is there, tech companies just choose to ignore it and play into the existing biases ( and out right misogynistic streaks) that already exist.
Maybe 50% is a perfect ideal, but, don't let perfect be the enemy of better. We absolutely should be loudly shaming those at the top that "just can't find talent".
But, why, though? Are you saying that women as a group are less capable of completing CS degrees than men?
I'm, personally, not really a fan of programs that are trying to shuffle people into a specific degree to improve employment representation rather examining what skills are necessary to do the job in the first place. The university as proxy for job training model, I feel, is perverse and doesn't necessarily serve students nor employers.
Instead, the problem is often that they have such a bad time, in those programs, due to the existence of a toxic culture, that they don't want to put up with that crap, and instead leave to get a job in industry that has a less bad culture (because they have other options).
Unfortunately, toxicity on all stages of the pipeline tends to drive out people who would be good engineers, but instead decide to do something else, because they have alternative options that don't suck so much, for cultural reasons.
Whenever I see anything related to affirmative action being discussed nowadays, I think that it's only a matter of time until Asian women are treated the same way as Asian men. Once you've managed to close the gender gap in engineering, you have a new problem to deal with -- a lack of diversity among women engineers in regards to race and socio-economic class. A continued pursuit of diversity will require discrimination similar to that exhibited by prestigious American universities.
My coworkers (past and former) and friends who are women SWEs overwhelmingly fall into two buckets: American-born Chinese with parents who are middle-class or higher, and PRC-born Chinese with wealthy parents.
I get the strong impression that gender diversity is viewed as more important than race and class. I'm a male of color who has been in the industry for more than four years now, so I no longer have to worry about breaking in. If I were applying to CS programs or looking for my first job right now, I would feel some resentment. I've convinced and helped three of my friends to do a career switch because there's just so much assistance (financial, educational, and otherwise) available for women. From what I've seen, there is just so much more provided to help women get into the field.
I commend the big tech companies for lumping male URMs and all women together when it comes to prioritization, but this isn't the case for most companies, who are expending great effort on balancing the gender ratio while treating men of color as second-class URMs, or even ignoring their status completely. It's fortunate that the best jobs are the most fair, but even if a place sucks, a first SWE job is still a first SWE job.
What I predict will happen is the gender gap will begin to close, but the aforementioned diversity issues not related to gender will remain. This will be due to a combination of various factors, with the most significant being fatigue with affirmative action practices, and that discussing socio-economic and race is much more sensitive than discussing gender, Saying "stop hiring men" or "only hire women" is easy, even if you are asking people to discriminate against candidates similar to themselves. "Stop hiring Asian women" is not. And if you are willing to make that request, why would anyone listen?
Of course those people are going to succeed more than the average Americans who did not have to go through those filters, somehow being subject to harder selection became an unfair advantage?
You know the easiest way to bring down the average achievement of Asians? Invite a bunch of poor, uneducated, unmotivated Asians to become US citizens, soon those new arrivals will drag down the averages, making Asians into whichever socio-economic group you want.
> some fact about all white people
> basing on it, assesing statement about Americans
Americans are not all white people (in fact, many of them are not white), so you can't make statistical statements based on that.
I think part of this is just the free market at work. Some companies will pass on great talent to meet diversity goals and those that are focused on hiring the best people will end up giving themselves a better chance at succeeding
At least in the US actually admitting to having gender biased hiring would have to violate a half dozen anti-discrimination labor protection laws, no? Universities are doing affirmative action because there is no legislation mandating they not be sexist in their enrollment whereas corporations don't have that freedom in hiring.
Affirmative Action is requirer by law:
"The order specifically requires certain organizations accepting federal funds to take affirmative action to increase employment of members of preferred racial or ethnic groups and women... quotas based on an analysis of the current workforce compared to the availability in the general labor pool of women and members of racial minorities. "
On state level, it depends on the state. Some have laws or constitutional amendments that prohibit affirmative action.
URM = Under Represented Minority (I think)
PRC = People's Republic of China.
The blanket catch-all term "Asian" is not doing this conversation any favors. You assert a monoculture, but Asia is a huge region with many cultures, not a monolith. South Korea is unlike India is unlike the Philippines is unlike Vietnam is unlike Iran is unlike China.
Can you narrow this down so we understand what kind of monoculture you're actually talking about?
At the very least, name the Asians you're talking about. India and China, for instance, seem to have a lot more representation among US programmers than other Asian nations.
If, as an manager at a FAANG, you say "it's a pipeline problem" you're probably saying that there aren't enough candidates because not enough women graduate from ST programs. If you're a program development person at a university you're probably saying not enough enroll. If you say it as a high school guidance counsellor you probably are saying there's not enough push for girls to do well in science and math classes and apply that to their higher education even if there is.
The point is that whatever stage of the pipeline you're at, if you want things to improve, you have to work with the tools at your disposal. You can't wait for universities to both increase enrollment and increase graduation (two separate problems as well). As this post points out you need to look for other ways to find talent that bypass that problem and recognize that the path to your job for a minority in your field will probably look drastically different to yours. It's just never going to be enough to wave your hand at the problem and blame the stage before you.
The post does get at this for sure, so I'm not really criticizing it for its conclusion, but the first couple of paragraphs build a strawman that I think is very unhelpful to understanding the nature of the problem.
A silly example: if your job description said "We only hire men" (and this weren't illegal), then even if your entire interview process were unbiased, you're probably going to end up with fewer men.
