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Men In Tech (wekeroad.com)
154 points by raganwald on May 12, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 145 comments



Reading this is really awkward. And it's not awkward because it reveals some hidden truth, or because it's a good piece of writing that reflects on the issue it's tackling.

No, instead it's awkward because the gender dynamics are not reversible. At least, not in the manner that's intended here. You can't just take the circumstances that women face in tech fields, and switch around the pronouns and have the circumstances make sense, because doing so does not swap out the cultural contexts which reside in the reader's head (which is one of the critical points in the veil of ignorance thought experiment: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veil_of_ignorance ).

There are female dominated fields in which men are rare (nursing and dietetics to name two) and encounter all sort of social awkwardness due to being the minority. But the sorts of circumstances that guys face, while there are some correlations, are not analogous problems to the problems that women face in fields in which they are the minority. The oft cited thing keeping men out of nursing and dietetics are cultural things like the work not being "manly" enough, as opposed to facing sexual harassment and pejorative or demeaning behavior.


You're being a tad too literal with your critique (if I may). The whole point is to take you into a realm that's utterly absurd from the male perspective -- which is entirely my point in writing this.

Yes, male nurses face weird moments in life - but as you say it's mostly from other men. That has nothing to do with being a woman in the tech industry who get to listen to cracks about "being on the rag" or PMSing when they're aggressive.

Next time you're with a female coworker, notice how often you and the other men in the group look at her chest. Notice how often she ignores this and how completely oblivious the other men are that she's overlooking their behavior. If you don't believe me - and if you know this woman well enough - ask her.

You'd be surprised the shit women deal with.


> You'd be surprised the shit women deal with.

I'm not sure, but I think you're being too general. I'd rather state this:

  You'd be surprised by the shit *attractive* women have to deal with.
And I 'm pretty sure that attractive men have to deal with the same kind of "shit". They just react to it differently.

Edit: I expected the downvotes, but please reply, do you disagree with the stated facts (i.e. does you experience differ from mine), or with the manner they were stated in?


As a very attractive man ;) in the tech industry I can tell you you're completely wrong. No, just kidding, no down votes, please. :)

But seriously, in my experience good looks do help in getting you hired in tech. I've thought about it a lot and I think it's because men (perhaps less attractive men) like being the superior of an attractive man. It somehow increases their own feeling of "primal status" to be telling somebody attractive what to do. Ridiculous, I know, but I think it's true. :) You should really have processes in place to prevent frivolous hiring of attractive men. ;)

After you're hired I don't know though...


So let me boil this down. You don't believe women in general have to deal with "shit" - you think it's attractive women that deal with that shit. And moreover the fact that they're women has nothing to do with it; the only bias here is against attractive people in general.

If I'm reading this correctly, you're saying sexism is not a problem at all in the real world. Did I make a mistake in reading your comment?


No, I don't think sexism is a problem. Rape is a problem. Child pornography is a problem. Hunger, drought, tsunamis are problems. Huge companies poisoning people, land, and wasting tons of food is a problem.

Sexism? Just a bunch of people who live practically perfect lives, and have no problems, and are bored, so they create some.

I'm slowly finding this conversation too Orwellian. Why do you care about what I think?!? I might be a phedophile, a rasist, but as long as I'm not hurting other people, I'm better that 99% of the world population. I find some people (so far only women) attractive, therefore I'd like to have sex with them, if I got a chance (I don't actively seek such chances, because sex with most women is boring, in my experience, unless (my) emotions are evolved). I don't make sexual comments at work, not because I would think they are inappropriate per se (I wouldn't make comments about someone being fat either, not because I think it's unappropriate, but because I don't want to hurt their feelings even more without good reason), but because at work, I like to focus on work.

Edit: to put things into perspective: my grandmother was born in 1930s. There were 8 children. One died very young. Her father was killed by nazi collaborators. He had a job. Her mother didn't. She had to support a family of 7, I don't know how. They made a drink out of tree bark, because coffee wasn't available.

My grandmother smiles more that most people I see commuting daily on the London subway. When people say, "we have a crisis", it makes me smile and think how deluded they are...


I don't know about him, but "sexism" is not a problem at all in the real world. "Sexism" is a concept invented by cultural Marxists who openly proposed its use to disrupt existing cultural groups for the benefit of certain social classes (intellectual workers, etc.) and primarily exists in the modern business environment to make money for law firms.

So, no, "sexism" is not the problem, the problem is "anti-sexism."


In the above, "intellectual workers" would probably translate better as "political workers" as far as its use in cultural Marxist writings.


Attractive men DON'T have to deal with the same kind of shit, in general, because they are not a minority. They are not in a minority with social precedents to keep them down, which is what this article is all about. Institutionalized sexualization of women through teasing and joking is pretty common. This piece is trying to get you to where you try to understand what it's like.

Most of us have wondered if our bulge was big enough - imagine if it was judged daily, by every oncoming woman, in every meeting. Imagine if you were constantly teased about getting a boner, and people acted as if it were normal.

I imagine some people around here aren't very good at imagining, are too literal, and hence react badly to this sort of thing.


Reading your reply, I had an idea...

Maybe women perceive men as being sexually discriminating because they only receive sexual comments from men. When I try to think about it, I (as a man) also receive much more sexual comments from men. Maybe it is simply that men are much more open talking about sex, and when we do it with everybody, men and women alike, but when women hear it, they think it has something to do with them being women...

I don't know if I'm correct, generally, but in my social circles, we joke about sexual stuff a lot. (With friends, of course, not at workplace.)


My general impression is that women will receive comments from other women that are generally different to the comments from men. And while these female-to-female comments may not be sexual per se they are not always going to be 100% positive when a women is trying to do something non-traditional.

Basically some other women will often be just as discouraging and as sexist as some men. They will reinforce the same strict gender stereotypes for the same illogical reasons as the men.


> They will reinforce the same strict gender stereotypes

What if they are just voicing their opinions?!?

I had a girlfriend that was very "stereotypical" - I practically had to beg her after every meal no to go to the kitchen to clean up, but to stay with me at the table and just talk and relax. Is she wrong by being who she is, just because she is "reinforcing illogical stereotypes"?

People are different. Be yourself, hang out with people who accept you for who you are. Let other people be.


A valid question but I'm going to make the judgement call and say that opinions that take the form: "You should not do A because you are a member of group Y and Y's aren't good at or don't do A" are not okay.

Your girlfriend was probably quite satisfied with a kitchen that had been promptly cleaned and that made her happy. However if she ever voiced the opinion, 'You should help me clean up', to your younger sister then that wouldn't seem okay to me.


Women don't have their chests looked at in fields where they aren't a minority?

Or is minority status merely a red herring?


You are obviously not an attractive male.

I've had to put up with quite a lot from women of all kinds and I'm not even that attractive.

I'm not going to say more, since I will get called a pussy and a bitch.

But lets please stop pretending that only men are perverts and that all sexual discrimination and indecent behavior towards other people comes from men.


Women are inherently, inescapably what you fear being called. Try to imagine how that must feel, to have the worst insult people around you can imagine to be "I'm like you."


You obviously are a jerk. But sadly that's also normal amongst our CS population.


>You obviously are a jerk.

And you are obviously a "nice guy."


Yeah, thanks - I do try to do the right thing. But that doesn't mean I'm a pushover. You can be alpha and still be a nice guy, it's just how you deal with those who -aren't- nice that matters.


Rob, I think that if you re-read knowtheory's comment you may find that your reply does not address its substance - and that, in fact, you are in broad agreement.

Knowtheory cited the case of male nursing precisely because it's a dissimilar example to women in tech. His critique is that it's not enough just to swap gender roles, because we carry along all of the mental and cultural baggage associated with masculinity and femininity. When we recontextualize gender roles, we're not really understanding the contrary perspective with any depth.

Put another way, there's a difference being a man in women's shoes and being a woman in women's shoes.

Anways, thanks for taking the time to write the article - it was enjoyable to read and thought provoking. I'm always appreciate of articles that try to promote understanding instead of enforcement.


You're absolutely correct. I have methodological qualms, not material ones.

Thanks for pointing this out :)


There's a couple ways i can see to go about this, but let me stick with my current frame.

I appreciate (more now than when i initially wrote my comment) that you're trying to take folks through the uncanny valley. My concern is that the 'ick' feeling you get from the uncanny valley relies upon the perception of the viewer. People who deny that sexism is a problem aren't going to follow you into the valley. They deny that there's a valley there at all.

With the mode that you've chosen to make your point I don't see how to address the criticisms from folks who deny sexism simply by saying "this guy is complaining about nothing, or perceived slights and imputed discomforts that aren't real, just the same way that women in the tech industry do!"

> Next time you're with a female coworker...

This kind of gets to the heart of the matter though doesn't it? Given the gender disparity in programming, most devs don't have female coworkers who aren't also separated by some other sort of cultural distinction (e.g. engineering vs. biz).

> ...notice how often you and the other men in the group look at her chest.

I will admit to having created awkward situations (that have gone unacknowledged by either me or female friend) by inadvertently doing this. Super, super awkward.

> You'd be surprised the shit women deal with.

I'm not surprised simply because my entire university career was spent in two different worlds. There was the computational linguistics world which was 50/50 gender split, and there were no weird unspoken assumption that dudes are better at compling than women are. And then there was the comp sci world, where my female friends from comp ling would get hit on in incredibly passive-aggressive ways, had group projects fall apart because a guy in the group was pissed off that my friend wouldn't go out with them, and the gender disparity was 1 (or maybe 2) girls out of a classroom of 40.

One of the reasons I think programming should be taught outside of computer science departments is to get away with the cultural assumptions and baggage that engineering fields like CS carry. That is also the reason why I currently work for journalists along side a journalism school. There are women out there who are interested in learning how to program, build tools, sift data and all manner of technical analytical tasks, they're just not in computer science. And frankly, i'm glad they're not.


What world do you live in where people make jokes about PMS to coworkers?

Honestly, in my lifetime, I have heard maybe hundreds of jokes about PMS from women, and maybe 2 from men.


In general, I have to agree with this - but the part that bothers me is men are being stigmatized for having the conversations that are typical for a group of guys. What is frustrating is women often complain about not being included - but when they do and when they are the minority (2 women in a group of 10 guys, say) they also complain about sexism or "boys talking about sex all the time". Whatever else it is we talk about.

I dunno what I'm saying anymore, this topic is remarkably frustrating for me as a man because I can see where women are coming from, they don't want to feel like the minority even though they are and I don't necessarily see anything wrong with the way men "socialize" with each other but it is also a deterrent for women in joining our industry.

Another point to raise. What if women wanted in on men's football? Casting away the physical disparity and only considering the cultural implications, I could see this very same kind of interaction happening - the only difference is, in our industry the barrier to entry is an intellectual one but we still bring all of our gender-assigned cultural baggage along with us...


So you claim that all women are threatened when men look at their breast. Because women are pure and come from venus and all the other b.s. from last century. And the men who look at said breasts are sadistic rapists who can't keep it to their pants thus why she should feel threatened. Plus a woman looking at a crotch is a nympho who wants it right there right now. I think you are missing the entire point of gender inequality.


Wait, so what's the point in taking you into a realm that's utterly absurd? I'm not sure that it helps men relate to women's experiences if it feels absurd....


The point is that it's absurd, but women actually deal with this kind of shit. Ridiculous, huh?


Yeah, but folks who don't believe that women actually deal with this shit will just be completely unphased by the turn-around. They deny that this happens and that it is just women being "oversensitive" or "reading into things too much" or whatever.

You're not going to get them on board either by making the absurdist claim, or by trying to hook their sympathy through a post like this.


And men get beaten up in the streets for no reason way more than women.

Pretty absurd, but we deal with it.


I'll stop looking at womens' chests when they stop looking at men's arms, legs, groin and ass. That said, both men and women can look in appropriate glancing ways or inappropriate staring ways.


There are two things here that need to be addressed:

1. I agree, hypocrisy is ridiculous - I workout 6 days a week, am deeply engrained in programming, and have females everywhere (in my industry and outside of it) constantly staring at me, or making comments about my "nice ass". Does it bother me? No. But that leads into my second point...

2. Gender roles and cultures are very different, I agree that there is a problem but it's hard to pin-point it because honestly, passive-aggressive geeks that aren't getting laid just embarrass me as a man when I see them try to interact with women and the women that are bitching and moaning about sexism are doing exactly that: bitching and moaning.

I don't have a solution for this, boys will be boys and girls will be girls - our industry has a history of being a place for the socially awkward and inept to collect. There is a correlation there even if not all members fit the stereotype.

[EDIT] I'm a dude btw


The article reads so awkwardly because that's exactly the author's point. Unless I completely misread the article, the author is trying to convey to the male reader that the issues female programmers face aren't made up by far leftist feminazis, but rather are very real and very difficult for a man to relate to.


I think the writer actually made a pretty good job of "reversing the gender dynamics". I especially like the retrospect into young adulthood. Sure made it easier for me to understand the seriousness of what you call social awkwardness. Stuff that puts us off in adulthood is often grounded far back, and the exact same concrete circumstances may not affect somebody who doesn't have that background.

If the last paragraph of your comment is your attempt at "reversing the gender dynamics" I think you have it all backwards, reversing the wrong thing. You could write another essay in the OP's style about what it's like being a female in the "macho man" dominated nursing profession. Makes sense to me.


