I think the more prevalent problem is the underlying sexism, the institutional bias, the reluctance to speak up, the fear of being judged "the token" -- the fact that a man can think it's appropriate to put his hand on a woman's knee unsolicited is just a blatant, ugly manifestation of the underlying sexism.
I know this post had a little more nuance, but it's hard to come away from it without the impression of: "Women aren't on speaker panels because they're afraid of getting molested". Maybe that's the case (and if so, we as a society have serious issues)...but there's at least an equal problem of women just not being considered or being searched for. And as that problem persists, then women continue to become such a minority at these conferences that the aforementioned creep feels perfectly comfortable with invading a woman's personal space.
There are many reasons you don't see women speaking at tech conferences. Some is because they're passed over as non-members of the boys club. Some is because they don't want to attend and be part of the environment. I've had far worse things happen to be at tech shows - there's one I avoid altogether after being sexually assaulted in a hotel room - but like you said, there's a reason women don't feel comfortable talking about. i don't want to be the "token" harassment case. I don't want to become known for that above anything else I may do. So do I speak up or do I shut up.
That's just as large of an issue as how do I get that creep from putting his hand on knee. Arguably, it's bigger.
Well, let's get real. How many men think that? I've never seen that in ANY company I have ever worked for. Heck, I haven't even see this kind of thing in the university.
It's like taking the example of a rapist (which this guy sort of is) and extrapolating it to some general trend about everyone.
The big disadvantage about being a "hyper-minority" -- that is, a minority to the extent that you stick out almost like a celebrity would, is that you attract a lot of attention. A group of people might be largely composed of good people. However, someone who is a member of a "hyper-minority" is going to attract a far-disproportionate amount of attention from the most unsavory 0.5% of the group.
> It's like taking the example of a rapist (which this guy sort of is) and extrapolating it to some general trend about everyone.
I don't think that's a fair or constructive way to put the issue. Most men aren't rapists. However, a very small number are, and they can do a disproportionate amount of damage. This was even truer in days past, when society was more permissive about certain kinds of behaviors, and less scrupulous about avoiding unwanted approaches.
It's not a matter of spreading the guilt through the group. It is a matter of encouraging responsibility, however.
Obviously most, if not all men are rapists. Or potential rapists. Luckily, they are also obsolete!
That's Marilyn French's view, as famously quoted from "The Women's Room":
It's also true that to a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
> Luckily, they are also obsolete!
Maybe. I personally will suspend judgment until I see women open their own businesses and banks and refuse to do business with men any more.
"At one point in the book the character Val says "all men are rapists". This quote has often been incorrectly attributed to Marilyn French herself. "
There's plenty of crazy around the subject, though:
> Maybe. I personally will suspend judgment until I see women open their own businesses and banks and refuse to do business with men any more.
That will never happen, as the bubble will pop soon.
However, there will always be a set of socially retarded people, there will always be horny people, and there will always be people who posses both attributes at the same time. There are a lot of socially awkward people in tech, I don't know what you can do about this problem.
If you have an attractive physique as a woman, and you wear clothes that don't hide or minimize this fact, then men will notice, and some will comment on it, and some will even be inappropriate about it. As a remedy the women should get mad, she should tell them off. However you could even make inappropriate comments punishable by DEATH. I guarantee that not even the death penalty will stop inappropriate comments, or some guy putting a hand on your knee type of stuff. Even if the women wore a burqua, that wouldn't stop it, some guy would find that hot, "hey baby, what's under the burqua?". I don't have the answer, I don't think there is an answer. Possibly when these issues occur the women are reacting politely when they should react angrily so the offender gets the correct feedback often enough to realize that he is the problem.
Change is possible and we should strive to make it happen.
I don't even know what you are trying to say....
Tone is hard on Hacker News. I apologize.
You say there will always be horny people, but isn't it our place to make this a taboo?
None of this may be unique to the tech sector, but aren't we a forward-looking industry that isn't afraid of changing the world?
Get more women into tech, and then get over having them there.
Could it be the same pattern at play with blogs on the internet?
I am dismissive regardless of gender when poorly argued points are made. It would be sexist of me to "take it easy" on a person because of their gender. If you feel like I am laying particularly hard into this poster, then I encourage you to peruse my post history and verify for yourself that I do not modify my strategies based on gender.
> Stop trying to intimidate a woman in tech who is trying to speak up about the pervasive sexism that demonstrably deters women from entering the field and then pushes women out when they do try to enter.
You say "demonstrably", but that is the exact point that is being argued. You are just taking it for a given. I am sorry, but I would need data to accept the claim. From my personal experience, I have not seen women driven out of the tech industry. I have seen a shortage of women in the tech industry, but I also saw a shortage of women in my college tech classes, and a shortage of women in my high school tech classes, and a shortage of women in my middle school tech classes. I could be wrong, but I don't think girls in 6th grade were discouraged from signing up for a programming course because they were afraid of sexism from the rest of their class. If anyone drives women out of tech, it is their parents who instill gender roles into their children from an early age.
