Hacker Newsnew | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login
Why it is Awesome to be a Girl in Tech (nerdess.net)
369 points by nerdess 1035 days ago | 248 comments



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.

-----


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.

-----


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.

-----


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.

-----


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.

-----


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.

-----


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".

-----


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?

-----


"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.

-----


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

-----


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.

-----


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.

-----


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?

-----


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.

-----


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.)

-----


> 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.

-----


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

-----


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.

-----


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

-----


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.

-----


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.

-----


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".

-----


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.

-----


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?

-----


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)

-----


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.

-----


…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.

-----


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.

-----


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

-----


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.

-----


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?

-----


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.

-----


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

-----


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

-----


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.

-----


"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.

-----


> 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.

-----


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.

-----


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.

-----


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...

-----


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.

-----


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

-----


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.

-----


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.

-----


That same attitude exists in the states too.

-----


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.

-----


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.

-----


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

-----


No. Just a lot of them.

-----


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.

-----


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.

-----


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.

-----


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.

-----


Who is "we", btw?

-----


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.

-----


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.

-----


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.

-----


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.

-----


>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.

-----


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.

-----


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.

-----


> 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".

-----


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.

-----


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

-----


Progress is being made, but there is still a long way to go.

This happened in a talk at a programming/web/tech event two weeks ago: http://i.imgur.com/4hL6X.jpg

-----


WTF. How is this ever acceptable in a professional context? Talk about hostility.

-----


Professionals are at work. Goofs are at "events".

-----


There are still plenty of professionals at events, and even presenting at events.

This sort of stuff seems more a part of "brogrammer" culture. The idea that you need to make a name for yourself by being edgy/offensive.

-----


Do tech women identify somehow with this girl in the picture and feel offended?

When guy sees some looser made fun of on some picture he thinks: "Hehe. What a looser!" as he sees almost no resemblance between him and the looser.

Does women feel more strongly connected to other women because of shared gender than men?

-----


I'd feel offended if presented with this sort of nonsense at a tech talk. The implication of the picture, given the structure and history of our society, is that women are there to be pretty and submissive and men are there to control women with money. That and it makes absolutely no sense as an analogy for MVC, it's just a cheap shot in an attempt to titillate an assumed audience of sexist men. So yes, women in an audience presented with that sort of image are probably going to feel alienated and offended, and no that is not some special sensitivity or empathy for other women, it's because of all the assumptions which come with using a picture like that (women are not my audience, pretty women are controlled by men with money, women are there to be looked at by men, etc).

PS When referring to losers, use the correct spelling

-----


Thanks for the correction. Sorry. Not native speaker. Spellchecker didn't kick in.

Maybe I'm desensitized to gender issues because I never disrespected a woman for being a woman, and never noticed any adult during my childhood who did that even jokingly but I can imagine conference room of techy women with female presenter showing this picture and all laughing partly exactly because it has nothing to do with MVC and absurd humor is always funny and also because the girl in the picture is obviously inferior to the women in the room even though she could be better off if she learned useful stuff properly like they did and led independent life like they do. I am aware that this probably won't happen anywhere in another 50 years or so.

Personally I hate inappropriate jokes in public appearances because they make presenter look silly and in some twisted form of empathy I feel the shame that presenter should feel.

This joke made me laugh probably because I'm in front of the computer following anonymous link not in the room full of people seeing some boring poor chap desperately trying to lighten the mood. I was mostly amused by the View part, then the Model, not at all at the Controller. I'm so indoorsy (and living in non english speaking country) that when I'm thinking of View the thing that you can see on holidays is one of the last things that come to my mind. I don't own a TV and don't follow celebrity gossip and/or fashion so the connection between what I know as Model and being a model as occupation was also hard for me to make. Controller was I think the easiest (so already least funny) because money is a mean to control a lot (your life for example) also controlling people of opposite gender with money brings "eww.." factor that spoils the joke. 2 out of 3 ... so somewhat funny.

Sorry for trolling you with insensitive question.

-----


But the person in the picture is specifically labeled a model: a profession which - by definition - means they are there to be pretty and "submissive" (in the sense that any employee is "submissive" to their employer).

Would it be better if it were a male model?

-----


This image is implying that women are objects to be bought and sold and "controlled". Thus the currency. That's why it's offensive. Women are not "objects" to be controlled or bought. It has nothing to do with solidarity.

Also, your example talks about "making fun of" someone. The image in the OOP example is reducing a woman's personhood to nothing but that of an object. It is intended to mock her existence and imply that she has no personal agency beyond what a man would choose to control her with.

-----


It's offensive because it's lazy. There are better analogies and ways of conveying these concepts that don't objectify 50% of the population.

If I'm one of the only girls in the room, and that is how a point is being made in a presentation by someone that supposedly has enough clout in the industry to go up in front of hundreds of people and talk, it doesn't make me feel good about my future or the people I will report to down the line, nor does it make me feel comfortable knowing that this type of humor is acceptable and welcomed by the amount of laughs it gets.

There's also going to be a few people in the audience that look at this image and then look at me to see what my reaction is, and I'm there to learn, not stand out.

-----


What have you got against WD-40?

-----


It is funny that it is ok to exploit nerd stereotypes as demonstrated in the article (nobody cares about yet another nerd in a basement picture).

Do you think that the author of the article sees all programmers through the lenses of the stereotype?

The picture that you've linked is in bad taste but it won't change the popularity of the stereotype behind it in any way.

Do you think that the author of the presentation sees all models through the lenses of the stereotype?

-----


Do we really need to coin the phrase "hacker privilege?"

