Othering is when you make someone feel as if they don't belong in a community, that they're different from other people there. Making stupid (racist) Asian jokes about the only Chinese-American member of your team. Writing flyers that assume that your entire audience consists of a certain type of heterosexual man. Even something small, like constantly poking at the fact that one of your fellow hackers also has an MBA. The list is endless.
Usually it's best to not call attention to such things at all, even in a positive way. Telling someone how awesome they are for being different is still making a big deal about how different they are, as opposed to helping them fit into your group.
All of these things make those people feel as if they don't belong on your team or in your community. It doesn't matter if you think it's "in good fun" or "just a joke". It doesn't matter if you think "oh, it's not really sexist". It makes people feel unwelcome. It's dumb, pointless, and it's the responsibility of any hacker to just not do it.
Othering can happen in any community that is dominated by a relative homogenous group. It turns off many hackers who might want to work with you. There is nothing inherently "straight upper-middle-class Caucasian male" about wanting to build a working product; stop acting like there is.
Whilst yes, ostracising people doesn't help. Humour and sarcasm are effective team building/social tools, and "sledging" or "poking fun" are effective ways to build long term teams. Just spend time in any sports team (male/female/mixed) and you'll see this kind of joking around is abundant, and actually helps the team (not hinder it).
I think it is more nuanced than you say, humour has to be combined with empathy to make sure you aren't offending, but at the same time, making light of differences with people helps people see past those difference (obviously within reason).
If I'm the only one in my company that does martial arts, I can expect jokes about having to be careful when having an argument with me. If you have a nest of pet snakes or always cook the same lunch or have an MBA, you can expect specific jokes, when contextually relevant. These things differ from being Asian or a woman in the fact that they are choices people made and that these choices can be considered reflections of this person.
Of course you can take the pointing out of such differences too far, to the point where it seems you feel this person is defined by a specific difference, as you constantly point it out. In acceptable quantities, making jokes and laughing together is quite healthy and it would be a shame to do without, even if you are yourself the subject of the joke.
Look at it this way: differences do exist, and they're going to be acknowledged, even if they're totally inconsequential. Artificially suppressing occasional acknowledgment of differences - race, height, gender, religion, and sexual orientation being, I think, the "big five" - isn't going to do anyone any good. I would make the case that jokes about these are in fact important in any "accepting" (or whatever buzzword we're using today) culture, and that failing to ever acknowledge them in "polite conversation" only teaches that these differences are a bad thing. Which isn't the right message.
I think you're probably (P =~ 70%) talking about the qualitatively different phenomenon in which a single member is repeatedly singled out for othering on a daily basis - but it's easy to confuse the two, especially when focusing on something as subjective as language and social interactions. However, the latter (let's call it "bigotry", shall we) tends to come with other symptoms that do more direct harm - let's address them directly.
Are you a straight white male? If so, you probably shouldn't be generalizing your own experience to everyone who isn't.
Try talking with some people who aren't. Neil deGrasse Tyson is one of many examples of people who have spoken out on this topic, and there are many open source advocates who can give you their own experiences. Lydia Pintscher of the KDE project (and author of "Open Advice") has much experience with communities and such problems.
Artificially suppressing occasional acknowledgment of differences
Nobody ever asked you to do that.
only teaches that these differences are a bad thing.
If someone wants to make a point of a difference they're proud of, they'll do it themselves. Don't force it upon them!
Close. Bisexual. Good guess though. /sarcasm
> If someone wants to make a point of a difference they're proud of, they'll do it themselves. Don't force it upon them!
I fundamentally disagree with this. That's not to say that people should be dragged kicking and screaming into acknowledgment of trivial differences, but occasionally being reminded, in a friendly environment, that those differences do exist - and more importantly, that nobody cares - is incredibly important.
(Of course, some people do care, and that's a problem. But you don't get it fixed by attacking the surface symptoms!)
This is the sort of argument liable to rapidly descend into flaming, and I'm happy to leave it here if you are. ;-) (Although I will bring it up again the next time another one of these links is posted.)
FWIW, I still feel constrained by the hetero-normal taboos of our society, and the fact is that this happened after I was already married and was reading while caring for my second child. However..... I was spending two hours a day reading while taking care of my second child (feeding him, holding him while he was asleep, etc. Wonderful times.
Anyway, I was reading Plutarch's "Life of Lycurgas" where he talks at length about sexuality in ancient Sparta. Plutarch is a witty and very interesting ancient author. I have enjoyed reading most of the works I have read by him. Anyway, he talks at length about the social functions of pederasty (from other sources, presumably non-penetrative) and wife-swapping in ancient Sparta, and the upshot is that both of these have to be seen, if we take him seriously, as back-bone institutions on which Sparta's political structure was built (reading van Gennep's "The Rites of Passage" has only further solidified this view in my head btw).
Anyway, this brought up an interesting question for me. In our culture we say that sexual orientation is something people are born with but is that really true? How fluid is this really? Logically, the only answer I could provide given the material I had read was that it had to be fairly fluid, and that if I was born in such a society, I would probably be happy living out these norms. That puzzled me for a bit.
But then the realization hit, and that was that these things are deeply fluid. You can't cure someone from being "gay" and make them "straight" because these are both artificial restraints. And all the sudden, the male body became erotic for me. The female body never lost the eroticism attached, but I began to see how sexualized the male body could be also.
So I don't know what these categories even mean anymore.
I can't speak for the other guy but I was until I discovered through reading history how artificial a concept that was.....
First, humor is a way of managing tensions. It can create, dissolve, and transform tension from one form into another.
One of the real problem trends in America today, IMO, is rewarding hypersensitivity to taking offense. The problem is that it is possible to deconstruct a sufficiently large corpus by anyone to find something arguably worth taking offense to by today's standards. Thin skin should not be rewarded, but that's what happens when we focus on the negative side and place all the onus for change there.
A better approach is focusing on the positive side. Welcome people to your team and empower them. Trust them. Where they have relevant differences (that MBA on your hacker team) take that into account perhaps making him a go-to-person for business questions relating to the software? Focus on being what you want to be, not avoiding bat things. That means that jokes, etc. are far more likely to be offered in good faith and taken in good faith than they are if tensions are already of a bad kind.
LedgerSMB under my leadership has done quite well with a very diverse group of contributors. Nearly a third of our committers and contributors over the history of the project are women (noteworthy because that approaches commercial software development gender gaps rather than the larger gaps of open source), and we have people contributing from at least 5 continents (none from Africa yet to my knowledge). In the process we've had contributors whose countries were talking about going to war with eachother a few years ago (Colombia and Venezuela).
Moreover one could take your approach to othering to the other extreme, welcoming a talented woman as "one of the guys." Even assuming this has a welcoming effect, would this really reduce the level of sexism in place if the environment is male-normal?
I find it interesting that you describe yourself as preferring to be a liminal figure, as do I (know that I know the word - which my spell-checker still does not), and we're both getting DV'd to oblivion on this one.
Have you read Victor Turner's works on the subject btw?
1) Why do words matter so much? I often use derogatory terms to refer to people, even my friends. I do it for fun (like black people calling each other "niggas" (at least in the movies, I assume also in real life))! I often do it to apparently offend someone, just to reverse it immediately after that by saying/doing something positive. Actually, I would be really offended if someone would put so much emphasis on my words as to completely disregard my actions! Sure, as you say, it can make some people feel unwelcome, but in reality, I sometimes want them to feel unwelcome, not because they are different, but simply because they prefer words over actions. I don't want to be around such people.
