>You can't have a proper meritocracy if the prospective field don't have access to the same level of opportunities.
Agreed but how do you define the same level of opportunities?
Suppose the opportunity is "work hard, every day, 12 hours every day from when you are 20 until you are 40 and then retire as a billionaire." There is nothing stopping women from taking that opportunity. But women who do lose something that men who take that opportunity do not lose, namely the ability to really have a family with kids of one's own.
> There is nothing stopping women from taking that opportunity.
There's societal misogyny. The number of women I've met who refuse to try to do something technical because they're female or blonde has long boggled my mind. That's probably not the tech industry's fault.
But it does mean there aren't the same level of opportunities. If someone whacks your shin with a crowbar before you do your figure skating, that just ain't a meritocracy, no matter how fair the judges are.
That's true. And anyone who doesn't believe that needs to read "Birth as an American Rite of Passage" by Robbie Davis-Floyd. What she covers will boggle the mind and challenge what folks think about gender issues generally.
>But it does mean there aren't the same level of opportunities. If someone whacks your shin with a crowbar before you do your figure skating, that just ain't a meritocracy, no matter how fair the judges are.
That's true too, but what I am getting at is that when we talk about women in technology startups (which is really the subject of the article and many discussions here on HN) I don't think that's what's really going on.
Rather I think that what is going on is that in the area of startups, the entry fee is much higher for women, and the lifestyle demands sacrifices of a sort that men don't have to make. The bigger question in my mind is how we solve that structural problem.
> The bigger question in my mind is how we solve that structural problem.
Agreed. But I don't think that's a battle worth fighting just in the tech industry. There are rights for women that can be fought for in general: better protections against sexual harassment, better requirements for maternity (and paternity) leaves, etc. (Google found me this: http://www.now.org/issues/wfw/empledge.html )
Tech could strive to be a leader here: an industry that's more friendly to women than any other. But it would be setting an example for the rest of the nation, rather than making it a purely tech-industry-specific issue.
This doesn't solve the essential issue of Sexist Men Exist, but really... the only way to solve that is, ironically, conversation.
What about a basic shift from a company-as-machine model to a company-as-ecosystem model? It seems to me that a standard company is a bit like a standard vegetable garden, highly ordered to the detriment of long- and even short-term productivity. A better approach might be to create companies where family life and work life don't have to be separate, where you can still put in that 130 hour work week from home, taking your 15 min coffee breaks to play with the kids? Maybe ensure that new parents back from maternity or paternity leave can bring their kids to work for the first year or two?
Those things you mention strike me as band-aids. Sure they'd help but wouldn't it be better to rethink the way we emphasize the separation of work and family and the separation of work and home?
> What about a basic shift from a company-as-machine model to a company-as-ecosystem model?
Replace "company" with "society" and you have a deal. If you want to start at the company level, that makes sense to me; I'd argue that most startups are, by necessity, run according to an ecosystem model.
> Those things you mention strike me as band-aids.
I am not, unfortunately, a political genius and my suggestions are not the best possible. If something better and actionable comes along, I am more than happy to back it.
But asking 300 million people, let alone 7 billion, to "rethink the way we" do anything is a fairly gargantuan task. Some of us have already changed our minds. Others will need convincing. Still others will not be convinced.