Look, I know it sucked in school, being ostracized for having technical interests, but now you're grown-up and loaded. As part of a larger social agenda, I can see some harm in perpetuating these geek stereotypes, but on a personal level, you are not being exploited, so quit whining.

-----


If it is not clear: "nobody cares about yet another.." here means "nobody (among people that stereotype might be applied to) cares (finds it offensive) about yet another..". That is the meaning is the opposite to your interpretation. I agree the initial comment might have sounded ambiguously.

Your comment could be less patronizing.

-----


If women were really so motivated by money, there would be more of us in tech.

On a more serious note, sometimes I just don't get other women. Yeah, working in fashion, food, or publishing sounds fun, but they aren't getting paid hardly anything and most of them are working as low-level grunts just to be in the industry that sounds fun to them with a small glimmer of hope they might move to the very tiny upper tier in those jobs. To contrast, I have a well-paying job that pays well and after 5, I can actually enjoy food, fashion, and writing for fun. And on the food/fashion front I can afford much higher quality things.

-----


Out of curiosity, what event was this?

-----


Why is it that people group IT and software development together? To me, they are two completely different fields.

For example, I see an IT person as a mail server administrator in a large company, and a developer as the person who would write the mail server software.

I'm not saying that an IT professional never writes code, or a developer won't ever touch a Nginx config file. I just mean they are two different types of work.

It's something I have noticed for a while now, not only with your article.

-----


It's not like this any more. That's why recently there are so many "software engineers" - you write your Ruby code, install and configure NginX, Passenger etc., even support a cluster of machines (LB, DB, Apps), maybe with a little help for Chef.

-----


I think it's interesting that people with a computer science and technical background are often referred to as "engineers" in tech.

It seems like such a general label that can apply to anyone from a chemical engineer to a CS major, it all depends on the context.

-----


I just graduated from Uni (in Maths). I had a lot of engineering friends, who didn't mind the CS students going into "engineering" jobs. They got really annoyed with a "telephone engineer" installing their telephone line - they were like "No, you're a technician". The difference in their eyes is that engineers are designing and implementing systems, which we ofc do in software development, whereas technicians solve low-level problems in those systems.

-----


At least in university I went, first 2 years was pretty much general engineering, with chemistry and biology etc. included. Even now, most of grantpas and grantmas around, I'm speaking with, if I tell them, that I'm engineer, they trying to ask me to fix their TV/computer/washing machine etc. In most cases, I'm trying...

-----


To train drivers to army bridge builders.

-----


DevOps changed that. At my first few software engineering jobs, if I didn't write any config files, they wouldn't have got written.

-----


Agreed! I've worked at mostly start-ups, and I have yet to work at a start-up that didn't require us all to be DevOps.

-----


Because people as a general rule abstract anything related to computers or computing into one lump object. This vague, ossified amber of the interwingled nature of computer media causes problems with understanding computers.

That and the sort of person who does development ends up doing some IT and Vice versa.

-----


> Because people as a general rule abstract anything related to computers or computing into one lump object. This vague, ossified amber of the interwingled nature of computer media causes problems with understanding computers.

The same thing happens with every field. If you're at all medical, you're lumped into the 'doctor' category regardless of whether you're a neurosurgeon or a scrub tech, and all doctor-type humanoids know everything about everything from the cingulate gyrus to my granny's chilblains.

Which is still closer to the truth than imagining that everyone who is 'good with computers' can instantly diagnose and fix every single problem that has ever come up for everything that can run software.

-----


Yes they are different, but they are so close aswell. After all how much job movement is there between IT & development? Lots. Compare that to the job movemement between IT & being lawyer (not that much) etc.

-----


I wish there was more movement between IT and lawyers; then we'd have some developers who understand data protection and copyright principles and some lawyers who understand IT.

-----


Whatever you do, don't get into a bikeshed argument with a lawyer-turned-programmer. If they were a good lawyer, they will be an expert in persuasion, and can get you fired for disagreeing with them about Allman-vs-BSD indenting. Not out of malice, but just by following their old habits.

-----


Let's start with getting some lawyers to understand math first before moving on to IT.

-----


    class Computer:
        pass

    class IT(Computer):
        pass

    class SoftwareDeveloment(Computer):
        pass

    #that's how people see it.

-----


old style object or python 3?

-----


None. Just pseudo code. :)

-----


"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."

"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."

"Technical directors are really keen to hire girls because we boost the morale."

"If a male and a female developer with a similar skill level apply for a job, I bet that in 99.9% of the cases the girl will get the job."

These are all very sexist remarks. If the equivalent has been written from a male's perspective it would have been an outrage.

-----


I think from a harm minimization perspective, it makes sense to treat complaints of sexism from the minority faction more seriously than complaints of sexism from the majority faction.

Also, I disagree that people would complain if the same stuff was written by a guy working in nursing.

-----


You don't mean minority/majority, but yes.

-----


If he means women in tech, he probably means minority/majority.

-----


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.

-----


"If a male and a female developer with a similar skill level apply for a job, I bet that in 99.9% of the cases the girl will get the job."

That looks like sexism to me.

-----


There are several definitions of sexism, one is essentially "taking someone's sex or gender into account when making a decision". This appears to be the definition you're using. It's a very simple, easy to understand, easy to identify definiton. It also means that in many cases (e.g. hiring in an IT company), men can be the victims of sexism.

There's another definition, which is actions that's designed to maintain & reinforce the institutionalised power structure among sexist. Right now, if modern UK life was a video game, "male" would be an easier difficulty level than "female". There are statistically less problems for the "male" group. Sexist actions are actions that re-enforced that imbalance. This definition is harder for some people to accept because it means that you need to look at yourself and think about what power imbalances you might be benefiting from, and it means you can't just do s/female/male/g and make it just as sexist.