There is an argument that individually and as a whole, the tech community has been sending a message of "not for women" in various ways. If this is true, then the communities complaining about the pipeline problem could both be unbiased and a significant cause of the pipeline problem.
I consider sexism to be a subset of bias, so this is an interesting take. I do not think your example shows something as unbiased, because I consider the statement "We only hire men" to be biased.
However, I think GP was using the term bias in the way I tend to think of it which is measurement bias; that is evaluating male and female candidates differently from each other, so I was pointing out a way in which the candidates that show up to interview can be biased in a way which is definitely the fault of the company.
And another point: moving through the pipeline takes time. So e.g. if you're working on university recruiting and trying to fix the input bias at the high school->university interface, you can't expect to see improvement at the output (university->job) earlier than in 3 to 5 years. But the "it's not a pipeline problem" activists rarely have that kind of patience.
"you cannot expect to make things better than they are at the input of your pipe segment", unless you're willing to start doing corrective discrimination - i.e. throwing overrepresented people out from the pipeline.
> Paradoxically, the sex differences in the magnitude of relative academic strengths and pursuit of STEM degrees rose with increases in national gender equality. The gap between boys’ science achievement and girls’ reading achievement relative to their mean academic performance was near universal. These sex differences in academic strengths and attitudes toward science correlated with the STEM graduation gap. A mediation analysis suggested that life-quality pressures in less gender-equal countries promote girls’ and women’s engagement with STEM subjects.
Male over representation in STEM fields is probably due to their other options being poorer compared to women. Men generally have high math scores only while women with high math scores also have high reading scores.
> What they find is that comparative advantage (math ability relative to reading ability) explains math intentions better than actual math or reading ability. Comparative advantage is also a better predictor of math intentions than perceptions of math ability (women do perceive lower math ability relative to true ability than do men but the effect is less important than comparative advantage). In another data set the authors show that math intentions predict math education.
> Thus, accumulating evidence shows that over-representation of males in STEM fields is perhaps better framed as under-representation of males in reading fields and the latter is driven by relatively low reading achievement among males.
In plain English, this is just saying that STEM is seen by women in those countries as a way to economic advancement, which is why they embrace it at higher rates.
This is especially the case in a country like India, which I suspect represents a significant sample of their study.
Added to this, despite those countries having higher overall gender discrimination in, they don't share the US's particular cultural tropes (themselves of pretty recent creation) that imply that women are inherently worse at STEM subjects. Indeed, among middle class educated Indian families, expectations of STEM achievement are as high for girls as for boys, evidenced by the large number of Indian women who became doctors even 2 generations ago.
That educated middle class population is who the tech worker population is being drawn from, which is why their gender representation in tech shows more parity. The paper referenced confuses the overall population for the sample population.
Also, it's not that similar discriminatory tropes don't exist in places like India, but instead of gender, they are projected over other classifications, like language or social class. As a result, the representation of certain linguistic groups and social classes is higher among Indian tech workers, regardless of gender.
> "you cannot expect to make things better than they are at the input of your pipe segment", unless you're willing to start doing corrective discrimination
Hum, no you can't. All you can do is change the local distribution in some place, at the expense of slightly biasing the other way everywhere else.
Not in the short-run. But the reason working on the pipeline is valuable is that discrimination includes negative feedback loops. When people who would be entering the pipeline look for role models and success stories and don't find any, they're discouraged from trying. So while there are of course diminishing returns in investing in a dry pipe, if one is interested in changing the status quo, it's valuable to keep the investment a bit above the break-even point to encourage flow upstream (flow that, one must remember, will take half a decade or so to show up as a pipeline increase, depending on how long you measure the pipe to be).
Last I asked this question, I was referred to the orchestra blind audition study (Goldin et al), but I'm pretty sure that was data from 1950s-80s, from a different industry, and didn't actually demonstrate a significant effect when accounting for large error margins.
Downvote me if you like, but at least explain the reasoning for those of us following along at home. In the worst case it's an opportunity to evangelize your point of view.
As far as I've ever seen, this plus occasional anecdotes, no actual data.
> Last I asked this question, I was referred to the orchestra blind audition study (Goldin et al), but I'm pretty sure that was data from 1950s-80s, from a different industry, and didn't actually demonstrate a significant effect when accounting for large error margins.
Forget the large error margins, it didn't have the effect everyone "knows" it had . It even benefited the men instead of the women at certain points.
But that's basically just complaining that there's no quick and easy fix to your hiring problem. Well, too bad, maybe it actually is a really hard problem that you're going to have to work really hard at for a long time. If there was some relatively trivial solution like "have all hiring managers do this diversity webinar" then I'm sure the problem would've been solved already.
In other words, to the extent that there may be a pipeline problem, that is your problem.
I don't know about that interpretation. I think a better interpretation would be that diversity advocates would say "if you haven't fixed the problem yet, you should continue to work to fix the problem, even if it takes more time and effort than you initially hoped."
Are you saying that the people who are receiving a biased mix should introduce an opposite bias to counteract it before sending on to the next step, or not?
Possibly I am misunderstanding what a "pipeline problem" refers to.
Wow, I'm experiencing some deja vu. I feel like I already (like, a year or more ago) sent this comment and got a reply, but I don't remember what the reply was.
... Ok, I think this is the thing that doesn't make sense to me:
>> wherever you try to improve the pipeline, you cannot expect to make things better than they are at the input of your pipe segment.
> But that's basically just complaining that there's no quick and easy fix to your hiring problem.
