Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login


> As if women are so weak that they all they can do is just sit there at the door, sobbing "please let us in your industry".

Aaaaand straw man. Citation please. You almost made it, too.

The complaint has never been that there isn't gender parity; that's an indicator, not the substance. It's about as valid as Gallup polls are for political issues: which is to say useful for making large claims, but not useful for actually understanding those claims. We don't change minds on political issues by mashing a button on a Nintendo controller until the number goes from 40% to 60%; we talk to people.

The complaint is that women who are in the industry feel like they're being forced out of it. See: http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Othering And also the rest of the Wikia.

(And I'm obliged to note that, despite the faulty premise, you're on target otherwise and I fully agree.)

Also, I explain this a bit better down here: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4264875

Maybe men don't care about working at a beautify salon?

More likely though Real Men(TM) don't want to be hairdressers! That's only for flaming homosexuals!

Never underestimate the power of a good social taboo.

Now, given that there aren't a lot of gender taboos against women working on Wikipedia or in technology startups, then it seems to me that at least the latter has to be a career choice issue. I think there are very strong reasons to think that men value security and stability of employment less than women, and so are going to be overrepresented in environments which are more risky and less stable than women are. If this is a problem the question is what we do to compensate. Would Marissa Mayer have been able to put in 130 hour work weeks as a new mom? Of course not. That our industry demands such may in fact be the problem.

If hairdressing were a multi-billion dollar global industry and the foundation of almost the entirety of the future economy that would be more of a problem. Tech, however, is big, important, and getting bigger.

Medicine is a huge industry. Where I am from, women are 70 percent of entrants. They still get help with applications (women in medicine career days etc). They are more likely to take long career breaks and work part time. In the UK, where the tax payer pays for education + all treatment this is not cost efficient. I don't have a link but a recent bmj article showed over a career, 1.7 women cover the same hours as men excluding time off for illness.

If I was to suggest a "men in medicine" society I would be shunned for trying to make a new generation of 'the old boys club'. In fact, my club would probably be considered illegal due to discrimination. If I was to suggest that moves were made to make medical school 50:50 admission then I would be laughed at despite decades of pushing for increased female intake.

Men are often told we have the best of it but we also have the worst. Homelessness, drug abuse, assault, suicide, car accidents, alcoholism etc are all higher in men. When I did some time doing general practice (primary care) I realised that the amount of men aged 40-80 that live by themselves and are alone is huge in comparison to the amount of females.

Let's keep things simple.

Stop the social engineering. If more men go to school to be engineers then so be it. If a female is in your engineering class then she shouldn't be treated differently- she shouldn't have more chance of getting a job either if she gets the same grades.

If we "need" to push more women into tech then why shouldn't we push them out of other careers in the name of equality.

Edit: For clarity, I don't believe that we should 'rebalance' medicine, I was being sarcastic.

At the same time it is interesting to see this statistic and it is evidence that women will enter an industry despite cultural barriers in that industry. There are subtle anti-woman biases in medicine which are far more pervasive than anything I have seen in the software industry.

For example, if you look at gender in diagrams in medical textbooks, male figures are more likely to represent healthy, normal body functioning while female figures are more likely to be used where the figure represents disease.[1] Self-degrading Real Men(tm) jokes[2] aside I don't see anything similar to that in the software industry.

The big difference is that medicine is a relatively stable industry and you don't have the huge pushes to release a product that you do in the tech industry. Physicians often are better able to set their own hours and decide how much to work than can software engineers working for Marissa Mayer. So for a woman wanting to have a stable, secure career which is friendly towards starting a family will find medicine very appealing and high tech startups rather threatening. On the other hand if Google was having trouble recruiting women now, I would suggest they have a problem.

[1] See "Birth as an American Rite of Passage" by Robbie Davis-Floyd. This is also a wonderful critique of systemic sexism in modern obstetrics of a sort that does not go away with more women entering the field.

[2] such as Linus Torvald's "Real men don't use backups. They upload their work on FTP and let the rest of the world mirror them." Or things like "Real men use cat to write their source files." Obviously this is not suggesting these are normal models of operation.

However, if other industries and businesses are indications, as the industry matures, women will come. The internet used to have a 50:1 male to female ratio. Open source software engineering today has a similar ratio (compared to a 2:1 ratio in commercial software houses).

Maybe the issue is that women don't want to work in a risky and immature industry. Especially when that involves potentially deferring or even giving up on plans to have a family (something men do not have to do to participate in it). You can't be a new mother and try to raise your kid naturally (breastfeeding etc) and work 130 hours a week. It doesn't work.

Sure. But how many decades of unfair treatment and exclusionary culture are we willing to tolerate? Especially when you consider that tech is one of the most lucrative industries at present. How much money are people missing out on because of the exclusionary culture of tech? How much is the industry itself being held back?

Ok, so how about we offer a deal like this:

1) Put in 130 hours of work every week except for 3 weeks vacation per year, and 2 months parental leave, and medical leave as required by law. Start when you are 20. When you are 40 we will give you a retirement bonus of 30 million dollars.

Is this exclusionary to women? I ask because I think the very clear answer is yes.

I don't think the key issues are in terms of an exclusionary culture. I think the key issues regarding startups are structural and expectation-based. I don't think it's any coincidence that Marissa Mayer waited until Google was a big mainstream company to get pregnant. So what do you tell a talented 28 year old woman who is thinking maybe about starting a family?

This is just an illustration of the problem.

Look, working crazy hours is absolutely, positively NOT in any way a requirement for success in the tech industry. It's not even a very good way to get work done. But it is commonplace. And it is taken as a shibboleth within this industry. And it does exclude people, especially women but others as well.

What do you tell a talented 28 year old woman who is thinking about starting a family? What do you tell a 28 year old man who is thinking about starting a family? I'd say that if you do your homework, concentrate on learning, and work in a smart way then you can manage to make an excellent living working from home, which is fantastic for supporting a family, whether you're a guy or a gal.

It's a requirement for an engineering position in a technology start-up, which is a prerequisite for the top-tier success.

As for what to tell a 28 year old man. Most of them recognize that they may have to take their paternity leave late, or only take the minimum. But the fact that this is an option places the 28 year old man in a very different position than the 28 year old woman.

As for the crazy hours deal, I can't imagine many women taking that deal. I can imagine many women pressuring their husbands to take that deal though.

The hell it is!

I'm 29, father of a 2.5 months boy. I work at a start up that is doing quite ok.

I took 20 days paternity leave when my kid was born plus a week paid vacation. I'm taking an extra month paternity leave as well in a month. Another colleague (male) is having a baby on the 27th this month, he'll do exactly the same.

I hardly work more than 40 hours a week (sometimes I get a call on Sunday to fix an important issue or something, but not regularly). I don't trade work hours (even if it includes pay) for time spent with my kid. I just don't. And you know what? I'm not shunned for it by my boss. Hell, during my wife's pregnancy, I had to take a lot of time off and work a part of it from home and he was actually proud I was putting my family first.

If your son had been born during a death march would you have considered trying to push the leave around a bit so as not to further burden your colleagues?

I have known men at financial services firms for example, who came in for a week during paternity leave to help out with a PCI audit, or took leave a week late because they were not replaceable quickly for an on-site visit with a consultant.

If you are working at a company where death marches are the normal development process you've got a lot bigger problems than being able to find the time for paternity leave. Run, run away from that job as fast as you can. There are tons of companies out there, even startups, hiring devs who won't work them to death.

I'm a bit disappointed that the state of this industry is still so immature. We've had all of these studies and all of this wisdom from experienced high-caliber devs on the best ways to go about developing software (and none of them include death marches) and yet here we are still bumbling around and fucking it up and folks like you have the audacity to call it not only normal but proper and expected.

I think there is a major reason why there are death marches.

You promise stakeholders and customers that a product will be ready to ship by a certain date. These things are very easy to underestimate. So in the end you have lots of extra bugs to fix, and you have a huge amount of tension between releasing the (buggy) software on time, letting the delivery date slip, and putting in whatever it takes to release something of acceptable quality on time.

Moreover pre-hyping releases is an incredibly easy way to get a lot of publicity for your product, so it is very common.