(There are some cases where there's an inbalance in favour of women, any men here ever took up knitting & crochet? Try getting involved in that, you'll see things from the other side)

-----


if modern UK life was a video game, "male" would be an easier difficulty level than "female".

Can you explain this in concrete terms? This meme is repeated often, but few people actually explain what it means.

Taking it literally, it would suggest that monsters receive +20% elemental resistance when women attack them with an ice-infused mace. But that's probably not what you mean.

There are statistically less problems for the "male" group.

If we are discussing statistical incidence of problems, why choose "male" and "female" as your reference classes? Why not simply choose incidence of problems as the variable to slice on?

This definition is harder for some people to accept...

It's not the definition that is hard to accept. If this was a definitional problem, we'd quickly find ourselves here:

http://lesswrong.com/lw/np/disputing_definitions/

Your "definition" contains implicit claims about the world which you haven't justified (i.e., it's a definition + assertions).

-----


Can you explain this in concrete terms? This meme is repeated often, but few people actually explain what it means.

Basically males often do not have to put with things that women often do. The concrete example is in this article. If you're a male contracter and start in a new IT place, and the other co-workers know nothing else about you beside (a) you're working here and (b) you are male, then they are much less likely to presume you are not a programmer than if you were female. See the OP for more examples of IT.

In general terms, some other examples:

• If a man gets drunk and passes out at a party, he rarely has to worry about more than someone shaving his eyebrows/hair or someone writing on his face with a marker. Women have to worry about being sexually molested or rape.

• If a straight man goes to a bar, and doesn't want to meet a new person, he's much more likely to be left alone and not propositioned than a woman. (i.e. he can have a quite drink with/without friends without being interrupted). If a straight man wants to experience more of what women feel, go to a gay bar.

• A man can walk past a building site (say) with it being unlikely that someone will shout something suggestive at him.

• When it's dark and they've had a beer or two, a man has a wider selection of streets he can walk down to get home. Less hassle, take the direct route! (I know men are often victims of other kinds of attacks & robberies, that doesn't mean they are not less likely to suffer other kinds).

• A straight man is much less likely to be the victim of physical or sexual abuse from his spouse than a straight woman.

etc.

This is what I mean by "men have it easier (in some regards)"

-----


This is not remotely close to what "easy mode" and "hard mode" mean in video games. I'm now convinced this meme should die since it obscures more than it helps. Hard mode is not "elevated chance of Balrog attacks, reduced chance of Death Knight attacks".

And as you correctly note, the statistical reference class of men have it easier (in some regards), and harder in other regards. For example:

"If a straight woman wishes to meet a new person, she merely needs to show up and not be fat. If a straight man wants to meet a new person, he must engage in a great deal of active effort."

"A woman is much less likely to be the victim of homicide by a business associate than a man."

So even if you wanted to make some sort of statistical "easy mode" claim, you'd still need to quantify both the benefits and drawbacks to make such a comparison.

-----


This is not remotely close to what "easy mode" and "hard mode" mean in video games. … Hard mode is not "elevated chance of Balrog attacks, reduced chance of Death Knight attacks".

Yes it is. Some video games have "the enemies are easier on you" and "bad things less likely to happen" as factors that are controlled by easy mode/hard mode. Anyway, it's just an analogy.

And as you correctly note, the statistical reference class of men have it easier (in some regards), and harder in other regards.

The important question is to tot these all up. After all, it's no good if someone sat down 100 years ago and said: "OK men get all the high paying jobs, ability to vote, serve on juries, be a politician, and the women get less work when dating. Fair?".

I question some of your "advantages women have". Many men actually don't want to be hit on all the time. There are cases of men literally murdering, or reacting violently to, a gay man who's come on to them. Some straight men feel uncomfortable in gay bars. I don't think it's an actual advantage. How much of the "victim of homocide from business partner" is due to women not running businesses as much as men? Perhaps, rather than a advantage, it's a disadvantage.

-----


Some video games have "the enemies are easier on you" and "bad things less likely to happen" as factors that are controlled by easy mode/hard mode.

Yes, hard mode also comes with a bit of extra critical hit vulnerability. I can't think of a single game where the law of large numbers doesn't come into play by the end of the level. I.e., it's more difficult for every single person playing hard mode than for every single person playing easy mode.

In contrast, what you are talking about (if correct) is much better described as "women are somewhat more likely to play life in hard mode than men".

The important question is to tot these all up.

So far no one has attempted this for the modern world, at least as far as I've seen.

-----


>Yes it is.

No, it isn't. Hard mode would be elevated chance of balrog and death knight attacks. Not a trade off where one is more common and the other less common. That doesn't make it harder, merely different.

-----


Can you explain this in concrete terms?

Women still make 77 cents to the male dollar. Women have much higher incidences of anxiety and depression disorders. Women are substantially more likely to be the victims of domestic violence, and 1 in 5 are raped. Etc etc. These statistics don't guarantee that every woman is worse off than every man - clearly that's not true - but they do mean that women have, on average, more difficult problems to deal with in their lives.

If we are discussing statistical incidence of problems, why choose "male" and "female" as your reference classes? Why not simply choose incidence of problems as the variable to slice on?

There are statistically significant differences in various problems between men and women, which are correlated, and which we have good reason to believe are causally related - because if you're paying any attention at all, you know that men and women are treated differently in our society. (And if you investigate further, you find you can explain what you see with a historical and social analysis that looks at things like the subordination of women in the family and the social division of labor with the development of class society, the hegemony of oppressive political and cultural ideologies, and so on.)

Usually, if you're trying to fix something, it's worth trying to figure out what the root causes are.

-----


Women still make 77 cents to the male dollar. Women have much higher incidences of anxiety and depression disorders...[etc]

Whereas men have much higher incidences of other personality traits and are more likely to be victims of violent crime in general (particularly homicide). Until you quantify all such traits and trends, you can't conclude one group is (statistically) operating on "easy mode".

In any case, based on what you've said, the "women play life on hard mode" meme is actually misleading. I can't think of a single game in which the difference between easy and hard mode is a 2% vs 1% chance of encountering a Balrog, or a higher proportion of hard-mode players choosing Paladin over Necromancer (analogizing Necromancer to the $1.00 earning profession, Paladin to the $0.77 earning profession).

Usually, if you're trying to fix something, it's worth trying to figure out what the root causes are.

But according to you, the root cause is unkind treatment, depression and violent crime. The reference class {victim of violent crime} is far more likely to be a crime victim than the class {women}.

-----


I'm not going to spend too much time on this because I'm getting the sense that your request for an explanation was disingenuous. But:

actually misleading

There's a difference between "imperfect metaphor" and "misleading".

higher proportion of hard-mode players choosing Paladin over Necromancer

You make it sound as if each woman has individually and arbitrarily chosen to earn less. That's not the way it works, and the fact that women are paid less within the same profession too is only one of the reasons.

Related: http://familyinequality.wordpress.com/2012/09/25/alabama-mat...

the root cause is unkind treatment, depression and violent crime

That's not what I said at all.

-----


I don't know what you mean by "disingenuous" - in what regard do you think I'm attempting to mislead? I asked about the meme because I truly didn't understand what it meant, in spite of hearing it used many times here.

Now that I understand it I have formed an opinion on it (namely that it is misleading). Is there something wrong with this?

You make it sound as if each woman has individually and arbitrarily chosen to earn less.

Yes. For example, women choose web design over programming and HR over trading. Women choose to leave the workforce more than men. Analogously, women choose Paladin over Necromancer.

If you have evidence that women are pervasively paid less within the same profession for the same skill and experience levels, feel free to cite it. Better yet, arb it. But your $0.77/1.00 is a national figure and controls for nothing.

-----


attempting to mislead

You've moved the goalposts from explaining a metaphor to "quantify[ing] all such traits and trends." I can Google to find sources for statistics, but so can you. Here's a starting point: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Male%E2%80%93female_income_disp...

(The section on "Explaining the gender pay gap" answers your later request for evidence quite thoroughly.)

For example, women choose web design over programming and HR over trading. Women choose to leave the workforce more than men.

The fact that women end up in these professions is bad evidence that they prefer them, much less that they naturally prefer them independent of social expectations. A few factors to consider off the top of my head: * Hiring bias * Differential tracking by family, teachers, and mentors * Hostile working environments or a fear of such * Differences in which related basic skills people are taught (self-confidence, 'nurturing' vs 'making')

-----


>Women still make 77 cents to the male dollar

False. Women get paid equally for the same work and the same hours. Averaging all women vs all men is dishonest. http://www.consad.com/content/reports/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20...

>Women have much higher incidences of anxiety and depression disorder

Women have higher incidences of being diagnosed with depression. Men have much higher incidences of suicide. What does that tell you?

>Women are substantially more likely to be the victims of domestic violence

False. Repeated studies have indicated that domestic violence is equally likely to be perpetrated by men and women, and equally likely to happen to men and women: http://brainblogger.com/2008/06/08/woman-comparable-to-men-i...

>1 in 5 are raped

False. This statistic is often repeated (and varies from 1 in 3 to 1 in 6 depending on who is repeating it) but is based on deliberately misrepresenting the findings of studies on the subject. http://aspiringeconomist.com/index.php/2009/09/11/rape-stati...

>you know that men and women are treated differently in our society

And those differences manifest as both benefits and drawbacks, for both men and women. Characterizing that as "women have things harder" is absurd, and is only ever done by people deliberately picking and choosing the downsides and benefits they want to use to push their agenda.

-----


why choose "male" and "female" as your reference classes?

Because there has been a very long history of lots of people doing that, and the result being that females were often denied lots of things, purely for being female. This procress may or may not have fully stopped by now, definitly continues in various parts of the world in different defrees. We should watch out for it, and be wary.

-----


Too hypothetical anyway. Skill level, or more precisely the interviewers' opinion of it, is never precisely equal between candidates. It includes soft skills besides programming.

-----


"That looks like sexism to me."

You say that as if letting someone's gender affect your decisions is somehow, magically, inherently always ALWAYS wrong. It isn't. Some situations it is. Some situations it is not.

-----


I'd just like to express my astonishment and disgust at the fact that there are people who defend sexism and prejudice in this day and age. People like you make me ashamed to be human.

-----


Tell me, when assigning hotel rooms at a conference, and some people have requested to share a room to economise, and requested to be paired with people of the same sex, would you ignore people's gender and pick room-sharers randomly out of a hat? Trivial example, yes, but a simple way to demonstrate that sometimes deciding on basis of gender is not actually wrong.

When I hire, I think about what each applicant will bring to the team. There are noticeable differences between a team in which every member exhibits stereotypical male behaviour and characteristics, and a team in which some members exhibit stereotypical male behaviour and characteristics whilst some other members exhibit stereotypical female behaviour and characteristics. Sometimes, the second kind of team is better suited for a task than the first, and as a bonus, often the stereotypical males behave better and don't act like children.