I don't understand this response. Saying "It is impossible to do x without doing y or z", saying "That's just complaining that it is hard to do x without doing y or z. Tough, that's what you have to do." doesn't make sense.
Responses that could make sense include "It actually is possible to do x without doing y or z, and that is what you have to do." or "You have to do x, even if it means doing y or z, even though doing y or z is hard".
Were one of these forms what you were saying? (Note : it is very possible that I simply misunderstood what you meant. This is the thing that I think I will probably conclude if you respond.)
The options that I can see for hiring people are:
Introduce an opposite bias when hiring in order to counter-act a bias in the input
Don't do that, simply work to not introduce any additional bias, and accept a biased result in the output
Somehow(?) act in a way that works to make it so that the input received is not biased
(or options worse than any of these)
If you are counting "the input" as meaning "the set of people who apply" then I suppose you might be able to influence "the input" by changing where you advertise the position, or things like that,
but that seems to me like "potential applicant -> applicant" is just another step in the pipeline, and if the inputs there are also biased, then the same trilemma applies.
If one removes all the bias potentially introduced from each step which one can directly control, then one can no longer directly remove introducers of bias.
And I don't think smalltime company TUV's role is to work to change educational outcomes and the like, and therefore if this and its predecessors are the only remaining sources of bias, I don't see how it is their problem.
That's not to say that those are usually the only remaining sources of bias. I wouldn't be surprised if many such companies do introduce bias which they can and should address, but if the claim is that they should produce an unbiased output despite having a biased input which they cannot influence, then the only thing that can follow is that they should introduce a bias in the opposite direction.
1) the input is not actually biased
2) the company is responsible for making the output less biased than the input (or produce an unbiased output from a biased input)
3) the company is responsible for making sure that they don’t cause the output to be more biased than the input, (but you are not saying that it is responsible for more than that)
3’) The same as 3, except that the amount of bias in the input, while nonzero, is small and relatively unimportant
4) The company is responsible for preventing the bias in the input
5) I (drdeca) missed an option; none of the above (if so, please specify the option I missed, which can be the case while none of the above are)
My leanings are that either (2) or (3) (or 3’, but that is just a subtype of 3) (or 2’, but again that is just a subtype if 2) is the case.
Bias exists and is a problem. It is worth spending additional resources to draw additional samples from the underrepresented population in order to offset that bias. With more samples from that population than the previous pipeline stage would provide if you sampled evenly, you can counter some of the bias without adjusting any standards of quality (capability) based on the population being sampled.
If you are a member of the overrepresented population, you will have a smaller chance of being hired with this intervention. But for someone who is hired, their skill level will be independent of what population they belong to. (Women will not be given an easier interview. They will be more likely to be offered an interview in the first place.)
Whether that is "fair" depends entirely on how you define fairness. This procedure stacks the odds against a man. Our current overall system stacks the odds against a woman. Both can legitimately complain about unfairness.
Thus, it's largely irrelevant that the percentages in earlier stages of the pipeline mean that there's no way for the overall balance can reach 50/50 through only later-stage interventions. Where did this magic 50% figure come from? The only point is to improve the percentage from where it is now. The issues that prevent achieving 50% are real, but don't prevent progress anywhere in the pipeline.
I imagine the additional costs of sampling more from a smaller population would rise dramatically the closer you try to push the outcome towards 50%. So companies will have to decide how much they're willing to invest. Fortunately, there is still real value in pushing beyond the status quo even if you don't get to 50%.
(More generally, the magic number is not always 50%. It's the proportion of the URM in the overall population. 50% is roughly the female part of the population in areas advanced enough to have these sorts of jobs available.)
It also seems possible to me that such an intervention might reduce feedback loops which cause the bias in the input anyway. Like, if women who are aware that a smaller proportion of the people employed in a field are women than the proportion of people in the population, maybe they might see that as a factor weighing against picking that field as one to go into? (of course, some might find it a reason to pick that field. I just mean that it seems possible that there is such an effect on average),
and so, the #2 intervention might reduce such a feedback loop problem, if such feedback loops do exist.
It also means that success often requires acting like a man, even when that is neither natural nor optimal for the situation. That's one reason why more than minimal diversity helps -- if there is a benefit to be had from diversity, you may not get it from having an "only" who is pressured to fit in.
 If you don't think diversity is important, then that's another discussion altogether. In this thread I have been operating under the assumption that we agree it is important (and in fact I personally do).
That means that in my view it's just not reasonable or acceptable for a company to say "diversity is really important to us, but we tried some things like diversity training for our hiring managers, and that hasn't worked, so we looked up some statistics and we have concluded that it's a pipeline problem so we can't be expected to do anything about that."
I don’t see any conflict between this and the list of options that I listed.
Do you think that my list of options is missing an option, or are you refusing to pick one?
If the latter, why are you refusing to pick one?
Do you think that the list isn’t logically valid?
I am asking simple questions which I am aiming to make as easy to answer as I can, and you seem to be dodging the questions, and are instead responding with an accusation.
It is a simple question, and I left a clear option for in case the question would otherwise accidentally presuppose something false.
You absolutely can. You can do so by not overindexing on traditional pipelines that have large amount of discrimination in them, such as top CS schools.
IE, if you are more willing to interview people from less discriminatory sources, such as bootcamps, then you can get around other, worse pipelines.
I am not sure why people aren't aware of this, and think this question is some sort of gotcha. These industries are indeed trying to get more male representation.
But, since engineers make a whole bunch of money, it makes much more sense to be worried about representation in this industry, because of all the power and money that it confers to people who have these jobs.
