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Why it is Awesome to be a Girl in Tech (nerdess.net)
364 points by nerdess 537 days ago | comments


Jun8 537 days ago | link

OK, nobody commented this up to now but I think is important: Among the many posts about this subject I've read on HN recently this was absolutely the best: Not only it approached the matter in a no-nonsense, practical matter without preaching from "the height of an unwritten book" or an axe to grind but it also gives excellent advice to young girls who want to venture into the field.

With posts like this I wish there was a mega-upvote option on HN, e.g. for 500 points of karma you upvote 10 points.

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belorn 537 days ago | link

While and rather excellent article on why the IT field is a suitable career, good grief, the sexism politics has really entrenched itself into people mindset.

It almost boggles my mind. Here some supposedly sexist snippets from "scenarios you may occasionally find yourself in when working as a girl in tech".

Colleague: “So...you are the new designer?" (As if "so...you are the new Foobar" would not be said to any new hire. if I got a new boss, my first word might be "so...you the new boss? hi my name is so and so!". How and in what way would that be sexist remark, and does it matter if the new boss would be female or male? would it matter if the position is boss, developer, designer, sysadmin, or sales?)

Useless male developer has written some crappy code that he doesn’t even understand himself anymore. Now he needs to extend it with new features and asks you to do it. (As if female developers get exclusively dumped with fixing bad code. Especially if its a new hire/consultant/out sourced, how does this surprise anyone? its even a saying that "the new guy gets all the work no one else want". Does it matter if its a female or male?

so for mega-upvote, the article has some issues. Its better than the normal articles we see, but its not 10 times better.

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rmc 537 days ago | link

How and in what way would that be sexist remark

The assumpution behind that question is that women could not be a developer.

To give racist equivalents, it's as if in the USA, imagine you came into the room and there was a latino man there "Are you the new cleaner?"; or in UK, imagine one was introduced to a new eastern european member of staff, "Are you the new cleaner?". These questions are motivated by racist assumptions, and this OP's examples are motivated by sexist assumption.

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Wintamute 537 days ago | link

In those situations the assumptions may, or may not, originate from core racist/sexist beliefs. You need to be careful going around labelling people like that just because they made an assumption.

For better or worse it's just a fact that at the moment a girl working in a software shop is more likely to be a graphic designer than a coder. If I was in a rush looking for the new freelance designer one morning and walked up to an unfamiliar girl sat at a Mac Pro and asked her "Are you the new designer", I'm not being sexist, I'm just making an assumption based on the data I have. Designers and coders, whether male or female, both look the same: they're likely to be intelligent, smart and trendy looking and sat at a workstation.

Now, if in a similar situation I walked up to an intelligent, smart and trendy looking Indian freelancer sat at a MacBook and asked "Are you the new cleaner?", then that's totally different and inexcusable. I had enough data there not to make any assumptions, and it would betray racist core beliefs.

See the difference? Of course every situation is different, but I think the OP's example in this case was weak. We don't need everyone walking around on egg shells, paranoid that people are judging their every stated assumption against some kind of uber harsh politically correct scale.

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rmc 537 days ago | link

it's just a fact that at the moment a girl working in a software shop is more likely to be a graphic designer than a coder

Yes, it is accurate to say that "statistically a new female hire in an IT shop is likely to be a designer, not a coder". It is factually accurate to say that, but is it right and moral and nice to say it?

Words can affect people, and set tone and expectations. Is it right for all us men to presume, unless shown otherwise, that the new female hire is not a coder? Will this help or hurt our industry? Every little teeny thing (like presuming this (which is a teeny thing)) can be detrimental and can build up. "Death by a thousand cuts", "Straw that broke the camel's back", our society recognises that sometimes lots of little things can be Too Much™ sometimes.

Would software/the company/society be a better place if we didn't vocalise these presumptions about women, especially if it reinforces negative stereotypes about them?

After all, we all know the mistakes that can come when a female starts getting bigger and we ask "Are you pregnant?". Manners say to be careful here, let's apply some manners, rather than fetishising statically accurate deductions, to presuming women aren't coders.

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jrogers65 537 days ago | link

I think that the point the guy is trying to make is that there is nothing sexist about this. If I saw a new guy at work with a beard, jumbo sized cup of coffee, glasses sitting in front of a dual monitor setup, I would assume that he is a programmer. Does that make me sexist against men? Or prejudiced against people with beards or coffee drinkers?

There's an old saying which appears to have been lost somewhere along the way:

"Offense can only be taken"

Live by it and you will never be offended. It is not the job of everybody around you to constantly walk on eggshells just to keep you happy. You are not at the center of the universe, after all.

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rmc 537 days ago | link

There is a difference between "everybody should walk on eggshells" and "there should be standards". It's not black or white, "eggshells" or "f* you I can say what I want", there is (millions of) middle ground(s). HN has rules and guidelines about how to reply to people ( http://ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html ). Does that mean "everyone has to walk on eggshells around here"? No, there are rules, but it's not mad. Hence the existence of rules does not mean "everyone has to walk on eggshells".

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jrogers65 537 days ago | link

Actually, yes, people do have to walk on eggshells around here. I am walking on eggshells right now for I can not express myself freely in a forum like this without suffering from social manipulation (downvoting, hellbanning). And this is while adhering to practices such as "no personal insults". In a place like this, you get banned for disagreeing, let alone speaking in an "unapproved" way. This place is hardly an example of civility.

I agree that there is a middle ground - when someone's quality of life is seriously suffering because, for example, someone is shouting abuse at them all day then something must be done. However, taking serious offence at people's ignorant opinions or ways of expression is unwise and in itself ignorant.

I'm anticipating prejudice so I shall address it pre-emptively - I am, in fact, a minority. In many places on this planet, I risk serious injury just for being what I am. People have expressed extremely ignorant opinions about the group I fall under in workplaces. I initially took offence upon hearing what I heard but then I moved past that stage and accepted that one cannot understand something they haven't dealt with directly. They were not trying to be mean, they merely did not understand because of their limited experience. How can I take offence when this is the case?

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illuminate 537 days ago | link

"I am walking on eggshells right now for I can not express myself freely in a forum like this without suffering from social manipulation (downvoting, hellbanning)"

That's certainly a good sign that social sanctions for sexism, racism, etc work. People ~should~ think before they speak, much more than they do in most sites and blogs.

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jrogers65 537 days ago | link

I apologise if I'm misinterpreting but did you just insinuate that I'm holding back racist comments?

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illuminate 536 days ago | link

Sexist comments? I have no idea what sort of comments you're self-censoring, but people should certainly think before they speak more often, I don't see that as a negative.

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timje 537 days ago | link

I disagree, I think this is sexist -> just as if I knew that I lived in an area where a certain race commits more crime, it would be racist of me to cross the street if I saw a person of that race coming. If you assume a woman in your office is a secretary or a designer rather than a coder, that is a sexist assumption regardless of your fine knowledge of statistics.

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orangecat 536 days ago | link

just as if I knew that I lived in an area where a certain race commits more crime, it would be racist of me to cross the street if I saw a person of that race coming

Suppose through a sequence of unfortunate events you find yourself needing to walk through a bad section of town. You have your choice of two roads. Down one road you see a group of 5 young men of a race that commits crimes significantly higher than average. Down the other road there's a group of 5 middle-aged women of a race that commits crimes less than average. Is it acceptable to be racist, sexist, and ageist in this scenario?

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Tipzntrix 533 days ago | link

The whole idea that it's a bad part of town is already an assumption that you're playing to make this decision. Like it or not, you're right that these judgments do happen all the time.

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hilko 536 days ago | link

I agree with the sentiment, but the the appropriateness of a question that relies on 'statistical' data depends on whether the conclusions drawn are perceived in a negative way.

Asking a new employee from an 'ethnic minority' if he or she is the new cleaner is bad because being a cleaner is not perceived to be a 'good' job.

Asking a new female employee if she's a designer isn't so bad because, as far as I can tell, being a designer is no 'worse' than being a programmer.

Both examples could be considered something-ism, but I'd say the former is worth caring about, and the latter is a case of oversensitivity (potentially from both sides).

I generally try to err on the side of caution to keep from offending people, but I'm quite allergic to people that get offended too quickly.

(A special place in hell is reserved for people who get offended on behalf of other people.)

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kalkin 537 days ago | link

> You need to be careful going around labelling people like that just because they made an assumption.

1) Actually, I think you want to be a lot more careful about labelling people as "must be X" because of their gender than about labelling them as "made a sexist comment" because they maybe made a sexist comment. It is actually still worse to be a victim of sexism than to be called a sexist.

2) Having core sexist beliefs isn't a prerequisite for making a sexist comment. You can have a momentary sexist thought without consciously believing that women are inferior to men or anything like that - in fact, momentary sexist thoughts are almost inevitable if you're in a culture where sexism is pervasive, no matter who you are. Moreover, a comment can be sexist even if it is made with completely innocent intentions, if it predictably has the effect of (re)enforcing hierarchical gender roles. Sexism is not an ideology, it's a social structure.

You can do "s/sexism/racism/g" for all of the above as well.

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rmc 537 days ago | link

It is actually still worse to be a victim of sexism than to be called a sexist.

Having core sexist beliefs isn't a prerequisite for making a sexist comment.

Exactly, many people think "I'm not a sexist" and then say lots of things, presuming then that everything they say cannot be sexist. I take care to say "sexist talk/action". Tends to get people's backs up less.

You can do "s/sexism/racism/g" for all of the above as well.

Exactly. I've made this same post several times, only doing a bare minimum of s/race/sex/g

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belorn 537 days ago | link

Maybe I am too young, work at a too small company, or has too much academia in me, but I have a hard time imagine myself ever trying to guess people work based on gender or skin color. It would be like trying to guess peoples future by looking into their hands.

The only person I would suggest being a cleaner, is one with a white apron, a big logo, with large visible name tag, and carrying a mop. That assumption is based on clothing standards at fast food stores, and its still a rather crude assumption.

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lifeisstillgood 537 days ago | link

I think my fat fingers may have down voted you - despite you expressing my own thoughts, better and earlier. Cheers

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lifeisstillgood 537 days ago | link

Hang on, that's a little unfair. If you work in an office, and you know they have hired one person, and that is a cleaner / designer, walking unto the new face in the office and saying hi you must be the new cleaner / designer is not a prejudicial assumption. Especially if they are sitting in front of Blender / a mop.

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jopt 537 days ago | link

…why are you adding stuff to the situation?

Ceteris paribus: without Blender or a mop, and without knowing anything about new hires, the assumption is that the new girl is a designer.

It's prejudice precisely because you don't have any other information.

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rmc 537 days ago | link

No-one mentioned "seeing an eastern european with a mop". To expand on my analogy, if you met an eastern european/etc. at the company Christmas party, asking "so are you a cleaner?" is presuming negative stereotypes based on race/ethnicity.

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esrauch 536 days ago | link

Is it a negative stereotype that women are more likely to be designers than developers?

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rmc 536 days ago | link

It is a negative stereotype to presume that women cannot be a developer, or do a "hard" subject like programming and instead must be doing a "soft" subject like art.

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esrauch 536 days ago | link

My point is that implicit in your statement is the claim that programmers are superior to designers. I think this belief is both more commonly held and voiced on HN and itself worse than the stereotype that women are more likely to be designers; one is a statement of superiority of a group of people and the other is (without the first assumption) a nonjudgemental statistically reasonable assumption.

Is it really a negative stereotype that women and men are equally capable but that a woman is more likely to be interested in an equally respectable artistic career over a technical one?

It seems that people on HN hold this developer superiority belief so strongly that if someone asks "are you a designer?" they think that is actually an offensive statement. How dare you think I am a plebe designer and not a developer god that I am?

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hilko 536 days ago | link

Interesting how pointing out or getting worked up over 'isms' often betrays and uncovers a whole set of other 'isms'. And in some cases these other isms could be considered worse.

I don't mean criticizing anyone in particular in this thread, I just suddenly realize that this has often been the case in my personal behavior and in that of people around me.

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theorique 537 days ago | link

To give racist equivalents, it's as if in the USA, imagine you came into the room and there was a latino man there "Are you the new cleaner?"; or in UK, imagine one was introduced to a new eastern european member of staff, "Are you the new cleaner?".

In this case, there are other cues that a person can use.

e.g. if the person's wearing a cleaners' uniform, it's not racist to ask them that. If they are wearing a suit, it's at a minimum socially clueless, and at worst bigoted to ask them that.

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belorn 537 days ago | link

Of course one can assume a sexist intention behind the remark. My question is why? Is it simply because she is a woman and thus we should assume that anything anyone say to her is sexist?

Are we really that far gone, and if so, how are we ever going to get work to become a gender neutral environment? Assuming bad faith is not a road to take.

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rmc 537 days ago | link

I didn't say "anything anyone says to her sexist", I said "assuming women can't code and hence must be a designer is sexist".

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belorn 537 days ago | link

But the comment does not say "you must not be a developer". If the context had included a "the guy in front of me, also a new hire, was greeted as "so...you the new developer", then yes we would have something that might be sexism here.

But we do not have that kind of context. We only have a assumed intention on what the person meant by it. If we do such assumptions, we assume bad faith.

It could be that they hired a new web developer, also called web designers by many, or designers as short. If a back-end or sysadmin meet someone who is working on the front end, or even on a API structure, its fully plausible to call them "designers", be them male, female, or alien.

Simply put, the comment without any additional context to vilify the speaker, is not sexism. With some context, it might be, but in many others, it is not. Assuming good faith is to default at those context that do not mean sexism.

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yummyfajitas 537 days ago | link

What if the assumption is that P(designer|woman) >> P(developer|woman)?