2) Sometimes, people just are different, and it's really strange to deny that. I live in Slovenia, and black people are really rare here (as are Hispanic; Asians are less rare, they come as tourists a lot). That means that when I see a black person, he will be different. I will almost certainly stare at him, maybe even comment that he's black. That doesn't mean, however, that I will treat him any differently when it comes to business. When I studied in England for a year, I didn't feel that black people were different. I actually had a black man as a roommate, and it was really great to see that his skin color didn't matter to him in any essential way, just as it didn't to me. (Attractive women are different too, I like watching them and doing things with them! But it has nothing to do with being her a woman, it has everything to do with her being attractive.)
3) If I understood you post correctly, pointing out that one of your fellow hackers also has an MBA would be something he would be ashamed of... The thing is, I think you cannot really make other people feel bad, you can only make them feel worse, when they already feel bad. An MBA person could also be proud of his MBA, and then nothing anyone would say could insult him; he wouldn't even interpret this as insults! I sometimes feel this about fat people... I have nothing against people being fat - be my guest, it's your body! However, only when they are perfectly OK with it! But I'm really annoyed when someone is fat and is whining about how they can't lose weight no matter how hard they try... Well, guess what, you didn't try hard enough (there are other priorities that are more important in your life). So, either try harder (get your priorities straight), or accept yourself (accept that losing weight is not your priority). Again, it doesn't matter if someone's fat or not, what matters is their lack of resolve.
You can however make them feel unwelcome. By continually hassling someone about their MBA (or race or gender or sexual preference or how they dress or whatever) you are effectively saying that you'd rather have someone without that particular feature, but for now we're stuck with you so we'll have to make do until we can fix that problem.
Feeling like no one in you group really wants you around, but are forced to put with you, will quickly break down most people.
Anyways, in addition to the annoying beer plug, let us observe their other typos:
"Massages: take a brake [sic] from hacking to unwind."
"NO Idea Guys: security is on strick [sic] instructions to bounce anyone who can't code."
"NO Slow Internet: Let's make buffering a thing of the paste [sic]."
Clowns indeed. This is the sort of thing that makes me ashamed of my profession, my culture, my gender, everything.
The organizers' apology is:
"While we thought this was a fun, harmless comment poking fun at the fact that hack-a-thons are typically male-dominated, others were offended. That was not our intention and thus we changed it."
Which completely misses the fact that the other items on the announcement seem to be written by a 11 year old or someone after downing quite a few beers.
Here's the point though: Getting super worked up about this idiocy and saying "THIS is why there are few women in tech", as some tweeters did, is not constructive either and trivializes the problem of women (and minorities) in tech.
But then there's the quiet majority who could go either way - this kind of thing says "Working in technology isn't for you. You're not welcome here".
Not really the message we want to send to people we'd like to attract into coding as a profession / hobby.
Which is not to say that "BEER WENCHES HURR" isn't better avoided. Have some class, people.
The notion of being "irresistibly drawn to the work" seems very shallow and amorphous. Would you (or I, for that matter) still be irresistibly drawn to it if the pay were dramatically worse? If the status were worse? If the working conditions were worse? If people systematically objectified you and your gender?
Following through with that example, do you think we should make day-to-day life worse for software developers to drive the-less-than-committed out? Maybe have hazing rituals or public shaming? Force interview candidates to walk through hot coals? Endure a persistently hostile and alienating workplace? It's all the same bullshit.
Regardless of the whole "learned skill vs. natural talent" question, the ability to make software well is an aptitude, it's not a calling. It's not (and shouldn't be) the priesthood.
People like teachers and writers and musicians and i-bank analysts are treated like dirt because there's a surplus of them, and the work is being rationed to the ones with the greatest need to participate in their industries. I suppose there's some level of hellishness (say, minimum wage, a continually-ringing phone, and no testing) that would so overwhelm the privilege of writing code that I would eventually only do it on the side, wasting most of my life in a day job doing something mediocre. And there's a lesser level that would shake out only the duds and frauds, like turning the squelch dial on a radio. But it isn't going to happen anytime soon. In the current shortage of developers, even though the industry as a whole would be better off ramping down the astonishing pay and perks which have started attracting people we can't use, each employer defects and tries to outbid the others.
Which is why I get concerned at proposals to bring in a lot more disinterested people. Harassment is not an ethical tactic to keep them out, though; I think I draw the line at outreach.
I love a chance to find common ground. I think that we can agree that harassment can drive good people out and that outreach can bring bad people in.
It shouldn't be a goal to pull in disinterested people, but to create a culture in which the interest isn't unnecessarily smothered in half of the general population. People are complex, and can be pulled in by one facet of something (vintage corvettes are kind of cool) at the same time they are repelled by other facets of the same thing (I don't want to look like I am having a mid life crisis).
As a man in technology, I am pulled in by lots of things, but repelled by others. Lack of meaningful diversity in the culture is one of the more repellant things for me.
Getting super worked up about this idiocy and saying "THIS is why there are few women in tech", as some tweeters did, is not constructive either and trivializes the problem of women (and minorities) in tech.
I would argue that pointing out the sexism of the ad doesn't trivialize the problem of women in software. It's a multi-part problem. Society primes girls not to go into technology as it is ("Math class is tough!" says Barbie). When college-admitted students begin the process of choosing a career and choosing a major, society will weigh heavily on their choice.
Some women remain interested in technology despite this. And when they make this choice, the industry has to be ready with open arms to embrace women. If society does not make female programmers feel welcome, and neither do their peers and mentors, we see low numbers of women in our field. We have to do our part to eliminate the feeling of otherness in what is currently a male-dominated field, or female participation will continue to remain low. Sexist ads set back the entire industry by saying to talented potential engineers that they are not taken seriously.
(i) Not all technical fields have the gender gap, e.g. in biological and agricultural studies 51% of PhDs were awarded to women in 2009, whereas it was 22% in engineering and 27% in math and computer science (so engineering is worse but people usually don't tackle, say, the gender gap in civil or electrical engineering) (http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/09/14/doctorates);
(ii) It's a widely popularized finding that, when adjusted for gender equality in the country, the gender gap in sciences, e.g. math, disappears (http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/32949/title/Math_...). This fits in with your society influence theory. Yet, AFAIK (the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo aside) the hacker cultures for those top (generally Scandinavian) countries are still dominated by males (can't point to a study, anecdotal evidence, will be happy to retract if given convincing evidence to teh contrary).
Agreed. To me, the apology boils down to "We thought this was funny and harmless, but not everyone agreed. In order to keep people interested in our event, we changed the text."
According to the Department of Labor, Microsoft is doing worse than the field as a whole.....
Interesting perspective. Could you please elaborate?
My thoughts on the subject are:
1) There is a gender imbalance in the tech community, regardless of how you slice it (e.g. founders, developers, etc.).
2) Many people when faced with what they perceive to be sexist language, take it to be a political statement rather than the idiotic flyer (as in this case) or the casual blog comment(e.g. http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3602762, which caused a firestorm on HN) that it is.
3) Don't get me wrong: I'm against crude use of sexisms such as this one, GoDaddy commercials, photos of women in bikinis on Rails conference slides, booth babes. The point is that these offend not only my anti-sexist sensibilities but also my intelligence, so even if I were sexist I would still be offended by these and ask for their removal, on the grounds that they show that the mental model of me that the people responsible have is a brainless, easy to manipulate moron.
4) However, thinking that eradicating the above will lead to considerably more women in tech, I think, is mistaken. I believe addressing the issues that are less obvious but more influential in consciously or subconsciously turning off women is more important, e.g. rather than getting worked up when somebody uses the word girl in a post, thinking about the "cool" but male-oriented terms like code ninja that are prevalent in job postings (e.g. all of the 10 types of programmers mentioned here are all male oriented: http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/10things/10-types-of-progra...).
Recommendation & personalization technologies are acquired as fast as they are launched. You could be next!
^that made me laugh harder than the women statement.
Why? It seems clear to me, based on their actions, that Cloudmine's intentions are good and that they don't mean to blame the victims. Comparing this post to other blogs and Twitter messages, I think I see why, and it's the same reason the post doesn't quote or directly link to API Jam: it's written in a different register -- "professional" communication.
It's absolutely necessary to do that if your company takes a public action, like pulling sponsorship, and needs to publicly address it. What interests me here is that the non-apology-apology is creeping into the English language by sounding "more formal", because our ruling classes use it so much (and no one seems to care when they're called out on it). So, I hypothesize that whoever wrote this up was trying to stay calm, detached, and respectful, and unconsciously hit on this rhetorical device because of it.
Note, I do not think that CloudMine is under any obligation to apologize for other people's actions, or that the writer is stupid. I'm just rubbernecking a collective lingustic maladaptation.
It says under 'Great Perks':
Women: Need another beer? Let one of our friendly (female) event staff get that for you.
They are offering to give women a beer? Why is that bad? Is it because they are assuming only women drink beer? That seems the reverse of the stereotype if anything.
Edit: I think I got it - they are assuming the women will drink beer and not participate intellectually? Is that it?
Personally I would assume you would drink and participate at the same time, so maybe that's not it.
What it actually says, under the benefits for attending is "Massages, Live DJ, Gym Access, Food Trucks, Top Shelf Booze, Women, 5 Hour Energy, Perfect Fuel."
Hence the colon after "Women:" isn't addressed too women, it's clarifying how the women will be delivered to you as a perk, just like chocolate, massages, and gym access.
It's incredibly objectifying.
Out of context, it appears as though they're addressing women directly. In context, they're offering women as a 'perk' to a male dominated event crowd.
So, where does it say 'Men'?
But, enthusiastic young event promoters aren't the most enlightened crew. (Indeed, too much enlightenment could kill your chances of launching a hot new bar, 'energy drink', or various other kinds of youth-oriented events/venues/local-deals.)
So there's a message here about culture and the reckless generalizations of youth, but not especially one about tech events. (Other than: at a tech event, this sort of thing is noted and corrected very quickly.)
As with a dog and a carpet, sometimes shit happens. The dog only learns slowly, and by the time it learns: there's another puppy making the same mistakes. Give quick and firm feedback – one wap with the newspaper! – and get a correction/apology, but don't dwell on it. It's not something that stains everyone vaguely associated to the Nth-degree.
(Not because they shouldn't apologise, but because there are better ways to do it than spam.)
If the flyer reflected the spirit of the event and the attitude of the organizers, I'm glad for the heads up so I know not to attend, free beer notwithstanding.
Especially since there are a few other (related) fields that seem to have a slightly lower jerk quotient.
If you are offended by this you need to get some thicker skin.
However... That doesn't mean I'm unaffected. If I saw this sort of "perk" for a local event, I would pass on going. If this was the prevalent mentality for all hackathons (or any sort of event) I would probably just not consider going to them an option. When you already have to deal with the assumption you're not really into tech or a competent coder in your daily life, having to deal with being confused for waitstaff/eye-candy on top of that is just plain frustrating. A company that sorts this sort of mentality is most likely I place I wouldn't want to work at, just as individuals drawn by this sort of perk are not the type I want to meet.
In some alternate universe, where tech was a female-dominated industry, how would you feel if it was condoned and accepted that local tech events featured muscular shirtless men in tight pants serving cosmos to attendees? It might not be reason for offense, but it's definitely not desirable/pleasant (assuming you're a heterosexual male).
*I think the people who should be (and probably are) offended are the would-be attendees and sponsors whom the organizers assumed would agree with that statement and all the implications it carries.
No, whoever is offended by this is exactly right. They do not need a thicker skin.
Now, I know feminists have tried to redefine the term into [anything they don't like], but that is a pretty good illustration of what intellectually dishonest offense seekers they are.