But the sorts of circumstances that guys face, while there are some correlations, are not analogous problems to the problems that women face in fields in which they are the minority. The oft cited thing keeping men out of nursing and dietetics are cultural things like the work not being "manly" enough

Not adding anything other than a data point here. My wife used to be a nurse for deafblind teenagers. She prefers male company so was friends with the few men there. I used to ask her about this topic, and while the men weren't being sexually harassed, there was more to it than the above.

The key things the men seemed to face was social exclusion (that is, women are engaged in "women talk" or women are socializing together outside of work and not including the men) and regulatory sexism (male attendees weren't allowed to bathe female residents or attend to any of their hygiene needs).

I thought this was pretty interesting because while it didn't seem like they had that bad a time, the social exclusion and the 'like sticking with like' aspects do ring true to what I've heard from women in the tech industry. That is.. even if the men aren't overtly harassing the women, there's an element of 'boys stick together and do boy things' which the women at my wife's workplace also fostered.

No judgments or anything here, just a datapoint! :)


Of course the story described in the post have zero chance of happening in the real world, but that's the whole point, I guess.


That's what you think. A good friend of mine is 6'2 and used to be a part time male fitness model. He's a software engineer at a large bank and all the girls hit on him and never believe him when he says he's a software engineer.


Wtf, sure we need to be cognizant of discrimination against men in our society, and I think there are great arguments to be made that men are generally portrayed as dumb in TV shows, for example.

However we cannot equate men's and women's experiences of the world we live in. I want to, and have the mistake of doing so many times, but I've since seen how wrong I've been.

My female friend told me the following which radically transformed my perspective Ask any group of women "What do you do to protect yourself in your daily life?" Dome typical answers - never walk alone at night - hold car keys out while walking to car so you can open car door quickly - do not make eye contact or smile to strangers at night - do not go to bars or clubs alone - carry money in bra in case bag is taken - never put down your drink - the list goes on and on

Women's life experiences are thus characterized by a constant and unending fear of sexual assault.

When you ask men the same question---to list what they do to protect themselves in their daily life... --> the answer is just about nothing.

We men walk around like we own urban environments. We have very little to lose and we have a lot of fun with it all. However we have a major bias that we need to be aware of: women are raised to be in constant fear, a fear they don't share with us. This has tremendous implications throughout life. Also this is only one example of a difference in life experience between men and women. There are of course many more.


> When you ask men the same question [...] the answer is just about nothing.

From my personal experience, men are much more vulnerable than women. A lot of my friends got assaulted/beaten up (me included) (some multiple times), and it's always been in public, either in clubs or even in broad daylight on a busy street! As you stated above, women can protect themselves in very simple ways: stay with other people, and watch what you're eating. For men, it's almost impossible to protect ourselves, except by being physically bigger and stronger (or by being armed/better at fighting, but that might cause some legal problems). So, we do basically nothing to "protect ourselves" in daily life, because there is nothing we can do, the most we can do is to try not to elevate the situation if things get heated/if you meet a violent idiot somewhere.

I'm not trying to downplay the dangers women face in our society. It's just obvious to me that whenever someone says that women are endangered without saying that men are too, they are much more motivated by discrimination against men than by making this society better & safer.


> men are much more vulnerable than women. ... For men, it's almost impossible to protect ourselves

What?


Violence against women and violence against men are different. Men are more likely to be the victims of violent crimes, and especially more likely to be attacked by strangers. Violence against women is more likely to be rape or domestic violence. Men are more likely to wind up in something you could describe as a "fight." Depending on context, you could say that men are in more danger than women (because most violence is man vs. man) or that women are in more danger than men (because a lot of violence against women comes from familiar figures like family members or boyfriends, and because self-defense is often harder for women.)


Sorry, I'm not a native speaker, only now I realize how this sounds...

What I meant to say is, men can do almost nothing to prevent violence against them (or at least reduce the probability of it happening), since violence against men is (in my experience) often very random, and happens even in public places with a lot of other people involved.

In contrast, women are almost never a target of physical violence, and they can often avoid being a target of sexual violence using relatively simple measures, e.g. staying with friends and not getting drunk/drugged.

On the other hand, men have better ways of dealing with violence once it happens (fight back), but it doesn't help if things escalate and you get beaten to death (in Slovenia, a man was once beaten to death by club security guards!!).


> In contrast, women are almost never a target of physical violence, and they can often avoid being a target of sexual violence using relatively simple measures, e.g. staying with friends and not getting drunk/drugged.

The number of women beaten (sometimes to death) by husbands / partners are alarming.

Women are rarely raped by strangers. They are raped by people they know - the 'friends' you suggest they stay with.

My next point is a bit tricky. Many people would find it offensive to suggest that the victim of violent crime should adjust their behaviour to stop doing lawful fun things. People enjoy being drunk. The focus should be on the men who rape drunk women, not on stopping women being drunk.

I'd agree there's a problem with people being drunk beyond the point of sensibility, and with men and women being so drunk they can not get nor give consent. That's a problem for society to deal with. It affects both men and women.


I disagree with the above commenter's general points, but I believe he's picking up on the concept that violence against men is much less visible a problem. Admittedly it's generally non-sexual (until we talk about prisons, and then it's seen as a joke or a righteous part of punishment) but men are expected to shrug off violence. There's even a social stigma for men who can't defend themselves.

It's a mistake to view it as a him versus her debate anyway. It doesn't make women's public lives better or worse if men have an easier or harder time.


You sound like a jerk, that's why you and your jerk friends got beaten up.

Why couldn't man and women protect themselves the same way?

And WTF does it mean "women can protect themselves in very simple ways: stay with other people, and watch what you're eating."


You obviously never got assaulted by strangers for just passing by?


No, you obviously got because Slovenia is real ghetto.


What exactly is your point? That people don't get assaulted elsewhere?

Or that in Slovenia bystanders never get under attack?

And finally, how the hell have you deduced that I got attacked in Slovenia?


>Women's life experiences are thus characterized by a constant and unending fear of sexual assault. >When you ask men the same question---to list what they do to protect themselves in their daily life... --> the answer is just about nothing.

Why is this fear a bad thing for women? Interesting fact: men are more likely to be victims of violent crime[1] and this has been pretty much true throughout history[2] though it is getting better. That fear is probably quite useful in keeping them alive since women are only half as likely to be victims of assaults by strangers[3]

[1] http://web.archive.org/web/20060926004448/http://www.ojp.usd...

[2] http://www.ted.com/talks/steven_pinker_on_the_myth_of_violen...

[3] http://web.archive.org/web/20060927115258/http://www.ojp.usd...


This is true.

I have worked in emergency medicine, dealing with all types of assault, and females are rarely assaulted compared to men. When they are it is often by someone they know and usually another female.

Random assault on a female is front page news, for a male its socially acceptable!


This is excellent advice -- for women roaming free on our ancestral savanna.

For those of us, though, who are collaborating on this whole civilization thing, high levels of fear are bad. Especially well-justified fears that keep people from participating fully in society.


Doesn't the satistics prove the fear is not well-justified? Unfortunately, women should fear men they know more than strangers.


Who said that the fear isn't justified?

The problem being pointed out is exactly that the fear is justified. It is fucked up beyond belief that half of our population has, as the parent post puts it, "a constant and unending fear of sexual assault."


While the fear may mean better survival skills its important to be cognizant of this significant difference between men's and women's life experiences if we're to grok their lives better. This is especially important for big guys (>6') to remember: that their daily experience is nothing like women.


Great points. Just had to say: I've heard that holding car keys at the ready is also intended as a impromptu sharp weapon to an attacker's face/eyes. Which only underscores your general point


That actually is the reason why you hold your car keys. It's less of a "being able to get in the car quickly" and more about being able to "gouge their eye out".


That's not exactly mens fault though. It is the fault of whomever creates the one in four women will be raped statistic (which is clearly bullshit).

For any females reading this, while plenty of males will want to get into your pants very few males can stomach the idea of rape, so if you feel threatened seek other males. It doesn't matter much if you know them or not.


That's not exactly mens fault though. It is the fault of whomever creates the one in four women will be raped statistic (which is clearly bullshit).

The 1/4 number in the USA that's usually quoted is for rape and attempted rape.

For an explanation of where the 1/4 number came from in the US - read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_statistics#United_States. I'd be interested in which part of the methodologies of the four different studies done by separate groups - one in 1987, one in 1995, one in 2000, and one in 2006 - you think is bullshit.

Even if you ignore the "attempted" the numbers that have come from multiple pieces of research in the US and UK of somewhere between 1/5 and 1/20 of women who will be raped isn't exactly reassuring either.

Unfortunately from the number of women I know well enough for the conversation topic to have come up I can easily believe that the higher numbers are much closer to reality than the low.

For any females reading this, while plenty of males will want to get into your pants very few males can stomach the idea of rape, so if you feel threatened seek other males. It doesn't matter much if you know them or not.

Unfortunately most rapes happen in environments where other males aren't around.


More than that, studies find that between 6% and 13% of men admit to having raped women, with an average of ~5 women raped each: http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2010/03/25/predator-th... 1 in 4 is not unrealistic, even assuming some women are significantly more likely to be victimized than others.


Best debunk I have read (the statistics start about halfway into the article):

http://owningyourshit.blogspot.com/2011/06/how-feminism-hate...

Note that the author is female and has been sexually assaulted (read attempted rape in a park).


Why is that stat bullshit? From Wikipedia: "More than a quarter of college age women report having experienced a rape or rape attempt since age 14." The citation for that sentence points here: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016%2Fj.avb.2006.10.002

Also, I don't think the question of fault is interesting here. Crime is the fault of the criminals alone. But creating a safe society is everyone's responsibility.


This is a pretty artificial and transparent effort, but it's well intentioned.

It's often interesting to see commentary from fields where the gender divide skews heavily toward women. Libraries are one good example - I know several people of both genders who work in them. To make some broad generalization, sexual harassment tends to be a more minor issue, but "drama" and territorialism tends to be much worse.

One example of this - a male I know enjoyed working with some of his female coworkers better than others. As a result, there were complaints and grumbling from other staff members. It's almost as if he was a pawn on the chessboard of social status.

I'd love to hear similar stories - I know they're out there...


Does your local library push videos of Hot Library Chicks dancing around poles while male library guys rap in their face? (referring to the Nokia Vimeo video).

This isn't about gender divide, it's about a complete lack of understanding.


I've been appreciating all the articles on HN calling out sexism in the [tech] workplace. It's actually made me change my own behavior at work, though I've been told I never offended anyone, I've started doing things like never saying "that's what she said" as well as chastising co-workers when they say it.

It would be nice if there were something to say instead, that could still add a lightness and moment of comedy to a conversation, but without being offensive. Haven't found a phrase yet that fits that mold though.


I've been trying to figure out whether turnaround is fair play:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxvujEmyiPQ


I'm confused - is the video mocking women who whine about "that's what she said" jokes?


I hope so. They are annoying.


I like this as an exercise in empathy.

It's important to consider how we treat the "odd ones out" in any group. Maybe we're on snowboarding holiday with friends who are all mad keen boarders, except for one who's never seen snow before, we'd probably adjust our behaviour and hang out on the baby slopes a bit and help out our friend. Or maybe we're organising a work party, and it would normally be a slightly boozy affair in a bar, but we know someone doesn't drink because they're pregnant/alcoholic/religious/don't like it/training for a marathon, so we might do something a bit different, like take everyone for a bbq on the beach. Maybe we own a cafe, and there's a step out the front, we might get a ramp ready, so that if someone in a wheelchair wants to visit they can get in okay.

For whatever reason, at the moment, being a female in tech means you're an "odd one out". The lack of women in tech is not the men in tech's fault, (the men in tech are mostly pretty lovely, certainly I like working with them). The lack of women is no-one's fault, the reasons run deep and are complicated. It's also not a terrible experience being a women in tech, it's a good job. I guess the worse you can say is that it's hard to be different to everyone around you. And let's face it women haven't got the monopoly on that, we all know what that feels like. It's not really about gender, I'm sure there's many men who feel excluded by the whole "brogrammer" thing too.

Sometimes the discourse around the whole "women in tech" thing makes me scared, I feel like it's stirring people to feel accused or hurt or angry or confused, and causing them to divide. It shouldn't really be about women, it doesn't even make sense, we're half of humanity for goodness sake, 3.4 x 10^9 very separate people, why consider us to be such a coherent group? It should be about trying to understand those around us as individuals, who are not necessarilly the same as us, and seeing if there's any small adjustments or accommodations we could make so that they can be themselves, and also a part of our group. And we should be doing this, just because it's right, and that's the sort of world we want to live in.


The problem though, is empathy is going to be really hard for men -> women or women -> men; both sexes are remarkably different culturally.

What you see is a large number of socially awkward and inept people flocking to industries where being socially tact is less valued over intellectual prowess. Women have always been more socially tactful than men - it's how our society is set up, women are treated as a valued commodity.

If you want a "close" approximation of figuring out what it's like to be the other gender in a "x dominated field", you should go the route of the author of this book: http://www.amazon.com/Self-Made-Man-Womans-Journey-Manhood/d...

She did a remarkable job of actually experiencing what being a man in our society is like. I would be very interested if someone of the male sex were to do something similar and write a book about it, this article doesn't cut it IMHO.


Excellent point, and well articulated. I think we can take a lot of edge off this problem by restating it more neutrally - don't be a jerk towards anyone, if a person is worth having around, they are worth the effort of providing sensible accommodations. The non-drinking friend and wheel chair ramp are great examples of such rule.