I.e., suppose a new girl shows up at your office. Someone is offering even money that she is a developer. Do you take the bet?

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rmc 537 days ago | link

Are you asking if it's factually accurate to conclude that, or if we should act & talk presuming that? I addressed that in previous comment: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4732145

(tl;dr: It's almost certainly an accurate deduction, but acting on it might make society/culture/company worse off, so let's not do it)

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tankbot 537 days ago | link

Definitely agree! I like that her opinions are her opinions and not some pendulum-swinging doctrine. Bookmarked for future perusal for sure!

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groby_b 536 days ago | link

So, basically, as long as women are willing to conform to stereotypes, you're all for women in tech. Gotcha.

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saraid216 537 days ago | link

The clearest reason for this, AFAICT, is because she's speaking primarily to women and trying to convince them to come on board. It's not at all about sexism; it merely acknowledges it in passing and hurries on quickly because it's a touchy subject.

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atomical 537 days ago | link

"This is a bit of a delicate topic. Quite often I am the only female person in the team and have to be careful not to take advantage of the perks that come with it. Guys are fascinated and scared by girls who roll up their sleeves and take on a job that society labels as “men’s work”. If you’ve ever drilled a hole, skinned a rabbit, or changed a tyre you know what I mean.

As I mentioned earlier, guys will definitely put you to the test and as a girl it will be hard to get their respect. On the other hand, you can get away with a lot of things just by fluttering your eyelashes and being a bit cheeky, which is a habit that is so easy to get into. I have to confess I’ve done it myself because if you are surrounded by guys all day you quickly feel powerful. However, with great power comes great responsibility so don’t take (too much, hehe) advantage of the nerds treating you like a princess just because they finally get to work with a girl."

Never experienced this. Sounds like an alternate reality. All the so called nerds I worked with had girlfriends or wives and didn't wear pocket protectors and stutter around females when talking to them.

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bitops 537 days ago | link

> Sounds like an alternate reality.

I have a hunch that part of this is related to the fact that nerdess is German. Or at least, she's based in Germany per the site.

I'm from Denmark (and a guy), and I can say from firsthand experience that attitudes towards women in Europe are still very old-school. Not everywhere, certainly, and Europeans are open-minded liberal socialists etc, but behind the scenes the old attitude of "women and technology don't mix" is very much alive.

For example, many guys in Europe I've spoken to will make jokes about girls not really being fit to work on cars, working with computers, or doing anything "technically hard".

Even some years ago, there was an advertising campaign for a lotto (or something similar) with the tagline "so simple even a woman could understand it". The advertisement featured a pretty blond woman standing in her kitchen, listening to the boys hoot and holler about their winnings next door with a vacant expression on her face. This was plastered all over the main train station in Copenhagen.

So, while I agree it probably seems like an alternate reality in the US (assuming that's where you're from), it's not so far-fetched in other parts of the world. Just my $0.02.

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abrahamsen 537 days ago | link

Maybe you think of this campaign?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxsMWnK1X7k

The tag line is "there is a lot of stuff women don't understand", and the format is a womans literal visualization of a sport metaphor. In this case, "giving away a goal". The campaign is still running, and considered one of the most successful advertising campaigns in Denmark.

The company behind it is 80% state owned. and 20% owned by the non-profit sport organizations. It used to have a monopoly on gambling. The profit goes to charity.

I would not generalize the Danish peculiar brand of humor to all of Europe. One of the advices to Danes going abroad is "stay away from humor, foreigners don't understand our brand of humor". Same for visitors, they are told "the Danish jokes are not meant as insulting as they sound".

In our own self image, we are so liberal and open minded that we can safely joke about all kind of stereotypes. E.g. Danish state owned children tv has a running gag about how lazy and incompetent Polish workers (our "Mexicans") are. It is probably also no accident that the Mohammed cartoons were made in Denmark. Although that particular incident taught Danes something about how different humor can be viewed in the rest of the world.

Edit: Two more details. 1) Most high profile ad campaigns in Denmark are based on humor. 2) This is the only one I can think of where women are shown as stupid. The common pattern is that the man is being goofy while the sensible woman is buying the advertisers product.

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bitops 536 days ago | link

Yes, that was the one! I'm surprised it's still running.

> In our own self image, we are so liberal and open minded that we can safely joke about all kind of stereotypes.

So true - I'd say Danes are pretty blind to their own prejudices and backwards attitudes. I'm sure you remember "Perkerspillet" from some years ago?

"Perkerspillet", which roughly translates to "The Nigger Game", was an online flash game where the player was a stereotypical "gangsta" Turkish immigrant. You drove around the city in a souped-up BMW, trying to pick up Danish women and make money to further enhance your ride. They had to rename it to "The Mujaffa Game" after people stirred up controversy.

IMHO, I feel like the Danes often act like they're entitled to say whatever they want in the name of free speech, as if there'll be no consequences. That's why the Muhammad cartoon incident was such a wake-up call.

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abrahamsen 536 days ago | link

The new politically correct name is "the mujaffa game". You can play it here:

http://www.dr.dk/spil/mujaffa/

The old name is still referred in the title page.

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theorique 537 days ago | link

Interesting - I hadn't known that about Danish humor.

It is probably also no accident that the Mohammed cartoons were made in Denmark.

The thing is, those weren't even offensive or derogatory. The rest of the world overreacted and rolled over because of overblown threats from the Islamic world.

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kalkin 537 days ago | link

You don't think an image of Muhammad where he's wearing a bomb for a turban is derogatory?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Descriptions_of_the_Jyllands-Po...

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theorique 537 days ago | link

It's controversial political speech; I wouldn't personally call it derogatory.

If I understand correctly, the reaction was to the mere fact of Mohammed being rendered in drawing, not about the content of those drawings.

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abrahamsen 537 days ago | link

It was both. The view on depictions of Mohammed differ within Islam. Insulting Mohammed on the other hand, it pretty much universally condemned.

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jackpirate 537 days ago | link

That same attitude exists in the states too.

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Udo 537 days ago | link

This sounds alien to me as well. I've been a member of a lot of diverse teams, and led some of them, over the years. While it's true that female tech people are always outnumbered by male ones, what that actually means probably depends a lot on culture. My experiences are almost exclusively in Northern Europe and Asia and generally I didn't perceive that female devs got any special treatment at all (negative or positive).

If Nerdess extracts some sort of empowerment out of this that's great for her, but I imagine crossing the line into a territory where your team mates perceive you as a shallow and malicious manipulator is a real danger here. Any person who bases their work persona exclusively on being a precious snowflake (of any kind) is not someone I'd like to have on my team.

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JonnieCache 537 days ago | link

Just wanted to echo this. 99% of the hackers/programmers/whatever I've met, whether in industry or at university have been pretty normal. In fact, the cleverest and most productive ones have tended to be more socially successful, not less. Tech people I've met actually tend to have more enlightened views on women/gender than the population at large.