> Stop the bullying. Stop the patronizing. Just stop
You call it bullying. I call it asking for data in a sarcastic manner.
I'm interested in knowing what sources you're referring to. You would do every single reader of your post a favor by posting a link to it, instead of referring to its existence but not giving anyone any way to find what you are referring.
Your response makes me think that you don't actually have a specific study or paper you are referring to - you are just referring to some gut feeling you have about the topic.
What if women leave the field because they can't countenance working long hours with little social interaction like many men can? That could account for the high attrition rate while not being because of any sexism in the sector.
> The NCWIT reports 56 percent of women in technology companies leave their
> organizations mid-way through their careers, representing a significant and
> costly loss of talent. Reducing the attrition rate by just one quarter
> would add more than 200,000 staff to the IT workforce.
Tons of links: http://www.rarlindseysmash.com/posts/2012-06-11-diversity-an...
One of my friends has a series of blog posts. Even if you don't care for the text, she makes extensive citations:
You naturally cannot use a microscope and come to a fixed, proven conclusion. However, I would say that all of the causes of attrition are very likely based upon a prevailing systemic gender oppression (sexism.)
See, I provided as much proof for my argument as you did for yours. Where are we now?
How does discern sexual harassment (between adults with no business ties between them) from flirting?
I ask because I've also seen flirting remakers being conceived as "harassement".
That "the place was not appropriate" or "it was uncalled for" is not a proper answer I think. There would be VERY FEW relationships and/or marriages if people never approached other people out of the blue and in non-appropriate places (in a conference for example).
Are people (men/women/gay) ever SURE about when to flirt with another person?
By this logic, half of the population would have never been born (which might have been a good thing, with respect to overpopulation and all, but that's a different argument).
You're a bad person.
No. That's the strawman you made out of what I'm saying. Can you please respond to what I actually said and not put words in my mouth as you please?
What I'm saying is: some people can also consider completely casual flirting to be a "sexual assault". As in, when you're flirting you're never sure beforehand if the other part wants your flirt. And in many cases, it takes a little time to win them over (or fail). It's not like there's a standard protocol: "OK, you can flirt me now".
And yes, people DO fall in love in tech conferences, or meet possible partners, as they do in ANY other place, including offices and funerals. So they do have the right to approach someone else they like there.
>You're a bad person
And who are you to tell me that?
Apparently in your mind verbally assaulting someone you disagree with and telling them they are a "bad person" is perfectly OK?
That's your idea of making the world better by stoping sexism? Introducing hatr-ism?
So, the solution is to seriously restrict flirting at tech conferences as a form of harassment, but allow SYN, SYN ACK, ACK exchanges, and have people who want to flirt go to singles bars or 'geek mixer' events.
Can you understand this?
Approaching someone and engaging in conversation with them out of potential interest in who they are as a person is nowhere near the same thing as making offhanded remarks on their physical appearance without so much as an introduction.
get it together.
By all means, enlighten me.
>Approaching someone and engaging in conversation with them out of potential interest in who they are as a person is nowhere near the same thing as making offhanded remarks on their physical appearance without so much as an introduction.
Sure, you need an introduction. I'm not talking about crash pickup lines or jerk behaviour. But if you like the other person, why would you say anything less in a tech conference that what you are OK to say in the park or the library or wherever?
Plus, this isn't 1950 Sunday school. People don't just like each other because of a "interest in who they are as a person". People can _also_ like each other on the physical level, and/or have one-night-stands and the like. And modern people don't find anything wrong with that.
>get it together.
May I suggest you avoid making offhanded remarks about me as a person such as the above?
'The Commission wants to see more women represented in the making of economically significant decisions and has proposed a minimum harmonisation measure binding on all listed companies to create a level landscape. By 2020 all European listed companies should have at least 40% of their non-executive directors from the "under-represented gender". The Commission considers this project to be part of the completion of the single market project as well as an initiative to remedy an inequality. The measure is expected to impact upon 5,000 companies from across the Union.'
Feel free to call them out, but don't impugn the insanely broad field of "tech" because of some creeps.
Just because the problem is not specific to the tech industry doesn't mean we shouldn't be trying to solve it. If women feel uncomfortable working or contributing to the industry because of their gender then we are missing out on possible contributions from a massive section of the population.
Will cases of sexism always exist? Probably, their will always be a bad apple or two. But we need to work to make these these cases the exception to how the industry works. We need people to feel safe contributing regardless of who they are. If you have something to contribute you should be able to, that is one of the things I personally love about this industry. Just because we can never fully solve a problem doesn't mean we shouldn't try to minimize it.
The kind of sexism that is described here occurs just as much in industries that are 50% women. It's not the cause of the under-representation of women in tech, and addressing it is unlikely to solve that issue.
On the one hand, the industry should make an additional effort to address the general social sexism on order to not further alienate women, but the suggestion that tech is more sexist than other areas is blatantly false, and leads to a automatic defensive response because it suggests a certain causality.
It is simply not very constructive to conflate the two issues, no matter how closely related they are. Sexism in general is too sensitive an issue for that, and not just for women.
You can tell stories like the one in the blog about any field. Tech is not special. If there is going to be change, it will have to come from society at large, and not by fiddling with the dials of a specific field.
2) There is better ways to extend the conversation instead of inviting to my 'bedroom'.
3) No or other excuses means no, thanks and farewell.
4) conferences are professional places, no place for flirting (they invented bars for that).
5) Ring on the finger? SHE is NOT interested.
Somehow some men think that if the woman is NOT interested she has be 'wrong' or deserve more 'strong' signals.
I support more woman at the conferences and I wish more woman take some stand at this cases and say it loud:
'TAKE OUT YOUR FILTHY HANDS from me' Saying that loud will teach a great lesson and avoid some posts.
The main problem is not sexism is lack of politeness and manners.
Also, a nice person who is rude to the waiter (or barista, or retail clerk, or...) is not a nice person.
There's nothing inherently wrong with flirting at a conference. Flirting is a very natural type of interaction for people, and asking people to not do it at all doesn't seem realistic.
However, men should not assume that flirting means that a woman is inviting you to touch her or sleep with her. In fact, she may not even be flirting. Men often misinterpret simple friendliness as sexual interest.
Be conservative in what you say and do. At a professional event, it is far better to miss an opportunity for a casual hook up than to be aggressive and make the conference an unwelcoming place for women.
Why is a professional event even seen as "an opportunity for a casual hook up"?
To say that flirting is "natural" is quite a claim; while it might be prevalent in our culture, that doesn't mean it's natural.
Conferences are both professional and social. In fact, it's hard to think of anything that is purely professional. People form short- and long-term relationships through all sorts of initial meetings.
I don't see any women saying "all flirting all is wrong at a conference". I see them saying they don't want to be harassed. The two things are not the same. I've talked to women at length about these issues and I've championed the adoption of strong anti-harassment policies at conferences I speak at (http://blog.urth.org/2011/09/05/conference-code-of-conduct-c...).
Maybe we just have different definitions of flirting. To get back to the original article, the Twitter exchange that it highlights is not flirting. It's just a man being an asshole. I also note that the article makes no mention of the word "flirt". It talks about "harassment", "groping", and "sexism".
I don't understand why you think this is not sexism.
Well, yes, but if your plan to stop sexism is something along the lines of "Wait for jerks to suddenly become good people," you're doing a disservice to their victims.
> and silent bystanders to tell them so
I don't feel like it is my business to step in and speak for a woman who has not implicitly or explicitly asked me to do so. That seems like a really degrading viewpoint. If she clearly wants the guy to go away and he won't, yes, go up and help her. But the idea that it's my job to run around policing women's sexuality is just antediluvian.
Because you can't control the actions of others, but you can control your response to the actions of others. As much as any activity can be labelled taboo, humans are dynamic creatures and have the ability to break taboo at any moment, without any kind of notice.
> Isn't it the responsibility of the people making unprofessional advances to stop
Yes. But to suggest that is blue sky thinking. Isn't it the responsibility of criminals to stop criminal behavior? Why don't they?
Maybe. Bystanders don't have perfect insight into the victims mindset. What if a husband put his hand on his wifes knee? Should a noble bystander lay into the husband for his sexist behavior? Do you assume that every bystander is listening to every conversation within earshot, waiting for something to become inappropriate? Chances are, bystanders have their attention focused on other things, like the conference at large, or the people they are conversing with.
If a person makes it very vocally clear that they are being victimized, then yes, bystanders should do something. And thats the answer to your question as to "Why is it the responsibility of women to take the stand?"
It's about creating a positive environment. Of course there will be isolated incidents, but can we really resign ourselves to doing nothing?
Women don't feel safe in tech conferences? Like it's south central Los Angeles or something?
I've attended several tech conferences, with women colleagues and friend, and I've not seen all this hoopla people constantly bring up on HN. Heck, those things don't even happen on Linux and OSS conferences, much less in business tech meetings. Groping a woman? WTF have you witnessed that?
I don't know, maybe it's that conferences in Europe are different.
"An offensive tweet was made against the PyLadies group at EuroPython 2012. Lynn Root (a keynote speaker and founder of PyLadies) blogged twice about the incident."
Really? One can find thousand of offensive tweets for anything, from your choice of programming editor, to Mac vs PC, to politics, to Twilight, to Coke Light vs Zero. And an "offensive tweet" somehow deserves to be in a list about "sexist incidents"? Other stuff is nearly as lame.
Judging from the above list, and compared to, e.g. the fashion or the journalism industry, the tech industry seems comparatively sexism free.