The only reliable way I've found to bring stereotypical female behaviour and characteristics to the team is to hire someone who actually has those characteristics, and nine times out of ten that person is female. If I ignored that, it'd be like taking a stance where I ignored things such as someone's employment history, or their education history.

-----


Jeez, as far as I can tell the person you're replying to is just defending affirmative action.

-----


Many people argue that affirmative action is institutionalized racism.

-----


Many people

... who don't know what institutional racism looks like. (One requirement would probably be that the discriminated-against group actually ends up with worse outcomes. Compare to say, Black people in the criminal justice system.)

I mean, seriously, even if you oppose affirmative action, do you really want to say that its advocates are morally equivalent to racial oppressors and make you ashamed of humanity? Martin Luther King, Jr. makes you ashamed of humanity?

-----


Perhaps our definitions of institutional racism differ but I'm going by the dictionary definition:

>Accepted social arrangements that exclude on the basis of race.

Source: http://dictionary.babylon.com/institutional_racism/

As such, affirmative action fits the bill.

Martin Luther King Jr preached that since whites had actively harmed blacks through the practice of slavery, they should do something special to fix it. I agree with that. However, the whites who are coming of age at this point in time have done nothing of the sort - why should they have to apologise for the actions of their predecessors? Why should a young white woman be punished for things that happened before she was even born? Is she responsible for the actions of all the whites who have ever lived just because she is also white? Do you really think that MLK was talking about future generations who are disconnected from those actions or the people who were right in front of him and still actively encouraging prejudice and racism back in those days? My personal opinion is that if someone participated in those practices, they should make good on them, say sorry, and help the person up, which includes paying what's owed and making room for them.

-----


I don't think "here's the dictionary definition" is usually a useful argument, but in any case it's hard for me to see affirmative action as "excluding" white people, since it's generally practiced in fields where they remain dominant.

I agree that in a world where racial discrimination is a thing of the distant past, affirmative action wouldn't make sense. But that's not our world. See for example: http://scholar.harvard.edu/mullainathan/files/emilygreg.pdf

-----


If the issue is that people are suffering prejudice based on their names then a better solution is to mask the names during the initial screening as opposed to making it a point to hire someone based on race. I'm sure that a study exploring the effects of different "white-sounding" names would see differences too.

Also note that the study does not draw any correlation between racism and the judgement of a name. Given people's tendency to be averse to things they are not familiar with, it's possible that it's a problem of someone not being comfortable with a culture they don't understand and not necessarily a problem with skin color.

-----


Do you really think that people are biased with respect to names, but then forget that bias as soon as the person enters the room?

Also, it's unclear to me why it might be better to be prejudiced against African-American names than against African-American skin tones. Your definition of racism appears to (a) include policies that disadvantage the dominant group (white people), even when motivated by a goal of correcting historical injustice and insufficient to undo their/our dominance, but to (b) exclude actions that disadvantage the historically oppressed group (Black people), even when motivated by prejudice, as long as that prejudice isn't explicitly based on skin color. Do you maybe want to reconsider?

-----


Those people probably don't understand how much of a disadvantage minorities face even in this day and age.

I used to be against affirmative action until I realized how many more opportunities were offered to me simply because of my culture and the expectations of my culture for me.

-----


Your comment hardly falls under the "civil" guideline this community aspires to.

Sexism as you have attacked it seems to be "making any decision based on gender," since that's how the grandparent defined it. I can think of countless examples where it's certainly okay to make a decision based on gender. Particularly where gender is the only known variable--there's your decision all wrapped up for you.

An example to make my argument more real-world: Joe works a job where he has to move heavy objects with another employee. His partner quits, and boss has two new recruits from HR--one man, one woman. That's all the boss knows.

If you don't think that women and men statistically fit into different stereotypes (physically, particularly), you should maybe redirect your species-damning shame.

-----


So you are opposed to separate male and female lavatories?

-----


I'm starting to get tired of responding to gaslighting comments like these.

Do you honestly not understand that males and females are biologically different (and so have preferences for different types of ways to dispose waste), that they have strong emotional reactions when seeing each other nude or partially nude and that they might be embarrassed if a member of the opposite sex heard them taking a shit?

For the record, a lot of countries do have unisex toilets and that works out just fine too.

-----


I honestly understand that quite fine. The GP of my original comment stated "You say that as if letting someone's gender affect your decisions is somehow, magically, inherently always ALWAYS wrong. It isn't." It seems the three of us are in agreement that in the lavatory case letting gender affect decisions (in this case the common decision for one gender only facilities) is not wrong or sexist. Yet you jumped on him/her as a defender of sexism and prejudice when in reality you, and probably everybody else, takes gender into account in many benign or benevolent contexts as well.

-----


Different toilets are accommodating for different physical differences. It's not racism if someone is selling suntan lotion on the beach and only approaching light skinned people.

In the case of poverty, this is not a genetic difference - it's the product of culture. Poverty has no color, anyone can be affected by it. Why then, when the problem is not of skin color but of poverty, are we talking about skin color at all? The way I see it is that there are people who need a hand up because they lack the resources to get up - I don't see a whole race as being disadvantaged because that is extremely presumptuous and inaccurate - there are plenty of rich black people. The simple solution to this is to make things like education free if you earn below a certain amount. This resolves the issue that affirmative action tries to tackle without siding with a particular race. It's just common sense.

-----


My point, and that of the previous commenter, is that taking gender into account when making decisions is not always sexist. And I am disputing your assertion that this view automatically makes one a defender of sexism and prejudice. Separate male/female lavatories is one example of accounting for gender in a non-sexist manner. Someone else mentioned organizing hotel accommodations with same gender persons sharing rooms. Department stores put men's and women's clothing in separate areas.