Do you think the kid who calls everyone she dislikes gay – and thus uses homophobic language – really fears gay people? No, because that's not really what that word means, even if the dictionary says it means that. That’s how language works. Misogyny describes a very specific kind of sexism, and that’s just the case here.
Peace out from a dishonest offense seeker.
Not all heterosexual males that are interested by such events are undersexed hormone bombs that care more about women than about actually building cool stuff.
I find this sort of behavior insulting to our trade.
If you don't get this, then you are missing a lot. Generally speaking men on average will enjoy themselves a lot more if there are pretty girls around. There is a restaurant in town that serves Swiss Chalet grade food in town but all the chicks wear miniskirts and look like models. Even on a week night it is packed with businessmen tipping extravagantly. Sex sells, and sex appeal is a real perk.
The problem is that what is a perk targetting 90% of the target demographic and appeals to probably 85% of those, happens to be off-putting to minorities some want to attract into the industry.
And I wouldn't argue with that. In the short time I was in Japan I blew I don't even want to think about it levels of money on hostess bars and just about all the other sort of fun you can imagine.
But really, there's a time and a place for that sort of thing and a hackday/tech-conference just isn't it.
> The problem is that what is a perk targetting 90% of the target demographic and appeals to probably 85% of those, happens to be off-putting to minorities some want to attract into the industry.
I'm in an ethnic minority for the industry and I simply do not care about attracting minorities. What I do care about is the mountains of gold in them there hills that are ready for the plundering when we learn how to start selling software to women. Having female engineers will probably help with that.
No, no, a thousand times no. The gaming industry used to think like that. Ernest Adams explained the fallacy of that thinking most eloquently in his article "Games for Girls? Eeeeewww!" 
You don't want to "sell software to women". You want to sell software to your target userbase. You want to sell software to people whose problem that software solves. Unless your software is solving a specific problem that only women have, then you're not "selling software to women".
I am saddened by the implication here that selling good software that solves problems for everyone should somehow be less lucrative then exploiting cultural norms and stereotypes.
This mindset is something that we, being in a new field, have a unique opportunity to overcome.
I'm not sure I did imply that. I don't think we're particularly good at selling software that solves problems for everyone to women.
If the software truly solves problems for everyone, why should we have to pick a marketing strategy that segments the population of potential users (previously stated to be everyone) by sex or gender?
The pointlessness of this "perk" is what bugs me the most. It's an API hackathon - how is it relevant to include a statement that basically says: "nothing better than hawt women bringing you beer, amirite?"
That sort of copy has the target demographic of potential Hooters customers, not programmers.
Sexism aside, if I'm some place where I intend to get some coding done, pretty girls in short skirts are only going to distract me.
(this is not a good thing.)
Either way, you are treating women as objects, as perks, as things that men want to look at. And you are treating men as cavemen who want to see women all the time. These ideas have affected (and are affecting) society in a bad way. By using women in that sense, they are promoting the idea that women can be used in that way if you like.
Interesting article here covering sex (not gender) gap: http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/programming-and-development...
...and then there's the actual BLS stats here (ftp://ftp.bls.gov/pub/special.requests/lf/aat11.txt) which suggest something like 20% females in the workforce.
In the game industry, at least as of the IGDA survey in '05, we see something like 92% identify as straight (http://archives.igda.org/diversity/IGDA_DeveloperDemographic...).
So, we could back-of-the-envelope that perhaps a figure of 75% is reasonable, and 85% is not absurd as a guesstimate if you don't fact check.
I'm so glad my co-workers occasionally manage to focus on the work at hand instead ;)
However, you can go about this in a refined way, e.g. Dell's "fashion campaign", http://www.writingfordesigners.com/?p=1885) a few years ago) or in a crude way (well, GoDaddy comes to mind).
Not at all, all I meant to convey was that it appeals to a large section of the largest demographic and that overall it probably still appeals to over 50% of the target group. Percentages were used for rhetorical flourish not to imply actual statistical data beyond personal experience.
Guy in a C++ shirt talking about "chicks": Representative of the RAMPANT MISOGYNY in our industry.
Guy in a C++ shirt talking about chicks at a programming conference: Representative of the RAMPANT MISOGYNY in our industry and wasting the time of everyone he's talking to who came to the damn conference to learn some shit, not awkwardly listen to a jerkoff make a fool of himself and alienate people.
Guy in a C++† shirt erecting a billboard pointing geeks to "chicks": Representative of the RAMPANT MISOGYNY in our industry.
Does it make sense if you replace "C++ shirt" with "military uniform"?
It doesn't really make sense to me though. The original does not read as sharp satire or parody at all, just regular old tone-deaf "haha chicks bro!!!!" idiocy.
The problem is not the "(female)" bit, it was the fact that the existence of women is reported as a "perk". Because after all, women are just objects that exist to serve drinks to men.
Given the free and easy style of the startup eco-verse, it's pretty hard to say exactly what this does or doesn't say about whoever / whatever was behind the event. Maybe the President approved this. Maybe an intern slapped it up. Maybe the VP of Marketing submitted the wrong copy by accident. Want to know why Big Corporate has so much bureaucracy? This is why.
But they didn't fix it immediately! Yeah, or perhaps the responsible parties were meeting with investors or home sick or some such.
Things move fast on the intertubes but maybe giving management an evening to 1) realize something's wrong and 2) fix it would provide a better signal of who is and isn't completely out of their minds.
So startup culture is an excuse for hosting an offensive event? Think with your head instead of your dick and you'll come up with infinitely better plans than to have beer wenches around to serve geeks at a tech event.
> Maybe the President approved this. Maybe an intern slapped it up. Maybe the VP of Marketing submitted the wrong copy by accident.
Shame on any of them.
> Want to know why Big Corporate has so much bureaucracy? This is why.
Startup kids could learn a thing or two from mature organizations.
> But they didn't fix it immediately! Yeah, or perhaps the responsible parties were meeting with investors or home sick or some such.
"Fixing it" goes beyond editing the text that was written. "Fixing it" would be not writing it in the first place. "Fixing it" is getting people actively thinking about diversity and equality. Just because you wrote something stupid and edited the page doesn't mean you fixed the problem.
You're saying shame on all of them, without any moment to hear how this might have been a mistake and not reflective of their organization.
I know zero about these people, they might be every bit as bad as all that. But my suggestion was that perhaps people withhold judgment until the organization has a moment to respond. It's remarkable to see active objection to that. This positive refusal to think or inquire, the justification of reflex, is dangerous.
They spammed hundreds of people who mentioned them on Twitter with "we're sorry" and linked an apology letter that blamed the people who were offended. The apology letter solidifies the point that they think it's fun and harmless to objectify women, but since some people thought it was in bad taste, they'd edit the page to save their event.
But my bit was about the haste to draw conclusions. That some of those conclusions turned out to be more right than wrong says more about luck than the process by which they were drawn.
Sorry, but this is not some subtle mistake.
"Sometimes there are no second chances. Sometimes you should get it right the first time. Especially when it comes to something as obvious as this.
"Sorry, but this is not some subtle mistake."
Whoever made this will get a second chance, only not in this instance. Simple as that. It’s a mild punishment for being sexist. So what. Deserved.
The response to funkah's "garden-variety moron" objection has brought out the excuse of, "well, this was an official flier, so it's a big deal". IMO, the fact that this happened on something "official" is less an indication of rampant misogyny (not that I'm denying it exists!), and more an indication of our ridiculously informal, fast-and-loose culture. (The poor quality of the rest of the flier bears this interpretation out.) So what it comes down to is, someone decided to turn a massive brain-fart into an "official" flier, and part of that brain fart was a stupid, misogynistic comment. Surprise, surprise.
I'm sure everybody's real proud that they've managed to detect and criticize blatant, overbearing misogyny, but I don't see many submissions focusing on the persistent discouragement of young girls from participating in science - a very real, and ultimately more fundamental problem. Lets have some. And lets give them more attention than this "moronic person is moronic" stuff.
Honestly, I wouldn't even be surprised if it kills Sqoot as a company -- that's an incredibly powerful warning sign in the only language many people understand how to interpret: your funders telling you they no longer want to have anything to do with you.
It does help. From the perspective of a female, this sort of "overblown" reaction makes it clear that this sort of mentality is not considered acceptable by the community as a whole. If it was a case of people shrugging it off, if this sort of thing could occur without anyone batting an eyelash... I'd have a lot more second-thoughts about my career path for one, and I'd have turned away from the start-up community on top of that.
I'm not suggesting we shrug it off, not batting an eyelash. It's completely idiotic and should be mocked appropriately. But I'm guessing (with high confidence) that if the frequent posts about this brand of stupidity were replaced by articles discussing the actual roots of the "science/technology is for men" prejudice, and blog posts from, say, the khan academy, on how they're working to fight those conceptions, you'd feel a heck of a lot more welcome, and the many, many women who are just on the "no" side of getting involved in the tech industry would be much more likely to get involved.
I'm not trying to replace criticizing language with fixing deep problems. I'm trying to replace criticizing language with discussing, directly, deep social problems. They're the same order of complexity, and one helps much, much more.
While I'd love a deep, interesting discussion on the matter... I love deep, interesting discussions. Just because it's about my gender doesn't mean it's more welcoming to me. That aside, I fail to see how women would be much more likely to get involved as a result of discussion on HN -- the issues run a lot deeper than a lack of conversation on the matter.
In response to your later comments, I absolutely agree that the subtle prejudice is a huge problem -- but I don't know if this is the right venue to attack it, or if there even exists a correct venue or method. (Perhaps it's just a matter of time.) I do know that a sudden influx of articles on "making women feel welcome" and "breaking prejudice against women in STEM" would alienate me for one, and most certainly cause me to leave if they became of regular prominence on the front page.
EDIT: A good explanation of my negative feelings towards bringing more attention to the matter is the current top comment: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3732078
There are strangely still quite a few people who believe that sexism is not an issue.
Exactly! And my claim is that the larger, more subtle "women just aren't good at science/technology" problem, is now more pressing than the blatant misogyny, and furthermore that the larger problem cannot be solved simply by calling out misogyny. It is a distinct problem - the two may influence each other, but the one will not go away just because we all know about and hate the other.
I guess that's actually really my main gripe with most of the talk here - people are conflating what to me are two very separate problems, and, as far as I can see, not doing anything to solve the bigger one. And it makes me mad.
I know a great many people who would be instantly disgusted at the sort of thing this moron put on the flier, as you all were, and yet have subtly and not-so-subtly showed the bias that women can simply never be as good as programming as men can. (In one particular case, fairly openly, to the person's face - and that person, one of the best programmers I know, is no longer planning to go into computer science, despite my best efforts to convince her otherwise.) So I'm convinced that open misogyny and "women belong in the kitchen" are, at least in the tech community, separate problems, and the latter needs to be attacked directly.
Yeah, perhaps not.
Try replacing "Women" with "children" or "Indian people" and reread that. Does that feel right?
Now put yourself in the shoes of an Indian person reading that. How does that feel?
I mentioned Indian because I am of that descent, but that your mind jumped to "illegal" is something you need to examine about yourself. I think this is probably somehow connected to why you can't understand using women for this purpose in this advert is not appropriate.
I'm not sure why you're repeating the "that's all women can do" part. I don't think that's the specific complaint.
Perhaps you can tell me why having women on the list of things, bolded no less, is a selling point? Why is it relevant? And to whom?