Wow. What a killer article. I think it went pretty far in depth, and I let myself take the time to imagine everything the author was describing, and I fuckin felt it man.

If this was written by a man, I applaud the effort you put into empathizing with women. If it was written by a woman, Thank you for thinking up so many creative and kick ass examples.

Our society has a long way to go before we reach equality. And I fucking PRAY it happens with greater reverence for sex in general, instead of applying to crude commercialized form of sexuality to both genders.

I've been noticing people using sexuality in a manipulative and threatening way at work a bunch lately, and it fucking sucks. If anyone out there has trouble socializing, and wants to know a good way to do it: Share your feelings with a girl in private, and start off small. Yeah it makes you vulnerable but that is an essential part of real love. DO NOT make sexual comments in front of other people.


> Our society has a long way to go before we reach equality.

Why is there such a strong emphasis on equality?

In Slovenian, we have two similar words, of which one means "equality", and the other means roughly "equal rights". I'm always annoyed when the former is stated as a goal, instead of the latter.

We're not equal, and never will be. For example, men don't have to bear children, they don't need a "paternal leave" (where it's available, it's a nice bonus, but it shouldn't be introduced/mandatory at the expense of the maternal leave).

Another apparent difference between the sexes is the different priorities in the choice of mate. I'm sure that the bigger emphasis assigned by man to the visual appearance of women is partially based in our culture, but also partially based in our biology. Sure, sexual comments at the workplace are inappropriate, but I'm never going to seek excuses for my preference for seeing sexy women in ads (btw, another gender bias used in ads, but rarely mentioned, even by the most fierce proponents of "equality": if a person is implied to be socially awkward/stupid/taken advantage of, it's almost always a man).

There is, however, one area where men and women are mostly equal: the advantages in life that the alpha members of each sex are awarded with (the meaning of alpha differ between the genders: in women, it's mostly looks, in men, it's fame, power, money, fitness/lookss (not necessarily in this order)).


> We're not equal, and never will be.

There are many people who believe, or effectively believe even if they acknowledge some innate differences, that people are essentially the same, and all differences between them can be explained by cultural, social and personal experiences. A paradigm which is sometimes, mostly by critics, called "standard social science model" (basically a polar opposite of believing that we are all born stratified into casts, classes, races, sexes... and that this stratification determines each person's fate).

If you adopt this paradigm, all inequalities must be a result of sexism, racism, or some other discrimination or failure on the part of society. It's seen as unfair and unjustified and in turn results in actions against that perceived injustice (legislation, shaming, protests, demonstrations, blog posts...).

And it goes deeper than that. Some people will say that beauty is a cultural/social construct, that obesity is a result of unhealthy food being priced lower than healthy choices and affects poorer people more (it doesn't btw[1]). This pattern of conflict between being affected by circumstances vs having some innate qualities is very pervasive.

[1] http://www.overcomingbias.com/2011/08/the-poor-are-not-fat.h...


> If this was written by a man

Rob Conery is a male dude. He's also replying in these comments.


Hmm, not completely sure what this article is getting at but it seems to be implying that men and women are the same and would feel the same way when reacting to such things as sexual harassment and whether or not you're desirable to the opposite sex.

That's basically a completely false premise.

Because of biological facts and the resultant social history, men and women have completely different values and attitudes to sex. As such this story seems pretty unrealistic to me.

That's not to say that patriarchy doesn't suck and that women doesn't face a lot of adversity in tech and so on.


No it's reversing the social history too. Why would the scenarios in the story have ever come up if the social history hadn't been reversed?

tl;dr whoosh


It's also reversing the gender biology. And that's a problem.


I'm kinda hoping this is a joke, but I'm also guessing not.

The point is you would feel as helpless and frustrated as women do now if the tables were turned and the entire social structure was set up so as to belittle you and give you little recourse to respond.

Also men and women are very similar in terms of values and attitudes towards sex regardless of the prevailing popular myths.


>Also men and women are very similar in terms of values and attitudes towards sex regardless of the prevailing popular myths.

In the sense they both expect different values and attitudes towards sex from men and women.

Keep your religion-derived asexual "men and women are the same" nonsense to your church or feminist club.


>prevailing popular myths

Lovely arrogance.

Please look up Terri D. Conley and Sexual Strategies Theory.


I have to disagree. It's actually pretty trivial to create a situation that puts men at the same disadvantage, and it happens all the time in other industries. Heck I saw it really happen when it was supposed to be a joke.


OP could make his statement much stronger if he wrote the whole piece from perspective of bit asexual straight man working in environment dominated by gay men who would introduce in daily worklife all kinds of innuendos often forgetting that protagonist is not interested in them and also not very interested in sexual layer of human interaction.

I think the innate homophoby of the readers could help them to better understand.


Yes, lets read an article by a straight man about how the gays kept him out of the fashion industry by finding him attractive and behaving effeminately.

Then lets try to take it even half as seriously as articles about how those geeks keep women out of tech by finding them attractive and behaving nerdily.


You do realize that there are plenty of gay men in the tech industry, don't you? You also know that "behaving effeminately" is not characteristic of all homosexual men, right? Consider, instead, a tech environment dominated by gay men and the article is about, as you put it, "how those geeks keep men out of tech by finding them attractive and behaving nerdily."

Scotty79 may be onto more than is immediately obvious, and you do his idea a disservice to dismiss it so quickly. In the OP's article, the victim of the gender-based injustices writes that he wrongly thought he had left the harassment and the immaturity of others behind him--back in high school and college. I'm almost certain, however, that many gays, of any gender and in any industry, feel the same way when they have to deal with their coworkers saying things like "that's gay," "no homo," "don't be a fag, man," and for the gay men in particular, "don't be a pussy," "stop acting like a bitch," "quit acting like a girl," etc. It's quite obvious, too, that the misogyny carries over when men are criticized for "behaving effeminately," as if there could possibly be an absolute definition of femininity and that it is wrong for men to approach it, even slightly.[1]

As mentioned earlier, Scotty's suggestion was not about imagining the struggles of a straight man trying to break into a typically 'gay' industry; it was about writing from the perspective of a "straight man working in [an] environment dominated by gay men." That is, any environment (the tech industry, in our case) which is hypothetically dominated by homosexual men in a way similar to the female dominance found in the OP's article. The main difference between the two posts would be that, as per Scotty's suggestion, the story's protagonist would be the sexual target of other men--giving a, perhaps, more faithful glimpse into the tech world women have to deal with every day. The OP's hypothetical role-reversal throughout the entire world and history, while somehow still attributing the same brutish machismo to those running things, is an interesting change indeed, but it depends quite heavily on the reader's willing suspension of disbelief.

At any rate, I'm glad Rob took the time to write "Men in Tech." I was really worried, for a moment at the start, that the narrative would turn into one of those, "men can hypothetically deal with this type of harassment, why can't you?" I'm so glad it didn't.

1. It's worth reading Michael S Kimmel's "Masculinity as Homophobia," since it discusses how men fear being 'unmasked' as either gay or effeminate, and so overcompensate by emphasizing the perceived homosexuality or effeminacy of others.

http://www.stthomas.edu/diversity/files/Masculinity_as_Homop...

http://faculty.ucc.edu/psysoc-stokes/Masculinity.pdf


Thanks - you just demonstrated my point. If a man were to whine about how he avoided some field because he didn't like gays hitting on him, or because he was uncomfortable working within that field, both you and I would tell him to stop whining and learn to deal with it.

Why don't we tell women the same thing?


> Thanks - you just demonstrated my point.

How so? I argued that it would be a good idea to give not only the perspective of women, but that of the gay men and women being ostracized in the workplace too. Situating an attractive, straight male in a hypothetical, heterophobic environment dominated by gay men would illustrate the kind of uninvited sexual cut and thrust that some men in tech impose upon women, as well as the passive bullying that comes from homophobic language in the workplace, language that gay people generally have to endure. All this, of course, in an effort to get people, men and women alike, to clean up their acts.

> If a man were to whine about how he avoided some field because he didn't like gays hitting on him, or because he was uncomfortable working within that field, both you and I would tell him to stop whining and learn to deal with it.

No, I can't say that I would tell him to deal with it. The point of the suggested narrative would have been to show how difficult it is to say "stop whining and learn to deal with it" and actually mean it once all parties have a thorough grasp on the circumstances.

> Why don't we tell women the same thing?

People already do, and that's the issue.

I believe what you're trying to argue is that, because men would be told to "deal with it" when put a similar situation, it's alright to tell women to do the same. Please let me know if I'm wrong about that. As far as the argument is concerned, it's flawed in that it makes assumptions about the needs of both genders while altogether disregarding the human needs for belonging, self-respect, and respect by others. Instead of telling victims to deal with it, we should be telling instigators to cut it out. I'm all for hominism and feminism once the usual, and mostly misguided, misogyny and misandry are set aside.


How so?

I interpreted you as reacting negatively to the idea that gay men in fashion should be blamed for the absence of straight men. If I misinterpreted, my apologies.

I believe what you're trying to argue is that, because men would be told to "deal with it" when put a similar situation, it's alright to tell women to do the same.

Not quite, I'm saying that a lot of people would object to my characterization of gays driving straights out of some field, and I'm suggesting there is probably a bit of a double standard present.


The trick in pulling this article off is you can go too far with your stereotypes and "artistic license" - actually offending the people you're trying to defend.

And I've worked there - in a place where gay men outnumbered the men. I've been cornered - shoved in between two refrigerators while a guy who outweighed me by 50 pounds leaned against me and went for my bits - all the while telling me "it's time to come out".

I put my fist into his sternum as hard as I could. He laughed - "feisty! I like it..." and he backed off.

This happened. But what's the point of this story? That gay men can be aggressive? That I was "wronged"? That I can somehow identify with women because I was, literally, assaulted at work?


:-(

I think you can relate better to victims of similar assaults. Most of them are women.

Point of the story would be to help reader to understand how unsafe can someone feel at work when people pass sexual remarks like it's nothing. OP's post doesn't really achieve that.


There is no need to be a slightly asexual man in gay men environment.

It is quite enough that you are a man in a mostly female environment. When a woman approaches you and you turn her down then strange shit starts happening.


Maybe but most of target audience of such story doesn't have first hand experience of working in mostly female environment and while reading about it they would imagine happyland of pure bliss with a bit of thrill.

I think straight men have similar level of uneasiness about gay men as women about straight men. Mostly safe despite all the silly stuff but...


The comments here so far are mind bogglingly stupid. It's intended as a satire, simple as that. Try not to over think it guys.


Satire, huh? So by telling a story of sexism with the genders reversed, the author is slyly poking fun at all the fuss about sexism in tech that we've been hearing lately, and showing us how ridiculous it all is. That's an interesting take, 'cause I sure didn't read it that way. To me it seems more like a straight put-yourself-in-her-shoes appeal to empathy for women who brave the tech industry.


Isn't this more a story of sexualization and objectification than sexism? It was an interesting read to empathize with the uncomfortableness of the situation, but the sexualization stood out to me far more sexism.


> To me it seems more like a straight put-yourself-in-her-shoes appeal to empathy for women who brave the tech industry.

Yes, done as satire...


I'll take my time explaining what professionalism is, and what it means in the workplace. I'll take care not to offend you as I explain the roles of men and women in any industry.

Some place I can find this?


Wait... Rob can afford a car? I thought he had to ride to work on a paddle board? And I'm also going to call BS on his bulging pecs and biceps. I bet he couldn't even bench the bar for 10 reps.


Just what women need!

Another middle-aged white man fighting for the women's rights. It's condescending. It's just a step away from "A Gay Girl in Damascus".


Hi,

I have no idea if you are a woman or a man, but as a woman in tech, I feel compelled to reply.

I appreciated this story. Not so much the comments attached to it on HN, but the story itself. If it got some guys thinking about how they would feel if this happened:

"You don't look like a programmer! When did you get into computers? That's kinda hot..."

Which has happened to me so many times I've lost count...usually followed closely by "Are you single?"

If it gets guys to stop saying THAT...then it was well worth the whole thing.


Many people tell me I don't seem like a programmer, and quite a few are surprised to discover I went to college or do non-manual labor. There is just something about my personality that suggests to people I'm not a knowledge worker, unless the topic comes up in conversation.

They have heuristics, priors and reasoning which lead them to correct results most of the time. Maybe they are even irrational and have a sucky predictor.

I know how I feel about this - meh.

Incidentally, why do you feel that being found attractive is a problem? And is this also a problem in fields with 50% women?


I'm a man (and yes, my first name is Sasha).

>If it got some guys thinking about how they would feel if this happened:

>"You don't look like a programmer! When did you get into computers? That's kinda hot..."

I get THAT all the time. People (both men and women) don't believe that I'm a programmer because I don't look like a stereotypical geek. I'm over 6 feet tall, I work out, and I have numerous visible scars.

So, how do I feel about it? I don't. Why? Because I believe that people are honestly surprised to find a guy who looks like a cage fighter in this industry. They are even rarer than women. Sure, I can turn this into people discriminating against me based on my looks and start writing pointless posts, but I have projects to complete and a life to live.

>If it gets guys to stop saying THAT...then it was well worth the whole thing.

No, it will not get them to stop. The only reaction you'll get from a guy who reads that article is: "What a suck up!" A personal story written by a woman about the pain she went through because of such behavior will make them think hard about it. Guys do feel and most of us are not assholes on purpose.

Don't get me wrong, women do face real problems just because they are women and I feel their pain, but I don't believe that they need men writing about it. Women can and do speak for themselves. I don't believe that they are some fragile creatures that need a champion.


I am male and have received the "you don't look like a programmer" comment on numerous occasions. It usually comes from other men, so it's not typically followed by the "are you single?" question. Is it the latter that makes you uncomfortable? To be brutally honest, I find that kind of question rather flattering.

Another one I frequently hear: I farm as a hobby. When I meet someone and talk about my farming adventures first, then tell them I also develop software, they are always like "Whoa, you know how to program computers? But you are a farmer!" like a farmer isn't smart enough to do that kind of work. Personally, I think it is funny knowing that farming is the one that is far more mentally challenging out of the two, but it really could be hurtful if directed at the wrong person.


If it got some guys thinking about how they would feel if this happened:

"You don't look like a programmer! When did you get into computers? That's kinda hot..."

I'd have no problem with that at all, especially I found the woman attractive. As others have said, just flipping the genders in scenarios like that doesn't often work.

And is that really an awful way for guys to hit on you? They're going to do that anyway, and at least this way they're expressing interest in your interests, rather than just staring at your chest.


>And is that really an awful way for guys to hit on you? They're going to do that anyway, and at least this way they're expressing interest in your interests, rather than just staring at your chest.

If the man is attractive, women will generally welcome the flirtation. If he is unattractive, the woman will generally perceive it as an insult to her attractiveness, since the man should know better, that she is "out of his league."

Also, can anyone explain why it is considered a "good thing" to have a gender balance in tech, or any industry? Who decided that every industry must have an equal number of men and women?


> Also, can anyone explain why it is considered a "good thing" to have a gender balance in tech, or any industry?

We strive for a balance because that's a good way to avoid excluding people. Excluding groups of people is bad because they may have different ways to attack problems or different insights to bring to development etc.

Mono-cultures are generally weak and vulnerable. Diversity is generally robust.


>We strive for a balance because that's a good way to avoid excluding people. Excluding groups of people is bad because they may have different ways to attack problems or different insights to bring to development etc.

We exclude all sorts of groups, including the incompetent, all the time. There are cases when the benefits of including some group may cause a net detriment due to other factors.

>Mono-cultures are generally weak and vulnerable. Diversity is generally robust.

These glittering generalities are not backed up by any facts. "Diversity" often causes more problems than it purportedly solves, and generalizing "mono-cultures" as "weak and vulnerable" is not something that you can base on facts.


A lot of shops I have worked in the last 15 years had no such exclusion on incompetence....


I agree with you - you will never find me, as a man, "fighting for women's rights."

My t-shirt says "This is What a Feminist Looks At."


I respectfully disagree.


Can you elaborate on that?


I don't really like my neighbours, so I get changed with the blinds open. It's different when you're a man.


wtf did I just read??


My sentiment exactly.


Try reading this with a sense of wonder, rather than as a heavy piece of social commentary.


It doesn't work for me; I can't imagine an entire field of women acting like that.


Is this a rant? I'm confused.


I see what you did there.


Would someone be kind enough to get us the TLDR version?

Not sure the point, the writer is trying to make.


Essentially the author is trying to put the male readers in a women's shoes. In other words, take every sexist tech story that's popped up in tech news in the last few months and reverse the pronouns.

It's certainly an interesting read, but not particularly well executed. There is a book called Egalia's Daughters[1] that does a similar thing in a much more powerful, primal way. Seriously worth a read.

1. http://www.amazon.com/Egalias-Daughters-A-Satire-Sexes/dp/18...


Ok but why should we care? I mean it's not like men are raging about the lack of male orientated pregnancy articles.

I don't get it.

Tech is male orientated because there are much more males in it. It make sense to then align the reporting towards the base.


Think "you'd feel bad if this happened to you. By empathy, you should figure out that women feel bad if this happens to them."


I've had most of the events mentioned in the article happen to me, by women.

I was also labeled as gay in milieu for turning down a woman.

I was hit on by gay men in an extremely uncomfortable fashion more than once.

I was also assaulted by complete strangers for no reason at all.

I was also isolated and bullied by my schoolmates in kindergarten and primary school (boys and girls).

And if I go and complain about it I will be labeled as less than a man. So why should I care?

p.s.: Disclaimer. Since I grew big and strong enough to do it I also disallow any kind of improper behavior in my presence.


I think this is largely the expression of terrible, terrible social skills. I've seen appalling things toward women and men alike from young, socially inept Bay Area tech males.

Also, for what it's worth, I've received a lot of crap from women over the course of my working life. In college, I worked in a deli where I was the only male. There was outright sexual harassment, and regular dismissal of me solely because I'm a man. Even in tech roles, I've had problems with female bosses who were horrible, socially incompetent worker bees who got promoted out of what they should have been doing (implementation instead of management).


I'm not persuaded.

I know a number of socially inept people. Some of them are perfectly pleasant, just hopelessly awkward. Others are jerks to everyone. But some are sexist jerks. And there are some people who are perfectly well socialized who are also sexist jerks.

Women were oppressed for millennia. Women in the US haven't had the vote for even 100 years. Men and women didn't have equal college enrollment rates until circa 1990. I just don't buy the thesis that sexism is now suddenly extinct, especially in a male-dominated field.

I'm sorry you've received crap. Due to your gender or anything else. But understand that jumping into a discussion of sexism with "but that happens to me too!" is such a common problem that it's listed in the "Derailing for Dummies" guide: http://www.derailingfordummies.com/menu.html


>I'm sorry you've received crap. Due to your gender or anything else. But understand that jumping into a discussion of sexism with "but that happens to me too!" is such a common problem that it's listed in the "Derailing for Dummies" guide: http://www.derailingfordummies.com/menu.html

This guide makes zero rational arguments for why those examples are derailment... It's completely rhetorical.

Intellectually, it's appropriate to discuss female/male oppression in the context of one another since the idea of patriarchy has been replaced with the idea of kyriarchy; A system where everyone oppresses/stratifies everyone else. It's a matrix of relationships that cannot be examined in isolation. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyriarchy

>Women in the US haven't had the vote for even 100 years. Men and women didn't have equal college enrollment rates until circa 1990. I just don't buy the thesis that sexism is now suddenly extinct, especially in a male-dominated field.

Only ~10% of early Americans were eligible to vote. All white men weren't given the right to vote until the mid 19th century. A generation before women were granted the right.

Very few men benefited from a "patriarchal" social configuration. The fact that a small minority of white men had privilege doesn't negate the social costs externalized on the average man. The only realistic opportunities available to these men were war, working on a farm, working in a coal mine, or working in an industrial era factory. Having the "freedom" to be part of the workforce did not offer you the opportunities it does today...


Derailment is a purely rhetorical technique, so I'm not seeing the problem.

I agree that patriarchy is bad for pretty much everybody. But the rhetorical effect of "but what about the time a woman was mean to meeeee" isn't to raise awareness of power dynamics so that people see the real issue as patriarchy or kyriarchy and find action even more urgent. It's to devalue the given examples of sexist behavior so that the privileged person can avoid confronting their privilege.


>Derailment is a purely rhetorical technique, so I'm not seeing the problem.

The problem is you made an appeal to authority to "derailing for dummies"...

>It's to devalue the given examples of sexist behavior so that the privileged person can avoid confronting their privilege.

Half of those points could be made by someone who has no intention of derailing. They can be legitimate observations.


No. I personally am calling that a common derailing tactic; I just linked to that as evidence that other people also see it as a problem. If you have some counter-evidence, feel free to present it.

As I explained elsewhere in this thread, most people don't intend to derail. What matters isn't the conscious intent of the speaker; it's the effect on the conversation.

That X is a legitimate observation doesn't mean that X is also a valid contribution at any point in any discussion. Watch politicians spin something on a TV show. They can make valid observations all day long that avoid, obfuscate, dodge, color, distract, mislead, and misinform.

If a privileged person jumps into a discussion about injustice in a way that changes the topic from the injustice under discussion to something more comfortable for them, that's derailing. They can do that using a valid observation, an invalid observation, a rhetorical device, or a jack-in-the-box.

Also, Mr. Brand New Anonymous Account: if you aren't going to own your words, expect me to stop responding shortly.


^This. It's not that exclusively women have these problems, it's that they have them to a greater extent than men because of centuries-old ideas about how women and men should act. Articles like these are just saying it'd be nice if we made some effort to reduce the effect of these old social conventions on women in tech today.


And there are some people who are perfectly well socialized who are also sexist jerks.

Okay. I maintain that in the tech community, it's horrible social skills that's driving the majority of what appears to be gender bias, sexual harassment, etc. I also maintain that focusing on developing better social skills, empathy, etc. will do far, far more to solve the problem than simply pointing out over and over again the sex-related symptoms.

I just don't buy the thesis that sexism is now suddenly extinct

Who said anything of the sort? Please don't put words in my mouth, I don't like what you're attempting to project onto me.

jumping into a discussion of sexism with "but that happens to me too!"

I made no attempt whatsoever to derail anything. I was providing examples, from the opposite side of the gender fence, of how I saw social ineptitude causing apparent gender bias.


Your theory that apparent sexism in the tech community is actually only poor social skills requires that sexism in the tech community has died out. Because otherwise poor social skills would just make the tech community sexism more obvious than mainstream sexism.

Which I think is exactly the case. Sexism is a millennia-deep, society-wide problem. I think it's absurd to say that the tech community is actually not sexist like the rest of society, but just happens to act the same way for a different reason.

I'm sure you weren't intending to derail. Few do. But speaking as a fellow privileged person, you should be very suspicious when something comes out of your mouth that just happens to reduce or eliminate your responsibility for acknowledging your privilege in a situation.

Like, for example, suggesting that sexism isn't the problem, but rather those poorly socialized nerds.


Your theory that apparent sexism in the tech community is actually only poor social skills

I said "largely the expression of".

requires that sexism in the tech community has died out

It absolutely does not.

Because otherwise poor social skills would just make the tech community sexism more obvious than mainstream sexism.

And there you go. It's unlikely that misogyny and 'real' sexism exist among the tech community at levels significantly higher than other fields, yet it comes up all the time in the tech community. So, what's the explanation? Horrible socialization.


You can't have it both ways. You started out by saying, "I think this is largely the expression of terrible, terrible social skills." If our level of sexism and sexist behavior is the same as the rest of society, then social skills are irrelevant. If lower social skills magnify existing sexism, then either our level of bad behavior should be much higher or our level of sexism would have to be lower.

I think the reason it comes up here is that it's a field that attracts smart, idealistic people who are unlikely to be consciously sexist (but still have a lot of bad behaviors and unconscious attitudes). Another factor is that the low ratio of women makes it easier for sexist and misogynistic subcultures and workplaces to exist.


You can't have it both ways.

You aren't getting it.

If our level of sexism and sexist behavior is the same as the rest of society, then social skills are irrelevant.

What? That makes no sense.

If lower social skills magnify existing sexism, then either our level of bad behavior should be much higher or our level of sexism would have to be lower.

Depending on your definition, the level of "bad" behavior in the tech industry is much higher than other industries!


I believe I do get your point; I just disagree with it. I think it's a convenient way to shift blame to a small subset of people rather than the much larger group that benefits from endemic sexism.

I also disagree with your assertion that sexist behavior is particularly worse in our industry than any other, but if you have evidence on the point I'd love to see it.


Just because someone stuck it on DfD, does not mean its a bad argument. DfD is pretty trite.


Sure. Derailing tactics often include perfectly good arguments. Just ones that shift the discussion to other topics so that no privileged person actually has to face their privilege and acknowledge the systemic negative experiences of the unprivileged group.

Also, "trite"? You're going to talk about argument quality and then reject something because it's trite? Because that's purely a stylistic criticism, which is just the opposite of being concerned about argument quality.


I don't think anyone, with good or bad social skills, should have to deal with this crap.

As a community we have to set the norm, the expectation that this just not ok. For people just entering the community, they may have different norms (coming from their fraternity - or what ever) but if the people around them set the proper example they will pick it up soon enough. Stories like this are needed to help us get there.


I don't think anyone, with good or bad social skills, should have to deal with this crap.

Sure, but if it's bad social skills call it bad social skills, not misogyny.


The two are not mutually exclusive.


I don't think anyone, with good or bad social skills, should have to deal with this crap.

Of course not, and I didn't want to give any impression that my statement endorsed the behavior.

Rather, I think that it might be more productive to focus on encouraging people to develop greater social skills rather than framing it around male vs female issues. We tolerate too much elitism, condescension, and dismissal of others' feelings in general, which directly contributes to the sexism problem.


I've also seen appalling things toward women from the most social "adept" of people, Rugby teams, bankers...I think the social ineptitude excuse only goes so far.


My boss (the senior dev) is a Dragon Girl

Targaryens everywhere!


LOL the image I was going to use in the header was Daenaerys - but thought it went a bit too far. PJ Harvey is a hero, so I decided she should sit atop the post.


Have to admit I don't really care if there are fewer women in tech, or if they feel uncomfortable in a boy's club, and don't see any reason why we should have to change to make them feel better.

Just because "sexism" is against your moral code doesn't mean it's against mine.

The old joke is true - to avoid sexual harassment accusations: 1) be attractive, 2) don't be unattractive. I've dated plenty of women at work, flirt all the time, and no one has ever accused me of "harassment" or "sexism."

My boss lady caught me checking out her ass once, the next few weeks she wore short skirts and made sure to walk by my desk. It was great.


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