>Dave was really excited by the class, and, like me and the other volunteers, had a lot of experience with Python.
Sounds like Dave was in the wrong class and should have been told so.
>I wondered afterwards why this extremely competent woman in her 20s would react this way after clearly mastering the material.
That's a learned technique for getting assistance. It worked on you, didn't it?
Most of the people who lecture at these events are programmers, not folks who have a masters in teaching along with their state certification.
But back to your point. My degree is from a university in Boston and helped me get my teaching license. Almost everything we covered was theoretical and, with a few important exceptions, utterly useless.
Looks like the author of the article was either incapable or unwilling or unprepared to perform one of the basic teaching functions - ensuring that jerks do not disrupt the process for the rest of the group. It may stem from inexperience - well, that's what experience is for. One doesn't need masters or certificates to learn such things though, it's perfectly available to any common person.
Can't speak for US, but in UK a large part of PGCE courses is devoted to reflecting and acting on experience gained in a supervised teaching placement.
Sometimes you need to dig a bit deeper to process the experience, my favourite out of date theory is Schon's single and double loop learning.
For coders: single loop learning is when you change the way you name variables or re-write your code to make the logic clearer. Double loop learning is the stuff Michael Lopp writes about.
And its great that people within the business are prepared to help others out.
Perhaps there is a need for a 'facilitator's FAQ' that could provide quick strategies for situations like this?
Anyone any idea where to host such a publication?
PS: why was 'Dave' allowed to join the workshop half way through?
The author was not calling for single-sex education, he was calling for us to find & support ways of giving new people "a more comfortable entrance into our general community".
This is not to imply that there aren't good reasons for women-only education, but this isn't one of them.
Would a group or women react differently if the conference jerk was female? I'd guess the answer is "No", but then I've never experienced that situation.
I have experienced the male version of this, and unlike the author of the article I never see this kind of show-off behavior as a "call to arms", unless that means fighting the urge to wing something heavy at someone's head.
Perhaps there's a selection bias here, but when I see this happen the people around me tend to concur that "helpful jerk" is being an unhelpful douche.
It seems that when enough guys get together there often ends up being some amount of dick-size measuring; is there something similar when groups of women gather?
There's a natural experiment in England where there are quite a lot of single sex schools. There are a bunch of confounding factors that are hard to kludge out - social-economic backgrounds, etc.
Some cultures and religions prefer the sexes to be separated. This may not be a good reason to many people.
The only division I would be interested in is segregating the fast learners(whatever be the reason - is sharp, already knows stuff, studies outside class) from regular learners, so that fast learners don't get bored or try to derail the class, and slow learners don't feel left out.
PS - I am not implying that you are supporting gender-segregated education. I am making a general point.
I don't see anyone suggesting such a thing, but instead, that the majority of each gender may have certain behavior and learning styles in common.
And even if this happens to be true, then why stop at gender-segregation?
Why go any further? Just because one type of segregation may work, doesn't mean that all types of segregation would work.
Unless you can prove that certain behavior is common among majority of females, and that certain common behavior is more significant than bazillion traits which are not shared, and then that certain behavior is significant to learning, and is more important than traits which aren't shared - the segregation is meaningless.
> Why go any further? Just because one type of segregation may work, doesn't mean that all types of segregation would work.
The chances that a group of students is going to be consistent, coherent, and will respond to the teaching style in the same way is essentially zero(group size > 1). If gender segregation show a noticeable, significant improvement; by all means have it. But don't make claims in advance.
I am demanding hard conclusions, failing which I am demanding you don't make any if you aren't sure(gender difference became apparent to me that day, gender segregation works etc).
> It's the difference between correlation and causation, and correlation is not "meaningless."
I didn't claim correlation is meaningless - I just claimed you are claiming correlation, and for fuck's sake, causation, when there isn't any.
Correlation is when 2 random variables aren't probabilisticaly independent. If you can cite me correlation between gender and behavioral traits when it comes to learning, and that study isn't some crackpot theory based on how I taught a ruby workshop, I am more than willing to be corrected.
This is where you're dishonest: You say you're looking for hard connections, yet any evidence is subject to a value judgement on your part. Tails I lose.
I am looking for correlation, as in the sense correlation is defined, or causation. I don't think correlation or causation is open to value judgement.
I was just trying to describe a point of view, not one I myself hold.
I think that division by sex is often used as a proxy for division based on learning styles. Not fast vs slow per se, but in how people respond to teaching styles and student interaction.
Which brings me back to my initial point. Is there data that suggests males and females respond significantly differently to teaching styles, and all member of a group(male or female) are consistent?
I am pretty sure you will be left with a class of 1 in the end.
I was going to point out the same thing. A women playing dumb to get help from a man, is not uncommon at all.
Just thought I'd share my tales of sexual harassment in the workplace, seemed relevant ;)
And she may have felt, accurately, that she didn't understand the material as well as the OP thought. You can produce a lot of code in a tutorial without knowing enough to produce that architecture yourself.
Personally I think the people who have the clearest view of what they don't know are the ones prepared to learn the fastest. There's a huge difference between "programming is hard!" nonsense that stops people from starting in the first place and "I'm not getting this" consolidations that help a _started_ person figure out what they need to learn.
Anecdotally, a lot of PhDs have impostor syndrome.
What they need probably is a mix of more attention, a kick up the bum, and being encouraged to go and help other people who are less progressed (because that will actually build their confidence.)
The most extreme examples did not last long. Less extreme cases were treated by starting off any request for help with a review of the process and available resources that led the colleague to ask for help from a co-worker. This was done to develop the ability to perform research and empower them to make decisions on their own as long as they had a good basis for it.
Obviously a short training seminar is different, and the expectation is not for the participant to have found the answer on their own, but I believe a short review of their thought process is in order so the instructor can catch any systemic faults in the student's development. That is, don't just tell them what to type, but figure out if they are missing a core competency and perhaps recommend an independent course of study to supplement the seminar.
And people wonder why women don't like male dominated tech events
Maybe men do similar things when they are confused, or maybe not. I don't know enough about education to comment, but attempting to would be off topic anyways.
The fact that you frame it in such a stereotypical way speaks volumes about the attitudes at work here.
And a simple "let's save the rest of these questions for after class" to the jerk is often effective.
Gender bias is a touchy subject in these tech blogs and the responses to this (yet another) article are, predictably, dismissive. It was one person's fault, there's no widespread gender bias, the instructor should have things differently, someone has seen women be jerks too, etc.
So while there really does seem to be a measurable, observable difference in gender involvement in computing (e.g. in CS enrollments, in working in the industry, etc), these anecdotes always get tossed as not significant.
So what I'm wondering, and this is an open question to everyone here: would anything convince you, personally, that gender bias is real, or has a significant measurable effect, or is a problem? Would it take a certain kind of experiment? Some kind of data or analysis? (Or is the answer, "it's not a problem"?) Like, what sorts of articles would people _not_ jump on the bandwagon to tear to shreds?
Anyway, I don't think people pick apart these blog posts because they're unwilling to accept there's a "gender bias" (whatever that actually means). Rather they pick these posts apart because there are very obvious holes in the original posts' reasoning. In this case, it's that because some guy was vaguely an overcompetitive jerk, somehow that means we need to isolate the sexes. Because apparently women are incapable of being overcompetitive jerks, and it (obviously) has to be a male/female dynamic.
That's kind of a leap!
Here's the other thing, and this is kind of a tangent, but a theme I see with a lot of these blog posts isn't that someone was actively hostile, but rather, that someone did something "offensive". With "offensive" ranging from things that are obviously very unprofessional to incredibly tame things that someone just didn't like. And to that I'd just say this: its your choice to be offended by things. And its your choice how you react to that. I've been "offended" by many things other programmers have said, but I don't go "well programming isn't for me!". I just think less of those people. I don't think female sensibilities are so frail that they aren't by and large the same way.
Oh, wait, it was serious?!
Well now, how are you going to map this issue to something which isn't, in the end, anecdotes, since it pertains to human emotional responses? Are you asking those ethereal (probably fake, as you said, who even knows what this gender bias thing means?) other people to come up with a scale where they have to put it in 1-to-ten how belittled they felt?
Have you stopped to think of why these kinds of posts are held up to such scrutiny in contrast to, say, posts about other, not-related to gender, and thus mostly affecting men (this last point shouldn't need explanation), matters? Like, bad experiences with VCs or age discrimination and some such?
I would hazard a guess that the distinction is not due to something very rational, unless you get very cynical and paranoid.
> Because apparently women are incapable of being overcompetitive jerks, and it (obviously) has to be a male/female dynamic.
It sort of is if its impact is mostly on women, and the behavior is mostly accused on men. Yes, this last point would require something more akin to actual statistics to be turned into the reason for some sort of castigation on men in general, but I haven't seen any of that as of now, really. Unless you count people feeling personally attacked by the existence of this discussion, of course.
> Here's the other thing, and this is kind of a tangent, but a theme I see with a lot of these blog posts isn't that someone was actively hostile, but rather, that someone did something "offensive". [...]
Well, we are quite glad that none of these problems affect you, but this conversation wasn't about you in particular, was it?
It was one person's fault, the instructor should have done things differently, some women are jerks(just like some men). The way you are enumerating says you don't believe they are true, when they are. As for "widespread gender bias", I don't know. I haven't seen it in action myself(I have seen the reverse though - women getting preferential treatment). I am not denying it - I am just saying I am not in a position to confirm or deny.
> So while there really does seem to be a measurable, observable difference in gender involvement in computing (e.g. in CS enrollments, in working in the industry, etc), these anecdotes always get tossed as not significant.
High school kids get into CS enrollments. I would love to hear from them why they don't go for CS enrollments, rather than hearing speculations. I have heard students complaining about nerdy culture, more demanding courses, low grades, low female to male ratio(circular - if you don't come in, it's going to be always low), anti-social(non-party) students etc. Do you believe girls don't enroll in CS courses because they believe there male counterparts will discriminate against them? If so, can you please provide me some citations.
> Like, what sorts of articles would people _not_ jump on the bandwagon to tear to shreds?
The sort of articles where the conclusion follows from the antecedents.
1. I volunteered to teach a women's only class.
1.5 It was going well. Some young girl, who was doing well, just giggled and told me she has no idea what she is doing.
2. Some Dave walked in and derailed it.
3. I got angry, but the women just tuned out.
4. Hence, gender bias is real.
How does 4 follow from any of it?
Yeah, this is extremely simple, and I've asked for this probably a dozen times in various forums without receiving any answer whatsoever, let alone a satisfactory one: show me some indication that discrimination is worse in tech than any other field. Not just that the gender ratio is skewed, or evidence for that, but that the behavior you'd like to blame that on is actually worse enough here than in other fields to justify the massive gender gap here.
That should be easy, right? If the reason women don't go into tech at a 4:1 ratio is that all of us fucktard guys are assholes, it should be easy to pull numerical evidence of that fact, I'd think.
The wage gap should be more pronounced than in most fields, right?
Or the number of sexual assault/harassment incidents per woman should be higher than in other fields, surely?
Ok, or maybe more women leave the workforce in this field per year than in others, presumably because of the horrible atmosphere that us piggish guys create?
Don't just tell me that it's hard for women in tech, that could merely be because this is a hot button issue and there are few women in tech; show me that it's worse than it is elsewhere, in all of those other fields where women have their asses grabbed every day yet still keep on keeping on, without (for instance) blog posts blaming the lack of women in waitressing on the harassment that waitresses get from men in the field. Give me some explanation for the fact that the harassment my girlfriend receives every day in retail, including from her male boss (and this is not unusual, I know dozens of women in retail), beats out the worst of the women-in-tech harassment horror stories, yet her field is better than 50/50 women to men. I need something, because to me it seems like there's something a lot more important and powerful going on than mere sexism, which is everywhere and still doesn't keep women from taking jobs.
Perhaps a lot of people who are also self taught feel in a similar way, hence the typical reactions on HN.
> "Dave expressed his enthusiasm for the material by asking a lot of very technical questions to the instructor. Largely, these questions seemed designed to show off his own knowledge, or to challenge the instructor. In other words, Dave was the jerk at the conference."
This isn't a male-only phenomenon. Whether it's philosophy classes, psychology classes, or other courses with a significant female composition, this type of behavior is not entirely absent among females either (I have distinct memories of this in college). Granted it may be less common or less confrontational, but it exists, and let's also not forget most women will acknowledge that they can be quite vicious toward one another in office settings as well.
Think about the amount of women in law and medicine (I believe they are the majority at this point). Do you think hot-shot male lawyers or med students behave in significantly different ways than hot-shot male hackers? I doubt it. Men are men; I'm sure in the courtroom, at university, or at the medical conferences, or tech workshops, a minority of us men will exhibit this same "jerk" behavior (i.e., challenging the lecturer, asking questions to show off, etc...). In summary, jerk behavior does not sufficiently or completely explain the lack of women in tech. It exists in most if not all professional fields, even ones in which women are coming to dominate (which, hey, I think is great).
Oh, for fuck's sake, how is some Dave being jerk is making gender difference apparent? The guy was at the wrong place, and was being a show-off. But no, you must attribute it to his gender.
As pointed out by threads below, the author was talking about how the room tuned out when Dave started derailing conversation, and he saw it as call to arms. The author sees this as apparent gender difference - FWIW I don't agree with his assessment. As long as we are talking anecdotes, I couldn't see a clear patterns(based on gender or any other trait) in the reactions of the people I know to this scenario.
I am leaving my incorrect comment as there are replies, and the replies will become meaningless if I remove it.
> Looking at her screen, she’d made significant progress towards finishing the project, but when she asked me a question she giggled and told me she had no idea what the project was about, or what to do.
> Studies have shown that especially bright women have this reaction to difficult material and that women learning computer science do better in an single sex classroom (though those studies have critics).
I think you are better off not basing off your approach on some controversial study. If you are compartmentalizing, no two students are same. And if you are generalizing, I find it hard to believe that 3291805000 females of the world show the same behavioral and learning traits. Unless you have proved it otherwise, I would stick to a feedback based approach where I see how students are coping up, and then introduce variations.
If you read the article again, you may find that the gender difference which became apparent to the author has to do with the /response/ to Dave's behaviour, and not with his behaviour /per se/.
Also, here is a (perhaps interesting) thought experiment: Among the folks you know well enough, how many would care to respond to an opinion in a discussion forum which starts off with the words "Oh, for fuck's sake" ? How do the women fare in this count? Is there a gender difference?
To me, and I suspect most men, we’d see Dave’s behavior
as a call to arms. Dave was raising the stakes and even
though his behavior was clearly rude, it also demonstrated
that he had a mastery over the material.
If there are groups where everyone feels challenged and is in a fighting mood after seeing Dave in action, it's probably because everyone else already left the room or had the sense not to come to the event in the first place.
In college and grad school I was usually the guy asking advanced questions, not because I was trying to show off or be a jerk, but because I was trying to gain a particular level of mastery of the material, and the way I gain that mastery is to ask questions during the process of absorbing the material. I gain understanding of, say, a particular algorithm by asking if a particular extension of that algorithm is appropriate.
This makes me wonder if others mistakenly viewed me as a troll, or felt like I was dragging the classroom down, due to my learning style being something of an outlier. (Being on the autism spectrum, if anyone tried to signal me about this without being explicit, I would have missed it.)
Also, I'm genuinely curious: how do you tell the difference? What's the difference between Dave's (presumed) "stump the instructor to validate ego" questions and my "push the edges of my understanding, which may happen to stump the instructor if they haven't thought about it, and which may confirm to me that I've understood things correctly" questions?
In a basic intro class, this can be a problem because other students will start to think they are in the wrong class and don't understand the material and drop out! A common example is language classes. You have a college German 101 class and a bunch of people show up that are native German speakers looking to get an easy A. Or they had 3 years in high school, or lived there a while with their military parents on base, and are looking for a refresher and thought 101 was a good place.
If the teacher lets these students (who are not jerks, bullies or douches any more than I think this Dave was) proceed at their own pace, then the rest of the students will leave in frustration. That happens a lot and the teachers often like it because then they can teach at a more fun higher level with students who already know the material. But it's not fair to the actual intro students.
This also happens a lot in engineering classes where schools pretty much have to assume students have learned basic programming, soldering, and electricity on their own before enrolling in engineering school. In this case it is probably best to let the students who were never interested enough in the topic to study it previously, just drop out.
In this particular case I agree with the suggestion made here by another that students be put into basic/advanced tracks or Dave be encouraged to take another class. Another route to take, which is what I do, is to say "Dave, these are really excellent and interesting questions, but they are way above the introductory level of this class. I'd like to keep things for now on a more basic level since many people here are just getting into programming for the first time, but I'd definitely be more than happy to talk with you in detail about these issues during office hours. Is that OK?"
The solution of labeling him a "bully" and calls for "kicking him out" of the class are irresponsible, immature and signs of an unskilled unprofessional teacher. But it's what goes on at many American primary schools. If you have an excited, intellectually interested first grader who asks a lot of questions, most American teachers will personally diagnose the child with "ADHD" and demand the parents put him on amphetamines to zone him out so he won't keep asking questions and will sit and listen because that's what you do in school nowadays. Sit down, shut up, be quiet, and do as you are told. An approach that most of the posters in this thread seem to approve of given their hatred for poor curious Dave.
Or actually paying attention the article, apparently. "Poor Curious Dave" was a VOLUNTEER at the workshop. Just like the author of the article, Dave's purpose being there was to assist the students of the workshop with the projects (presumably, or to assist in some other capacity).
Maybe Dave thought his questions and comments would help clarify or improve the instructor's content...but on the other hand I really don't find the article author's evaluation of Dave as just a showoff/bully much of a stretch. I assumed that we've all seen this behavior tons of times and that it is pretty obvious when someone is being "That Guy" versus trying to clarify or expand on the material for themselves or others.
The fact that quite a few here are eager to challenge the author's evaluation of Dave and jump to Dave's defense is...funny, I guess.
Same here. I think this is mostly a matter of personality. I see no point for bothering with destructive personality types as long as I am not forced into some long-time work/social relationship setting. Life is to short too confront negativity if one can just go out of its way.
I don't think it does that, but nevertheless, this raises an interesting question that I've been having real trouble answering, so maybe you (or others) could help me out: why do you dislike it when people make such implications? Do you feel you're worth less if you're perceived to be less manly?
No, I simply dislike it when other people tell me how I'm supposed to act based on their proprietary rules. I don't give a shit about my masculinity per se, but I do not like to be mashed in by association with stereotypes that feel alien and artificial to me.
I'm surprised and frustrated at how many people are reading things in the article that I never wrote, and never implied- like the sentiment you expressed, or the idea that I'm somehow an advocate for single sex education, or (as one poster on another forum put it, I come off like a "feminist bitch".
Hmm, that was the message I read. From the conclusions section, "Lessons Learned: I’d never really believed in single sex education... but my experience last weekend changed my view."
Perhaps it isn't clear which of your views have changed, if different people are associating that last part of the quote with different parts of the article.
No, I think you're perceiving it more strongly than I meant it to be. Like I said, I don't actually think this is the most interesting point of the article - so my response here is more a testament to the general reception by our little group than anything else. Overall, I thought it was a good piece to read, actually.
> I'm somehow an advocate for single sex education
I didn't perceive it to be. I too think single sex education is a huge mistake, and one we should not be repeating again. In fact, I believe the more recent conflict of the sexes is largely based on baggage we're still carrying around from that era.
> I come off like a "feminist bitch"
If someone says something like that, just ignore it. It's really not worth responding to people who talk like that. Their phrasing already tells you everything there is to know about them. They're trolls.
This is correct.
I'm the author of the article, and the tough part about writing this was trying to balance my personal perspective with making a larger point.
What I may not have expressed well was that before last Saturday, I did not see any point in single sex workshops. I felt they were segregating the community, and that they perpetuated the idea that either women were meek, or that men were predatory.
What I came out of the experience with was an appreciation of the differences in interaction between men and women, how women were more comfortable in an environment full of other women, and how there was a difference in the way I reacted to a challenge in comparison to these students.
Of course individual differences will override any generalized statement, but my experiences led me to reconsider my position regarding women oriented groups and their role in the Free Software community.
His point was that in practice, students who actually already know basic programming test out of the intro class, but there always seems to be a contingent that _thinks_ that they are experts, and who ruin the class dynamics by acting superior, asking show-offy questions, etc. It would be better for everyone if they could self-select into a single section.
(In fact, in my evil little mind, I might be tempted to send a Dave to a table just a bit above him, to show him that he's only hot shit in his own mind.)
Yes, Dave was showing off to an audience of women.
she asked me a question she giggled and told me she had no idea what the project was about, or what to do.
Yes, the woman was acting like a bimbo to elicit male help.
Congrats, you now have the grasp of female/male dynamics usually figured out by middle school.
I’d never really believed in single sex education
Wow, a thousand years of human culture tossed away in one generation by ideological fanatics pretending that women and men are "equal" and one guy finally figures out maybe tradition exists for a reason. Ask any woman who went to an all-girls school if she missed having to be in the same classroom as boys.
I saw that women only groups are not creating a more insular community of women, but rather offering these women a more comfortable entrance into our general community.
Amazing! How was this brilliant guy to know he could have asked his grandmother and saved himself all that trouble?
The jerk factor also reminded me of why we in the Free Software community need to be taking issues of civility seriously, and not letting the idea of “free speech” get in the way of maintaining a safe place for discussion.
You get your group to be 50/50 male/female and you are going to drive away lots of competent men because showing off their skills, bragging, and one-upping other men is one of the primary motivations to excel at your chosen field. A "safe space" for women is often a "boring space" for men.
But sure, go ahead, I'm sure this problem will be easy to solve with just the right technical fix. In fact, I can think of one technical fix the ancient Chinese used to make "safe men" for keeping their harems.
"There are no statutes capable of controlling the relations between men and women." -- Secretary
Yes they most certainly do.
Yes, they may be technically competent, but they are socially incompetent, because they never progressed beyond that juvenile behavior.
Ok, now you have admitted that technically competent men may in fact exhibit those behaviors, so now you're saying they are "socially incompetent." You are wrong in both cases, highly competent men who show off their skills, brag, and dominate other men tend to be very socially competent. In fact, this sort of display is very much a demonstration of social competence.
Obviously, juveniles do this is a different way than adults, but the pattern of behavior is the same. It is also often the case that men who are being shown up will try to "tear down" the dominant male by labelling his behavior "juvenile" or trying to change the nature of the competition to something he's better at.
One might paraphrase: "sure, he's highly competent, adept at showing his skills, and is clearly superior to me at this particular activity. But he's such a show-off!"
"A popular, cool, or otherwise normal person who has become intrigued by the fun of programming. Usually unliked by the nerdy programmers for getting all of the friends and the girls, while creating cool and useful applications."
Was that meant to be an insult?
One has to wonder if "male feminists" and "nice guys" share the same delusion that "white knighting" females will increase their sexual success, and advocating "more women in tech" is an excuse to have potential mates in closer proximity, and has nothing to do with any moral crusade or actual benefit for the tech industry itself?
One wonders if "male feminists" are simply trying to compensate for their personal deficiencies?
(Not rendering any judgment on whether you do or don't fit this definition, just making sure everyone is clear on what was being implied above.)
Who associates these characteristics with "high school jocks" and who assumes these are negative characteristics?
Arrogance (i.e., a superior male) misogyny (i.e., a man who the woman I lust after has sex with) bullying (i.e., a man who is socially superior than me) and unwarranted aggression (i.e., a male who out-competes me).
Sound like "brogrammer" means "I really envy this superior man."
Did you actually read that comment as comparing the "desire to get more women into tech" with castration?
You really didn't understand that the castration reference was to a "simple technical fix" for typical male behavior, and that the reference is what is often called "hyperbole?"
You really misunderstood not only what was being compared to castration, but also the tone in which the reference was made?
Near the end he suddenly jumped really fast to his conclusion, namely that he supports women-only groups (or, as he likes to spell it, 'women only groups'), but he really doesn't explain why other than saying that it offers a more comfortable entrance to them. He doesn't link his conclusion to the rest of the article, and I don't see how this specific occurrence adds to the conclusion. Because the jerk happened to be male? I'd like to address him for overgeneralizing males, but he just straight out avoids being clear about it.
But even if it was safe to say that only males act like jerks, that still does not mean that every male is like that, and it certainly doesn't mean women should be kept separated from males in education. If a male is being a jerk, the problem is that he's being a jerk, not the fact that he's a male. I fail to see why to differ between male and female and the article does not make it clear in the slightest.
But as soon as I say that, I can definitely think of plenty of oxygen-hogs in my all male engineering classes
Dave would have been in a group where he'd be able to show others directly, if Dave wasn't in a group, he'd be quickly identified by the teacher as someone who didn't need help and could possibly benefit the group.
Dave: <obscure question about array semantics>
Teacher: Dave, it looks like you know a lot about arrays, Laura is struggling a bit, can you help her out?
Dave isn't a jerk, it's just that the instructor is using antiquated teaching methods from the 19th century, and under utilizing his teaching resources. Clearly this person is someone who's authority should indeed be challenged.
I do stuff about peer feedback and explaining in words in my Maths classes, then the peer tutoring works a lot better.
E.g. instructor illustrates no need for semi-colons, meaningful white space -> excited volunteer explains how much cleaner it looks than other programming languages and how great he finds it, maybe with a real world anecdote, or he compares how it is like working with other languages without that, hell maybe even says it isn't a feature he likes, etc..
I'd rather he be open and egregious about his knowledge like this, than just sitting there like a robot for whenever a classmate asks him to help with step 5 or something. It would be a much richer, varied, and more interesting class than some textbook recitation of a tutorial anyone can follow at home anyway.
I used to be Dave when I was younger (still am if I don't keep a lid on it; I'm sure empathy is a wonderful thing but I've just had to learn to fake it over the years). So my preferred solution would have been to ask "does anyone else have any questions or are the rest of you secure enough in your own ability to not feel the need to advertise?". But then I guess there'd have been two jerks in the room and only one of them being helpful.
Students quickly recognize the adversarial relationship and, depending on how the teacher responds, either lose confidence in the teacher or tube out the cock fight.
As the teacher, in a short-term environment (like a substitute or a half-day seminar), you have to shut that person down unequivocally. In a longer lasting environment, give that person a chance to teach.
"[Looked] at her screen, she’d made significant progress towards finishing the project, but when she asked me a question she giggled and told me she had no idea what the project was about, or what to do.
I still don’t know the reason. Studies have shown that especially bright women have this reaction to difficult material and that women learning computer science do better in an single sex classroom (though those studies have critics)."
On a similar Hacker News post, "In Math You Have to Remember, In Other Subjects You Can Think About It" the author paraphrases from a book "What's Math Got To Do With It?", in which he states that a student
"... called Rebecca, was conscientious, motivated, and smart, and regularly attained A+ grades in mathematics. She was able to follow the methods her teacher demonstrated in class, and could reproduce them perfectly. But she did not understand what she was doing, and as a result she regarded herself as not good at math. When Boaler asked her why she thought that, she replied, "Because I can't remember things well and there is so much to remember." [p.164.]"
Coincidentally both subjects are female but I think it's part of an underlying theme on learning and developing critical thinking skills that is playing out across this country. And the consequences of this lack/challenge differs on how one is taught.
I think the author is dead right about the single-sex classes being a comfortable way to introduce women to technical topics. But having men there did not stop them from asking questions and following the material at the hackerspace. I think getting involvement from female-oriented communities will provide that comfort level to start with. Also, female teachers (my scientist female friends said they'd love to teach little girls to become science and math geeks if they had the time)
The end result is that you both may be right: maybe women (and men, for that matter) should be fully integrated in learning environments and have segregated environments. No two people learn the same, why would we expect the same level of comfort in every classroom setting.
And if I look back to TFA, I think that is what the author meant by "more PyLadies". Listen to everybody and give them all comfortable places to learn.
Not that your post is passive-aggressive, but we need to start being proactive about this. In all realms of life. Call people out on their shit or they're not going to change. Humans are weak to the pressures and influences of society. If we continue to stand there and allow certain behavior, they'll continue to do it. If you man up and call people on their crap, it might not work the first time but if enough people do, that person will eventually realize what they are doing is wrong.
Maybe Dave isn't a jerk or a showoff. Maybe he is like me. I learn by asking questions during the learning process. I feel like I'm not really learning very well unless I can say "does this material imply this other conclusion?" or "if we extended this to more dimensions, would we just have to change these things, or am I missing something?" I learn by stretching the edges of what I think I'm learning.
I'm also on the autism spectrum, which means I'm unlikely to pick up on whatever social signals the rest of the class might be sending. I've tried to learn those things, but they're still pretty opaque to me.
So I would appreciate, if I'm in a circumstance where my question-asking is causing problems, if someone would pull me aside and say "can you save your questions for later? They're a bit distracting for the rest of us." I'm not doing it either to be a jerk or to show off, so I'll gladly stop if the problem is clearly communicated to me.
Even then, not every instructor (or a person who effectively serves as an instructor) can stand this. Here I have to trust my people's judgement and sometimes I do misjudge. I recall one of my colleagues and coworkers with whom I could not maintain a meaningful oral conversation because we would misunderstand each other's verbal styles, however we were able to efficiently converse over email. This is certainly impossible in a classroom.
I have had circumstances where other students have thanked me for being persistent with my questions, and for forcing the instructor to clarify. (This was more common in grad school than undergrad.) So I have a hard time accepting the "just don't use this in a classroom" solution.
When I say "student", I mean anyone in the audience, and "instructor" is anyone at the podium, talking.
You certainly can call out oppressive behavior from others that don't share your privilege or background, but a lot of times that behavior isn't standing against oppressive BS, but rather reinforcing it. In this very discussion, there any several posters who are disregarding the OPs experience so that their opinions about sexism and male dominance in the classroom aren't challenged.
The fact of the matter is this classroom was an audience of (mostly) women who had selected an environment that would have almost none or no men attending. We can't simply blame that audience and teacher for not standing up to an aggressive male when the whole point of this kind of class to leave those people out in the first place. I also don't blame the OP for not speaking out, but it's important to note once you learn that this kind of behavior is wrong, you can call someone out on it if you feel you are safe to do so.
1. Do I feel bad about women achieving stuff in life ?
2. Am I ashamed of the above fact?
Lets face it, from what I have been able to figure out, this is the case with a lot of men in this world. Question we must be asking is : how do we go about solving this problem?
This is not as simple as just developing empathy for the other sex, because according to current customs and expectations: men are expected to be taking care of women, women should be trading up etc.
Whenever the question of equality of sexes come in tech, the arguments are always split into two factions. One side argues that there is no such thing as discrimination of sex in tech. It is a meritocracy and that is the only way it can be, and women are not in tech because they do not want to be / are naturally less talented in programming. The other side argues this is not the case and that you feel so only because you have no daughter/are a virgin/you are a basement dwelling looser.This line of thinking is not productive. Painting men as super villains in some grand 'Dan Brown'ian plot of conspiracy against women will NOT work.Especially with nerds. I am not saying anything excuses sexist behaviour just that villifying them may satisfy your ego, but will not accomplish anything.
It works because it plays into traditional gender roles. You don't have to be a bleeding heart liberal to believe women are the "gentler" sex that needs the protection of society. Just good ol' fashioned chivalry.
is there a typo there? at the moment it reads like other people's (women's) successes make you feel bad.
Nobody believes this! There's no conspiracy at work. But there is is a long history of gender-based discrimination, and cultural practices that still reinforce suffocating gender roles today.
The ideas you complain about - "men are expected to be taking care of women, women should be trading up etc." - are part of that.
A) Having participated in plenty of female majority online groups, my experiance has been that, yes, a single guy can have inordinate power. He is often deferred to and supported by a bevel of cooing ladies who seem oblivious to the power dynamic underlying the whole thing.
B) It is possible that Dave was not trying to be a jerk at all. Maybe he was just nervous around the ladies and subconsciously going into braggart mode in hopes of impressing someone and getting a date.
We can't reasonably say this is a female specific phenomenon when our only point of reference is a female-only class. Send the guy to a bunch of different classes (of mixed and single gender, and of mixed skill-level) and see how they all respond.
If one guy is monopolising the time and help available in the class, it stands to reason that everyone else will lose interest, because there is no longer time and attention available to them.
And if this guy is asking questions that far exceed the average skill level of the class, it also stands to reason that the class will lose interest because they can't understand any of it.
I'd like to know why the volunteers were accepting of this guy when at least one of them (the OP) was well aware of how detrimental his presence was to the class as a whole. And I'd like to know this guy's motivations for joining a class to wave his intellectual dick about.
I assumed the point of the author was that this was a female-specific phenomenon, since the theme of his post was gender. Also, because the author said so:
"To me, and I suspect most men, we’d see Dave’s behavior as a call to arms."
Then why is the article about gender at all?
The author volunteers for female-only class (which he makes sure to highlight), and thus assumes his whole experience is down to the fact the class is all female.
Remove all references to gender and there is no significant change to the story. I think that reveals the complete irrelevance of gender.
My original point, which I guess wasn't worded very well, was that we're told about one experience in one classroom, and that has been blown up to account for the entirety of female-kind.
I've seen a room full of men respond exactly the same way.
I'm not trying to generalize, but in my years of working with male developers, they tend to have a much more hands-off and "just look at it and learn" approach. Whether this is because I am female (and therefore a 'lost cause') or because they are just not the teaching type, I'm not sure, but when I'm trying to learn something, I don't want to take the chance of dealing with Daves or people that think women giggling equates to their being a bimbo.
- Assign skill levels to tables. Possibly make a leader with the highest skills. (Bitboxer had this solution). If your skill level is too high then whats the point of going?
- Ask the "Helpful jerk" to lead the class. Allow them to aid you in the course.
We can't actually solve the jerk problem but there are contingency strategies to minimize this problem.
Free software should mean we have standards of conduct.
[Edited due to comment below]
If the jerk doesn't like that, (s)he can leave.
To be fair, that's very nearly Python's optimal niche at the moment. Users can start seeing returns after a very modest investment of time and energy.
What is the mechanism behind smarty-pants-Dave's suppression of others' enthusiasm?
Was it that he was raising issues that weren't relevant to others' learning?
Or did something in his mannerism suggest contempt for those who knew less Python than him?
Or, did people become suddenly skeptical of the authority or competence of the instructor Dave questioned?
I second the observation that in the right environment, attention and interest would increase, as people look for ways to give annoying-Dave his comeuppance.
I am talking about both, the writer and Dave.
Why do you think most women stick to managing projects instead of being involved in Free Software?
Too much drama. Too much shit to cope with, that involves dicks and egos.
In the article we assume that Dave was a jerk (and it probably was). But, see, the author was in a comfortable position, when suddenly another man entered the room, and started to go alpha and everything turned into an ego battle.
Perhaps the problem isn't women, and it isn't men, but instead the urge to force them together and then demand they suppress their natural gender differences?
Based on experience I would guess having gender segregated groups of technical workers could be quite productive. But anyone trying would immediately be hit by lawsuits from the discrimination lawyers.
Absolutely, and from the other side, forcing a man into a mostly female group is going to drive him crazy with what he perceives to be the petty female group dynamics.
People often forget that some gender differences are what make each gender powerful.
Gender equality should not be about expecting the same features in both genders, but about having the same rights.
The horror - they even have segregated bathrooms!
My subjective impression of you and your "anti-sexism" is that you are an ideological fanatic. Fortunately, it's not likely that you and your kind will ever "overcome sexism in society" and it's likely that public restrooms will remain segregated by gender.
Your understanding of the differences between the sexes seems based more on ideological, abstract categories than practical, biologically based considerations, which is often the case with ideological and religious fanaticism.
In my opinion, your "anti-sexism" is just rehashed, 20th century cultural Marxism that is fortunately becoming less popular. I hope we can all progress beyond such failed, politically and religiously motivated trends.
Where there's muck, there's brass. Are you saying that women have no brass?
As I see the current status of gender equality in tech, women working on a tech job are protected by their social status.
A female "junior" programmer could easily be harmed by "women do not know how to code", but with time and patience, they can go forward into the company hierarchy, and end in a position where their status protects such opinions.
In the free software world, it's more difficult to move forward in the hierarchy of a project, hence, time and patience gets consumed.
Now, take this with a grain of salt, because there's a big possibility I am wrong and just resorting to topics here.
The author clearly stated he felt challenged by the display of dominance by another male, and wrote this blog to heal his wounded ego and display his superior abilities at leading women.
So, no, it probably wouldn't have been effective without the male villain. The competing male was a "jerk" and the damsel in distress just needed to be protected from the "jerk" by the knight in shining armour.
All-female classes taught by a single male teacher have proven to be quite effective.
When most people have some level of general respect beyond clannishness, is when things like this will no longer be required. Personally, I'm not holding my breath.
random anecdote. in my college days, there was a woman who was doing a second run at undergrad, after having a phd in marketing, and she was pretty much the know it all jerk.
The comic could have just as easily said "one girl is good at math therefore exactly as many girls as boys are good at math."
Education is the widely recognized source of power. Should we strive for 50/50 and if so, how should we achieve it?
Perhaps building applications and managing data will involve more visual tools that allow domain specific knowledge to be applied directly?
I think for the sake of civilization, we should not try to aim for a 50/50 ratio. Your utopia is another person's dystopia. Not all of us share your morality.