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Seriously? (bitquabit.com)
124 points by tghw on Oct 2, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 144 comments

I have nothing to add to this other than what "The Real Katie" said in "Lighten Up"



Every time I spoke up about the above crap, I got some sympathy, but I also got some guy who didn't understand what the big deal was. If I wasn't in the middle of being raped or beaten or threatened or fired, guess what I needed to do?

Lighten up.

How long would you put up with it? Do you love anything that much? If your spouse subtly treated you like crap every day, how long would your marriage last? If you saw a friend being treated this way by their boss, wouldn't you tell them to quit?

Or would you tell them to lighten up?

You, person who told me to lighten up, saw one little thing. It didn't seem like a big deal, did it? One little line! One joke! One comment! But it's not just one thing to me: it's one of thousands that I've had to endure since I was old enough to be told that 'X is for boys!' It's probably not even the first thing I've had to deal with that day, unless you've gotten to me pretty early.

That's the main problem with subtle discrimination. It leaves those that it affects the most powerless against it, quietly discouraging them. If they speak up, they're treated to eye rolls at the least, and at the worst, are called oppressors themselves. We're accused of not wanting equal rights, but of wanting tyranny.

This is not Noah's first transgression in a similar vein: http://sherprog.com/2011/07/10/noah-kagan-and-the-faceless-b...

While I support Noah's right to say what he wants to say in the US, I do believe that his attention-grabbing tactics are in extreme poor taste and future conferences should take heed that this is what they might be signing up for by getting him as a speaker. Noah seems to be an otherwise smart guy and an excellent businessman. I'm sad that he seems somewhat obtuse to this behavior as inappropriate.

The "Lighten Up" situation is quite different in that there was an identifiable victim of the sexism who suffered concrete consequences such as being forced to attend an HR meeting. "Every woman in CS" is too broad to establish an identifiable victim and "this makes me angry" is not a concrete consequence.

Sure, but the point of the 'Lighten Up' is that just because someone doesn't speak up doesn't mean that they don't feel disenfranchised. In fact, that is the frustrating point for Katie, because by speaking up, one risks being branded (or, at least, told to 'lighten up')

Hypotheticals aside, the biggest problem with your argument is that you seem to be saying that if the OP was a woman, then she'd have more of a point...I hope to think that isn't the case...if the OP's point is flawed then it is wrong if it comes from a woman.

(in the abortion debate, the "men should mind their own business" sentiment is also flawed, especially since there are a good number of women who oppose abortion)

I see the usual grab bag of men making excuses for misogyny in software is out in force on Hacker News:

* Insisting sexism is not endemic to software, it's just idiots being idiots.

* Insisting sexism is not endemic to software, it's just jerks being jerks.

* Dismissive pedantry over the claim that women are deterred from software by incidents of sexism.

* Blaming women themselves for not going into software.

And all of it laced with blithe stereotyping language ("panty bunching equivalent", "bitching", "drama" and so on).

This predictably depressing reaction hasn't been good enough for a long time. The reason more women aren't in software is staring us right in the face but we're too busy being dismissively sexist to see it.

"The reason more women aren't in software is staring us right in the face but we're too busy being dismissively sexist to see it."

This is the primary argument I disagree with. As someone who's worked with ad agencies, I can say sexism is so much worse there, yet there are tons of women in advertising. I agree with the poster that this type of thing shouldn't be tolerated in a professional context, but I don't think this is the reason women are not interested in computer science as a major and job choice (it may be the reason they have a high attrition rate once there though)

Just because its arguably worse somewhere else doesn't make it less of an issue in other fields.

That would be true if other fields were also having trouble attracting recruits.

Sexism, intentional or as a result of boorishness is unacceptable and bad. Needs change, and that needs to be a priority. Got it, agree. Also think that diversity for the sake of diversity is a good thing, as controversial as some people find that.

But the point is: more chauvinistic and sexist industries (eg: finance, advertising, previously medicine) appear to be having little trouble attracting women. So why is it that software puts its gender imbalance down almost exclusively to chauvinism?

Without having worked in finance or national level advertising, I'm afraid I don't have an answer for you other than how I perceive those industries, but that is neither here nor there.

As a datapoint, I cannot for the life of me understand why a woman wouldn't work in software other than the environment. I enjoy my work thoroughly. It pays well, its engaging, and I find it rewarding. Do I speak for my entire gender? Of course not, but neither does any other woman.

> I cannot for the life of me understand why a woman wouldn't work in software other than the environment

I have spent the last few years automating warehouses. In aggregate, it seems men prefer processes that involve them going and finding and moving things, where women prefer processes that involve them standing still and doing repetitive tasks, provided they're within talking distance of other people. At a supervisor, men and women are equally interested in roles, but anecdotally appear to solve certain warehouse conditions in different ways.

It may be that this is some massive warehouse related conspiracy. Maybe we have been raised to expect men and women to have different gender roles, and society imposes their views on warehouse related problem solving. Maybe it's a sign of sexism? Perhaps fetching items and collating orders naturally leads to sexism and misogyny, where standing within social distance of other people blah blah, lorem ipsum pop science etc.

Or maybe, just maybe, there is a genuine in-aggregate difference in men and women that makes some tasks more fun for some genders than other, in aggregate. I keep stressing "in aggregate" because it certainly doesn't apply to everyone.

I agree with you that it is a mistake to declare that the lack of women in tech and software professions is solely due to sexism. As you rightly point out, women deal with sexism in many industries and spheres of life.

However, sexism is a part of the western social fabric. Women that do or do not want to pursue work will invariably find themselves in sexist encounters and situations. Also, industries like finance and advertising have a problem with women being represented in management, esp. at the highest levels due to institutional sexism and discrimination. We already see women leave fields due to those kinds of pressures and treatment, so to paint a picture of those industries being full of well treated women is disingenuous.

Yes. Sexism is wrong and bad, and part of the social fabric. I made all of those points in the original post.

Using it to explain lack of women in software where it can't be used to explain lack of women in other fields where it appears more prevalent seems disingenuous.

Agreed, I just wanted to point out that sexism is much more complicated, and that women may choose to work in fields in the face of sexism problems, both on a personal and systemic level.

