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Ask HN: Why was the article "Don't Just Ask" killed?
33 points by RyanMcGreal on Dec 2, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 13 comments
The Atlantic article "Don't Just Ask: Why Women Don't Negotiate" by Megan McCardle [1] was killed, even though it had 105 points and 100 comments.

Do we seriously think this isn't an important or legitimate issue, or that it's not worthy of discussion on HN?

[1] http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3302364

IMHO: It was logically weak and largely anecdotal. It made reference to a study where the name was changed from a woman's name to a man's name. We don't know when the study was published. We don't know if that was just one example out of many that conveniently illustrated her point.

All the rest of the article was based on her own experience (sample size: 1 woman) and nothing else. This makes it very different from the anonymous post on Reddit recently about salary negotiation. In the case of the Reddit post, the author had hired hundreds of people and probably was talking about a statistically significant sample size.

Very weak article overall. I would have commented on the Atlantic about it, but there's no comments section.

The correct rebuttal to the OP on Reddit would be a double-blind study where women and men with the same résumés were interviewed for the same position with subjects given the same HR instructions as the OP. The men and women are each broken up into two groups (for a total of four), each employing the salary negotiation tactics described by the OP.

my guess: YC batches being almost exclusively sausage fests pg's posse prefers to avoid subjecting itself to potential criticism wrt gender discrimination, thus the topic is best not raised.

personally i found the article quite illuminating that the topic one worthy of HN debate.

I'm surprised. The article was pretty informative and the comments page was actually pretty good, so the usual reasons for flagging stories like that do not apply.

Possibly it reached a flag threshold? (Blind guess.)

Okay, but that begs the question. Why did enough people flag this article to have it auto-killed?

My guess would be machismo, mixed with an American Dream mentality.

Here the Zeitgeist here in HN: you own your own destiny. If you succeed, you made yourself. If you fail, that is your fault. If you have a problem, do not complain (it's not productive), just suck it up and go solve it yourself. We could go on inserting typical right-wing libertarianism here. Sure, not everyone here thinks that way. But many do.

On to why this article was flagged. Simple: It responded to a man which told women that their low salaries were their fault, and that solving that problem was up to them. And it was written by a woman who simply said they tried and it doesn't work because it is largely men's fault.

In other words, she dared complain and made excuses for what cannot be but her own failures (or so would tend to think a typical right-wing libertarian male). Also everyone knows that the flag link is meant to be used like Reddit's down arrow (even if it's false).

It was political. There are many other forums online already dominated by discussion of sexism, racism, class inequities, etc...

It's surely a highly practical issue for women negotiating pay. And negotiating pay doesn't seem to be regarded as off-topic here.

Introducing gender divides is off-topic, though.

That rather depends on which side of the divide you find yourself.

Hi RyanMcGreal.

I have been kind of wondering if my remarks were part of why it got flagged to death. Of the 103 comments, I made 11 of them. I actually made a couple more that I then deleted but which were up long enough they could have been read by someone. I was having a really bad night and deleted those two remarks because I concluded I was too fried and they were probably on the inflammatory side without meaning to be. I have a long history of really upsetting people on certain topics. I usually try to be pretty restrained when posting on such topics. However, short of sleep and having just gotten an eviction notice, combined with not getting ugly replies to my remarks, I was far less restrained than I typically try to be on such topics. I find such topics fascinating and tend to not have much outlet for really discussing them in a satisfactory manner. Gender issues tend to be touchy issues where both sides get really defensive, which tends to not support meaty discussion.

I have hesitated to wonder out loud about this. I'm not interested in taking all the blame or something like that. But it is a thought that has crossed my mind and I thought it might be meaningful to you as an individual. A great deal of what goes on in any forum is driven by social aspects like pecking order, who is friends with whom (that you might not be aware of), emotional reactivity of some members and so on. I have a very serious medical condition which often leaves me in pain and feverish, so I am prone to foot in mouth disease. I was molested as a child and being willing to tell my story is what saved me, so I tend to be very "out of the closet" so to speak and prone to being very comfortable discussing topics that other people are typically far less comfortable discussing. My story makes me a sympathetic figure which means people are sometimes tolerant of "bad behavior" on my part that they wouldn't be so tolerant of from just anyone (not that I think expressing my opinions on gender topics constitutes bad behavior, but I realize it tends to be disruptive or disturbing behavior, which is much the same in the eyes of many people). For that and other reasons, at times I seem to be a perfect storm of how to push everyone's hot buttons.

I actually started an anonymous blog to give myself a place to talk about things like that without stirring up so much trouble on forums I belong to. I think I generally do better these days at "behaving" myself (ie restraining my big fat mouth on topics where I know I make others really uncomfortable). But I wonder if perhaps it was killed in part due to the combo of my lack of sleep and eviction notice leading me to share my views perhaps too generously on a topic where it is generally wise to tread more lightly in public. I also wonder if this post is recreating the same error. I still don't know where I will go on January first and, though I've slept better this morning, I'm hardly caught up on sleep. I like analyzing such things but it tends to make other people really, really uncomfortable and tends to put excess focus on me in a way that often leads to trouble. Given the level of financial trouble I am in currently, I'm not sure it matters much in the grand scheme of things how this one post gets taken.

It's offered as food for thought, in case that helps you (or anyone) figure out better ways to deal with some of the issues on the forum that you would like to see improved.


Hi Mz, I went back and re-read your comments on the other piece, and while I obviously couldn't read the comments you deleted, I didn't see anything in the comments you left to indicate that they should be considered inflammatory. If people are willing to flag a post based on your comments, that in itself indicates that there's something wrong with how the tech community regards women. Even the excuses posted elsewhere on this piece suggest the double standard that's going on: significant, reproducible gender imbalances in pay and other treatment are "politics", but a snarky post by Gruber is Serious Business.

By the way, I'm sorry to hear about your troubles, and I hope you can resolve them without too much disruption.

As for the gender stuff: I think it's actually fairly common for men to react negatively to me in part simply because I am female. Here and now is probably not the time to start publicly navel gazing in that regard. I'm short of sleep. I need to be in to work early. Blah blah blah.

As for my personal troubles, I just need about $75,000 to clean up my financial mess and start my life over elsewhere. Thinking of taking up a collection. Donations or assistance spreading the word or what not are very welcome. It's really a drop in the bucket compared to what my medical condition is supposed to cost to treat. And it feels very unfair that the unconventional approach I took, which was both so much more effective and so much cheaper than conventional treatments, is simply not covered by the state aid, federal aid, charities, and insurance that would help cover conventional treatments. It bites.

Take care.

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