Where it does start to get weird, in my experience, is when it starts to cross over into the gaming/anime/fandom area, particularly gaming. Some of those people are really maladjusted, but I suppose that's to be expected from a subculture based around endlessly celebrating childrens toys.

There must be some generational/geographical divide here somewhere. For reference I'm in the UK.

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Goronmon 537 days ago | link

Some of those people are really maladjusted, but I suppose that's to be expected from a subculture based around endlessly celebrating childrens toys.

I guess there always has to be a group of people for others to look down upon.

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illuminate 537 days ago | link

They were not saying that all people who collect figures and display them are manchildren.

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JonnieCache 536 days ago | link

No. Just a lot of them.

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orangecat 536 days ago | link

In fact, the cleverest and most productive ones have tended to be more socially successful, not less.

Sure. Lacking social skills certainly doesn't help you in tech; it just hurts you less than in most other fields.

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borplk 537 days ago | link

Honestly the whole nerd thing is a completely western (mostly American) thing. I have a very different background and we don't even have a word for "nerd". The absolute closest synonym you can find is "really smart" which is positive, and a negative one would be "bookworm".

And these western stereotypes are absolutely non-existent. If you ask people in the streets to tell you general traits about 'the nerds' they wont be able to tell you a thing. But try that in America, they'll write a book about it.

But even in the western culture we are seeing these stereotypes fading away more and more every day because hey everybody is a nerd these days with their iPhones and iPads and Kindles etc...

All it takes is for computer programming to be brought into the standard school curriculum. Give that a couple of years and every teenager will also be a computer programmer, some better than the other but nonetheless.

By then, being able to program a computer will be too normal for these stereotypes to live.

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enraged_camel 537 days ago | link

I don't buy that it's completely western. I was born and raised in Turkey, and the term for nerd there is "inek" which translates to "cow". The idea is that the person spends most of their time with their head buried in books, much like cows spend a lot of time with their heads buried in grass. Definitely not a positive term.

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makmanalp 537 days ago | link

I'd say that "inek" firmly lies within what others would call "bookworm", having been called that. Maybe even implies a lot about schoolwork but not about much else. It implies that you don't have a personal life, because it is spent with schoolwork.

Nerd, on the other hand, conjures up a whole subculture that is quite different. The nerd not only is naturally good at schoolwork, but also has a personal life, but chooses to fill it with abnormal curiosa: Sci-fi, larping, reading, learning, etc.

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saraid216 537 days ago | link

Who is "we", btw?

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electrozoic 537 days ago | link

Maybe we have worked in different environments than nerdess. I've had quite a few jobs (at software companies in the US) where most of my colleagues are calm, mature, and act like professionals without regard to gender. I've also encountered the occasional colleague (a bit more often in startup/freelance culture) who acts like females are a new and unfamiliar technology, and doesn't know how to relate in appropriate ways. But I've never felt particularly "powerful" in my workplace, until I started doing most of my work from my home office.

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kellishaver 537 days ago | link

I've never experienced it either, but maybe it's regional influence.

I've worked on a lot of teams over the years, often as the only female on a project. Only once have I felt in any way "different" from anyone else on the team, be it in a positive or negative way, and I don't think that was intentional. It was a startup ran by young, single guys, and I was a mid 30's mom. We just had different priorities and interests and the culture wasn't a good fit. But there wasn't anything negative or sexist about it, just differences.

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irisshoor 537 days ago | link

More than once I was the only female in a team (including a 20 people team). I think that the initial reaction of most of the team members is not about 'hey, look, it's a girl! what are we suppose to do with it?' like it sounds on the article. When there's a tight knit team and someone a bit different joins there's always worry that it's going to affect the existing culture, it doesn't matter if it's a girl, someone older, someone very young or someone from a different country. Once you play the 'girl' card, you remain different. I'm not saying that you have to start drinking beer all day long and tell StarWars jokes, just be yourself and align with the team (same advice for men as well). You might be liked more when you play the 'girl' card but that's not the right way for a promotion (been there, done that). Other than that, great article, useful and I like the images.

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papsosouid 537 days ago | link

>Never experienced this

Privilege blindness doesn't just apply to straight white men. The relationship status of the people has nothing to do with it. Men are instinctively predisposed to helping women. Women can and do take advantage of this, and generally don't recognize or acknowledge that they are doing so. You don't see it, because you've lived it your entire life and it is normal.

How many times has a woman put a new water bottle in the water cooler here? I know the exact number, because it is zero. All of the women here are fully capable of doing it, yet they ask men to do it. And how often do men say no? This is very obvious when looking at tasks that are considered stereotypically "men's work" like lifting something, but it applies just as much to anything else.

I've watched my wife get men to do her work for her several times. She simply asks them to do it, and they say yes. When I point it out to her, she insists that they would have done the same for a man, and that had she asked a woman they would have done it for her too. Yet, she never asks another woman to do it, and I know I sure wouldn't do it if a man were asking me. She is taking advantage of being female, and it is so deeply ingrained that it comes naturally and she doesn't recognize that she's doing it.

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demosthenes 536 days ago | link

This is why women often wonder why the world has become less 'nice' as they grow older.

In fact, the world hasn't changed. It's just that the extra consideration they got because of their looks goes away as they grow old.

In contrast men often spend their early years not being taken very seriously. They often have to fight to get noticed.

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RandallBrown 537 days ago | link

Articles like this are what are going to get girls into computing. They need to know that there are other normal girls, just like them, that do this for a living.

I got my ex-girlfriend into software development. She comes off as a very stereotypical girly girl. She likes clothes, shopping, and top 40 pop music. I convinced her to take an intro programming class her sophomore year of college. Now she's a software engineer at Amazon.

All it took her was a little convincing that she could do it, and that normal people (I suppose I seemed normal to her) do it too.

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lloeki 537 days ago | link

> All it took her was a little convincing that she could do it

I don't know if it's society or what, but it seems a lot of girls suffer from this (conscious or not) line of thinking.

I'm versed in science (esp. math and physics) and like to talk about such subjects so I've been regularly asked for help, and every single time I helped a girl the cause of their demise was lack of confidence. Contrary to guys (which seem to have confidence in excess but need some form of support), telling them upfront is useless because it's so ingrained that I have to take a more subtle route. I explain her something complex, and keep going deeper until (usually takes about ten minutes) there's a a-ha, not about the subject at hand but about herself, a moment where she realizes that at every step she got everything I said, and now she gets a glimpse something so complex that ten minutes ago she thought it would forever be unfathomable to her, when I did not actually explain so much as pragmatically but subtly demonstrate that yes, she can do it. Subsequent results at school, even in unrelated disciplines and without more training, are off the charts.

It seems the "mens do the real stuff" society thing is so pervasive that it permeates through and makes them lose the confidence required, and they just need to be bootstrapped out of it so that they can finally say "This is within my reach".

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annableker 536 days ago | link

For real. This girl is obviously being honest and sounds really level-headed/normal. Everything in this article is exactly what I would tell my little sister.

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nerdess 536 days ago | link

thanks, that is exactly what i want to achieve with my article: pointing out that the tech world is not just for über-nerds :)

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physcab 537 days ago | link

I'd love to use this opportunity to do a little promotion. My sister and I just launched a site to connect women in industry with girls taking math and science called Girls Love Math (http://www.glmclub.org).

It would make my day if women like nerdess became mentors. I have a feeling that lots of girls are looking up to them.

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michaelochurch 537 days ago | link

I'll make a controversial observation, but it's worthy of discussion.

If you're a woman of average or better looks, you have one under-spoken superpower. Namely, how you interact with other men will have a huge effect on their social status. I'm not talking about overt flirtation (don't do it) or office relationships (avoid, avoid, avoid). I'm talking about more subtle stuff, like who a woman smiles at, who she initiates conversations with, and what her body language is toward various people. This will have huge ripple effects on the male status hierarchy. Much of the reason why men tend to seem "afraid of" women in the office is that they're afraid she'll judge him lowly and send out "loser signals" about him, bringing him down a notch or two. Since everything that happens at most workplaces (especially cliquish startups, so don't give me this "meritocratic" bullshit) is really about social status-- "performance" is a myth made up to justify firings and scare the mediocre-- this is huge.

Overtly flirting with the men in the office will destroy a woman's reputation, for sure. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the subtle fact that, among groups of people, women have the capability to exert a disproportionate influence on the status ordering. In fact, the best way to use this is to do exactly what a young man would do: be nice to everyone, reach out and try to make allies, seek mentors... but also take a small comfort in the fact that men have an added incentive to be nice to you-- you have a disproportionate effect on their image, and they want to be seen with you.

For example, a 23-year-old with 6 months on the job comes into the office of a powerful person (MD in banking, Partner in a law firm) and says that (s/)he is bored with the work that (s/)he is getting. If male, he's just another entitled fuck looking for an advantage. The response usually is: go away, pay your dues, and come back in 7 years after you've proven yourself (if I haven't fired you before that). That's because humans have a visceral hatred of low-status males, and in the workplace, men in the youngest 15% are almost always of low status (hence, they get the shittiest work).

If the 23-year-old is female, this 45-year-old executive might realize that having a 23-year-old woman come into his office once a week might give him a younger, "cooler" image and prevent him from getting "managed out" (read: fired) for being "resistant to change" (read: old). So he might give her the kind of work that most people have to wait a few years to have a crack at.

Again, she's not flirting with him, or compromising herself in any way. She's doing exactly what a man would do if he had the courage: going into a powerful person's office and asking for better work.

It doesn't always happen this way, but it can. Career advancement is about stringing together a large number of high-impact, low-probability prospects (with enough parallelism that the likelihood of some success becomes high) and waiting for one to hit. The "superpower" that an attractive woman has doesn't turn the low probability into a high one; it makes it slightly less low.

I'm not saying life is fair and, on the whole, women almost certainly have to deal with more bullshit than men. It's wrong that women's looks are taken to matter so much. It's wrong that people are huge dicks to women about aging. Some of the "old lady" comments I heard when Clinton was running for President in 2008 made me want to vomit.

Men have a huge and unfair advantage after 32, which is that they can have children with their careers interrupted, and that their social status (being abysmal, in the workplace, at 22-24) peaks around 40-50. Men can (and are expected to) work through child-rearing, while for it to make sense for a woman to keep working after having children, she has to make about 2.5 times the average income (to hire help, day care, etc.) On the other hand, women have a huge advantage from 22 to 32, which is that they have the subtle but potent ability to determine who's "cool", and if they're aware of how to use it, they can speed up their careers. And given the heaping plate of bullshit that society gives women once they get older (and it starts in the 30s) they pretty much have to use this advantage while it's there.

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bobbydavid 537 days ago | link

Yipe! I hope this is hypothetical, and we're not getting a glimpse into how you (would?) act as a manager.

But even in my most pragmatic, cynical mindset, remove the gender from this entirely. Beautiful people get ahead, regardless of gender. For instance:

Here is another hypothetical anecdote to counter yours: a handsome, sharp 23-yo man walks in to his manager's office asking for more, and the manager sees a potential go-getter. A beautiful 23-yo woman walks into her manager's office asking for more, and the manager is influenced by his subconscious belief that all attractive women are stupid.

Or how about a 23-yo person (say, Chris), at a start-up that gets a raise because that person creates a positive work atmosphere by being friendly and fostering coworker interaction -- even if that person is not the strongest coder, they may be bringing more value to the team. Maybe everyone else agrees with this raise!, because at one time or another, Chris made them feel "included" in some way. The only person who disagrees is Chris' cubicle mate: a cynical lone-wolf type who spurns others' efforts to be inclusive, and watches from a distance as the rest of the office builds inter-office relationships. Months later, if given a pulpit, that lone dissenter may make some statement like "Chris was given a raise due to petty office politics despite being a mediocre coder," and maybe people hearing this who weren't there won't know how truly valuable Chris was.

But enough hypotheticals. I'm worried that they aren't productive and may be needlessly inflammatory.

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salemh 536 days ago | link

For what its worth, as a former tech recruiter, a female candidate had a 90% chance of hire at 70% or greater hire rate then a male candidate.

What that means is, if the company felt the female candidate was less qualified, but had potential then another male candidate, they would be hired. And, all things being equal (subjectively), had a greater opportunity of hire rate (our fee's, thus tracked). "Get a female in tech, get a placement," theoretically spoken.

I am just agreeing with MChurch mostly. It may however, not be so granular as he cites, rather, the fact that the % of females in the area of tech is so low, that selection bias towards females becomes an "issue" to look for more female candidates.

In other words (because I tend to ramble and befuddle what I am trying to say), little females exist in tech. If you get a qualified candidate in tech that is female, that is a more rare event, and thus worth more attention and notice (subconscious or otherwise).

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IsaacL 537 days ago | link

Out of interest, are you familiar with Venkatesh Rao's "Be Slightly Evil" mailing list? He has a similar worldview to you (cynical realpolitick as an amoral tool, usable for good or evil).

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michaelochurch 537 days ago | link

No. I'll look into it.

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dpritchett 537 days ago | link

FWIW I have twice tried to get Venkatesh to read your blog: http://ribbonfarm.posterous.com/tech-companies-open-allocati...

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vgr 536 days ago | link

I do... when specific posts cross my radar. Good stuff. No longer keep up deterministically with anything via RSS/email though.

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salemh 535 days ago | link

Took me a minute to Google, so, main: http://www.ribbonfarm.com/about/

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nacker 536 days ago | link

If you want cynical gender realpolitik you must visit Heartiste, the enemy of pretty lies, who has a superb post today:

    In simple terms, we proposed that in sex, women are the suppliers and men constitute the demand (Baumeister and Vohs 2004). Hence the anti-democratic, seemingly paradoxical sex ratio findings that Regnerus describes. When women are in the minority, the sexual marketplace conforms to their preferences: committed relationships, widespread virginity, faithful partners, and early marriage. For example, American colleges in the 1950s conformed to that pattern. In our analysis, women benefit in such circumstances because the demand for their sexuality exceeds the supply. In contrast, when women are the majority, such as on today’s campuses as well as in some ethnic minority communities, things shift toward what men prefer: Plenty of sex without commitment, delayed marriage, extradyadic copulations, and the like. [ed: yep, life has been good for those of us who know the score.] [...]

    Sexual marketplaces take the shape they do because nature has biologically built a disadvantage into men: a huge desire for sex that makes men dependent on women. Men’s greater desire puts them at a disadvantage, just as when two parties are negotiating a possible sale or deal, the one who is more eager to make the deal is in a weaker position than the one who is willing to walk away without the deal. [ed: this is why practiced male aloofness is attractive to women -- it signals that the man is holding a stronger market position, and that his goods are therefore valuable.] Women certainly desire sex too — but as long as most women desire it less than most men, women have a collective advantage, and social roles and interactions will follow scripts that give women greater power than men (Baumeister et al. 2001). [ed: culture emerges from sexually differentiated genetic roots.] We have even concluded that the cultural suppression of female sexuality throughout much of history and across many different cultures has largely had its roots in the quest for marketplace advantage (see Baumeister and Twenge 2002). Women have often sustained their advantage over men by putting pressure on each other to restrict the supply of sex available to men. As with any monopoly or cartel, restricting the supply leads to a higher price. [...]

    Recent work has found that across a large sample of countries today, the economic and political liberation of women is positively correlated with greater availability of sex (Baumeister and Mendoza 2011). Thus, men’s access to sex has turned out to be maximized not by keeping women in an economically disadvantaged and dependent condition, but instead by letting them have abundant access and opportunity. [ed: was the sexual and feminist revolution fomented by undersexed beta males? a case can be made.] In an important sense, the sexual revolution of the 1970s was itself a market correction. Once women had been granted wide opportunities for education and wealth, they no longer had to hold sex hostage (Baumeister and Twenge 2002). [ed: that is, they no longer had to suffer the indignity of beta provider courtship. now that they had the resources, it was open season on alpha male cock hopping. the sexual revolution appears to have backfired on beta males expecting a bigger slice of the snatch pie.]

    What does all this mean for men? The social trends suggest the continuing influence of a stable fact, namely the strong desire of young men for sexual activity. As the environment has shifted, men have simply adjusted their behavior to find the best means to achieve this same goal. Back in 1960, it was difficult to get sex without getting married or at least engaged, and so men married early. To be sure, this required more than being willing to bend the knee, declare love, and offer a ring. To qualify as marriage material, a man had to have a job or at least a strong prospect of one (such as based on an imminent college degree). The man’s overarching goal of getting sex thus motivated him to become a respectable stakeholder contributing to society.

    The fact that men became useful members of society as a result of their efforts to obtain sex is not trivial, and it may contain important clues as to the basic relationship between men and culture (see Baumeister 2010). Although this may be considered an unflattering characterization, and it cannot at present be considered a proven fact, we have found no evidence to contradict the basic general principle that men will do whatever is required in order to obtain sex, and perhaps not a great deal more. [ed: that last clause is critical. men will always take the path of least resistance to sex. it is up to women to make that path more difficult if they want to extract more concessions from men.] (One of us characterized this in a previous work as, “If women would stop sleeping with jerks, men would stop being jerks.”) If in order to obtain sex men must become pillars of the community, or lie, or amass riches by fair means or foul, or be romantic or funny, then many men will do precisely that. This puts the current sexual free-for-all on today’s college campuses in a somewhat less appealing light than it may at first seem. [ed: what's interesting and unspoken here is that the sexual free-for-all is chugging along nicely well beyond and outside of the college years, with the difference being that, in their 20s and 30s, a select number of fewer men (let's call them... alpha males) are enjoying the ample premarital rewards of sexually available women.] Giving young men easy access to abundant sexual satisfaction deprives society of one of its ways to motivate them to contribute valuable achievements to the culture. [ed: damn, i'm torn. do i want a thriving society or easier access to sex? yeeeeah... i'll take the latter and leave the self-sacrifice required of the former for the anti-poolside chumps.]

    The changes in gender politics since 1960 can be seen as involving a giant trade, in which both genders yielded something of lesser importance to them in order to get something they wanted more (Baumeister and Vohs 2004). As Regnerus states, partly based on our own extensive survey of research findings, men want sex, indeed more than women want it (Baumeister et al. 2001). Women, meanwhile, want not only marriage but also access to careers and preferential treatment in the workplace. [ed: women are the reproductively more valuable sex, and so it makes sense that evolution would have "gifted" women with an oversized entitlement complex and the inability to engage in self-criticism.]

    The giant trade thus essentially involved men giving women not only easy access but even preferential treatment in the huge institutions that make up society, which men created. [ed: but the grand bargain did not work out as intended for the masses of beta males who acquiesced to the new girl order. while alpha males certainly saw more action from "liberated" women, the average joe did not. instead, all the average joe got in return for sacrificing his workplace status in hopes of easier sex was... a heaping helping of humiliation and wage stagnation and anti-joe animus, which continues at an accelerated pace to this day. this is a critical distinction i would like to see Baumeister address.] Today most schools, universities, corporations, scientific organizations, governments, and many other institutions have explicit policies to protect and promote women. It is standard practice to hire or promote a woman ahead of an equally qualified man. Most large organizations have policies and watchdogs that safeguard women’s interests and ensure that women gain preferential treatment over men. Parallel policies or structures to protect men’s interests are largely nonexistent and in many cases are explicitly prohibited. Legal scholars, for example, point out that any major new law is carefully scrutinized by feminist legal scholars who quickly criticize any aspect that could be problematic or disadvantageous to women, and so all new laws are women-friendly. Nobody looks out for men, and so the structural changes favoring women and disadvantaging men have accelerated (Baumeister and Vohs 2004). [...]
https://heartiste.wordpress.com/2012/11/02/latest-baumeister...

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IsaacL 536 days ago | link

This is Roissy's new blog, correct? I don't know, the guy's writing just creates a strong, visceral negative reaction in me. Complete 'ugh' reaction. Like the worst parts of 4chan, it's disgusting, horrifying, and strangely compelling.

I think many of his points may be correct, but he is biased by his excessive cynicism. Grey-tinted glasses are no better than the rose-tinted kind.

If MChurch is chaotic good, and VGR is true neutral, I think Roissy would be lawful evil.

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nacker 534 days ago | link

Yes, it is Roissy. I agree with everything you said. It's kind of like eating anchovies and Stilton cheese, rotten, but 'strangely compelling'!

For a more palatable experience, I recommend The Red Pill Room guy, Ian Ironwood, who has an excellent series of posts on the evolution of marriage, with cute artwork from a bygone age.

Sample:

'With the economic impetus for Marriage 2.0 removed, the sex-for-security trade of Marriage 1.0 becoming weaker, and cash taking the place of land as a holder of value, it was Industrialization that forced the development of Marriage 3.0, not feminism. Indeed, feminism is a by-product of the Industrial Revolution, just as Marxism is, an inevitable social response to an economic change. Women invading the workforce in large numbers greatly upset the socio-legal environment, and regulatory reform reflecting this fact was as inevitable as the rise of feminists.

Add to that the revolutionary development of the Pill, allowing a woman to control her reproductive destiny reliably for the first time in history, and between the two a tectonic shift in Male-Female gender relations was also inevitable. Liberalized divorce laws, open access to contraception and abortion services followed as a matter of course. That was as inevitable and predictable as the rise of the Civil Rights movement two generations after the end of slavery.

Marriage 3.0 is an entirely different animal than the previous two versions and their variants. Let’s break down the variants that have evolved out of the chaos and confusion, shall we?'

http://theredpillroom.blogspot.com/2011/12/marriage-10-and-1...

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eliza1wright 537 days ago | link

I think your theory hinges on the idea that most, if not all, of the players in this scenario are single. I work in a start-up environment with a bunch of men, but most of them are married or in a committed relationship. For what it's worth, I'm engaged. The whole "mysterious feminine influence" thing that you're talking about tends to disappear when people don't see you as a potential romantic/flirting partner. I think I'm seen as off-limits, especially because I try not to flirt with the guys in the office. At that point, it doesn't matter how attractive or competent I am. I'm seen as just another member of the team, and probably subconsciously devalued because of my gender.

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mamoswined 536 days ago | link

I think this discussion is missing the fact that women are more likely to enforce social norms http://www.overcomingbias.com/2011/06/women-enforce-norms.ht... Since the workforce at my company has included more women, there is less tolerance for behaviors that were common in the all-male workplace. Men with poor social skills were increasingly pushed out of leadership roles and/or replaced with more congenial employees. I don't think this is a bad thing at all- our clients are much happier, but it highlights the need in tech education to teach social skills. But it does threaten a "bro" culture that many people enjoyed as employees.

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therandomguy 536 days ago | link

Does getting married flip a biological switch that changes the male-female attraction? No. You might choose not to act on it, but body language, signalling etc. still remains.

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snogglethorpe 536 days ago | link

Yup. Marriage status may tweak the details of things like flirting, but certainly doesn't stop it in many cases. Some people even seem to flirt more after getting married, maybe because it feels safer (there's an obvious boundary).

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hilko 536 days ago | link

My experience exactly. Most of the guys at my job that are in a steady, committed relationship talk less about women in a romantic or sexual way, but flirt and interact more with women.

In an odd way, they're actually better at playing single than the actual single guys.

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papsosouid 537 days ago | link

>I think your theory hinges on the idea that most, if not all, of the players in this scenario are single

Not at all. In fact, he was quite clear that this has nothing to do with flirting or relationships in any way. It is simply that female approval is a huge factor in social status. Men instinctively view other men as more powerful, more competent, and respect them more if a women asks him a question instead of asking one of the other dozen men. There is nothing sexual about it, relationship status doesn't matter at all.

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eliza1wright 537 days ago | link

I apologize because I can't find the exact quote, but I believe Miss Manners said something to the effect of "Flirting, when done properly, means that both parties can claim they meant nothing by it." That's the flirting I speak of, the same sort of flirting/friendliness that was originally mentioned. It's foolish to assert that female approval matters, but darn it, no one knows why! It's just the way it is! In my experience, female approval matters because of the perception of sexual and romantic prowess that it grants to the receiver, especially in the eyes of other men. It's the idea of "Hey, she might sleep with that guy, under the right circumstances..." And that little sexual undercurrent is a huge part of your life when you're single.

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papsosouid 536 days ago | link

>That's the flirting I speak of, the same sort of flirting/friendliness that was originally mentioned

I was responding to the idea that being single or not has some effect on the scenario. Flirting (whether deniable or not) is neither exclusive to single people, nor required to affect the social status of men you interact with.

>It's foolish to assert that female approval matters, but darn it, no one knows why!

It is foolish to assert that the universe exists, but darn it, no one knows why! We observe things, then we develop hypotheses to try to figure out why they are as they are. Then we test those hypotheses to see if they are accurate. The observation does not cease to exist simply because there are no hypotheses that have made it to proven theory.

>In my experience, female approval matters because of the perception of sexual and romantic prowess that it grants to the receiver, especially in the eyes of other men

That may well be the case at a subconscious level. But that doesn't go away because any or all of the people involved are in relationships. I have been married for over a decade. I do not actively seek the attention of women as a result of this fact, but I still treat them the same way, and they are still able to coerce me into doing what they want even though both of us are fully aware that there will be no sex rewards happening.

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greenyoda 536 days ago | link

"[Women] are still able to coerce me into doing what they want even though both of us are fully aware that there will be no sex rewards happening."

I'm pretty sure that random female co-workers can't actually coerce you into doing anything that you don't want to do. More likely, they're just better at persuading you to do something, and this could be attributed to women having better-developed social skills (without having to hypothesize some kind of "female approval" dynamic).

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papsosouid 534 days ago | link

>and this could be attributed to women having better-developed social skills (without having to hypothesize some kind of "female approval" dynamic).

Why is inventing something that makes no sense "women have better social skills" a good plan, but a well known observation "women's social interactions confer social status on men" bad? What social skills are women using to get the men in the office to carry boxes of paper? Do you seriously think a man could just practice socializing really hard and suddenly be able to ask another man to do that and have it work?

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eliza1wright 536 days ago | link

"That may well be the case at a subconscious level. But that doesn't go away because any or all of the people involved are in relationships."

Agreed. I'm lucky to work with men who don't seem to be looking for any extramarital dalliances, and our interactions reflect that. Being friendly and warm--what many would consider flirting--isn't required to affect the social status of those I interact with, but it can certainly help. And I think that's something that many people in a monogamous relationship learn to suppress, for various reasons.

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papsosouid 536 days ago | link

You lost me. His point only applies to single people because people in monogamous relationships have learned to suppress "being friendly"? I have not seen anything that would suggest that is true, I could not guess the relationship status of anyone in my office based on their friendliness.

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cbsmith 536 days ago | link

> It is simply that female approval is a huge factor in social status.

Oh, I think male approval is a huge factor in social status too. Indeed, I hear a lot of complaints from women in tech that seem based on that premis... ;-)

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rmc 537 days ago | link

(a) In your hypothetical example, everyone seems to be heterosexual. I assure you reality doesn't fully match your theory.

(b) It's just an "attractive female" advantage, "attractive men" have been found to have similar advantages.

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michaelochurch 537 days ago | link

(a) In your hypothetical example, everyone seems to be heterosexual. I assure you reality doesn't fully match your theory.

I'm talking about social status and "coolness" which are not identical to sexual "market value". In fact, I think it's a bad idea for women to exploit any sexual "assets", because a woman who is visibly trying to do so won't be taken seriously. I'm talking about a more general-purpose social asset which is that an attractive woman is judged to be "cool" (even by gay men).

The initial conditions of social status are set by people wanting things, in the aggregate, so the heterosexual 93% have disproportionate influence. The final conditions are set algorithmically by something that looks like PageRank: people care about popular peoples' opinions because other people care about popular peoples' opinions.

This isn't about what's right or how things should be. It's about what is.

(b) It's just an "attractive female" advantage, "attractive men" have been found to have similar advantages.

True, but the ages in which people are most attractive are 18-29. Men in that age range have low social status (theirs starts out very low, but increases into the 40s and 50s) while women at that age have high social status (and it declines with age). Again, I'm not saying this is how things should be, but it's what is.

The result is that women reach their maximum attractiveness at a time of high social status, while men reach maximum attractiveness at an age when society still considers most of them to be unproven losers who jack off and play videogames all day. People tend to become more average in looks as they get older, and by the age of peak social status for men, almost all of them are in the "average" range where attractiveness doesn't have a major push.

A woman doesn't have to be highly attractive to take advantage of this, by the way. She has to be seen as preternaturally cool. There are women of average or below-average looks who can pull this off.

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rmc 537 days ago | link

Men in that age range have low social status (theirs starts out very low, but increases into the 40s and 50s) while women at that age have high social status (and it declines with age).

If I'm parsing this right, you're saying women's social status is mostly based on looks (you say it's better around then) and less so on (cay) career, whereas men's social status is less based on looks, and more on career.

You're probably right (that's probably how a lot of the world works), but damn it jim that's wrong. And from a realpolitik advice it might be helpful. I'm just a principled person, and want to fight this!

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bane 537 days ago | link

It pretty much explains the 50-70 year old exec with the 23 year old arm candy that seems to be so common...2 people in their relative primes.

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orangecat 536 days ago | link

If I'm parsing this right, you're saying women's social status is mostly based on looks (you say it's better around then) and less so on (cay) career, whereas men's social status is less based on looks, and more on career.

Exactly.

I'm just a principled person, and want to fight this!

You're fighting against millions of years of evolution. Speeches aren't going to do it, very advanced biotech might.

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rmc 536 days ago | link

Millions of years of evolution aren't as strong as you think. We have women out of the home and working, and lower class commoners and black people have near equal rights with the upper class nobility.

Bring it on.

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guylhem 537 days ago | link

If you fight this, will you :

a) change the system and improve your success ?

b) fail and lower your success ?

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sopooneo 537 days ago | link

or c) change the system and lower your personal success but it's worth it because in aggregate you've helped the world more than you've hurt yourself.

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guylhem 536 days ago | link

Right, c is also possible, but I'd question the ratio - helped the world "more" is yet another specific case, which depends on values.

Anyway, what are the odds?

I'd say : a) 1% b) 97% c) 2%

It seems to me like a bad idea, unlike you want to hurt yourself (self sacrifice is generally a bad thing in my philosophy) on you love risk taking/gambling.

It's not worth it.

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coroxout 537 days ago | link

I think your hypothetical attractive 23y/o woman who goes into the office of a middle-aged manager who barely knows who she is and comes out with a better job will be very much rumoured to have "exploited" her "sexual 'assets'", whether she has or not, and that in itself is dangerous for her social status.

I'm also not totally sure that youth is such a negative for a man's social status in the workplace. I can think of a few charismatic young men I've seen get disproportionately (disproportionate to performance) far up the ladder. And maybe I'm mistaken, but terms like "rock star programmer" seem to invoke the cult of youth - in my mind it implies a hip young gunslinger.

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greenyoda 536 days ago | link

There are actually some pretty old rock stars out there, like Mick Jagger.

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zxcdw 537 days ago | link

a: Taking sexual orientation into question plays no good for anybody especially since it's completely individual aspect.

b: There's no "attractive male" advantage to be found in tech, at least not compared to "attractive female" advantage as your parent explained.

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dpritchett 537 days ago | link

> b: There's no "attractive male" advantage to be found in tech, at least not compared to "attractive female" advantage as your parent explained.

Here's an excerpt from Vanity Fair's take on YC:

Today, Jason Shen is a different speaker, one who exudes confidence. As he approaches the dais, the former collegiate gymnast does a cartwheel. “I thought you guys need a little pick-me-up or something,” he says, and goes into his pitch. “Ridejoy is the community marketplace for rides. If you’re going on a trip, you can list extra seat space in your car. And if you need to get somewhere, you can find a ride using our site.” He explains that Ridejoy is adding an element of “reputation” to ride-sharing, a mechanism for payments, and a “great user experience.” Shen anticipates a question that may be in the minds of the audience members: “Maybe this is some kind of crazy San Francisco hipster thing. It’s not.”

I think you'll find that a lot of entrepreneurs work out. It has tremendous carryover benefits to confidence and social interactions like hustling startups.

[1] http://www.vanityfair.com/business/2012/10/y-combinator-star...

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zxcdw 537 days ago | link

How does this compare to a "attractive female" advantage a girl has in an otherwise-100 % male startup for example?

Of course, being fit, in a good shape both physically and mentally are - always - indisputable advantages over those who lack such qualities. However, this completely misses the point that an attractive female has such a tremendous control over the social structure within the company that it alone is something no single man, regardless of how confident, how superior physically and mentally, can never have. Of course it's another question how a girl can take an advantage of this, if at all.

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rmc 536 days ago | link

A lot of straight guys like to think that they would not be impressed by an attractive man. ☺

Maybe that's the reason?

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sp332 537 days ago | link

It's a question of being "cool", so I think (as it was put) "average-or-better" looking woman has as much cool-factor as a somewhat better-looking man.

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rmc 537 days ago | link

b: There's no "attractive male" advantage to be found in tech, at least not compared to "attractive female" advantage as your parent explained.

Yes, IT is full of straight men, but the parent post gave example of non-IT

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dgabriel 537 days ago | link

It's more likely that a 45 year old exec would be less interested in a 23 year old woman visiting him regularly in his office, in case it appears to be inappropriate. One of the difficulties for young women in IT/Dev is finding a mentor, and having important close relationships with more experienced folks.

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cbsmith 536 days ago | link

> If you're a woman of average or better looks, you have one under-spoken superpower. Namely, how you interact with other men will have a huge effect on their social status.

Hmm... I would say in general this is true of attractiveness of average or better than average regardless, particularly if you allow for broader definitions of "attractive", and once you factor in sexual orientation.... and even when sex isn't an issue, there's all kinds of stuff that people do that works the same way. Watch a middle-aged balding male salesman work their magic sometime... even when dealing with a heterosexual, middle-aged male customer.

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