"more chauvinistic and sexist industries (eg: finance, advertising, previously medicine) appear to be having little trouble attracting women"

I can't speak to advertising, but finance and medicine are some of the few employment traditionally open to women: tellers and nurses. Of course, they aren't traditionally represented in the higher levels of those industries. That seems to be changing, but I suspect the "traditional field" aspect is the key-in-the-door there.

Software, and similar science, technology, and engineering industries, don't have those kinds of traditional positions, making the imbalance more obvious and less, well, fixable.

That's just factually wrong. Software does have those. Computer programmers used to be almost exclusively women.

"Software does have those."

Could you tell me which part of the software industry currently has a majority of women? (We agree that "does" is present tense, right?) I seem to be missing it.

"Computer programmers used to be almost exclusively women."

True. But that was before I was born. And I'm 45.[1]

[1] http://gender.stanford.edu/news/2011/researcher-reveals-how-...

Oh, what I meant was that software does also have a history of such roles. Today, developers are mostly men, but QA and documentation seem to be female-dominated.

There was an actual joke in The Office with Michael Scott also confusing "working in finance" with being a teller at a bank.

Right, but it may act as a counterexample as to why more women aren't in CS/CE/programming.

Advertising and finance (my field) are both known to be sexist and yet there are plenty of women in these fields.

CS/CE/programming is known to be sexist and there are not so many women in this field.

Sexism is a factor, but it's not the only factor.

> The reason more women aren't in software is staring us right in the face.

Yes, I agree completely. The reason is entirely clear - from a young age, boys are marketed to in an entirely different fashion than girls, parents gently nudge their daughters into more passive roles, and the types of toys that are available for girls that don't reinforce social stereotypes suck in a fashion that I don't think I can explain to someone who isn't raising a daughter.

Lego has finally released some Legos (yeah, I pluralize it) that appeal to girls, and while some of them are lame (a hair salon, for example), others are cool, but the vast overwhelming acreage of the girls' half of any given toy store is filled with pink dolls, barbies, kitchen sets, crap to do with your hair, and the the type of half-assed girl versions of boy toys that make a responsible parent want to burn the place down.

I agree with you that those toys and that marketing sucks, but I disagree that it is entirely clear that the toys and marketing are the cause of the problem.

Let me offer an example. I have a pair of friends who are both PhDs in CS, and both work at Google. They have a daughter whom both parents would love to see in engineering. The mom has the following story of when she gave up trying to resist her daughter's inclinations to make everything pretty instead of wanting to build stuff.

Mom left her daughter to play with a box of regular legos for a bit hoping that she would try to build something. When she came back a few minutes later, every green lego was out and a smattering of others scattered over the floor. Her daughter looked up with a big smile and announced, "Look! Here is my lawn, and these are the pretty flowers!"

I have watched this with my own daughter. First, let's be clear, we do not have a TV in our house and she does not see most of that marketing. But everything "girly" that she's been exposed to, she wants. Why? My best guess is that she's keenly aware that she's a girl, she's not a boy, and she actively seeks out clues as to how to not be a boy. At preschool she gets exposed to the idea of what girls play with, and she's happy to go along.

That is in her case it isn't a push from the external environment to be that way. It is a pull from within herself to figure out how to conform.

Whatever the cause, the extreme girl toys you hate are in the store because they sell. The marketing that you hate is done because it works.

Yes, I see that in my daughter as well. She plays with dragons and dinosaurs (her choice) but instead of them killing each other (like in my son's case) they have families and go to the park. Though with Lego she does build very creatively, it might be my son's influence.

> The reason more women aren't in software is staring us right in the face.

I'm no node.js wiz here, but I think I have a valid idea... maybe the reason that most of the women that didn't become programmers, didn't become programmers because they had no interest in it and didn't want to become a programmer?

Also, does anyone else get the sinking feeling that the reason so many young men on HN feel so strongly about "fixing" the fact that many women have no interest in writing code, is actually more about said young mens' desire to work in an office where they are surrounded by women all day?

I agree entirely. A lot of people on here seem to be clutching at straws at best. They offer a lot of "evidence" into why women aren't programmers without actually knowing anything.

In my head, positive discrimination is another form of discrimination. I know plenty of female programmers and they all got into programming because that's what they wanted to do, not because it was marketed as a career to them and not because they've never interacted with shitty co-workers.

If there's any problem with Software Engineering as a career it's the idea that it's a field for socially-inept nerds that sit in the basement and code away from the outside world. The "evidence" for this attitude is all over the place and in my mind this is as likely to turn women away from the field as much as it is men. When the field decides to stop allowing itself to be further commoditised and demand some respect (and better pay) we might see more women want to join us.

"I'm no node.js wiz here, but I think I have a valid idea... maybe the reason that most of the women that didn't become programmers, didn't become programmers because they had no interest in it and didn't want to become a programmer?"

{{Citation needed}}

I entirely agree, the main reason I got into tech was that I enjoyed video games as a child and had a pier group of male friends who also enjoyed them.

We got into doing programming because it allowed us to make and modify games. At my university CS class, a large number of the guys there had similar motivations. Now consider that the majority of video games were marketed towards males at that time and it's not difficult to see a link.

However these days with the rise of casual/social gaming and it becoming more socially acceptable for girls to play video games in general, combined with the fact that blogging and running webstores etc are popular with women we might actually start to see a steady organic shift as more women enter the industry.

In other words, I don't think it's entirely fair to blame the industry itself for everything. Sure, people who are doing things that will actively discourage women from entering the industry or make women already here feel bad about themselves in some way should stop doing that. OTOH when you have an industry that is 90% male it seems inevitable that it will cater to the male demographic first.

I disagree heavily.

You're right that boys are marketed to differently than girls, and there is still a heavy bias in media, fashion, and toys towards antiquated gender roles.

But it doesn't explain the lack of women in software, because there are record-breaking numbers of women going into fields that were previously stereotypically male. All the physical sciences, law, medicine, you name it. Women are busting out of the traditional gender stereotypes in every direction except software.

So whatever the effects of gender role indoctrination in children, the software industry is doing worse, much much worse than even that pathetic baseline.

Knowing this, IMO blaming the phenomenon on society in general is a huge cop out. We are doing far, far worse than just about any other profession.

Name one field with low social prestige that has a record number amount of women entering it.

Remember, the software industry is where "nerds" go, but the "smart money" is in finance and the "creme of the crop" is in finance.

My thinking is that in aggregate women choose to go to the highest paying, and most socially prestigious fields: law, medicine, finance, sciences in that order.

Where do you live that lab research chemistry, to pick one specific subfield, is more socially prestigious or higher paying than software development?

For what it's worth, Lego has been trying to release products to "appeal to girls" for a long time, there's nothing "finally" about it.

First I remember offhand are the "Paradisa" sets from 1993 or so, which were basically the same as other "town" Lego sets, but in pastel colors. Those stuck around for a couple years, then Lego moved onto a different supposedly-girl-oriented theme.

I do recall hearing that they've recently released the latest attempt, but it's not a new idea.

I think this new round has actually worked.

It's extremely bad style to accuse everyone who disagrees with you of sexism.

I don't think sexism is endemic to software, at least not more than areas where men are underrepresented.

I don't think this talk was sexist, at least not only to women.

I don't think anyone's to "blame" that women don't go into software. If anything, I've been way more convinced by the explanation that society pressures boys into strict field, like the STEM fields, and girls into "softer" fields.

It's extremely bad style to accuse everyone who disagrees with you of sexism.

Fuck style; if it's true, it needs to be addressed.

So it's true that everyone who disagrees with you is sexist? I dont think you mean that. Do you mean sexism should be addressed? There I agree, but that doesn't mean that every other point of view is sexist. And thats exactly on of the problems these kinds of discussion face. Every opposing argument is dismissed as "sexist" and not even taken slightly in account. And thats why some feminists are seen as fanatic- they refuse to take other points of view seriously, on the ground that it is sexist anyway. I think discussions don't work when you are aren't ready to accept other points of view, or at least take them serious.

Calling someone "mysoginistic" when he calmly and reasonably rational commented on a gender related issue, even if you dont agree, is not in bad taste. It's taking a dump on every feminist who worked on enabling women to be able to discuss these issues and be taken serious with that.

It's worse than just bad style, it's a label "used to suppress ideas" http://www.paulgraham.com/labels.html

What ideas do you think are being suppressed here? The idea that this isn't a problem? The idea that we shouldn't do anything about it, because idiots will be idiots or jerks will be jerks?

The fact is that accusing the whistleblower of being impolite is just another barrier thrown up by thin-skinned people who cannot admit they've been wrong. The objective of calling it "bad style" or a "label used to suppress ideas" is itself to suppress the idea that something wrong has happened and must be addressed.

So writing a rant now is "whistleblowing"? Can I add that to my resumee?

Nobody is suppressing ideas in this scenario. You are free to be a sexist jerk if you want to. However, people absolutely have the right to call you out on that behavior and statements made to that effect. If you are implying that calling out shitty behavior is itself a shitty behavior, then you might want to reexamine why you are supporting the behavior of sexists and chauvinists.

Nobody is? Huh? GP implies pretty heavily that anyone who disagrees with the article is sexist. That is suppressing opposing ideas by using unfounded accusations like sexism.

Calling out shitty behaviour is OK, and should be done, so hopefully people will change their behaviour or other come to realise such behaviour is not acceptable. However, taking the stance that everyone, who disagrees even on exactly how or why the behaviour is unacceptable, is sexist, is shitty behaviour in itself.

We're not supporting the behaviour in the article (at least, I hope so). What is happening here is that people disagree with the article exactly why it's not OK. And that this behaviour is not a symptom of endemic sexism in software. So in se, I don't even think the article (and GP) are completely wrong, only that I disagree that this is sexist.

Your style of reasoning and arguing is very familiar to me, and it's not unique to feminists. If you're unable to make compromises, or look at an issue from another point of view, you will stand alone soon enough. Nobody is asking you to give up your ideals, only that you do not call people, who in essence agree with you but maybe for the wrong reasons, sexists and chauvinists.

>I see the usual grab bag of men making excuses for misogyny in software is out in force on Hacker News:

Recurring points of view in a certain discussion? Who would've thought about that?

>* Insisting sexism is not endemic to software, it's just idiots being idiots.

Thats not an excuse. How is that justifying anything? Why do you insist otherwise? Do you have empirical evidence?

>* Insisting sexism is not endemic to software, it's just jerks being jerks.

Same as above. What are you talking about? Nobody "excuses" anything.

>* Dismissive pedantry over the claim that women are deterred from software by incidents of sexism.

A discussion? We're having a discussion? What do you mean not everybody agrees? Oh no!

>* Blaming women themselves for not going into software. "Blaming"? Seriously?

There we go again.It's neither "blaming", nor "excusing". Obviously there might be other factors which doesn't make IT as attractive for women than other fields.

>The reason more women aren't in software is staring us right in the face but we're too busy being dismissively sexist to see it.

Are you serious? There is ONE (1) reason for that? Oh, if reality was that simple of a system!

This is one of the best comments I have ever read on here. Seriously great work - thanks for writing this!

Sexism is not endemic to software. As far as I've seen, there's no compiler flag that declares your gender (or race, or cultural background). That's actually one of the great things about it - it's objective. Your code isn't female or Asian or Black or gay or whatever - it compiles or it doesn't, solves the problem or it doesn't.

Of course, sexism is present in software communities. It's spearheaded by the boneheads, condoned by the silent, and condemned by those who would like to see it change. And that's a fine thing.

>>I see the usual grab bag of men making excuses for misogyny in software

You don't see the usual grab bag of anybody making excuses for their failures. Which is to basically blame everybody apart from themselves for their problems.

This trends is so fucking old that it's growing hair out of its ears.

1. Some idiot (a confirmed idiot, in this instance) says something potentially offensive depending on your panty bunching quotient.

2. Someone decries said idiot, flips tables, talks about how the industry needs to change, and can't believe others aren't as outraged as they are.

3. Everyone has their own opinion, and the discourse on HN is relatively polite, but there's also a ton of shadowy downvotes for rational comments that don't seem all that inflammatory.

Here's the reality - idiots say stupid things. Whether it's denigratory to women, men, blacks, Asians, the mentally challenged, furries, or yes even redditors, it will get said. There's no point getting your feathers all ruffled over something like this - I assume it's not a common sentiment among the people who don't get fired from Facebook, and there's plenty of self-aggrandizing idiots out there to give the outragist fodder to the end of days.

Finally, this is just silly:

> start thinking of computing as a professional discipline, instead of a boy’s club.

Computing is neither a professional discipline nor a boys club. Historically, it's been a sausage fest, and computing will never be a professional discipline so long as there are people out there willing to write PHP for fifteen dollars an hour and engineers are put out to pasture at 35.

Because I think it bears repeating in the context of your comment, I'm going to post the same link to "Lighten Up," that danso posted above. By dismissing the sexist behavior described in the OP we give it a free pass. And your comment is dismissive. If we really care about the dearth of female talent in our communities we should be creating an environment where they want to hang out.


Idiots do say stupid things. But just shrugging it off as Yet Another Idiot does not improve the situation. People getting their "feathers all ruffled" is how we can show that this sort of behavior is not acceptable and should not be supported.

Computing may be a sausage fest, but there's no reason we can't change that and there's no reason we can't aspire to being a professional discipline.


There may always be idiots who say stupid things, but when they are given a venue there is nothing whatsoever wrong with calling them out. That’s the reality.

Why are you getting your panties in a bunch by people pointing idiots out? I really don’t get that.

Not to be a pedant, but historically computing was considered "womens work" in its initial stages.

I would address the the actual problematic elements of your comment, but I'm afraid in this forum such communication usually falls on deaf ears. Suffice it to say its easy to have a fatalist attitude towards "idiocy" when you're not the target in question.

>Not to be a pedant, but historically computing was considered "womens work" in its initial stages.

It's becoming quite fashionable to bring this up lately, as if its inherently a trump card to the discussion. The obvious follow up to this statement should be to ask: why did the state of things change? Without any attempt at getting to the bottom of why things changed, the statement itself seems to create more ambiguity rather than clarity.

Were women hired for software design back then? That sounds surprisingly open-minded for the day. I thought they were mostly doing data entry (e.g., software which had already been written on paper) as a transition from stenography. This was the distinction between "systems analyst" and "programmer" before one person was expected to do both.

Computing is neither a professional discipline nor a boys club. Historically, it's been a sausage fest, and computing will never be a professional discipline so long as there are people out there willing to write PHP for fifteen dollars an hour and engineers are put out to pasture at 35.

Aside from the fact that PHP, while I personally would never use it, can and has been used to write scalable software, computing is more than just a few poor coders.

It's a bit like saying that being a doctor can't be considered a profession because there are homeopaths. Your argument is neither convincing or logical.

There's nothing wrong with PHP as a language, but I've never seen people offering to write python for fifteen dollars an hour.

And it's not like saying that doctors aren't a profession because there are homeopaths, because homeopaths aren't doctors. The segment of our industry that is more EE than CS is highly professional, somewhat organized, and relatively mature for an industry only fifty years old, but they are a small, nonvocal segment of our industry and they tend to distance themselves from the people who call themselves "developers."

Defining what is and isn't a profession can't be defined by hourly rates of pay for low level work.

Let's put it another way - just because some people dig ditches doesn't stop construction from being a profession.

The fact is that Computer Science is a profession. You might not like certain things about it, but you are deadset wrong if you don't consider it a profession.

By what criteria do you define construction as a profession?

By what criteria do you define computing to not be a profession? :-)

Don't burst a vein arguing over the definition of a profession.

The litmus test is whether or not an occupation has a policing organisation who dictates who is allowed to practice it. Lawyers, doctors, civil engineers are professions. Homeopathers, developers and ditch diggers are not.

I'll reference wikipedia, but its more of an unwritten rule. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Profession#Formation_of_a_profe...

Off topic really, but there's people willing to write pretty much anything for $15 an hour. That's what you'll pay the company that employs them, they obviously won't get paid it...

Here's 1 easy to find example, note the advertised rate on odesk https://www.sugarsync.com/piv/D8109283_67296521_859910

I think the argument is closer to the fact that we don't let physicians in India immediately be physicians in the US.

People writing PHP for $15 an hour in India are seen as the same level as people writing PHP (or other language) for $125 an hour in the US and Europe.

When idiots say stupid things, we have to call them out on it, or the assumption is saying such stupid things is okay.

You realize you just used the phrase "panty bunching quotient" in a thread about sexism? Not only does this severely undermine your point, it also makes you look surprisingly similar to the so-called confirmed idiots you're describing.

You're being prejudiced against transvestites.

Being an obtuse asshole and simultaneously managing to get in an accidental slur, too! You're really shooting for the moon here.

So out of a profanity-laced presentation with embarrassing audience tricks what really got the author was saying that entrepreneurs may be motivated by money, (helping?) people and -- gasp! -- sex? The guy even went back to be more politically correct and explicitly included women and gays.

How much bad will does it take to interpret that, fairly biologically obvious, remark in some twisted way to mean "women are not people"?

People, profits, and women would indicate the set "People" and set "Women" are disjoint.

No, it doesn't because "people" probably means users or customers or maybe your team, and "women" is a substitute for "pussy" which means people you want to have sex with. It would actually be ethically questionable for those sets not to be disjoint.

"women" is a substitute for "pussy" which means people you want to have sex with.

Right. Pussy as shorthand for sex is problematic because it reduces a woman to her sexual organs, it objectifies them. Would you enjoy being reduced to your penis?

That he's using women as substitute for "pussy" and that his phrasing juxtaposes them with "people" (even though that wasn't the intent, I agree) only highlights the problem further. I understand what he was trying to convey, but that doesn't excuse the wording and the attitude it reveals.

I disagree, IMHO Pussy as a shorthand for sex reduces SEX to the sexual organs. Not the woman, the sex act. That may be unenlightened (we know sex can be so much more!) but not necessarily anti-woman.

Um no. Firstly, this is hugely heterosexist, as you are making statements about normative attraction and sex. Secondly, referring to women as pussy is a reduction of a person to their body parts. That is a direct objectification: removing human elements to reduce something to an object. Furthermore, this kind of statement is directly intended for one audience and one audience only: straight men. This is hugely exclusionary and sexist.

Not true, read the actual quote, he said "and women. Or men. Whatever" he specifically expanded it to basically include "whatever you are attracted to" ... he is a straight man, he will use what HE is attracted to as a reference. Also, how do you know his statements weren't actually directed at lesbians, who are attracted to similar private parts, why assume he was targeting straight men? ... in this case, again with so little context, I would lean towards !lighten up everybody!

Sorry I wasn't clear, but my first two points were about what you said about reducing a person to their body parts as not being sexism or objectification.

Beyond that, what exactly are you supposed to think when Noah Kagan, someone who has already made hugely sexist statements in the past, wants to tell you about "the 3Ps of entrepreneurship"? That kind of statement is a lead in, and that he tried to backtrack when the audience reacted is irrelevant. Reducing anyone to their body parts at all is a big problem and is a horrifying thing to say, but women and trans folk suffer much more from this kind if rhetoric then cisgender men do, so don't pretend that this kind of statement is OK or is no big deal.

> Also, how do you know his statements weren't actually directed at lesbians, who are attracted to similar private parts, why assume he was targeting straight men?

The orientation of the folks in the audience is not the issue, it is the reduction of people to sex objects for conquest that is the problem.

> in this case, again with so little context, I would lean towards !lighten up everybody!

Saying that people need to lighten up is a dismissal that says you don't really think that this is a big deal and you don't care about the issues this brings up for many people. This kind of attitude perpetuates these kinds of incidents and makes it harder for people whose lives are directly affected by this kind of shit.

Maybe it would have been better if he said "People, profits, and individuals you would like to have sexual intercourse with."

But the general gist is that he was trying to not say "pussy" and maybe his mind isn't making the kind of mental leaps we're expecting of him. He did include both genders, though, and you can't fault him for misspeaking. Obama said he wanted to send more jobs to China last week, and no one was flipping out about that.

> Obama said he wanted to send more jobs to China last week, and no one was flipping out about that.

Really? I did a search for "Obama + China + jobs" and saw plenty of Mitt Romney literature complaining about Obama's overall China policy, but didn't see a specific line about sending more jobs to China.

Here's a recent article that says Obama was re-opening the unfair-trade case against China. That seems anathema to what you claim: http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/26/in-ohio-obama-...

Second result for "Obama misspeaks" http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7423392n Apparently, Google doesn't think it belongs in your bubble![1]

[1] If someone missed it http://www.ted.com/talks/eli_pariser_beware_online_filter_bu...

Touche, I guess? I took you at your word that Obama said something, not that he (purportedly) misspoke.

In any case, these aren't the same situations. The OP claims that the speaker talked about three "P's" and made it obvious what the unmentioned third P was. Or are you saying that the speaker meant to just talk about the "two Ps"?

"...or men. Whatever."

There are seven comments here. One says "There's no point getting your feathers all ruffled over something like this" and two(!) say "Get over it". That's the reason I keep upvoting these things here. HN seems to be one of the places that really could use more exposure to this.

In case anyone is wondering about Noah Kagan's past sexist behavior at conferences, http://sherprog.com/2011/07/10/noah-kagan-and-the-faceless-b... and http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2749858 is another example.

I'm really not sure why he's being invited to speak if he still hasn't learned to be so misogynistic.

Conferences need to fill their rosters, and if that means scraping the bottom of the barrel then so be it.

There are between 1 and 3 posts that say quite literally the EXACT same thing as this post that end up on the front page of hacker news every week, and frankly it's starting to wear thin. As @debacle said, this is becoming a really old and ridiculous trend.

Let's stop making parrot posts about this issue and make posts about what you can actually do about it. It's one thing to complain about injustice, but once there are hundreds of people complaining about injustice and not a SINGLE person so much as proposing anything we could possibly do about it, it becomes a waste of time.

Everyone knows that many people think there is a problem. Continuing to state this over and over is stupid. Propose a solution instead.

One of the things we can do about it is highlight incidents so that there is pressure to change. Do people complain when yet another post about a bunch of badly-hashed passwords getting hacked pops up? Nope, because those posts are the best way to convince people to properly hash passwords.

As for what to do about it, step one: don't use this kind of crap in your own presentations. Step two: if you see someone else doing so, protest. Step three: go out of your way to read works by women, listen to women speak and otherwise diversify your professional environment.

There are at least as many posts made about things to do about this. Check out the Ada Initiative, for example. However, if you read through the comments on this article and every other you'll probably notice that many people don't think there is a problem. When solutions are proposed, as they often are, they are routinely ignored because people are unwilling to accept that this behavior is a problem, is a pattern or is part of a broader social dynamic.

It is not just about shaming individuals; it is about addressing the underlying assumptions that developers are male, women are the sexual objects developers desire and it is somehow hilarious to point this out. That is impossible until people do, as you do, accept that it is a systematic issue and not an isolated incident that should be ignored.

Have some patience for the people who are slightly slower; when they all come around, there won't be any more of these to post here, much less one a week.

ok, confused and completely out of the loop here, so apologies in advance - i guess this is going to be either "how could he think that?" or "how can he not know that?".

but the 3 p thing. is it supposed to be "penises"?

[edit: huh. so now here's a clear case where number of votes visible would be a useful feature in HN! my guess is that "pussy" was what was intended (or misunderstood), in the context of the post.] [edit to clarify the previous edit: there used to be two replies; one for "penis" and one for "pussy"] [also, to explain how i didn't get this, i'm a uk english speaker, who left the country some 20 years ago, so "pussy" isn't really part of my vernacular - i think back then, at least, it was an american word.]


Incidentally, I'm just answering the question. The one speaking the original sentence I don't have much time for.

Linkbait -> flagged.

It's merely another ``There is misogyny in CS, we gotta do something''.

Lacking in OP:

  - hard facts how it impacts us,
  - useful proposals,
  - *any* insight.

I love how you are demanding evidence and to be explained to, when women who suffer sexist treatment in IT and software communities are under no obligation to do so.

Repeat after me: people you are harassing and oppressing DO NOT HAVE TO EXPLAIN TO YOU why you are screwing them over.

EDIT: Also, there is so much information about sexism in US culture, esp. in regards to tech communities. The Geek Feminism wiki linked to in the article is a good starting point. That you come demanding someone hand you info on a silver platter instead of doing the right thing and reading something to figure it out is really points out how much of a sexist you are.

Right, but then everyone else is under no obligation to modify their behavior for your comfort level. It works both ways. You explain yourself so that your POV can be understood by those whose behavior you want to change.

You are free to not change your behavior. Be a sexist asshat all you like. However, people reserve the right to call you out on that behavior for what it is: oppressive and bigoted.

I find it ironic that you are saying that people should explain their points of view to be understood by others. The article these comments are under is one such piece: an author explaining why what was said at this conference was a problem. Your response to this new information was dismissal: that what the author saying is not valid for you so you won't consider it.

For people that suffer micro-aggressions like this every day, no amount of evidence and explaining they offer is enough, and sometimes attempts to even stand up for themselves results in direct violence. It is not up to those who are being mistreated to make you change or to serve your interests -- you are in the position of privilege and have the means to learn. What you really believe is revealed in your actions: challenging those who reveal an uncomfortable truth and/or talk about their personal experience.

EDIT: I mistakenly thought that hackinthebochs was dexen, so this response is misleading. I'm leaving it intact for context.

First of all, lets be clear: I was responding directly to your statement that one is not required to explain themselves (perhaps you didn't realize I'm not the same person you originally responded to). One's offense does not necessarily require others to change their behavior. To do this requires that you explain how their behavior conflicts with their own stated goals: e.g. to be a good person, or in this case to attract more women to the field.

On the other hand, it is certainly the civil thing to do to avoid causing offense when in public, especially in a professional setting. However, there is still a question of how much one is required to alter their behavior to avoid causing offense. This is why explain the cause of offense is very helpful.

I'm sorry that my response was muddled, I did indeed think you were dexen, so apologies for making direct accusations against you (I added a note in the above comment about this).

No, its my fault. I love a good debate and sometimes I jump into places where I shouldn't. This isn't the first time I've caused a misunderstanding of this sort.

Here's a "hard fact". There are a lack of women in IT.

Here's a useful proposal - stop making sexist comments in your talks.

The above I hope you can take as insight.

> Here's a "hard fact". There are a lack of women in IT.

Agreed, there's significant disparity. My whole point is, that's all clear by now, no need to re-iterate every other day on top of HN. Now we want hard data and plans to act upon. But posts like OP are merely me-too rants.

> It's an issue because there aren't enough people in IT full stop

Please, PLEASE stop that cliche.

Not enough people in IT for what -- saving human lifes by creating CAT scanners and whatnot? Programming navigational computers for space exploration? Building the proverbial `Next Big Thing'? Or just for creating cute little flash games and sloppy AAA titles?

The mission-critical stuff gets cared of. It always was did, for several decades now. The haggle for more cheap labor goes for nonessentials, like enterntainment and business-line CRUD apps. Which are merely nice to have.

There's not enough skilled professionals from the buyers' perspective. There's too many skilled professionals from the sellers' prespective. Oh gasp the horror of open market.

I didn't write "It's an issue because there aren't enough people in IT full stop" so I'm not sure why ths comment is directed at me!

So what if there is a lack of women in IT? There is a lack of men in Human Resources and child care. Why is it an issue? Why does our society need to be specially engineered to reflect demographics in some industries and not in other.

Having said that, I don't believe such remarks should have a place in any professional conference.

It's not about "society" it's about IT. I don't have a moral reason to make all genders equal or whatever. I just want more women in IT because A) we need more people in IT in general and B) women have different kinds of interests, influences, and experiences in our society and it would be good to add those to our collective problem-solving pool.

It's an issue because there aren't enough people in IT full stop, and because the reason half of those with the intellectual potential aren't interested is downright insulting.

There's also research to say mixed gender teams perform better along some axes, but that's peanuts next to the numbers game.

I disagree that there aren't enough people in IT. What I makes me annoyed is that there are many, many talented women who could be in IT or CS but who don't participate because of sexism or hostility in the workplace ecause of their gender.

It's not a matter of "lighten up". It's a matter of "stop being sexist and hostil to women". The onus is not on the victim to change her behaviour, but rather very much on the transgressors!

Both my mother and wife work in the health field and both are always going on about all the hostility that goes on in the workplace, to the point that they are both ready to leave – some of their colleagues have already done so for the same reasons. Yet, the health industry remains a place where a lot of women are drawn to work in it.

I'm not trying to justify the actions of people in IT. I'm all for it to become the paragon for the treatment of women and set the standard for the rest of the working world. However, I'm not sure IT is unique in this regard so it does not really explain why woman are drawn away into other, just as hostile, professions.

What I makes me annoyed is that there are many, many talented women who could be in IT or CS but who don't participate because of sexism or hostility in the workplace ecause of their gender.

What industries do these women participate in?

I don't know. Not IT?

Seriously? The "useful proposals" are spelled out in the next-to-last section.

TLDR version: conference organizers need to stop tolerating this sort of thing. Everyone involved should "admit you screwed up, apologize, and tell me how you’ll prevent this in the future."

News Guidelines: "If you flag something, please don't also comment that you did."

Seriously, if you think this is inappropriate for HN, flag it, upvote stuff you do think is appropriate and then go comment on something interesting.

Don't mean to rant at you, but I see 'flagged' so often in comments recently - its just noise.

The only factual claim in the article:

> You know why there are no women in CS programs? Because they see shit like this

Citation needed.

Bullshit. As the creator of the citation needed tag, I feel the urge to disabuse you of your usage of the phrase. It's self evident that if you are offensive towards women, it's less likely they will participate in IT or Computer Science.

We need more Grace Hoppers. I didn't create the {{fact}} tag all those years ago to be used for crap like this.

    "It's self evident that if you are offensive towards women, it's less likely they will participate in IT or Computer Science."
Of course, but that doesn't change the need for a citation of that specific claim. For instance we can observe interests in young children well before they enter our complex world with rampant sexism and bigotry, and even then we see similar patterns: girls aren't as interested in CS. Sexism is still obviously a problem in our industry, I'm not disputing that, but there's nothing wrong with requesting a source when somebody makes a claim.