People have been fired from Google for suggesting exactly that.
Damore's memo (which I assume is what you're talking about) absolutely did not attribute Google's lack of women candidates to a lack of graduates in the pipeline. It went with a straight on (and largely unsourced) "women are biologically different" argument. Wikipedia's page on the controversy is relatively good: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google%27s_Ideological_Echo_Ch...
And even that didn't get him fired per se. He got fired once it went viral and embarrassed his employer.
"James Damore was spurred to write the memo when a Google diversity program he attended solicited feedback. The memo was written on a flight to China. Calling the culture at Google an "ideological echo chamber", the memo states that while discrimination exists, it is extreme to ascribe all disparities to oppression, and it is authoritarian to try to correct disparities through reverse discrimination. Instead, it argues that male/female disparities can be partly explained by biological differences. Damore said that those differences include women generally having a stronger interest in people rather than things, and tending to be more social, artistic, and prone to neuroticism (a higher-order personality trait). Damore's memorandum also suggests ways to adapt the tech workplace to those differences to increase women's representation and comfort, without resorting to discrimination."
In terms of pipeline argument, the memo can be viewed as arguing that the pipeline is biased at every stage, which is "partly explained by biological differences", and that it's wrong to try and solve this by reverse discrimination at the tail end of the pipe (i.e. throwing perfectly good candidates out to improve the ratio). Instead, the memo proposed means to reduce the bias near the end of the pipe without resorting to discrimination.
 - Note that some of the differences - "stronger interest in people rather than things, and tending to be more social, artistic, and prone to neuroticism" - can be also plausibly explained by social factors (instead of biological), but that's orthogonal to those differences existing and biasing the entire pipeline.
"I’m simply stating that the distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and that these differences may explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership"
"Abilities" is the operative word there, as in women, on average, aren't as able. Pointing that averages don't imply individual ability doesn't make it better.
See also Sundar's quote:
"to suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK ... At the same time, there are co-workers who are questioning whether they can safely express their views in the workplace (especially those with a minority viewpoint). They too feel under threat, and that is also not OK."
Except that quote doesn't imply that women are less able. You could read it that way if you wanted to be uncharitable of course, but strictly speaking, that sentence simply says that women have different abilities, not lesser abilities. One way that sexism presents itself is an underappreciation of valuable skills, where traits that are typical of the dominant group are recognized as valuable and marked for advancement instead.
This is a standard feminist claim about work place sexism, and so a charitable reading of your quote is basically agreement with the prevailing wisdom.
> Pointing that averages don't imply individual ability doesn't make it better.
Sure it does. If you've made it, then you clearly have the skills required to be where you are.
"6 foot tall basketball players are at a serious disadvantage in the NBA". This is a clear fact. However, height doesn't determine individual ability. This too is a clear fact. Therefore, 6 foot tall players that make it into the NBA should feel reassured that they earned their place.
> he was fired because he made women felt excluded and othered
There was nothing exclusionary about the memo, and "othered" is a meaningless term. He was fired because his memo caused a PR nightmare, and through no fault of his own.
> See also Sundar's quote: "to suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK
Also not something that Damore claimed. This whole debacle has been a grand exercise in strawmanning.
> One way that sexism presents itself is an underappreciation of valuable skills, where traits that are typical of the dominant group are recognized as valuable and marked for advancement instead.
I agree, but Damore positioned the differences in gender abilities as a "Possible non bias cause" and not because of systemic sexism (of or relating to "implicit (unconscious) and explicit biases are holding women
back in tech and leadership").
> "6 foot tall basketball players are at a serious disadvantage in the NBA". This is a clear fact.
This is a bad example because, unlike height in basketball, there is no evidence that dimorphism in humans (size, psychological, hormonal or otherwise) causes any difference in preference or ability in tech culture or software engineering in general.
> There was nothing exclusionary about the memo
You're welcome to that opinion, but many at Google felt otherwise.
> and "othered" is a meaningless term.
The editors at M-W feel otherwise  and a one sentence definition is returned by most dictionaries and at least one search engine.
> He was fired because his memo caused a PR nightmare, and through no fault of his own.
Again, you're welcome to this opinion but that doesn't change the original claim that he was fired for merely having an opinion about "pipeline" issues affecting the speed at which the gap can be closed. That claim would be uncharitable.
That quote is plain stupid. I assume my colleagues to be all qualified for the job because they've been hired according to the same standards.
If my company only hires people that is more than 1.80 metres tall, I'm not diminishing the height of my female colleagues if I suggest that the reason there is a gender imbalance is that women are, on average, shorter.
That's your interpretation, and isn't mentioned in the Wikipedia page nor the original memo.
Both the memo and the Wikipedia page discuss the changes Damore suggested making at Google, not anything about changes in the pipeline.
Yes, it's my interpretation. I quoted Wikipedia to show directly (the quote is self-evident) that GP is misrepresenting the very article they're linking to, and I then followed with reinterpreting that quote through the lens of the "pipeline argument". As far as I recall the memo (I read it two years ago), Damore didn't explicitly talked about pipeline, and yes, his suggestions were entirely about what Google should and shouldn't do.
The OP's comment seems closer aligned to what Damore's actual argument was (as opposed to your interpretation).
1. There are few women engineers at Google because there are few candidates in the pipeline.
2. women generally having a stronger interest in people rather than things, and tending to be more social, artistic, and prone to neuroticism
I don't see that at all. The only way you get there is to assume a common causality. But that assumption (that some people are inherently bad at coding) is offensive if made without good science. You can't start with bad pseudoscience and "prove" that Damore was fired because he pointed out the pipeline problem!
2) is presented here as a plausible explanation of 1). The connection is very clear, so the validity of that view depends entirely on the validity of point 2) itself. Damore presented a boatload of links to research supporting that point, and plenty of other people did too. See e.g. SSC's take on it here: https://slatestarcodex.com/2017/08/07/contra-grant-on-exagge....
Now one big aspect of the whole drama is that 2) is being rejected out of hand as offensive wrongthink. The concept that men and women may have different interests is considered sexist, and instead a narrative of systemic oppression is proposed. Another big issue with the memo is that a lot of people couldn't - and a lot still can't - understand the fundamental concept that you cannot take population-level statistics and use them to pass judgements on individuals. Just because a certain population doesn't like X on average, does not mean that a particular member of that population currently doing X is somehow wrong or unsuitable because of that. Damore didn't make this mistake, but was widely accused of it (and from what I remember from reading the memo two years ago, he repeatedly warned the readers against making this mistake).
I would posit that men and women have different realities, thus different needs. This shapes interests.
It's not wholly unassailable, but needs to be approached differently than goals like "achieve x percentage of women in tech" are typically approached.
Personally, I feel the issue of gender balance in tech is approached completely wrong from every direction. The goal should be to give opportunity for anyone who wants to join and excel in the field, and to let them feel comfortable and safe in it. But the topic became a battleground for interest groups that demand fixed ratios and discrimination in their own favor, and there's also the strong confounding factor of money - IT is currently one of the easiest, if not the easiest, way to make lots of money with little training and up-front investment, so the media spotlight is focused on tech (vs. other occupations).
I agree with this, but I'd just note that the shift isn't as dramatic as you are making out.
Computing was a woman-dominated field until relatively recently in history
The field of computing started in the 1950s (generously). Worker proportions are difficult to estimate, but the maximum proportion of female computer science degrees was 37% in around 1987. In 1986 The Atlantic noted that "[in the federal government] only seven percent of the employees in the top five CS [pay grade] ratings were women, while more than three quarters in the bottom grades were."
This is also unlikely to be due to some inherent biological differences and instead reverse prejudices; women were assumed to be more patient and reliable and were favored in both human computation and telegraph / switchboard work.
Sure, this is true. But it's a pretty different job to programming.
Also typing pools, which is another job that has disappeared.
I posted something of a "case study" in this discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21695925
It's currently downvoted and has one not very nice reply. I guess it's far less of a shit show than it really "should" be, but this is kind of par for the course. People want to believe that sexism is some nebulous problem "out there" and it's not anything they, personally, are doing and if you try to point out what can be done differently in the here and now, well, people are offended and use that to justify doubling down on mistreating people who are already suffering from social exclusion based on gender, skin color, whatever.
I've had college classes in things like Social Psychology and Negotiation and Conflict Management. I'm a woman and I was one of the top three students of my graduating high school class and then I spent about two decades doing the full-time homemaker thing and wondering where the hell my life went wrong that I didn't get the two-career couple modern American dream that I had expected.
So I know a lot about the space. I've read a lot of books on women's issues and I spent a lot of time in therapy and so forth, but most people don't really want to hear what I have to say. It makes them uncomfortable.
Some points I have been trying to make on HN for years:
1. Most men will not genuinely engage me in a substantive and positive way that leads to some kind of professional development or professional opportunity. They either argue with me or they hit on me. Neither fosters the kind of professional connections I need.
Among other things, I need people to talk with me in earnest about my work. I need people to promote my work, which historically has just not been done. Only recently has anyone other than me apparently posted any of my writing to HN that wasn't basically mud slinging and gossip.
And I think I can't get that primarily because men basically are nice to women when they are looking for sex and that's pretty much it. And they actively avoid being too nice to any woman they aren't trying to sleep with for fear of it having some kind of negative outcome, such as an unintended affair or career-damaging gossip.
2. I need income and no one really wants to hear that. I was a homemaker for years and the things I'm good at combined with my gender cause people to feel that I am supposed to do nice things for them out of the goodness of my heart because I care like I'm their mother. I have a pretty good idea where that pattern comes from, but it's a broken mental model that harms the incomes and lives of a great many women. This shitty expectation that I should benefit others for free out of the goodness of my heart was hung on me even when I was literally homeless.
Decades of trying to sort out my own problems and reading up on what happens with other women has me convinced that the lack of ability to seriously connect with men socially in a professional way is a huge barrier to professional development. I'm convinced that a lot of female-led startups fail because they don't get those small nudges about what needs to happen with the business or code base that men get from having a beer with buddies or whatever and discussing it casually. So pivots happen much later and involve much larger changes and it's deadly to a lot of businesses.
I've been on HN for over a decade. Only in recent weeks do I have contacts via HN with men who will talk with me via email about something other than personal bullshit. I've been exchanging emails with two different men met through HN about housing issues.
Two contacts is something I should have been able to come up with in the first year, not more than a decade later. Everyone else has basically either emailed me to bond personally while doing not a fucking thing to further my professional goals, was actively trying to victimize me because they were shitty people, or they were hitting on me or they were writing me basically out of pity as their good deed for the day and not because they really had anything meaningful to discuss with me in earnest.