I don't see how poverty, affirmative action, or race is relevant so I have nothing to say on that.

-----


If the qualification is equal I would very much hope that the person that increases diversity is hired. Why would you do anything else?

-----


I would probably pick the person that meshes with the team best rather than the one that panders to my internal sense of injustice.

-----


If you think someone doesn’t fir your team because of their gender there is something seriously wrong with you.

-----


He didn't say he would...

-----


And I didn’t say he or she would.

-----


I would pick the person who would broaden my team's perspective and not reinforce our biases.

-----


I don't understand why the decision has to be based on only one criteria.

-----


Realistically, this choice would never happen, because any decent software shop would hire both if they were identically qualified.

-----


Not if they have the resources to hire only one.

-----


A decent software shop is more constrained by headcount than funds to pay them.

-----


For your definition of "decent."

-----


I sincerely hope that I've never been a pity/diversity hire. I want to be evaluated on my qualifications as a well-rounded developer and compensated appropriately for my work.

-----


What's even more troublesome than being a diversity/affirmative action hire is when you aren't one and other people assume you were one. When a group is artificially bumped up in the rankings (or is perceived to have been), everyone assumes they are not as skilled as they really are.

-----


I'm sure you weren't. Why would you even think that, since you're doing great work, most probably.

-----


It's only sexism if it uses sex as a criteria to disadvantage someone who isn't male, in the same way that it's only racism if it uses race as a criteria to disadvantage someone who isn't caucasian.

-----


There used to be many caucasian-on-caucasian racism. Many places would still count it as breaking anti-discrimination law.

After all, "No Blacks, No Irish, No Dogs". That's racist for 2 reasons.

-----


"That looks like sexism to me."

That's reality.

-----


So are "brogrammers".

Being reality doesn't make it right, and doesn't mean it should be tolerated.

-----


In order to test it, we'll need at least two thousand developers (in matched skill pairs) going for one thousand jobs.

It might take a little while to perform that experiment...

-----


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.

-----


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.

-----


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).

-----


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.

-----


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.

-----


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.

-----


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).

-----


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.

-----


>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.

-----


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.

-----


>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.

-----


"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.

-----


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.

-----


"[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).

-----


>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?

-----


> 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... ;-)

-----


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).

-----


No. I'll look into it.

-----


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

-----


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

-----


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

-----


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...

-----


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.

-----


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...

-----


(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.

-----


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.

-----


> 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...

-----


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.

-----


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

Maybe that's the reason?

-----


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.

-----


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

-----


(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.

-----


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!

-----


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.

-----


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.

-----


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.

-----


If you fight this, will you :

a) change the system and improve your success ?

b) fail and lower your success ?

-----


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.

-----


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.

-----


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.

-----


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

-----


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.

-----


> 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.

-----


"Computer languages and “real” languages are actually very similar."

I really couldn't disagree with that more. Sure, some languages' syntax borrow English words (Python, Pascal, VB, etc), but that's such a minor similarity. Those words are completely arbitrary and the syntax could have been in Klingon for all the difference it would make to the compiler.

Computer languages are a maths language; albeit a very very dumbed down dialect of maths, but maths all the same.

I think the trap many web developers fall in is that PHP teaches some terrible programming practices (no variable declarations nor types, etc) and ANSI SQL isn't Turing complete, so feel that all other languages by extension are equally easy to grasp. However if you look at a number of other languages -particularly the ones with C-derived syntax- then it becomes painfully obvious that any similarities to human languages are just skin deep (which is lucky for me as I majorly suck at writing yet can code proficiently in around a dozen different computer languages).

-----


Don't know why you felt it was necessary to take a dig at PHP, as if PHP is the cause of all bad web programming practices. Nowadays, PHP is very much evolved, and the abundance of mature frameworks have completely removed the most of the inconsistency issues.There are in fact variable declarations and types in PHP, there's even type-hinting to enforce types.

The fact of the matter is that many web developers fall into bad practices via laziness, copy & paste syndrome, regardless of whether the language they're using has strict types or not.

-----


While I agree that a bad programmer will write bad code in any language -and visa versa- my point was that PHP doesn't enforce good practices thus allowing many less experienced developers to accidentally fall into easily avoided pitfalls (lets be honest, having to === to force type matching is just plain dumb). So by the time you've properly hardened your code, it's anything but pseudo-English - which was my point (ie programming languages are not similar to human languages).

-----


Natural-language likeness, with all its weirdness and power, was an explicit design goal of Larry Wall's perl, a language which was instrumental in creating the WWW as we know it.

-----


That may have been true for it's original goals, but as a UNIX developer who's primary language is Perl, I can assure you that the modern day implementation (read Perl 5.8+) is anything but pseudo-English.

-----


Am I the only one that thought that while most of the points made in the article were generally true, the follow-up and examples were lackluster.

Comments like these:

"you can get away with a lot of things just by fluttering your eyelashes and being a bit cheeky ... 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."

are insulting to both genders, as well as being grossly overstated.

-----


My personal favorite example:

http://sachachua.com/blog/

She wrote org-mode for Emacs. Now she is at IBM Research.

-----


Carsten Dominik wrote org-mode. Looks like she maintained Remember-mode and Planner-mode at one point though.

-----


My fault - I remember that she wrote a popular Emacs package, but forgot the name.

-----


Maintained, not wrote. John Wiegley wrote both.

http://www.emacswiki.org/PlannerMode

It is cool that Sacha maintained it, volunteering is awesome.