Quoting the citation needed tag is just a whimsical way of stating it, there's no need for personal offense.

Uh you say "of course" (I.e. I know that it's self evident), but then you say you need a citation? Really?

Because it's different to say "women aren't in CS due to sexism" and "sexism turns women off to CS".

Fair point. I see where you are coming from and concede that it was reasonable to ask for a citation. My apologies.

Your theory predicts that male geeks should also get discouraged by the abuse they receive from jocks and girls in schools and such. But that's not happening. So it looks like your theory is incomplete, or possibly wrong. We need a citation to be sure.

>It's self evident that if you are offensive towards women, it's less likely they will participate in IT or Computer Science.

No it isn't.

Sure: http://www.girlscouts.org/research/publications/stem/generat...

"Nearly half(47%) of all girls say thatthey would feel uncomfortable being the only girl in a group or class. 57% of all girls say that if they went into a STEM career,they’d have to work harder than a man just to be taken seriously"

Or http://ilabs.uw.edu/sites/default/files/Cheryan_Meltzoff_Kim...

"Statistical analyses indicated that gender disparities in interest and anticipated success in the stereotypically designed classroom were mediated by women’s lower sense of belonging in that environment."

Next time, do your own homework.

Note that if fewer women participate in STEM fields for any reason at all, they will report lower feelings of belonging as a result.

The account of Noah's talk is also factual.

I guess there are articles / threads like this discussing sexism directed at men in female dominated professions too.


The 2004 federal survey of the RN population found that only 5.8% of RNs were men. This results from the profession’s use of caring philosophies that perpetuate the stereotype of women being more caring than men, as well as from the use of language that isn’t gender neutral and the failure to recruit men.


As a male in nursing, I feel that I am sometimes treated differently because of my gender. I believe that I am expected to carry a heavier patient load with less assistance from my female coworkers.

In my experience, a lot of boys have acted that way towards me because they've honestly never met a woman who can code. It takes a little bit before they warm up to that fact.

After a while, if they're still being a dick, I'll just go somewhere else and find people to work with that aren't egocentric and dumb.

That's one of the reasons why working with my brother is so awesome--he knows me well and doesn't assume I'm a "non-computer-person".

GIRLS DO THIS TOO. Some girls also assume that girls are less technically inclined.

My whole life, I've just had to keep on going and showing people what I'm capable of. Since I'm a white girl who likes wearing dresses, people don't expect it, but they find out soon enough.

At this point if someone doesn't post a blog post about Noah Kagan being sexist at least once a week he'll have to have died.

In that case, people should stop asking him to their conferences to speak. Conferences about IT are not forums for stand up comedians. Besides which, people like Eddie Murphy or Sarah Silverman do offensive comedy better.

I have such mixed feelings about this being on HN. Yes, I think we should read it and learn from it. I absolutely agree with the author. It's one of those things I wish everyone knew but for some reason there are still people who don't, so maybe showing up on the front page every once and a while is a good reminder.

But the comments should be turned off. This is such a heated topic and are there aren't any right answers to this problem besides "keep it in mind, don't do what they did". What can possibly be discussed here besides emotional bickering from both sides. It does not seem productive and is not interesting conversation.

Without being there, I can't be sure, but the way the OP describes this appears to miss the point.

The way I interpret that sentence, using the very little context supplied, is

profits, people, and sex

yaknow, sex with women, men, whatever

remember that song from the 90s opp = other people's "privates | p | p" or whatever you want "P" to stand for.

Without more context, that's exactly what I get from that, nothing anti-women whatsoever.

And I guess as a guy, you're eminently qualified to determine what is and isn't insulting to women?

Downvotes? Ha! It's true, though, isn't it? I mean, is a Java developer qualified to critique a reasonably large C++ application? Not really, no. You can try, but there are idioms, pitfalls, and such that you just won't pick up on.

So why do we tolerate the same behavior when it comes to men's experiences vs. women's experiences? This isn't all that complicated. You didn't live the last N years of your life as a woman. You can try to reason about it. Maybe you'll come close. But you just don't have the experience.

I wonder if on the HRNews.com website, women there are decrying the absence of men in HR?

Sexism is bad, and should be exterminated, but I can't help thinking that, just maybe, some jobs appeal to some sexes more than others (in the aggregate. I realise there are individual exceptions).

For what it's worth: Mark Littlewood, one of the Business of Software organizers, apologized to the group and took responsibility. I don't have the transcript but he didn't think the comment/talk was motivated by sexism.

Get over it. Life is too short to spend bitching about little things like this.

If you really think this is the cause of lack of women in CS, you've never raised a woman.

Here's a hint: it ain't the men.

I have a 4.5 year old girl. I'm 100% certain that I want her to pursue a career in IT, if that is what she desires. Hopefully by the time she's old enough she not only won't have to deal with the sort of misogynistic crap like the one pointed out in the article, but the sort of "get over it" responses that encourage this sort of rubbish.

P.S. What sort of stupid comment is "you've never raised a woman"? What, you can only be upset about sexism if you've had children? Or, for that matter, have a daughter?

That there is someone voting you up is a real shame.

The logic that men are to blame for the lack of women in CS is mind-boggling. Take some responsibility for yourself. Stop putting the blame on others.

I didn't say that "men are to blame for the lack of women in CS". I said that sexist comments don't encourage more women to enter into computing. That would include women making sexist remarks or abusing hostility to other women.

I do hope I have un-boggled your mind.

Not sure what sort of responsibility I need to bear here, incidentally. I'm certainly saying that if you make IT hostile or women you bear some of the blame for the lack of women partaking in it.

Oh, it might help to note that I'm male, and I'm in IT.

I have been working professionally for 10 years. In every single place I have worked, women are treated with equal respect.

Are there idiots out there? Yes.


You're worse than the feminists.

In every single place I have worked, women are treated with equal respect.

You're a dude, right? How the heck would you know? Most of this crap is directed at women. A priori means means you're going to miss out on a very, very large subset. This plus the fact that you're convinced it's blown out of proportion suggests mind-bogglingly large confirmation and selection bias.

Frankly, in the context of this comment, your suggestion that anybody is worse than the feminists is a compliment.

Your argument aside (which I agree with)...man, you must get annoyed by misuse of the phrase you coined on a constant basis.

Sometimes :-) actually, I think I jumped the gun on this one :-(

"P.S. What sort of stupid comment is "you've never raised a woman"? What, you can only be upset about sexism if you've had children? Or, for that matter, have a daughter?"

it looks to be the sort of comment whose context was discarded and ignored so you have something to get angry about.

How the heck is what I've quoted removed from its context? He stated that "If you really think this is the cause of lack of women in CS, you've never raised a woman."

In other words, he's saying that you can't comment on this if you've never had a daughter to raise. How else do you interpret that?

In fact, that's exactly what I'm annoyed about. I've not taken him out of context. I'll thank you not to tell me I have. It is very stupid to say you can't comment on hostility to one segment of the population will disuade many of thos people from taking up IT or Computer Sciense just because you are not part of that population, or that you would have had to be a parent of one of those people.

edit: as has been pointed out by sp332 (I can't reply), it appears I have indeed being following through a logical fallacy.

I am in the process of "raising a woman", so regardless if my fallacious reasoning about what I thought of the original comment, the proposition still proves to be false :-)

He stated that "If you really think this is the cause of lack of women in CS, you've never raised a woman."

In other words, he's saying that you can't comment on this if you've never had a daughter to raise. How else do you interpret that?

Sorry you've got a logical fallacy there. Raising a woman is sufficient but not necessary. If you raised a woman, then you would not think that. But there might be other reasons for not thinking that, other than raising a woman.

your argument was this: "What, you can only be upset about sexism if you've had children?" which is an absurd takeaway from their comment. unless of course, you leave out "If you really think this is the cause of lack of women in CS". which you did.

"he's saying that you can't comment on this if you've never had a daughter to raise".

no, i don't believe that's what he's saying at all and i have no idea how you extrapolate that. moreso, i'm not sure we have sufficient evidence that cheeze is male like you suggest.

He said you would have had to raise a woman. The second part of the sentence leads from the first - he's saying that only those who "raised a woman" can think a certain way about sexism.

It's easy to disprove it too. It's a universal quantifier. If I find just one person who had "raised a woman" who thinks the way he says you can't, then the proposition is proven false.

my point of contention is that you posit cheez's position was both: "you can only be upset about sexism if..." and "you can't comment on this if...". i fail to see how you've inferred either of those sentiments from the original post without making a lot of assumptions.

sp332 has pointed out I was following a fallacious line of reasoning. Nonetheless, as a father of a small girl, I can and am annoyed by sexism in CS and IT. Ergo, I am living proof that the proposition is false.

I was in a bit of a rush so I didn't reply properly earlier.

What I meant to say is that it isn't the men who are responsible for the lack of women enrolling in comp sci. Everywhere young girls turn, they are told to be pretty, nurturing and sexist (yes, sexist.) Including if not exclusively from their mothers and aunts. They are taught that their value comes from their relationship with a man. So when I say it isn't men, I mean it's the family, extended family and the community which reinforce gender stereotypes.

I would hope that an engineer mindset would use the "5 why" rule instead of the "DUHH BLAME THE IDIOT"

really? i thought women get extra cakes in software roundabouts just because theyre women. and the dev geeks are usually to shy to say anything bad too.

it's time we stop this annoying let's treat women the same crap. we're not, when was the last time you saw someone treat a coworker better because he was a good looking chap? now, when's the last time you or someone else treated a good looking girl better, just because she was a good looking girl? besides, how many times did you see a banker get hired with long hair and beard without suit?

as for this part:

"We’re better than this. Act like it. Treat your fellow developers with the same respect you’d treat someone you met on the street: basic, common courtesy. It’s not exactly asking a lot, so quit making it seem so hard to attain."

if you really treat your fellow developers like you treat people on the street, maybe you should rethink the way you treat people on the street. i treat people by merit, and they get an extra bonus when theyre a good looking lady. but when i see some moron being in a good position just because she's a good looking girl, you can bet ill treat her the way she deserves. when you want sometime you have to make sacrifices. I didn't exactly get my programming knowledge handed to me on a silver platter. my taekwondo teach had to beg his master for some of his knowledge. I can tell you plenty of stories about this. you want something, you have to show that you really want it. and no i'm not talking about sex, or sexism. You asking for free labour.

as for you yourself, you want an extra cake. you want to be able to spew your feminist nonsense and then expect everyone else to speak in politically correct terms.

you know what the meaning of the word tolerance is? it means to tolerate ones opinion even though you might not like it. it doesn't mean that you have to subdue to someone elses ideals just in order for them to become happy. you got that part wrong. now I don't like your attitude, but I tolerate it.

here's some food for thought. i've said a million times and i will keep repeating it. a lot of really awesome software that might strike you as not so good business, but is actually much more successful than the most valuable companies was built by hotheaded people, that didn't always treat each other in the best language possible.

Now here's the part you don't get:

How can a bunch of people that don't really like each other build awesome stuff TOGETHER?

because of respect. They respect each others opinions, they respect each others work, they might not like each other by they respect each other. This respect is merit based. The kind of respect you're talking about is not respect. It's social conventions that you made up in your mind with your friends. It holds no real value, it creates nothing.

by the way, even if you don't accept it, you have the same evolutionary traits as anyone else. men need someone to reproduce with, women need someone to protect them. the funny part is, most of us will never even notice.

This comment says far more about your own collection of biases than anything else. The logical fallacies alone are enough to render this comment basically useless:

* confirmation bias * selection bias * fundamental attribution error * backfire effect

There's also the whole "born on third base and thinks he hit a triple" component here.

Not again this. It started like a good summary of a conference I'd love to attend to but then it became the usual drama blog post.

"Look, someone said something stupid. Let's call out the whole community for that. Because white males are literary Hitler or worse."

Yes, there are jerks. It's time to get over it.

It's got nothing to do with being a white male. That a white male said it is incidental. In fact it wasn't even mentioned in the article.

As a white male, however, I'd like to say to other white males (and everyone else) - cut out the bullshit sexism in your tech talk. I didn't come for your ridiculous views on women when I go to these talks. I care about tech. Your sexist views detract from your message, and I'll consider you a moron if you think sexist jokes are funny.

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