I feel I've been endlessly patient with a truly appalling situation and it hardly budges and if I get frustrated and upset because I'm still dirt poor and still can't make my life work and my gender is a very large factor there, then I get amazingly shitty feedback like it's somehow my fault for being rude or something. So basically no matter how virtuous I am, it's never enough and there is always some shitty BS excuse to blame me for it.
This boils down to "People don't really want it to change." It doesn't directly negatively impact the men here that they are aware of, so not their problem that there is a woman in their midst who routinely can't afford enough food to eat every day.
I'm quite fed up and if I had some means to go postal and murder a bunch of people that in my mind are "at fault," I probably would at this point. I just have no means to somehow blow up HN and multiple people met through HN.
I no longer know what to do. Being patient, diplomatic, articulate, long-suffering and blah blah blah isn't solving it. At the rate I'm going, I might have a middle class income in another hundred years, assuming I live that long and it's mind boggling to me that people who routinely claim they are interested in addressing issues like sexism are amazingly content to continue to basically step over my body in the gutter and mutter to themselves "Not my problem."
So the world isn't likely to change because the world doesn't actually want to change. It would rather look for excuses and justifications than viable solutions.
You're not wrong....but I'm in no way, shape, or form surprised by this gender dynamic. Although I think the "career-damaging gossip" is a fairly recent phenomenon. Enough men have had their lives destroyed by either awkward romantic attempts on their part or flat-out lies on a woman's part that guys have reacted in an entirely rational manner by simply avoiding females. The assumption is that there is NO professional benefit to the guy that is worth the risk.
My (totally unsolicited) ¥2 is you probably need to overcome that assumption very early in any conversation if you expect assistance.
>>>I just have no means to somehow blow up HN and multiple people met through HN.
Do some social engineering to reveal their physical locations. Then strap tannerite-based nailbombs to UAVs? As long as we are brainstorming here...
I've been celibate for medical reasons for over 14 years. I've been a member in good standing here for over a decade. I've gone to great lengths to avoid trouble. So far that seems to benefit me just enough to not yet be banned and that's it.
And it really shouldn't be that way. And I don't feel any good would come out of digging into those details here and now.
That's good for a chuckle, but the reality is I'm far too poor to do anything like that. I'm not exaggerating when I say I routinely don't have enough money for food.
If I could come up with the means to assassinate six or ten assholes across the globe from a distance, I probably would be wealthy enough to pay cash for the building I want and would, therefore, have no reason to be sitting around stewing and wishing a few assholes would choke to death on their next bowl of soup.
(Also, really, modern tech is currently one of the most family-friendly profession out there, because of demand surplus. I think GP is talking about women living a different reality than men, not about women not wanting to go to tech strictly because of it.)
The concept that men and women may have different interests due to biological differences is extremely sexist, yes. For all the sources Damore cited, there's an entire body of academic work (and an entire cultural revolution in the United States spanning upwards of a century) to the contrary on that topic specifically. A large chunk of the feminist movement was and is women and men actively working to prove that biology is not a limiting factor in what women can choose to do with themselves.
Had he kept his comments to a realm of "men and women might have different representation in computer engineering because they have different interests on average," he would have been treading on thin ice with people disinclined to assume good faith but could have probably kept his job. Attempting to hang the causality on biology really did him in (and when his memo became public, it put Google in a situation where they ran serious risk of tolerating a hostile work environment if they kept him).
That's got nothing at all to do with what was being suggested.
Saying women have different "interests" -- or priorities, which is a better word in my opinion -- isn't suggesting they are incapable nor suggesting society should constrain their role. It's suggesting they have agency and make choices which fail to serve some abstract narrative about the theoretical importance of so-called equality of the sort that gets debated and hypothesized about in articles like the one under discussion.
I was a homemaker for a lot of years. Self-proclaimed feminists have a long history of being incredibly ugly to me.
I'm not the only person who has noticed that feminists are basically openly hostile and contemptuous towards homemakers:
What we should avoid is choices being constrained by assumptions about what you want because of your biology (such as the assumption---clearly illegal to act upon but still acted upon nonetheless---that young women are a higher-risk hire and promotion because they probably want to leave the workforce to raise a family in three years). Assumptions like that constrain women who do want a career because the company is going to invest in the male employees who are assumed to be in it for life.
You talk about women and their lives as if what they want is or should be the driving factor in their lives. I don't think that's accurate at all.
A serious career woman I was close to for many years had serious fertility problems. After many years of intervention, she managed to have one child in her mid to late thirties. She had read enormous research and concluded that infertility was a driving factor in the lives of many career women.
Careers and children are both serious commitments. Studies show that every dollar invested in our small children for things like preschool saves multiple dollars down the line on things like prison.
I enjoyed being home with my sons. They both have special needs and I have a serious congenital defect that wasn't identified until my mid thirties. Getting a diagnosis was extremely empowering and allowed me to be able to more effectively pursue school, work and even a divorce at long last.
But to a large degree being a homemaker was not something I chose. To a large degree, it was a circumstance foisted upon me by circumstance beyond my control.
I'm not a feminist. I see feminists as people who feel women are entitled to a career as if a spiffy title with a big salary is a prize in a Cracker Jax box that unfairly is handed out to men arbitrarily based on the dark heart of society being a sexist pig. This attitude is fundamentally disrespectful of both what it costs men to have a real career and what it takes to adequately raise healthy kids.
Society is not going to solve these problems as long as it continues to chase this insane delusion that children are a casual choice no harder to get or avoid than picking your lunch from a menu.
Our current mental models throw everyone under the bus, men, women and children alike. Many women soak up a lot of the damage to lessen it for their children which is the morally and practically correct choice given the shitty state of the world. But we shouldn't be designing a world like that. It's evil to design a world where that's basically the norm and not some bizarre stastistical outlier.
I wish most self-proclaimed feminists would go die in a fucking fire. They are generally worse than most self-proclaimed Christians who all too often are just assholes giving Christianity a bad name.
I would like to see the birth of a post feminist world where we deal realistically with the thorny issue of human sexual morality, including the fact that sex can lead to pregnancy and this can have huge consequences for the lives of the parents. I hate labels but I tend to think of it as a humanist model, which to me means a model that is humane and cares equally about men, women and children.
The feminist narrative mostly cares about women having serious careers and it mostly cares about empowering a subset of very privileged women to live their lives like very privileged men. The reality is that when you have a very privileged woman who has a serious career and also children, it's usually some less privileged woman raising her children under a title like nanny.
Our current feminist narrative pretends that it wants equality for all. It actually doesn't.
It actually wants equality between a small subset of very privileged upper class women and very privileged upper class men and it expects that so-called equality to come largely at the expense of lower class women working as maids and nannies to make it possible for a few upper class two-career couples to "have it all."
Career paths must be reimagined if we are ever to escape this bullshit. Our current career paths are posited on an implicit assumption that the worker is a heterosexual man with a wife and kids to support and her labor is freeing him up to put all his time and energy into the job while she worries about making sure he eats healthy and arranges to make that possible for him. That pattern served humanity well when most families had multiple children and it improved quality of life for men, women and children.
The world has changed and our mental models are failing to adequately catch up. We aren't going to invent better ones while chasing bullshit delusions based on ridiculous ideals that cannot actually be achieved and are actively undermining the claimed goal of creating a better world.
Is "what they want" the driving factor in men's lives? If so, it's a somewhat fundamental principle of American cultural philosophy that we do all we can to make the option available for women too, if they want it. To do otherwise is to abandon the notion of "created equal."
The American experiment may be founded on flawed reasoning there, but it's going to be a heck of an uphill battle to convince people that's true. A battle I'm not going to fight because I'm on board with the "created equal" notion.
European women asked for help with carrying the burden entailed in bearing and raising children. They asked for things like maternity leave. America is the only wealthy, developed country on the planet that still lacks a strong national maternity leave policy.
American "rugged individualism" is a delusion. It always has been. It serves the needs of women especially poorly.
Once a woman gets pregnant and has a child, she needs other people to help her raise that child, like it or not. We can't do what some mammals do of hiding the kid up under some bushes while we go get food.
Society as a whole has to make it easier for parents to do right by their kids. America has an atrocious track record in that regard.
And women like me are the ones that get ROFLstomped in the process, often while very much benefiting other people. I spent a month playing nanny for my sister and her child. She got a serious career. I still am failing to pull that off.
It's a narrative that actively seeks to trade gender-based inequality for class-based inequality. And then that class-based inequality has a strongly gendered bent to it. You don't typically see men working as nannies and maids.
I find it abhorrent in the extreme.
I would probably start with  and .
Paper  concludes that sex-based differences in risk tolerance tangibly impacted approaches to spatial navigation AND program development.
There's a few others on spatial cognition and mental information processing: . Paper in particular links spatial cognition to mental modeling, which was identified in  as a software engineering skill. And  directly connects it to navigating source code.
 is behind a paywall. It appeared in the "2006 22nd IEEE International Conference on Software Maintenance", which is a pretty good indicator that this is not work done by social scientists, i.e., not scientifically backed. I have worked in science, the good papers appear in journals highly relevant for the topic.
 and  are not about software engineering.
 is also behind a paywall, and is based on a study with 24 students.
As I can't access the full-text papers, what is the reported strength of the effect, i.e., if person A is x% better than person B in spatial recognition, how much better is A in software engineering?
edit: here is a study presenting evidence that spatial skill differences in gender are not biological, see https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2013-38414-001. Without paywall: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Mike_Stieff/publication...
CS isn't some magical field that floats on air. In fact, it's mostly a miserable profession with managers who don't understand how it works, cooped up in an office the whole day under artificial white light while sitting on your ass.
There was a version initially floating around that had all the links removed.
Calling that "sourcing" is essentially trying to treat Damore's fundamentally political document as an original piece of social science research.
Damore never made such claims. At the population level, it does indeed seem like women tend to be more interested in people-oriented subjects (nursing, pediatrics, law) and men tend to be more interested in thing-oriented subjects (engineering, compsci, surgery).
So even a discipline like medicine which has roughly gender parity, you still see segregation along gender lines, where women are overrepresented in subfields which deal directly with people (pediatrics, obgyn), and men are overrepresented in subfields which treat people as things (surgery). So a theory that delineates things vs. people has good explanatory power for explaining gender disparities .
Furthermore, Damore never claimed that such tendencies aren't "fixable". He claimed that the discriminatory policies currently in place are not only completely ineffective at influencing the gender numbers (and so should be ended), but that policies that take this research into account would be more effective.
> Calling that "sourcing" is essentially trying to treat Damore's fundamentally political document as an original piece of social science research.
If you're actually interested in a proper analysis Damore's claims by actual researchers in this field, I suggest reading .
The one time I worked on a team of all highly senior people you couldn't get any of us to do anything. We were always writing code to do the thing for us. Which sounds okay at first, until you started trying to trace through all that code and then holy shit, we have made a terrible mistake.
On any project there is a mix of tasks that are perfectly suited for mid-level developers, and a set of tasks that are interesting enough but relatively low risk that you can use to train up low- and mid-level people for something meatier. Many of those tasks are also perfect for introducing new team members too.
If you aren't constantly trying to make 90% of the tasks simple enough for a boring team member to do then I don't know how you prevent the overall complexity of the system from eventually swamping you all. There are systems that look like they avoid this but if you look hard enough there is almost always one or two people who are holding the system hostage, and if they don't want something done to the system, it's not getting done, no matter how many customers leave. Eventually power overshadows merit and you get an oligarchy instead of a democracy.
One has to keep in mind that the things should be as simple as possible, but no simpler. Otherwise, you risk ending up with the stereotypical low-skill Java Enterprise shop, where inexperienced and not particularly skilled developers end up writing (or autogenerating) code by kilolines, where if someone better trained were to stop and think for an hour, it could all be done in 100-1000x less code, and with similar improvement in maintainability.
There is a time and place for really sophisticated code, and people will just have to expend some effort to understand its behavior at least, if not in fact how it accomplishes it. If that's leaking throughout the system then it's likely a code smell.
I'd like to reiterate that the statement you quoted was made in the active voice. It's a process. As you add things to the system you should be looking at all of the pain points around it and amortizing the cost of addressing those issues. If you don't arrive there around the time the system begins to gel, but before calcification, you will never arrive. But if you try to get there from day one, you'll pick the wrong priorities and you'll certainly end up in that Enterprise hell you mention.
What I see happen is that people grow with the project, memorizing one thing after another without ever appreciating the weight of it all, and then one day they have to hire more people because someone left, and all of a sudden they're terrified of letting that person do any real work. Because how could they know? Absolutely no effort has been expended setting new people up for success, and the token efforts feel more like sabotage than help. Then it takes years of their lives to memorize all the same stuff and really, I believe you should be investing that time in something more worthwhile. I'm living through that again and it's every bit as bad as I remembered.
For example, when reading an old codebase, if I invest 20 minutes in determining why the code differs from the documentation, I add a comment saying `NOTE(gen220): the code does not match the comment. The reason appears to be X. We might resolve this with Y or Z`. That, or update one of either the code or the comment, whichever makes the most sense in the situation.
That way, a new team member (or myself, but 2 years older) won't have to stumble in the same places, and are empowered to take a stab at fixing the problem, which has been documented for them.
Personally, when my idiosyncrasies are so-documented, I feel much safer handing things off.
Myself, recently I've been more often producing fresh code than working on someone else's, so I ended up aggressively documenting design decisions in code - most of them in top-level file comments, and the more local/tactical decisions within the scope they affect. I try to do that simultaneously with writing the code, because unless I write things down immediately, there's a good chance I'll never go back to put them in.
# check to see if the user has a cart. The default state for
# users is to not have a cart. The original implementation
#created a cart for every visitor which resulted in 10s of
#thousands of unused carts.
# if the cart does not exist only create a new one because
# they are adding an item. You can never assume the user has
# a cart.
as I read code that isnt mine and figure out what it does, I write comments like the above about why I think it works that way. I will sometimes date the comments. You can do that with your own code as you make modifications or additions. It adds minimal overhead and is tremendous for when you go back later.
For a check like if i > 5 then do something I have seen comments like "check for i>5" which is obvious. I would want something like
# Im hardcoding a 5 here because <bad reason> so that when
#<whatever I represents is > 5 then we do <some stuff>
Most of tech is what I would consider "trade school" level work. That is, it's not really any harder than if you went to trade school for HVAC. Sure there's lots of thermodynamics and air flow stuff involved, but you don't need a physics degree. You just need training, and experience is 90% of the job qualifications. People routinely overestimate the importance of their "skill" at most jobs.
This is a popular trope among non-programmers, and I can see why they’d like it to be true (it would make hiring a lot easier!) but actually yes, these jobs _are_ that hard. They’re hard because they’re constantly changing. Environments change, languages change, tooling changes, team structuring changes… and the programmers have to keep up. What may have been easier for, say, a self-taught PHP developer who doesn’t really know how databases work, or how networks work, or how operating systems work, or how HTTP works, ten years ago is much harder for that same developer without a decent grasp on the fundamentals trying to get their head around, say, React. There are easier jobs in “tech” like project management or testing, but developing software isn’t one of them.
The issue is that heretofore the best proxy for candidate quality is educational background, hence the pipeline problem. And you definitely fix that by going around the pipeline. But we shouldn't be blind to the fact that this has costs. You need to see a lot more bootcamp grads than Stanford alums to fill the same position. It's a cost worth bearing, but still a cost.
Note that the same argument works as evidence against recruiting bias and pay disparity. Discriminating against people or paying them less due to factors unrelated to job performance is leaving money on the table. Such discrimination persisting would imply that the market is very inefficient in this aspect.
This is literally what is happening at many companies, quite often. I know so many female developers who have, in the past, said things like "Oh, I'd never work at Uber". And because of this, Uber has to pay their engineers a lot more money, because they can't attract any female employees.
Skiping on diversity initiatives is not just immoral, it is dumb. And you will lose money because of it.
The problem isn’t FAANGs, it’s the rest of the smaller companies that have gone from 20% female to 0% because they can’t compete with google’s salary package and supply really is limited at that stage in the pipe. If you work at a non-FAANG, the problem has gotten much worse than it was 10 years ago.
Another 'easy out' is to simply lower the bar for female applicants