I am pointing this correction out because Sacha's primary career is as a self-promotion specialist (http://sachachua.com/blog/), so I have to be skeptical of how her name gets attached to technical work, more so than someone who doesn't pursue celebrity for profit.

People shouldn't think that it's so easy to be famous and a technical contributor. The larger contributors (like John Wiegley in this case) tend to be less famous.

Example: Sure, Linus Torvalds is a celebrity and massive contrbutor, but there are dozens (hundreds?) of other massive Linux kernel contributors who are less famous than, say, Jeff Atwood.

-----


Wow, she is such an happy-happy-joy-joy blogger^evangelist^blogger that I never though she had time to write any code.

-----


"Guys are fascinated and scared by girls who roll up their sleeves and take on a job that society labels as “men’s work”"

Actually, I'm fascinated and scared by all IT people who roll up their sleeves and do manual labour.

-----


An in return, I'm always slightly shocked by this kind of attitude. Just because I write code for a living doesn't mean that I had to forget how to do everything remotely practical first. If I'm confronted by a job that requires manual labour, I don't just stand there saying "oh I'm an IT person, I can't possibly do this".

-----


It's the reverse. I can't carry a bottle of chemicals without spilling it on myself, or take apart an machine without dropping a few pieces in the sewer, so I stick to the virtual world where my poor hand-eye coordination won't get me killed.

-----


I'm starting to think it is impossible for someone to write about gender issues in the tech industry without at least one reference to porn.

-----


Yeah, that jarred me too. The author's dad is a farmer, and her go-to example of a job that requires stamina is...porn star? The fuck?

-----


my article isn't about gender issues....the intention is merely to show the perks of working in IT to a normal average girl that might not be sure about what career path to choose.

however, my writing style is indeed rather bold but i have no interest of watering it down with some political correctness filter. sorry, no chance :D

-----


> my article isn't about gender issues....the intention is merely to show the perks of working in IT to a normal average girl that might not be sure about what career path to choose.

I'm trying to comprehend how that isn't about gender issues in the IT business, but let's just say that whatever the appropriate semantic expression was for what it is I was referring to, it includes your work.

>however, my writing style is indeed rather bold but i have no interest of watering it down with some political correctness filter. sorry, no chance :D

Sorry, I wasn't intending to imply you should filter your writing. My comment wasn't really meant to be a criticism of your writing in particular... actually, it wasn't even really a criticism of writing at all. It's more just... I doubt there are other industries where EVERY SINGLE ARTICLE like this would have a reference to porn (well, except for the porn industry ;-).

I don't think it necessarily speaks poorly of the people engaging in the discussion; it reflects where the industry is.

-----


[deleted]

Breaking News A man doesn't understand why women do/think something that he doesn't, but still has some thoughts about why those women are wrong!

Here's a tip: if someone says "this is hard for me" don't respond with "no it's not." In fact, even if they get a little presumptive and forget to add the "for me," give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they are describing the world as it exists for them and not necessarily making an empirical claim.

-----


This is a weird subject. I think, as a social group, we're on a hinging point where women will be making equal footing in the tech industry, but haven't yet. Its coming.

Women are going to get disproportionate treatment during this transition in one or two different ways, and it depends on who they're interacting with. Should they land themselves alongside the stereotypical basement dweller they'll be cast aside and thought less of. They'll first need to prove themselves in an uphill battle. This will take great self confidence because there is a lot of misogyny still in the tech workplace. Too many tech gurus grew up being shunned socially and still have those emotional barriers preventing them from being rational and fair.

On the other swing of things though we have the opposite treatment: "A girl? Oooo!" I feel jealous sometimes of my female friends in the industry because of just how easy getting face to face for new jobs comes for them. I fight to keep myself in check because they're damn good professionals who deserve it but the thought remains: what sets them apart from me? Directly out of university I was competing locally with a lot of them for jobs and the treatment of women in the profession was quite apparent. I still see it a bit in my jobs now and its slightly disheartening.

Ultimately I think this problem will solve itself in time. Tech jobs aren't about the basement dweller anymore, they haven't been for years. The natural transition where everyone in the workforce has been part of it for the years where equal woman representation has been around and the awkward or preferential treatment is happening. We need vocal women to encourage more to join. Those classes in university will definitely be unsettling when 20 slobbering unkempt males are trying to wrestle their way to the only female group partner but to push through is going to be tough.

-----


I really liked this article. Most blogs about women in Tech these days are centered around the mindset of victimhood.

Having gone to an engineering school, I know full well the power that women can exert in an environment full of socially-hapless geeky guys.

-----


Why doesn't your blog have an RSS feed?

EDIT: That was supposed to be a subtle compliment; I want more.

-----


Yes! you are appreciating her :D

-----


I (100% female) work as a web developer and are not sure if the lack of female colleagues bothers me or not. Political correctness dictates that it should

Political correctness isn't really about groupthink or how you should feel. It's about not making other people feel shitty because you're too lazy to use inclusive language. It's simply an extension of 'manners', and gets demonised when it shouldn't be.

-----


Political Correctness is about hypersensitivity to possible insult to the point that using direct and clear communication is frowned upon in the public discourse.

Political Correctness is an extraordinarily sad advance of style over substance that has attempted to address the language used to describe problems in our society over actually addressing the problems themselves.

Ultimately, Political Correctness is yet another societal/political power grab in an attempt to control the very words that come out of everyones' mouths. Free speech is just too much individual power for many Utopians in society, but they've had so much trouble trying to legislate against the First Amendment[or other country's free speech protection]. Political Correctness is the next best thing for them, I guess.

-----


Your assumption that "direct and clear communication" requires that you use offensive and exclusive phrasings is false, and your complaints about your inability to exert "power" over others are unmoving.

"they've had so much trouble trying to legislate against the First Amendment"

If you believe proper behavior has anything to do with the First Amendment it would do you better to read the US Constitution.

-----


your complaints about your inability to exert "power" over others are unmoving

Huh? Were you trying to reply to someone else's post? That's the OPPOSITE of what I said and your other two "points" are straw men at best.

Ironic that you'd attempt to defend control of speech to prevent giving offense by offensively misrepresenting my position. Ranks right up there with the grandfather poster's accusation that those committing the sin of Political Incorrectness are "lazy".

-----


>Your assumption that "direct and clear communication" requires that you use offensive and exclusive phrasings is false

Offense is taken, not given. I am offended by your post, are you going to delete it and apologize? I would hope not, because that is absurd. You don't have the right to use a meaningless word like "offended" to control other people's speech.

-----


There's a fine line between someone feeling "shitty" and groupthink / often naive & distant.

A friend of mine says that anytime a person refers to him as "African-American" he sees them as totally distant and that "they usually don't talk to black people" - so I can see this working both ways.

Political correctness (what the 'polis' sees as correct) isn't always what those who may 'feel shitty' think is correct - so I share her feelings.

-----


It is a nice article. Interesting read for me as a male programmer. But this line kinda caught my eye under the "Gender-advantage" headline:

"If a male and a female developer with a similar skill level apply for a job, I bet that in 99.9% of the cases the girl will get the job."

This is a problem.

-----


After reading all of this again, it strikes me that she works with a LOT of sexually frustrated nerds. She says she has to be careful not using her appearant super power of girlyness too much to manipulate the nerds and such stuff.

Is this seriously the reality somewhere, that coders are 99% sexually frustrated super nerds? I always considered that to be a old stereotype :P

-----


I've seen it happen (female myself), though not to my advantage, that I know of.

I've had bugs sent to me for another woman's code, time and again, without formal bug reports for them.

Double edged sword: they know I can fix it, and generally quickly, but it looks like performance is being swept under the rug.

And I do put in bug reports for them once they get to me. Damned if I'm going to have the work unaccounted for.

edit: should probably mention that when she was hired, I was told she would look good at conferences.

-----


yeah well of course it's wrong to get a job just because of the gender. though if HR departments and CTO's want to hire us girls so badly then wohoooo.........i would be stupid to not use this to my advantage :D

-----


Except women have a good chance to be turned down before even being seen in person... (unless, their resume clearly indicates they are juniors and they have nice pictures on FB).

And, yeah, the "approval" thing is actually something like "admiration" and implies that this woman is an inferior professional. If she happens to be a strong professional, it's not desirable for a man to be next to this woman, as it will bring down his own value. It would be more desirable to be next to an older superior man.

-----


    When I started as a developer in the UK I earned a bit less than £30k a year
    and wondered: How can whole families live of this? How can anyone save money
    for a mortgage? 

    [...]

    It might sound arrogant but since I am an IT contractor I don’t have to think
    twice about that Halston Heritage dress I fell in love with the other day, I
    just buy it.
Yeah, you're right, that does sound arrogant.

-----


"Guys are fascinated and scared by girls who roll up their sleeves and take on a job that society labels as “men’s work”"

I always opined that, "women have a lot of emotional strength". You can just imagine how difficult it is to take care of, and raise a toddler. It is so hard. But, somehow women are naturally good at this, and I am just as fascinated by this fact.

-----


I don't think women are naturally better (than men) at raising kids. That's what a lot of people thinks and single dads are automatically diminished. Not good.

-----


"It is so hard. But, somehow women are naturally good at this, and I am just as fascinated by this fact."

Have you never interacted with a single father?

-----


Men of HN: please tell more people what you think is and isn't sexist. It's good, your input on the matter is valuable and important.

-----


Appears to be down, CoralCache link at http://www.nerdess.net.nyud.net/waffling/why-it-awesome-be-g...

-----


Can we please stop making generalizations about women in tech and go back to discussing and upvoting articles about technology again?

Signed, a female developer

-----


This is maybe the best article I've ever found on HN.

-----


It is a good article, but it's sad that even in a good article like this, which talks explicitly about the realities of sexism, the author feels the need to distance herself from "the feminists."

-----


I suspect a big driving factor is that being forced to be around tons of low status guys all the time is literally worse than hitler for women.

-----


This is not /r9k/, please take your misogyny there.

-----


"low status" Men who value other's opinions of them over voicing their real feelings.

How many comments in this thread asked the OP "what projects have you worked on", "what have you contributed as a woman?".

Why? Because the larger issue isn't woman. It's "Nice guy" syndrome. Deferring to woman, being "pc", repressing opinions. The book No More Mr. Nice Guy (http://www.amazon.com/No-More-Mr-Nice-Guy/dp/0762415339) is a great read on this.

As for the OP. I don't care about your gender or race. I want to know what you code. I want you to be great. But will not enable my fellow men nor you to be weak prima donnas.

We have a destiny. We owe it to our children not to show such weakness.

-----


Maybe for a single woman who wants to profit in a personal non-business way.

-----


Sorry for being off-topic, but why in the world would the net filter here at work have blocked this as "adult content?"

-----


Just a guest, but there is a music video with some men in underwear dancing around embedded in the page ( This is the video itself http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pivLTWIJ7xo&feature=playe... )

-----


Can anyone recommend some of the "tech superstars" to follow on twitter that she mentions?

-----


what kind of nerdism are you into? web development? then you can look at the people i follow on twitter :)

-----




Applications are open for YC Winter 2016

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

Search: