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"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.


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."


"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.


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.


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...


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.




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