So the fundamental issue is marketing, and everything cascades from there. But even if it isn't a normal part of development at your firm, if it happened because something major was discovered last minute and required a lot of work, would you have considered postponing your paternity leave?

Compare this to biotech. Here you have elaborate licensing and safety studies (of dubious effectiveness these days) which occur between the initial product development and its release to market. If Novo Nordisk comes up with a new drug tomorrow, they can't even estimate a release date because of all the regulatory stuff that comes with it. So this slows the march to production down and prevents death marches.

So I think the issue with death marches is that they happen, not as a function of or product development, but as a function of PR and marketing, which leads to pre-hyping a specified day of release, and if you let it slip too much, you lose out on all that built-up hype.

So I am not saying they should be normal. I am saying they are systemic, and expected particularly in a start-up phase of a business.

My version of that was taking an afternoon to edit the wiki from home one day when my first daughter was born. (I took a few weeks off, then worked from home for a few more weeks).

And I'm a co-founder. People really do overwork themselves (myself included). The most important thing is to make sure you spend your time well. If that means sitting around for a week doing as little as possible, in between busting ass on the important stuff when it comes along, by all means it's more productive to chill out for a bit.

Part of the reason I took so long away when my daughter was born, was to set an example in the company that we can be more productive if we treat ourselves well.

No I wouldn't. I took all the time the law allowed me, and if I could have taken more, I would.

During paternity leave I only 'worked' one and a half day. And it was a special case that had nothing to do with work per se. I was invited to be a guest lecturer at a prestigious university here so I talked with my wife and she spent the day with my kid for me to prepare for it and then half day while I did it.

Only reason I did it was because I had already agreed to before hand (kid was born 2 weeks before expected) and it was a great opportunity for me. But if it was a week long affair, I would have cancelled it on the spot. I just don't care about money/career enough to miss important time with my son or help my wife out.

How would you respond, being the father of a 3 month old, to being asked by Marissa Mayer to put in a 130 hour week because it was really important?

How do you think a mother would respond? Do you see a difference?

I would tell her to F- off if it was in my legal right to take the time off.

I know my wife would do the same.

I still don't understand how people still think 130 hour week, or working through paternity/vacation time is acceptable. I could understand if it was their own company, but for someone else? Really? Do you care so much about money/work status/climbing up the work ladder that you would put your own personal life on hold?

ps: maybe I'm a bit off the tech name world, but if it wasn't for HN I would have no idea who Marissa Mayer was, and to be honest, I'm sure in 5 days when it leaves HN I won't remember her name.

I meant, coming back from a 3 month leave, and having your first week be a mandatory 80 hr overtime week.

Ok you've taken your time off. You are back now. You have a 3-month-old at home. You are expected to be here for 120 hours this week. take it or quit.

I bet women are far more likely to quit.

Why is it so hard for you to accept that many men simply don't find that acceptable?

I've left work in the middle of the day because my wife was hurt, or not feeling well. I've taken off time simply to take her to the doctor for "moral support" even though she was quite capable of going by herself. Either of us will take a kid to the doctor depending on who it's most convenient for.

It's not the 50's anymore. Most people with good relationships want to spend time together. I don't give a rat's ass if I get 30,50,100 million in 20 years for working ridiculous hours now. I could be dead by then. Right now I want to spend time with my family and that's worth giving up a lot of money for.

At the risk of repeating my self, the F- Off would still stand.

It is illegal to 'threaten' someone like that here. Sure, many people would cave and do it and that's why many employers still have this stupid mentality, but taking in account the law is on my side, I would repeat the F- Off, and if fired, I would sue until I would get my job back and some nice pocket money to go on holiday with my family :)

Look, if you have a job that forces you to work 80 hours a week or 130 hours a week and it's not your choice, you have a shitty job. Period. Go find another one. The only time I've ever had to work even close to that much was when I was doing data entry at piece work rates and even then it was not that much.

I can imagine many women pressuring their husbands to take that deal though

Mostly the ones who don't want him around. If I worked anything near those hours on a consistent basis, my wife would divorce me. And I wouldn't blame her!

> Because the women already in tech are very good, their companies are much more stable and profitable than the companies men start.

This is interesting, can you provide us a citation?

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact