1. As many others have mentioned, if this is a public school, it's quite unlikely that this teacher is college educated as a programmer, let alone has ever been a professional developer. I'm sure they're teaching VB simply because that's what they have experience with, probably making them the most experienced programmer on staff at the school.
2. High school bullies are typically quite good at restricting their bullying to times when they're unlikely to be spotted by an authority figure. As a teacher, you try hard to maintain awareness of the entire room as much as possible, but there are always tons of gaps. You might be writing something on the board, helping a student 1-on-1, addressing some other kid's behavior, or doing any of dozens of other tasks.
3. Most teachers try to keep tabs on their students on a personal level, especially when they behavior or attitude noticeably changes, but not all students open up. It takes a lot of effort to maintain an authentic connection. Parents have trouble connecting authentically with their children--imagine doing it with scores of students per semester. And when it comes to bullying, most teenagers downplay to avoid being though of as a snitch. Some are self-conscious to be bailed out even when they haven't "snitched".
4. For many of the author's suggestions, the teacher may be doing these things (recruiting, cross-promoting, etc.), to the extent that they have time. But these are outside the job of teaching. These are things the author could be doing at the school too, but presumably she's too busy. I'm sure the teacher can relate.
Teaching high school was by far the most grueling and emotionally taxing job I've ever had. My work career also includes being a custodian at a health club, a baseball umpire, a senior software engineer, and and a startup founder. None of those jobs is anywhere near as demanding.
Funny enough, by far the worst class I took was a networking class. I thought I'd be surrounded by smart people. Turns out, I was only surrounded by assholes, with a teacher willing to let anything and everything slide.
The best class? Geometry. The teacher was more than willing to deliver an attitude adjustment when she had to, and she did, without even being mean about it. As a result, it's one of the few places I was ever comfortable interacting with people I didn't really know.
Healthy attitudes can be taught, but people have to be willing to step up and do it. It's not just on teachers—it's something anyone who has the potential to influence others' lives should be working on.
Especially parents. Ethics should be passed on from generation to generation, religious or not. Somewhere in the past century, the art appears to have been lost. Or it may dilute with each generation, as can be observed in children raised by their grandparents when compared to children of the same age raised by their own parents.
In the end, I just think that over time, the "goodness" of human ethics has been more or less stationary. We've got wants and needs. We've got empathy. We've got conscious minds that seek rationalizable patterns of behavior that satisfy both of these things, but the end result isn't really a consistent normative ethical scheme. Even the most religious people (obviously) find ways to bend the spirit of the ethical schemes to their own benefit.
> a crappy experience in the male-dominated programming world.
It's a bit far fetched to call a high school level programing introduction class audience the "programming world".
Given the amount of people that, even in totally CS oriented engineering school, give up, or aim at a management career after they discover what CS really is, I'm confident to guess that no more than 1 or 2 kids in this class will be one day professional programmers.
I don't think this story as anything to do with sexism in IT.
It's also possible (but we will never know) that she was bullied more because she was doing great in the course than because she was the only girl (which is still unacceptable of course).
That's behavior that should be stopped, or preferably never happen. The expectation should have been set that it will not happen, that the cool programmers don't discriminate and are respectful of each other as individuals.
Just because males may receive gender-based outcasting in a home-ec class does not make that also sexist (are they harassing him to go bring her home a paycheck???), nor does it make the original case OK to disregard as "kids being kids".
It's not mutually exclusive. The sexism comes from the culture that even makes "make me a sandwich" a remark to use in a bullying context. Bullying comes in all forms, but gender-based bullying has another insidious component in that it re-enforces sexist ideas and cultural norms. This is why addressing it independently is important. Just addressing bullying does not eliminate the culture where these terms derive their power.
I think your argument is that this is bullying, not sexism. I don't think bullying supercedes sexism. I think bullying comes in a variety of types. I don't really care if it's sexism or bullying, except in so much as it may make it easier to stop this sort of BS.
In my mind, You are teaching them to program, hence you are making them into programmers.
When I learned to drive, I learned both the mechanics of the car, but also the rules and expectations. Like let people merge, and wave a thank you to people who let you merge.
That said, there may be a better way to address the issue then trying to inculcate egalitarian values as part of being a good programmer. I didn't dig through journals to look at studies of bullying/sexism interventions in american secondary education. Feel free to do so.
I agree, but it'd be nice if it could be nipped in the bud.
> It's also possible (but we will never know) that she was bullied more because she was doing great in the course than because she was the only girl (which is still unacceptable of course).
Children are horrible to each other and will use anything. Ginger hair? Your life will be hell. Overweight? Your life will be hell. Only woman / man in the class? Your life will be hell. I agree that none of this is acceptable.
I know I made that mistake in high school: I actively dissociated from the male/techy-dominated "CS" kids in my school, due to the culture of the "nerdy male" that they cultivated, and only took my first course because I was lucky, and at a "Welcome to your new college's science programs" presentation was wowed by a CS professor's presentation. And I only stuck with it because again, I got lucky, and most the students in the intro course had little to no experience and didn't consider themselves computer geeks, and the course was much more about problem solving and new modes of thought, rather than being an exercise in "learning to program." And it didn't hurt that the course was taught by a woman who was excited about the material.
No, those nerds did not become the bullies they hated in high school. You are still the bullies you were in high school, you just found new excuses (then: they seem nerdy, now: they are sexist).
See, most male programmers stuck with it despite the bullying. They did not need special encouragement. Excuse me if I feel little enthusiasm for developers who need to be bribed into the profession.
There is no group of feminists that bullied nerds by disassociating with them (beyond what is acceptable in just not talking to people who don't share your interests) in this story 'claiming the nerds prevented them from programming for sexist reasons.' There is a girl getting treated like crap by people, for no good reasons, because of some group-politics sexism.
You're just foisting the arguments of the past, of different people, onto the current generation - This isn't like there's some evil cheerleader figure who stumped nerds for years turning up and expecting them to welcome her into their programming fraternity.
Nevertheless I am always opposed to bullying, but unfortunately sometimes we have to deal with it. Calling for a nanny state to work things out for us is not always a workable solution.
VB is a fine language to get children interested in programming. Personally, I know many people who weren't able to grasp programming via C but were pretty excited about VB's gui designer and easy database connectivity. Most of the introduction to VB didn't teach them much programming, but at least it got them interested.
> High school bullies are typically quite good at restricting their bullying to times when they're unlikely to be spotted by an authority figure.
The author is being unfair when she is holding the teacher solely accountable for bullying.
> It takes a lot of effort to maintain an authentic connection. Parents have trouble connecting authentically with their children--imagine doing it with scores of students per semester. And when it comes to bullying, most teenagers downplay to avoid being though of as a snitch. Some are self-conscious to be bailed out even when they haven't "snitched".
There is also the fact that being teacher's pet generally invites more bullying. If they can't harass you, they will begin isolating you. And of course, the general mentality isn't in favor of snitches even when the snitches are hapless victims. Children don't have a strong sense of right and wrong and peer pressure muddies it more.
> For many of the author's suggestions, the teacher may be doing these things (recruiting, cross-promoting, etc.), to the extent that they have time. But these are outside the job of teaching. These are things the author could be doing at the school too, but presumably she's too busy. I'm sure the teacher can relate.
I haven't taught at professional level, but I do like teaching. And I like to teach people who are interested in learning. If I were a teacher, I won't really do much recruiting and promotion. If the job requires me to do it, I probably won't take it.
VB seems to me to be a poor choice because it doesn't intersect with the kids' lives. They likely won't go home and build VB apps (on their Macs...) The console is like lifting the curtain and revealing the motor underneath something we all use every day.
Our disjointed education system has done a pretty crappy job of anticipating the software revolution and gearing up for it. I mean think about it, even in higher ed, software development/engineering as a discipline separate from computer science and computer engineering is not even 10 years old in many places. At most ed schools, software education is just a component of overall tech ed, if it's available at all, and specializing in tech ed is a good way to make yourself expendable by not being certified in a "core" subject.
And with most K-12 curriculum priorities being set by individual local districts and schools, it seems hardly probable that administrators, overburdened as they are trying to increase test scores in core subjects, are going be able to sense and react to long-term economic trends by beefing up their software instructional staffs.
If you want to show the joy of a VB-like build-run-debug cycle, use Unity and C# (or Unityscript) and it's (a) free, (b) runs on Macs, and (again) (c) builds stuff they might actually care about.
I'm not sure VB was a "make or break" factor in my education, but it certainly didn't help. Also, I'm trying to teach my girlfriend development and web development, it turns out, IS NOT a good place to start.
> I'm trying to teach my girlfriend development and web development, it turns out, IS NOT a good place to start.
> The author is being unfair when she is holding the teacher solely accountable for bullying.
Come, now. Yours is not a reasonable conclusion to make from the blog post. It should be obvious to the reader that the bullies in question are responsible. The author's point was that the teacher shares responsibility in providing a safe environment for all students in the class. Perhaps you don't agree (and what a shame if you don't), but you should not misrepresent the author's argument to make your case.
The teacher may be responsible, sure. The harassment happened; knowing that, it is an absolutely fair question to wonder if more could have been done by the teacher.
> Students have remedies, they all know what they are. I knew. If the child spoke up to a teacher, principal, janitor, or anyone and the school did nothing then I'd side with the OP in a heartbeat.
I feel it must be pointed out, and repeated if necessary, that someone does not need to report a wrong action for that action to be wrong. I know that's not exactly what you said. The author's daughter was harassed, and that is wrong. Full stop.
> Absent any real facts about what happened I'd have to guess (and it's only a guess) that the teacher wasn't the problem here.
If you are absent any real facts, why hazard a guess at all?
IF the author's daughter was harassed THEN that is wrong. Full stop.
I have no idea what really happened. You have no idea what really happened. Neither one of us was there. Neither was the mom. Her version is still just hearsay and worth exactly nothing. The only one who knows what happened is the young girl involved.
People throw the word harassment around a lot. Being bullied is the new black. What if this kid is super-sensitive (we all know people who cry when they step on ants) and the other kids just laughed at her and called her a teacher's pet. Maybe that was enough to sour this kid? But... is that harassment? Are the other kids just evil? Maybe the teacher was a completely insensitive jerk. Maybe the teacher was in on it. Maybe the mom embellished the story in some bizarre modern day blogging version of Munchausen by proxy.
At the end of the day all we can do is speculate that if A happened then B should have been done about it. In a perfect world A would never happen, but we don't live in that world and everyone who tells a story brings their own biases to the conversation. It's fodder for discussion and not much else because it's a story with only one version of the "facts".
If I had to take a Visual Basic class, I would've taken up woodworking as a career. Seriously, what the hell? It's awful.
When are we going to start sterilizing people who raise shitty kids? I'm being intentionally provocative because I'm so fucking sick of this problem. It's the stupidest fucking problem in the world and it hurts so many people.
Minority entities will be teased practically any time they exist, regardless of sector or age, and they need to be taught to handle it well. We can continue to attempt to stop the teasing altogether, but in the meantime we have to live in the Real World, and if this child quit programming because a few guys made a kitchen joke, the mother is really misdirecting her efforts by writing a letter to the teacher.
It's hard to imagine that any rape joke would be allowed to fly in our classrooms where students can hardly wield pencils anymore, and if you read carefully, you'll see that it doesn't appear to have occurred. It appears to me that the author is attempting to use some clever wording to create an impression that the "harassment" was much more intense than it actually was by subtly crossing over into her personal experience with online trolls.
Zero tolerance tends to create situations in which schools/teachers/administrators do nothing since they don't want to get someone expelled. This creates an environment in which students say/do terrible things with little or consequence. Best case the teachers look the other way but often the teachers will harass students as well (I saw two teachers in my Junior High School sexually harass students). Occasionally the school will overreact and have someone arrested for using the word gun in an essay. The general rule is to expect them to do completely the wrong action, every time in every situation. At least that was my experience.
I was in high school a few years ago. Put that many teenagers in a room and of course they're going to fuck with each other.
I've heard sandwich jokes made in liberal arts classes, biology classes, even a badminton class--which also had only one girl in it. The takeaway is not that the badminton industry is misogynistic or that the Phys Ed teacher is failing womankind; the takeaway is that high schoolers are dicks.
High schoolers grow up. When they grow up, do they remain dicks, or do they change? I finally watched 42 the other day. There's this scene where a white dad is screaming at Robinson to get off the field, that they don't want him there, calling him all sorts of names. His son is hesitant at first, but starts following suit. The implication was clear. What you see as acceptable when young can stick with you for a long time until you have a shocking wake-up call. And seriously, who in society has really seen these wake-up calls happen more often than not? Especially given the amount of evidence we see of it not happening.
Sure. But not exclusively [which I know you weren't claiming].
I had some pretty degrading and misandrist remarks made about me in situations with lots of women in; where I've been the only man (mothers, women of an age to marry and more mature women too).
I think these things are a lot about group dynamics.
I think that's right, particularly male group dynamics.
I'd say all guys are bullied, except most of us wouldn't call it such - it's the establishment of hierarchy, and bonding.
Is that right? Is that right when they don't differentiate their bullying towards girls? I'm not even going to wade into that.
However, I feel (through personal experience) masculinity is being more and more removed from young men, and at a high cost.
Yeah? So this high school programming class isn't so much a programming class as a crash course in coping mechanisms for gender-based harassment?
Please. It's the educator's job to create a safe space for, you know, education--for every student in the class, not just the privileged majority. It's their job to track their students' education and interest level, and make adjustments if either starts dropping. It's not their job to facilitate a hostile environment and let minority students flounder in the interests of 'real world training'. It's not their job to decide that since it's hard for women in tech in real life, it should be hard in their class. Education isn't about maintaining the world we already live in, it's about shaping the world our kids will live in.
You want real world training? Show me an HR department in a software company that's fine with comments like "get in the kitchen and make me sandwich". Which real world are you advocating this high school programming class introduce to a 16-year-old girl?
The real world where HR thought police aren't sitting in every room of every company. The real world where even HR people try to "make jokes" and be funny. The real world where HR people generally judge the severity of a harassment complaint by favoritism, which reality a blunt HR person (not employed at my current employer) just relayed to me recently. The real world where real humans, not perfectly politically correct robo-trons, must work, play, and engage.
I don't endorse teasing that harms a person's feelings. But I also think we shouldn't be so thin-skinned that we shrivel up and quit the first time a trite, cliched joke is thrown our way, because that happens all the time to everybody (your peers _will_ find a difference to comment upon no matter how mainstream you think you are), and if you can't handle it, you'll have a lot of difficulty handling more serious emotional situations, like getting passed up for a promotion.
It'd be great if the programming teacher first, was made aware of this problem, and the article never claims he was, and second, was able to stop the problem, but there's no guarantee he could've effectively done so even if he tried (and he may have), just as corporate HR departments can't stop all incidents of "harassment" even though they "try".
I believe the author probably wrote the piece primarily as a hypothetical, but I also believe it was bad taste to do so since this supposedly is traceable back to a real person who may not deserve that type of criticism, and I don't believe her fundamental complaint ("someone said something that made my daughter sad, so you all should feel bad :( ") is very worthy of the community's attention.
...almost got bingo... good work, cookiecaper.
And I only see hits in two squares on the "sexist joke bingo", not that it matters.
> But I also think we shouldn't be so thin-skinned that we shrivel up and quit the first time a trite, cliched joke is thrown our way
Will you take the free space kaltai, or can we stop trying to use rhetorical tricks like talking dismissively about(rather than to) and trying to out-meta the other?
Why is it that people misreading comments to call them out almost always come off as bigger asses than the people they're replying to?
And unfunny, bad-taste jokes are still jokes. I can talk about the KKK member's standup routine and call his words jokes without saying that I found them funny.
and I mean that in the worst possible way.
I completely agree that people in general, and women in tech specifically, have to be thick-skinned to survive professionally. Nobody's advocating HR thought police--they'd be unnecessary in this case anyway--or politically-correct automatons. We're talking about kids. Kids! Surely it's not totally out of line to suggest that they could learn better behavior than "get in the kitchen and make me a sandwich". Surely there's a better response to the whole situation than "that girl needs to suck it up and learn how the world works".
For what it's worth, I remember the first time those trite cliches were thrown at me, and they felt neither trite nor cliched. They hurt. I thought I was part of a team, among equals, brothers-in-arms, friends, and I wasn't. I was different, I was other, I was less, I was not welcome. It's a paradigm shift that happens in an instant, and it can be pretty shattering--great for killing enthusiasm and developing thick skin in the future, maybe, but not for learning things in a programming class.
School sucks for nerdy white boys, too. Yes, I'd like to see a safe and healthy learning environment for everyone.
Do you understand the statement above? If not, I'll quit wasting my time.
This was a rant about the mother's issues directed at a seemingly innocent teacher.
This article disgusted me.
I'm so bored of this sort of thing. Yes, there are man-children who post stupid and hurtful crap on the internet. Yes, there are cretins who make dick jokes on stage at conferences. There are also women who are complete and utter asses to all men because "all men are rapists", which IMHO is a far more misandric view than the kind of offhanded misogyny of "sudo make me a sandwich" shit nerd guys come up with.
People are dicks. People do stupid crap. People hurt each other.
People who use gender as an emblem and weapon are also dicks, because they create a line of demarcation and balkanisation where there IS NONE. We are PEOPLE. Not "Men" and "Women" who are some kind of antagonistic polar-opposite species.
Edit: Rape jokes. Interesting one that. I recall being 12, on a school bus on a trip to some camp in Michigan (am mostly schooled in the UK, spent a year in 7th grade in the US, loathed it), and being astounded at the fact that the gaggle of girls sat behind me were all cracking rape jokes. I actually couldn't parse at first what they were talking about "rip? ripe? rope?", until I clocked the macabre subject of their humour.
It took the (male) bus driver to ask them to all kindly shut the fuck up.
How can a situation where a child enters a classroom full of enthusiasm and leaves a year (term?) later depressed not be an "actual issue"?
The way to deal with it is "Suck it up." i.e. have self-confidence and act you, yourself, personally, better than others. Lead by example, not legislation.
I am saying that it IS an issue, but that the issue is not one of gender discrimination, just one of kids, and humans, being dicks - and you can't combat it purely on gender lines as all you're doing is treating a symptom rather than the disease.
Wrong. You're assuming that all forms of bullying are equally bad. This is patently false. Bullying based on traits that already set you apart can reenforce imposter syndrome. Specifically in the case of programming, a woman in a male-only class will already feel isolated and like she doesn't belong. Being bullied with gender-specific insults is much more harmful to this persons potential as a programmer than being bullied with gender neutral ones. So addressing specifically the sex-based bullying is necessary in addition to bullying in general.
It's not about gender. It's about ostracism. You don't have to be female to be ostracised. You just have to have something, anything, that sets you apart from the crowd.
This is the societal control mechanism we have culturally evolved to ensure conformity and "strength" in groups. It is really, really, really fucking dangerous, and leads to fun shit like Nazism. It's also really powerful, and is the basis of nation states.
Ergo, the problem needs treating at its cause, which is a cultural illness, and is far from simple to treat. You cannot simply resolve one emergent aspect of it and then expect to treat each aspect the same way. You do not cut down a tree by plucking at its leaves.
This is certainly true. What I meant to convey was that in the context of a programming class, being bullied for a trait that is itself already suspect within oneself reenforces it and thus is more damaging. If that girl had been bullied in the programming class because she was fat, it may not have had as much of an impact on her decision to pursue the career. Being bullied because she's a girl on the other hand, had the secondary effect of reenforcing the idea that she doesn't belong in tech.
We as a species have a remarkable proclivity to be very unkind.
Btw, you need to get away from the habit of directly attacking the author and focus instead on attacking the argument.
You're right that by abstracting things away you can just create a philosophical point with no path to resolution, but you can also actively inflict harm by tackling an issue in isolation without evaluating and understanding the root cause.
This is the same philosophy (general problem, specific problem within that general problem that we think we can act on, so act, without looking at the general problem) that lead to rampant mercury poisoning and insanity across the globe in the late 19th c., as a poultice of mercury nicely clears up the sores from syphilis - but does not cure syphilis.
There is no violence and rape in this story, there's only a mom with an axe to grind and a daughter who might not be interested in programming.
Best wishes, and good luck!
You, however, don't get the same consideration, because I strongly suspect you're a pillock.
This use of "privilege" as a targeted weapon to silence specific demographics has to stop.
Women in the western world have always been among the safest, most privileged people on Earth. This entire thread, in fact, has been a shining example of female privilege.
No one cares that women soundly outnumber men in university admission, and university graduation, and even high school graduation. Heck, no one cares that it is men who overwhelmingly make up the bottom of society.
Instead, we're having a collective anxiety attack because a hyper-privileged white woman is upset that her hyper-privileged white daughter might have had her feelings hurt in high school. This is surreal.
Gender equality in America has come a long way. However, there are still many occupations and places in America where equality is not the norm at all.
The best example of an occupation where women are not welcome is the military.
The best example of inequality in the courts is this recent case:
Inequality is all around us.
I disagree with that characterization. Bullying, violence, and rape should never be normalized, nor acceptable, regardless of the age of the perpetrators. This is aberrant, immoral behavior and should never be treated as anything else.
I went to a mixed-sex high school, albeit you might choose to take this anecdote with a grain of salt since that was 20 years ago in Germany. There was certainly some bullying, although not on the scale I discovered much later in life was common elsewhere. There was almost no intra-school violence. I feel pretty confident in saying this because these things were taken very seriously by both staff and students alike, and the few cases where there had been confrontations between students quickly became very public and a matter of much water cooler talk afterwards. I can also say with about the same level of confidence as you that there was no rape, or other forms of gender-based violence. And coming back to the article's subject, CS class was mandatory for everyone at first - and even though in later years the course became one of those that could be voluntarily dropped, the gender balance stayed the same after that.
That said, school wasn't ideal for me as I was in it. CS class wasn't exactly great, mostly due to utter disinterest by 90% of the students who took it. At the time I had the feeling the school was a bad choice for individualists like me, though in hindsight I would revise that conclusion a bit (as a humanist-themed middle/high school it was actually much better than any other school I could have gone to).
I think it's important to bring young people up together and not artificially separate them into two groups. Of the many social problems present in my time studying there, gender issues were not one of them. There was no us-versus-them mentality, and informal social groups were almost always mixed. I can't help but wonder if that sort of normalcy is something single-gender schools actively campaign against.
1) Either we need to make school even less like the real world, by separating the sexes as per the above suggestion, or turning the school into the chronological opposite of a work release prison,
2) We need to make school more like the real world by banning unnatural things like homeschooling, because obviously no human beings work are home or own their own businesses and self direct themselves. Or no human beings carry a tiny swiss army knife on their keychain, so we need to ban that too, etc etc.
I was pointing out how much, much worse stuff happens in schools than just being told to 'make a sandwich' and trust me, I would have been a very happy little boy if only that had happened to my friends and me. To be honest, starting from the author of the article, this entire thread displays just how sheltered of a life many of this community must be living to start an Internet crusade (because this is what it is going to end up when the social justice warriors get wind of it) because of a boring class with an unqualified teacher.
To me the thread illustrates that for a community that gives so much lip service to disruption and progress, a lot of people are really unwilling to put up with the idea that high school shouldn't have to be the pit of misery that is apparently common in American public schools. But über is solving real problems!
> trigger alert
> (violence and rape references)
This is not Slashdot, you're supposed to read the article before commenting ;-)
It's not a fucking "free choice" that women are making when they steer away from programming in the face of the grotesque pastiche of misogyny and bullying that underlies our vocation, in which most of the people who aren't actually bullying women are falling over themselves to deny its existence or make excuses for it.
Male programmers need to stop congratulating ourselves on how "libertarian" and "meritocratic" we are and start taking responsibility for how profoundly hostile and off-putting we have allowed this field to remain for most women.
Also, I've never seen anything resembling a "grotesque pastiche of misogyny and bullying" in my 17 years of working as a programmer or systems analyst.
Uh, no, he's not saying that. The issue is that women, generally, are already treated differently than their male co-workers, and they shouldn't be. It's about not treating them differently.
Do you actually think they'd report it if they were?
Who here has never been someplace and felt like they didn't belong? Maybe you were the only person of your ethnicity at some event and you stuck out like a sore thumb. Maybe everyone had their inside jokes and familiarities you didn't know about. Maybe occasionally, people made in unambiguously clear that you weren't welcome, by being cold or outright hostile. This is what it feels like for many women in the tech world.
I really feel like this comes down not so much to an inability to comprehend and empathize, but more so to a vested interest of deniers in the status quo. More outsiders means people on the inside have to let go of their insularity, and moreover, compete with an influx of people who bring in diverse skillsets and viewpoints. Our supposedly meritocratic software world is actually anything but. I believe Chris Hayes nails it with his Iron Law of Meritocracy, summarized here .
The problem is that this causes a moral decay. Once a firm accepts that this behavior is acceptable, the slippery slope starts. Well, a couple fudged expense reports isn't bad. Oh, what the client doesn't know won't hurt them. No need to be entirely up front with government. Management doesn't get it, don't share anything with them. Criminal complaints from the government, we're just the victim!
> So, you see, I was all too familiar with what my daughter was going through, but I was unprepared for the harassment to start in high school, in her programming class.
Really? High school?
I went to high school, too. I distinctly remember how everyone was calling everyone else whatever they could. I've been called a faggot, a lunatic, a drug-addict, a bitch, a teacher's pet, a limp dick and a long list of other things, and I've been the target of a whole bunch of male stereotypes.
Like, you know, every fucking teenager on the planet. I cracked sexist jokes with other dudes -- hell, I cracked sexist jokes with girls -- and I've been the target of sexist jokes, too. Some of them were mean, some of them were in good spirit. Hell, at one point I was the only dude in a Latin class. Few things are more awesome than having the openly lesbian, short-haired colleague asking you whether you'd like to shine her boots and fetch her paper later (particularly after addressing you with "hey sissy" rather than your name).
But what the hell, that's what you do when you're a teenagers. We were a bunch of stupid fucks whose most important achievement in life was learning how to play the intro to Stairway to Heaven or trying to fuck while dead drunk. We insulted each other with no reason. Our behaviour was definitely unprofessional, because we went to school, not to work.
Seriously, if we're going to get upset and bring out the discrimination pitchforks every time a teenager says something mean to another teenager, we're going to be really busy. People are going to be mean to each other, particularly those who don't have this privilege of sheltered education.
I honestly sympathize with this young girl. Humour and sexist jokes apart, I had my share of insults and bullying because of a somewhat visible physical defect (one of my eyes isn't exactly agile). But being a good parent is not a good way to deal with this, no matter how much we'd like that, because it depends on other people being good parents, too.
My folks were awesome. Both were cultivated fellows, and my father was in the army and taught me how to punch. I got through school without traumas related to these experience using nothing but wits and kickboxing.
Guess what? In High School many of us were quite together and tried our best to have fun while avoiding people like you.
Most everyone has had this problem at one point in time. It seems to me that mom needs to teach her daughter to have a thicker skin...which is the EXACT same lesson I got from my parents.
Children have no tools, and are forced into these situations with no possibility of escape. The thicker skin you describe doesn't exist for the majority of the planet.
My parents tried all they could to shelter me behind regulations, and even they -- a colonel and an elementary school teacher -- failed and eventually admitted I have to stand up for myself if everything else fails. I stood up to (and beaten the crap out of) bullies and even stood up to teachers if I had to.
The people who don't care about the rules are the people against which bullied and harassed teenagers have no one to count on other than themselves.
My parents didn't teach me to run to them or to teachers when stuff like this happens. They taught me how to deal with it myself.
Treating high schoolers like they're helpless kids might be fashionable now, but it might not seam as wise when they're 30 and living at home.
I went to a high school where the two calculus teachers were both female. I also went to a math PhD program where a professor -- specifically George Mackey http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Mackey -- wondered openly as to whether women could do top-level mathematics. In fairness to him, the women in that era were still few and below average, and one even had the temerity to whine about discrimination when the real problem was that she wasn't particularly smart or hardworking.
Moral: Even if you don't see bigotry in YOUR part of a group, don't assume it isn't common elsewhere.
At the end of the day, this was a highschool class with comments being made by highschool kids. The one comment specifically detailed in the article is an old internet meme that was largely popular in gaming circles. The teacher, the only one in this entire story that might have some small connection with the tech industry, never made any inappropriate comments or behaved in any way misogynistic at least so far as the details in the article. To call this story an example of misogyny in the tech industry is pure BS, it had absolutely nothing to do with the tech industry in any way.
Edit: More context on the comment the article mentioned: http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/get-back-to-the-kitchen
I agree that it's not necessarily an example of misogyny in tech per se, but it's absolutely a contributing factor in why there are so few women in tech -- many first experiences tend to be as the sole female in classes with socially outcast males.
To begin with the state of tech education in public schools is absolutely abysmal, it takes a dedicated student with a strong interest in tech to tough it out through the school system, rather than being encouraged to go into tech by the school system. The media portrays programmers and other tech industry professionals as a bunch of lonely anti-social misfits who are almost exclusively male and either so exceeding stereotypically nerdy as to practically qualify as autistic, or else overweight and lecherous. These two factors combined mean that the vast majority of students, both male and female, decide to avoid the tech industry at an early age because either they believe the media stereotypes or else they take some tech related classes and are so appalled at the curriculum that they practically run to other professions.
When considering a career in the tech industry, going solely by the state of pre-college and entry level college tech courses, combined with the overwhelming media stereotypes around the tech industry, is it any surprise most women decide to pursue other fields?
Also, I believe it is specifically a tech problem. Medicine and law are approaching gender balanced. Tech, though, has been getting worse over the decades.
To me this sounds like another version of the "you're doing it wrong" anonymous grumbling that the internet provides for pretty much anybody doing anything.
I'm going to keep trying to fix tech the way I think tech should be fixed. Whether or not J. Random Commenter "accepts" my analysis of the problem isn't something I'm worried about. It's a given in pushing for societal change that most people think you're wrong in one way or another; otherwise we would already have made the change.
You keep trying to fix what isn't broken while ignoring what is, just don't go harassing everyone who's trying to get things done, or get upset when everyone else thinks your nuts for tilting at windmills.
I worry, but of course couldn't prove, that the sort of responses you get to proposing the former betray that many people subconsciously believe the latter.
To those of you who don't believe that widespread discrimination in whatever form exists, how do you explain the fact that, from school classes to upper management, there just aren't nearly as many women in the technical sphere?
IMO nerd superiority is the most unbecoming pervasive trait found in the tech industry.
A third alternative is that they are not on average as interested in this kind of profession as the average man. That is a perfectly reasonable theory. But of course that doesn't put you between a rock and a hard place by having to choose between a society-is-sexist or a women-are-inferior theory, so I guess it's not a very fun theory if you want to stirr up a lot of emotions...
No, it's still a theory. It might naturally lead to the next question, "why don't they wanna?", but so does a lot of theories/explanations (just ask Socrates).
> Why wouldn't women be interested in this kind of profession? Do women not like comfortable, creative, high-paying jobs with lots of perks?
I don't know, but there could be a lots of reasons, since there are a lot of things other than comfort and money that people consider when they choose a career. Indeed, money is probably relatively unimportant in a more egalitarian, developed society than a society which is less developed and more (gender) unequal: nations with a higher degree of gender equality tend to have a more gender-segregated labour market. Why don't you explain that 'paradox' (it's not really a paradox), with your initial, limited dichotomy?
Besides, there are several other fields of study and careers that are pretty good at this time. Most of them engineering fields though. And from a pure money-making perspective there are other choices, granted many of which are lotteries; but probably attract a large number of adherents.
I don't owe it to you to give elaborate theories. You had an assertion about how many possible reasons there might be for a given phenomena, and I argued that it was baseless of you to only assume that those two reasons might be the only possible ones. It is baseless since you've hardly argued why there might only be two. Sure, you're arguing that this kind of job gives money and comfort, but again, I've argued that people are after other things than that. And, I've given an example of a widespread phenomena of women choosing careers and jobs that are more associated with having women working in them, when they have the chance. What examples have you given? Oh that's right: none.
I don't know where you live, so I don't know which economy is "this economy", but where I reside people are still able to have some leniency when it comes to choosing a career. It has been my experience that people (men and women) are far from only concerned with money when it comes to employment.
To put it another way, I can see two plausible forces pushing women away from tech jobs: 1) some deficiency on their part, 2) some motive on the part of the system to keep women out.
My argument is that, since many people disagree with 2), many must subconsciously believe 1), which is absurd on its face.
Examples aren't helpful in this case because your theory doesn't answer the question we're asking. Even if it were true that the mechanism keeping women out of tech was the amending of their preferences rather than forcibly excluding them (by refusing to hire them for example), this would still be the result of either something innate about women themselves or something societal imposing these preferences on them.
So, again, we still are faced with the same question. If women "don't want" to be programmers, why would that be? Because something about their female brains is disinterested in computers? Or because they've been socialized to feel as if tech jobs are not for them?
In my experience, a lot of the difficulty in comprehending/accepting that women experience the industry so differently than men is that many men either A) over-generalize from an exceptional interaction, or B) follow those that have over-generalized. By "A" I mean that men can rely on confirmation bias to cement their impression of the female experience based on a few choice interactions. For example, confirmation bias can allow a random chat with a well-adjusted, confident woman who appears impervious to tech sexism can dispel for many years any notion in that man's mind that sexism exists in the industry. Thereafter, contradictory signals of other women can themselves be dismissed as exceptions, and because of cognitive dissonance, can actually reinforce his misconception.
By "B" I mean that many men have no relevant direct interactions with women (given their low numbers) and may follow the lead of the people with whom they associate, who are by definition men. Any confirmation bias of those men then spreads to them.
In addressing this, what is not often recognized is that individual women do have unique experiences. They are affected to varying degrees and in various ways by prejudism and ostracization. As a male, rather than tip-toe around or ignore the issue with a female colleague, I've found the best hueristic for recognizing your potential participation in a prejudicial environment is to earnestly sense/inquire the nature of her past experience. (You may also share your own experiences of prejudism, if any.) By opening such a dialogue, you establish a common foundation and framework for maximizing the team and progressing the industry.
IMHO, focusing on the direct, open, and individual treatment of interpersonal relationships (and moving away from the one-experience-fits-all mentality, which lacks common sense and is susceptible to confirmation bias) is an important next step for evolving relations between social groups in general.
This is an endemic social problem that prevents girls from even considering sciences.
That, of course, leads to these fields being mostly misogynistic sausage fests, which is also a big problem, but that's one of the symptoms of the culture of education.
So I'll just leave this bingo in case you got bored in this thread: http://bit.ly/16i7WAm
The implication of your parenthetical being that all men have been unconsciously chauvinistic at some point?
But it's far from a fixed problem currently.
No one cares that women soundly outnumber men in university admission, and university graduation, and even high school graduation. No one cares that young women without children (i.e. the majority) earn more money their male counterparts. Heck, no one cares that it is men who overwhelmingly make up the bottom of society.
Where, exactly, did you find this quote? Because I can't find it in the OP, or the post you are replying to. I'd hate to think you might have pulled a strawman so blatantly out of thin air . . .
Oh, and thanks for demonstrating exactly the points the GP was trying to make.
The straw man of "protect the fairer sex" is so frustrating. No one is saying to treat women like brittle creatures who cannot fend for themselves.
It hasn't even been 100 years since women were given the right to vote in America, and the amendment was filibustered before it was ratified. It's shocking that there were politicians who believed so strongly that women should be second class citizens that they filibustered the bill.
But now they are graduating from college at a high clip, and making a decent living, so it's okay to tell them to "get back in the kitchen and make a sandwich"?
It's especially frustrating that the younger generation feels like this kind of comment is OK. It shows, at best, a cultural acceptance of, and at worst a promotion of, oppressive gender roles, in which females are subservient to males.
How anyone can defend the promotion of such a hostile environment is beyond me. To you it may seem like a harmless joke, in which the woman just needs "thicker skin" to "joke around with the boys." But that's not your call to make. If it makes someone feel noticeably uncomfortable, we should be smart enough and kind enough to respect that. No one likes bullies, and every bully claims to be "just joking around mannnnn, don't be such a baby."
That doesn't mean treat people with baby gloves when it comes to everything. It's not about maintaing a lovey work environment where everyone hugs and sings together. If someone is doing bad work, call them out. That doesn't require making sexist quips.
Also want to note: being the safest, and most privileged relative to other places on earth != safe and treated equally.
We shouldn't be happy with being the best on a relative scale that stacks us against cultures where women are stoned for getting raped, we still have a long way to go in the fight for equality.
So how do you feel about all the women who opposed it? You do realize that men didn't have the right to vote either right? The right to vote was tied to military service.
>oppressive gender roles, in which females are subservient to males.
That is an opinion, not reality. You could describe men's "oppressive gender role" as being subservient to women. Being forced to work your life away to provide for a woman is no more wonderful than being forced to cook and clean for a man.
>Also want to note: being the safest, and most privileged relative to other places on earth != safe and treated equally
But the discussion is framed as "we have things bad, you men need to fix it", but the "you men" in question are less safe than women, and are also not treated equally.
It's unfortunate they felt that way. It's really easy not to take advantage of a right if one chooses, but to actively prevent others from having it is strange to me. Maybe you feel differently?
>You do realize that men didn't have the right to vote either right? The right to vote was tied to military service.
What are you talking about? When our country (referring the US) was founded, the requirements were being white and owning land, or having enough wealth to be taxed. (Which is also outrageous.) Non-whites were given the right in 1870, women in 1920, with the enactment of the 19th Amendment. "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex."
Maybe you know something I don't about military service requirements for voting?
>That is an opinion, not reality. You could describe men's "oppressive gender role" as being subservient to women. Being forced to work your life away to provide for a woman is no more wonderful than being forced to cook and clean for a man.
"Get in the kitchen and make me a sandwich" isn't supporting oppressive gender roles wherein women are subservient to men? Really?
Of course the patriarchy has its negative effects on men, but that's a result of patriarchy's existence, which is exactly what feminism is trying to correct. The man is "being forced to provide for a woman" because men want to keep women "in the kitchen to make sandwiches." It's two sides of the same problem.
And before you try to argue that men don't actually want to keep women in the kitchen... I'm using that to refer to a larger cultural psyche. How much time do men get off for paternity leave in the US? Generally none. That right there reinforces the "woman as homemaker." The woman has to stay home, the man has to bring home the money, thanks to the patriarchy.
>But the discussion is framed as "we have things bad, you men need to fix it", but the "you men" in question are less safe than women, and are also not treated equally.
It's not about "you men" fixing it. It's about assholes not being assholes. In many cases it happens to be men, sometimes its women too.
Also, what are you talking about? How are the men less safe? Do I even want to know what your logic is behind that?
Maybe you're just trolling, but the problem I see in a lot of you "men's rights" people, is an unfortunate lack of the capacity for altruism. "Why should they get that if I don't get anything?! What about ME?!" They should get that because we're intelligent and evolved creatures who are capable of giving up some of our privilege and comfort to achieve a happier overall society, even if we get nothing personally in return.
If you can't see this story as indicative of a much larger problem, you're being intentionally dense.
If you can respond without completely ridiculous strawmen, then you are being intentionally dishonest.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not one of those people that sees that female representation in tech isn't 50% therefore men must be at fault. But here is a clear example of horrible sex discrimination and here you come trotting out the "get over it--you already have it good" arguments.
The first thing that is crucial to understand is that feminism itself is not the enemy. In fact, intelligent feminists should care about the problems you list. I'm not saying they do, but they should, because feminism isn't anti-men, it's anti gender roles. This means that problems like men being pressured to bury their emotions, or men not getting proper mental health care, or men not being taken seriously when they are raped, are all things that feminism is supposed to be fighting against. The fact that our society often ignores these problems is not because of feminism, it's because of sexism. Feminists, often do ignore problems like this with men, and those feminists are either ignorant or bigoted, because sexist oppression caused by society to men, and sexist oppression caused by society to women, have the same root and are part of the same problem that feminism is trying to fix. This is not a fringe view of feminism. This is the normal view.
The second thing that is crucial to understand is that the caricature of sexist tumblr-warrior "feminists" (that do indeed exist) are a distraction. The fact that people like this are taken seriously probably bothers me as much as it bothers you. However, these people are misrepresenting feminism. They do not say what feminism is supposed to represent. You can think of them as the crazy bigoted Christians or Muslims that are technically part of the same group, but do not represent the whole.
Finally, you have to realize that gender roles and sexism are oppressing men and women. I think the reason so many feminists react badly to men's rights advocates is because they marginalize women's problems while promoting men's. In truth I think this is just a reaction from seeing feminist groups do the reverse. Really, both are a problem. Just because one is a problem doesn't make another problem any more or less important. So instead of saying "This is ridiculous to be worrying about when much worse is happening to men and nobody cares," try saying, "This is an important problem," and separately, "These other things are happening to men and nobody cares."
> ALL of your comments are about men's rights.
Yes, most of my comments are about gender issues. And interestingly, despite the vast majority of comments in any given thread disagreeing with my own, my median comment score when discussing those issues is around 10 to 20.
Clearly, there are quite a few people here who don't feel comfortable speaking out, and for good reason! They don't want to be bullied for weeks, having their names permanently dragged through the mud: http://acko.net/blog/storms-and-teacups/
I don't want like-minded visitors to this site feeling like they're not welcome to speak their mind.
> [T]he caricature of sexist tumblr-warrior "feminists" (that do indeed exist) are a distraction. The fact that people like this are taken seriously probably bothers me as much as it bothers you. However, these people are misrepresenting feminism.
Let's ignore the social justice bullies on Tumblr. The top (western) feminist websites are probably Jezebel, Feministe, and Geek Feminism. All three of those are notoriously bigoted against men. Yes, those three websites lack the "I want to watch men burn to death" comments, but that's not saying much.
Every time I hear someone claim that real feminists aren't like that, I must ask: Where are the real feminists?
Haha, good lord. You're making fun of "hyperprivileged" white women while complaining that the white neckbeard bloc is being unjustly silenced? That must be really terrible for you, the jorts ceiling is truly an institution that must be smashed.
Also where'd you get that quote from?
Your concerns, such as they are, have been discussed here
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6354789, and here https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6353402
With a longer piece on the topic here https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6354336 and on the topic of criticism as "silencing" here http://www.popehat.com/2013/09/10/speech-and-consequences/
Use "different perspective" if that's what you're trying to put across, and if it's not and you really believe the whole privilege meme as something more than that, that's exactly why I write you off.
Either way it means either you couldn't be bothered to figure out an effective way to convey a simple core idea without being horrendously offensive, or you actually don't have a clue what you are talking about.
This article was mostly excellent because it primarily avoided the classic persecution complexes that are almost par for the course in such things, to have the top comment here raving about privilege does the article an enormous disservice.
Would you say that black people in America have it harder than white people, perhaps in some places more so than others? If so you accept that people are treated differently based on externalities. People are treated unfairly. People are mocked, hurt, threatened, and that's just the tip of the iceberg.
And you want to tell me that it offends you when they say some people have privilege?
Black people and women being discriminated against is just that - discrimination, and that is horrible. But that doesn't (in my mind) make a white male privileged.
Is a white woman more privileged than a black man? Who has more privilege between a black man and a black woman? What about a homeless white man vs a successful white woman?
When someone suffers discrimination it should be called out, addressed, and made right. But it's unfair to paint the rest of the planet as an enemy for not suffering the same abuse.
> 1. a right, immunity, or benefit enjoyed only by a person beyond the advantages of most
Regardless, even if I and others called it "cronut", that doesn't invalidate the concept. So yours and Tycho's argument-from-terminology is just a distraction, and fails to even address the substance of my complaint.
Regardless of all that I wasn't actually attempting to address your argument at all and my comment wasn't aimed at you. I was simply stating that it annoys me the way privilege has been subverted from its actual meaning by a minority with a particular political motivation. Similarly I'm also annoyed with the way the term organic has been subverted to mean food grown without pesticide even though the actual meaning of the word has absolutely nothing to do with that.
The difference between advantage and privilege is that a privilege is an advantage that is given by an outside force and ceases to exist without the influence of that external force. A person may be provided, given, or granted a privilege, it is not something they innately have. Similarly a privilege may be taken away at any time. An advantage on the other hand typically can not be taken unless it's some item or information that is providing that advantage and not some inherent capability. This is where the concept of a handicap comes from, it's a penalty applied to someone in order to balance a advantage they have. Contrast with a privilege which requires nothing to be added, merely the privilege to be removed. There is similarly no equivalent of handicap with regard to privilege as it makes no sense to add anything to attempt to balance a privilege when simply removing the privilege is far simpler.
As for objective basis of my opinion, that's the easiest thing in the world, there's several hundred years of English literature to back me up.
As for the abuse of the word privilege in this context, you could say being male provides someone with an advantage, or being female provides a disadvantage, but you can not say that someone has a male privilege, as that implies someones male-ness can be taken away.
Yeah, sure, whatever.
it's not a case of not liking the words, it's a case of not liking underhand word games in serious debates
> This use of "privilege" as a targeted weapon to silence specific demographics has to stop.
Sorry, no specific demographic is being "silenced" here. If you think that men are being silenced, well, why are you able to speak?
> Women in the western world have always been among the safest, most privileged people on Earth.
Always been, hm? So they were privileged when they were denied suffrage until less than 100 years ago? They were privileged when they were denied admission to some of the country's top universities until just 30 years ago?
> This entire thread, in fact, has been a shining example of female privilege.
What, exactly, do you see as female privilege? What do you see women being allowed to do, that men are not allowed to, that men are harassed for doing, that men are driven out of the industry for doing due to attacks? And if you do see any such behavior, perhaps someone being harassed for being a dancer, or into musicals, or the like, please note whether it's women doing those attacks, or other men.
> No one cares that women soundly outnumber men in university admission, and university graduation, and even high school graduation.
Awful generous of you to round down to "no one." If no one cares, why have you heard about it? Wouldn't people who don't care not be writing articles about it? There are plenty of people who care, who are concerned about this, who write about it and worry about it. That's not "no one" caring.
However, despite all of that, there are many fewer women in technology, and fewer still are programmers. Just because there might be other biases in other fields, doesn't mean that we shouldn't worry about biases and harassment in our own.
> Instead, we're having a collective anxiety attack because a hyper-privileged white woman is upset that her hyper-privileged white daughter might have had her feelings hurt in high school. This is surreal.
I'm not really clear on what you mean by "hyper-privileged". Is it a privilege to be bullied and told to get into the kitchen? That doesn't really sound like the definition of "privileged" to me.
Yes, there may be ways in which she is privileged compared to others. There are other problems out there. But that doesn't mean that we shouldn't try to address this one.
It is a problem when women don't enter a career due to harassment, and indifference from others in face of said harassment. Can we have a realistic discussion if a casual dirty joke counts as harassment? Sure. But there's a difference between a casual dirty joke told by one conference attendee to another, and several kids harassing another and telling her to get into the kitchen while the teacher does nothing about it.
You sound fairly threatened and insecure; it sounds like you're worried that women might do better than you at technology, and then the one way you use to make yourself feel secure in yourself may fall away. You seem to have caught on to the power of being a victim and having other people come out to defend you, so you're trying to apply that tactic to defend yourself from women who threaten your sense of technological superiority. It's not a very attractive tactic, however; it makes you look defensive and reactionary. I'd recommend trying to find other ways to feel good about yourself; for instance, by being supportive and welcoming of new people, and making programming a skill and trade that is accessible to all.
Why do you have to make your points while simultaneously being a complete douche about them? Personal attacks on HN, on purpose?
I tried to find some reason to explain why someone would do something like that, and that's the best I could come up with. I was also trying to point out how ridiculous an argument of "stop playing the victim card, look how much of a victim I am" is. Perhaps I went a little beyond what I should have when trying to point out how ridiculous it is, but I'm not really sure how to point that out much more gently.
Perhaps you have a better suggestion for how to deal with such ridiculous, hysterical, off-topic arguments? Perhaps one that doesn't involve calling someone a "complete douche" in the same breath as criticizing personal attacks?
If we're doing this, it's privilege to not be starving on the streets of Calcutta, it's privilege to know how to read, and it is damn sure privilege to be so surrounded by functioning computers that learning how to use them sounds like a real option instead of fairy tales and bullshit.
So, yeah, if you really want to double-down on the privilege concept, we'll go into how privileged the subject of this article actually is.
That doesn't change the fact that in America, in high-tech industries, there are many privileges that men enjoy that women do not.
It's a derailing tactic to say "you're privileged relative to some extremely impoverished, down on their luck person over there, so you shouldn't ever complain." Just because I don't have the worst boss in the world doesn't mean I shouldn't ever complain about my boss. Just because the US may not spy on its citizens as much as China does doesn't mean we shouldn't be complaining about the US spying on its citizens.
That's what I mean when I don't understand what he means by hyper-privileged. If he's referring to relative to some hungry orphan on the streets of Calcutta, that's just not relevant. If he means relative to the other people in the class, which is the comparison that actually matters for this discussion, then I'm not sure what he means as she obviously is not privileged relative to them, as they were able to harass her into deciding not to continue that course of study.
The verb "silence" is not restricted to scenarios in which someone is rendered literally incapable of speech. It never has been.
> Always been, hm? So they were privileged when they were denied suffrage until less than 100 years ago? They were privileged when they were denied admission to some of the country's top universities until just 30 years ago?
Definitely. The members of the anti-suffrage movement, both men and women, pointed to those female privileges as the primary reason women shouldn't be allowed an equal say in setting the course of government.
> Awful generous of you to round down to "no one." If no one cares, why have you heard about it? Wouldn't people who don't care not be writing articles about it? There are plenty of people who care, who are concerned about this, who write about it and worry about it. That's not "no one" caring.
You got me. There aren't literally zero people who care about the myriad of ways men are disadvantaged to women. Unfortunately, there are close to literally zero people with power who seem care about men's issues, which is why society allocates an outrageously disproportionate amount of attention, money, time, and energy toward women's issues.
> However, despite all of that, there are many fewer women in technology, and fewer still are programmers. Just because there might be other biases in other fields, doesn't mean that we shouldn't worry about biases and harassment in our own.
Agreed, but we need to realize that attention, money, time, and energy aren't limitless.
> You sound fairly threatened and insecure; it sounds like you're worried that women might do better than you at technology
Cut it out.
I'm not worried about myself at all. Like many of us, from a young age, I make more money than I'll ever know what do with. I have a growing a set of skills that are almost guaranteed provide me with gainful employment for my entire life.
I'm worried about the men at the bottom of society who are always marginalized by feminist policing and hand-wringing.
Feminists always point to the top of society, notice that there are more men than woman, then use that as evidence that men are more privileged.
However, they never point to the bottom of society, notice that there are more men than women, then use that as evidence that women are more privileged.
Never, never, never.
That's because they have a particular agenda. And that's fine. But it's also fine for people like me to point out that we are allocating an outrageously disproportionately amount of attention, money, time, and energy to women's issues.
Please clarify, then, about who exactly is being "silenced" and how, and what you mean by "silenced" if it doesn't mean that the person is unable to speak publicly about the topic.
> Definitely. The members of the anti-suffrage movement, both men and women, pointed to those female privileges as the primary reason women shouldn't be allowed an equal say in setting the course of government.
Wait a minute. Are you actually aligning yourself with the anti-suffrage movement? Are you serious?
> Feminists always point to the top of society, notice that there are more men than woman, then use that as evidence that men are more privileged.
> However, they never point to the bottom of society, notice that there are more men than women, then use that as evidence that women are more privileged.
Wait a second. There can't be more men than women on both the top and bottom of society, as there are more women than men in general.
So, let's look at actual numbers from the Census Bureau: http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/data/historical/peopl...
In the Poverty by Sex chart, in 2011, we see 151 million men, of whom 21 million, or 13.6% are below the poverty line. There are 157 million women, of whom 26 million, or 16.3%, are below the poverty line.
Looks to me like in both absolute numbers and percentages, there are more women than men at the "bottom of society".
> That's because they have a particular agenda. And that's fine. But it's also fine for people like me to point out that we are allocating an outrageously disproportionately amount of attention, money, time, and energy to women's issues.
We spend a lot of time and effort on women's issues because, historically, they have been discriminated against and prevented from holding positions of power, they still make less money for the same work as men, and they are overwhelmingly the victims of domestic violence.
There are very few instances of problems that men face specifically, which women don't (or face at much lower proportion), which are not self-imposed (more men in jails is, overwhelmingly, due to more men being violent criminals). You might argue about the draft or issues of being able to be in combat in the military, and there I agree, that should be equal opportunity. However, there hasn't been a draft in 40 years, so unless something big comes up, that's more of a theoretical issue than a practical one.
No. (?) All adults should have the right to vote.
> Looks to me like in both absolute numbers and percentages, there are more women than men at the "bottom of society".
You're not looking low enough.
Look at the homeless. Look at homicide victims. Look at workplace deaths (including and excluding the military). Look at high-school dropouts. Look at suicide victims. Look at prisons (both violent and non-violent offenses). It's possible that men are biologically predisposed to violence, but they also live in a culture that coddles women to the detriment of men in need.
> We spend a lot of time and effort on women's issues because, historically, they have been discriminated against and prevented from holding positions of power,
Historically, almost everyone has been prevented from holding positions of power. The tiny circle of powerful people in each country had penises, but that doesn't mean the lives other penis owners were cushy.
Historically, men received significantly more severe punishments for the exact same crimes (still the case), women were given priority over men when provisioning protection and aid (still the case), and men were expected and often forced to perform significantly more brutal and dangerous labor on a daily basis (still the case, though to a lesser extent). As a result, men lived significantly shorter lives, even taking deaths from childbirth into account (still the case, though to a lesser extent).
Interestingly, the fact that men live shorter lives doesn't matter to most people. In fact, it's become the expectation: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/04/life-expecta...
Here's a direct quote:
> In the U.S., women live longer—81 years on average, 76 for men—but a recent study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation reveals a troubling trend. Though men's life spans have increased by 4.6 years since 1989, women have gained only 2.7 years
"Surreal" is again the most fitting word.
> they still make less money for the same work as men,
False: http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2013/08/gende... and http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2013/09/11/220748057/why-wome... and http://www.politifact.com/virginia/statements/2013/jul/15/te...
> and they are overwhelmingly the victims of domestic violence.
False, and we've known this for some time: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domestic_violence#Violence_agai...
However, women are overwhelmingly victims of serious injury from domestic violence, as that source does indicate.
Women and men violently attack each other equally; men simply hurt the women more when they do so.
> Please clarify, then, about who exactly is being "silenced"
"Check your privilege!" and "stop mansplaining!" are almost exclusively hurled at men discussing gender, not at women discussing gender, though it is equally applicable to both. Hence my phrase "targeted weapon".
Of course, the notion of "privilege" could be useful. It could be useful to discuss the specific advantages different people have in specific situations, such as female privileges at universities vs male privileges at universities.
Unfortunately, it's almost exclusively employed to bully men into feeling that their objections are automatically invalid and unwelcome unless they conform to specific set of views.
> and what you mean by "silenced" if it doesn't mean that the person is unable to speak publicly about the topic.
Bullying is silencing -- it's one of the reasons that the bullying of the girl in the linked article is a problem.
Bullies don't have to literally sew anyone's mouth shut to dissuade their victims from wanting to speak out again.
Are you claiming that the original authors daughter was imagining her classmates bullying her?
Are you saying that I'm imagining the fact that there are far more men than women in the programming profession?
These aren't "imaginary problems". These are very real problems. Now, there may be some debate about exactly which behavior is problematic; some people have different standards. But you're not going to tell me that bullying someone and telling them to get into the kitchen is not a problem.
> You are making the field off-putting to her, not the evil chauvinist boogeymen she has never seen.
I'm sorry, are you saying that someone who's saying it's bad to push women out of the profession is more off-putting than someone in her class telling her to get into the kitchen and make them a sandwich?
These are not "evil chauvinish boogeymen she has never seen", they are actual bullies in her actual class.
No, I am claiming that the problems the post I replied to was putting forth are imaginary. I am quite aware that bullying is a real problem.
>Are you saying that I'm imagining the fact that there are far more men than women in the programming profession?
No, I am saying that is not an indication of a problem, much less systemic oppression. There is a strong correlation between increased freedom to choose "non-traditional" professions and fewer people choosing them. More women worked "men's jobs" when they were told they were men's jobs than they do now that they are encouraged to seek those jobs.
>But you're not going to tell me that bullying someone and telling them to get into the kitchen is not a problem.
Stop presenting such a ridiculous strawman. You can read the post I replied to. You can see that it is clearly not the article. Your entire response is predicated on ignoring the context of the conversation and repositioning my post as being a response to something completely different.
Anecdotes like the original article, as well as many others that have come before, demonstrate that there is a real problem. There is some seriously problematic behavior out there. Now, how much of the gender disparity in tech is due to these kinds of problems, and how much is due to simple self-selection? That's hard to say; there may be arguments either way. But that doesn't really matter; even if the entire gender disparity can't be explained by odious behavior, at least some of it can, because there are very clearly women who are being off-put by very obnoxious, sexist behavior.
And furthermore, people are offput by defensive behavior, where tons of people come out of the woodwork and deny that there is any problem whatsoever. If you mention that some behavior makes you uncomfortable, and then a lot of people come out saying "there's no problem. It shouldn't make you uncomfortable. You just aren't all that into tech, you don't have thick enough skin" is that going to make you feel welcome and safe?
He's saying that we need to stop being defensive about it, stop trying to deny that problem, and start taking responsibility for hostile and off-putting behavior. Taking responsibility can include not doing it ourselves, and can also include not treating it as if it's acceptable behavior, not turning a blind eye to it, and not denying that that it actually exists.
So by telling him that he was discussing imaginary problems, you were doing exactly that. You were ignoring the actual, real, live example of the problem in the original post, and saying that what he was talking about is imaginary. That's why I brought up the original post; in order to claim that RyanMcGreal's problems were imaginary, you must be claiming that the original post is imaginary.
Now, in other posts, you seem to be trying to make the distinction between bullying and sexism, brushing this off as mere bullying. What you've missed is that it can be both. There is racist bullying. There is homophobic bullying. There is sexist bullying. There is bullying just for the sake of bullying. Just because it's also bullying, doesn't mean that it's not sexist, and part of the pattern of behavior that drives some women from the field.
Taking responsibility does not mean saying "oh, I'm an oppressor, thus I should be ashamed of myself." It means speaking up when you hear someone being harassed, it means stopping bullying that's going on right in your classroom (and being aware enough of your classroom to notice it going on), it means trying to understand why someone's upset or offended and try to think of reasonable, fair ways to fix that, rather than immediately jumping to the conclusion that the problem they are describing is not actually a problem.
> There is a strong correlation between increased freedom to choose "non-traditional" professions and fewer people choosing them. More women worked "men's jobs" when they were told they were men's jobs than they do now that they are encouraged to seek those jobs.
So, where is your evidence to back up this claim? It's a pretty strong claim, so you had better have some pretty good evidence to back it up.
Sure. And that problem is bullying. It has absolutely nothing to do with women in technology. Saying "imaginary problem X is totally real because real problem Y is real" is not logical.
>He's saying that we need to stop being defensive about it, stop trying to deny that problem, and start taking responsibility for hostile and off-putting behavior
And I am saying he is wrong. That's how it works, one person gives their opinion, and another person gives theirs.
>It means speaking up when you hear someone being harassed, it means stopping bullying that's going on right in your classroom
None of which has to do with the nonexistent "technology is full of chauvinists who scare women away" problem.
>So, where is your evidence to back up this claim?
>It's a pretty strong claim, so you had better have some pretty good evidence to back it up.
Why don't you need evidence to back up the claim that women are avoiding certain professions because of sexism?
The problem is not bullying alone, though that is part of the problem. Something can be both bullying and sexism at the same time. Bullies will frequently reach for the strongest ammunition they can get, whether it's racist, sexist, homophobic, or any of a number of other ways to hurt their victims.
Just because it's bullying doesn't mean that it's automatically not sexism as well.
Really? A video series called "BranwashingInNorway" about how there are a few people in Norway who are too politically correct to admit that there are some sex-linked behavioral differences?
Did you have any particular evidence for your actual claim that that once it's no longer taboo women don't want to cross traditional gender lines any more that you wanted me to look at, or am I supposed to trawl through the whole four and a half hours?
How about an actual reliable citation in an academic paper, rather than someone who's just trying to demonstrate that there are a few Norwegian academics who are a little too PC for their own good.
> Why don't you need evidence to back up the claim that women are avoiding certain professions because of sexism?
I do. There is plenty of evidence. For instance, the original post that this whole thread is about, though you choose not to believe it, or somehow are trying to classify it as not sexism. But there's plenty more as well:
This is a woman who was terrorized from showing up at tech conferences due to threats of rape and murder.
Or how about this, a compilation of several sexual harassment issues that explain why Valerie Aurora, a Linux Kernel developer, no longer goes to certain hacker cons:
But OK, maybe you'd rather have statistics than anecdotes. How about this study which shows that women are more likely to leave fields which are more heavily male dominated:
That, of course, doesn't address harassment directly, but the general sense of unease that being in a small minority can give you, which can drive you out of the field.
I'm not claiming that the entire gender disparity in tech is due to harassment, or a poisonous atmosphere, or anything of the sort. What I am claiming is that it happens, it does drive some people out, and it's a bad thing. You seem intent on denying that there's any problem whatsoever.
And half of what I was complaining about was that you linked me to a 4 and a half hour long video series, which from a brief glance at the first video, appeared to be some guy just trying to get some Norwegian academics to claim that both sexes are exactly equal, and then catch them out on that. I had no idea where to look in those videos for evidence of the actual claim that you made, that once a profession is no longer taboo for women to join, they have less desire to do so. Could you please tell me where in those videos to find that evidence? Or, since he doesn't seem to be doing any original research himself, just interviewing academics on a variety of topics, can you point out the research that he summarizes that contains this information?
> When you observe an uneven sex ratio in a particular field, you need to form a hypothesis to explain that ratio, and then test it. You can't just jump to "it is sexism" as a conclusion.
The paper I linked to did test certain hypotheses about why it happened, and one of them that it found evidence for is that the larger ratio of men in the industry leads to more women leaving; which forms a self-perpetuating cycle.
You're right, this doesn't directly address sexism, but it does provide evidence for why there's an uneven ratio, and why it continues to be that way, even if more women enter the profession than before.
> But since you skipped the testing the hypothesis step and went straight to a conclusion, you find this offensive and unimaginable.
But it's not just the uneven ratio that we're concerned about. As I said many times, there may be multiple reasons for it; perhaps harassment is only a small portion of the reason. It is obviously a part of the reason; as I've pointed out, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence for that, of people who have been harassed out of the industry, or out of certain communities within it. But you're right, without a rigorous study, we don't know how much of an effect that is, versus other factors.
The "offensive" part is denying that there is any harassment, and denying that men should try to stop it. There is harassment. There is behavior that makes women feel uncomfortable. Rather than being defensive and claiming that people shouldn't jump to the conclusion that sexism isn't the reason why there are few women in the field, why don't we try to not act sexist, stop sexism when we see it, actively try to eliminate at least that problem? Perhaps it won't lead to a lot more women in the industry, as they are avoiding it for other reasons. That's OK; we're still at least working to fix the sexism problem.
Note that I'm not claiming that all, or even most, men in tech are sexist. I'm not claiming that there is a unique sexism problem in tech. What I'm saying is that there is sexism, that it does hurt real people, and so if you see it, you should do something about it.
Also, feminists need to stop being so fucking transphobic. It's a major issue and it is not being addressed.
Since when it is alright to tell teachers how to do their job in bullet pointed letters?
* Be an adult and talk about any issues, complements or concerns during the class.
* Talk with them in person or on the phone.
* If you wish, post to your blog after the issues have been resolved. To put a global context on the situation should be supported with evidence as it pertains to life as a women in the IT industry.
(See what I'm doing here with the bullet points?)
Parents theses days...
As I'm reading some of the responses to my post, I have to ask, what pillow soft existence did many of you grow up with? Kids (and people) say terrible things. This isn't the sign of a bad teacher, it's an opportunity for this blogger to prepare her kids (Not just the girls) for the real full-contact brutal reality known is the the real working world. Life gets waaaay harder than this.
1. The OP did reach out to the teacher:
> I suggested that she talk to you. I offered to talk to you. I offered to come talk to the class. I offered to send one of my male friends, perhaps a well-known local programmer, to go talk to the class. Finally, my daughter decided to plow through, finish the class, and avoid all her classmates. I hate to think what less-confident girls would have done in the same situation.
2. Well, the issues were, in one way, "resolved" because the daughter passed the class (with an 'A') despite her apparent unhappiness. If you mean that the parent should wait till the issues are actually fixed before blogging...well, if the teacher doesn't respond, then I guess the parent should not blog at all?
edit: My bad, the sentence in context would indicate that OP offered to go talk to the teacher, but the daughter declined. Whether or not the OP should've gone ahead and met the teacher is a whole other issue.
The school has failed because the daughter no longer wishes to put up with the bullying that comes with learning programming (at this particular school).
Seems like a failing of the school that should be addressed.
Because it seems to me one of the primary functions of a parent, right alongside teaching them to make it in the world.
After entering, we saw there was just one single open table, so we went and put our jackets down on it and then got into line. After getting our ice cream we went back to the table only to find our jackets gone and some fat people sitting there, eating ice cream with their fat kids.
When I asked where our jackets were, a man, presumably the father of the obese family, told us that there were "some jackets" on the table but that they had the security guard come and clear them. As we went to find our coats, he informed us that "putting your jacket on the table doesn't count" for reserving a table.
In reading your post I am reminded of the certitude with which this large, stupid man asserted the correctness of an arbitrary and stupid set of rules, completely of his own making.
> When I asked where our jackets were, a man, presumably the father of the obese family, told us that there were "some jackets" on the table but that they had the security guard come and clear them.
Is it just me, or is this comment really absurd, off-topic, and offensive?
First, why would you leave your jackets on a table out of your sight? The whole "put your jacket on a table to reserve it" thing is somewhat socially acceptable (though irritating), but it usually also involves keeping an eye on your jacket. You're lucky it wasn't on the floor or taken by someone other than the security guard when you got back.
But the larger issue I have with your comment is your reference to the size of the people who you're still mad at for taking "your" table. What does their obesity have to do with your story? In response to an article about discrimination, it almost seems like you must be trolling. Seriously, you could just substitute "slanteyes" or "niggers" and the substance of the story would not be at all changed. It read exactly that way to me.
Normally I'd just move on and assume others were offended as well, but this is somehow the highest voted reply...
And this reply is the highest voted reply to the offending reply, including mine.
Just throwing this on the table...
B) But, the reason he gave was that it was against "the rules" -- that's the point: no, it's not. It's rude and inconvenient, maybe. It's not an abrogation of a code that everyone knows. It's an unwritten agreement, at best.
That's not how I see it at all. He informed you that there was not a jacket rule. He did not in fact make up any rules or tell you anything about said rules or in fact acknowledge that there are table-reserving rules. I don't understand where you're coming from.
I'm not saying what I did was right or defensible -- in fact in the comment you're replying to I said that I agreed that I was wrong. And in a reply to a sibling comment I apologized for thoughtlessly slamming obese people.
I wrote about a time I was a jerk and put my name next to it. You ran to your throwaway account so you could show that you're effectively illiterate.
It began a discussion so that was a bonus: human interaction. I learned that I was wrong as other people made good counterpoints. So what's the problem? That I wasn't the all-knowing master of the universe at the time I posted?
Of the critics, some simply don't understand the point of the story even though it's spelled out clearly at the end. Some people have taken exception to the fat language, which I understand. I am not particularly sympathetic to them but I do admit that it was insensitive of their feelings and have apologized.
What should I be expecting here? Petals in the street?
Everyone on this site can upvote, but not everyone can downvote, so this is not necessarily true.
Oh, also, you're an ass.
(sorry, pet hate...)
But try and evict bodies from their seats for the sole reason that their ice cream isn't in their hands yet and you would look crazy.
Take a table when you need one in a fast food place, not as you're joining the queue. Reserving tables before you have food makes it less likely that people with food can get a table.
And it's not like I dedicate hours to being annoyed at it, or think it's a really big deal. I'm rarely in fast food joints anyway.
It sounds to me that the kind man even let the security personnel know of a possibly lost and found articles of your belongings. I'm not going to bat you further on blatant bullying on the man's physiques, as many other have pointed it already.
Your rules are just as arbitrary and inconsiderate. Let the people who got their first and need to eat their food sit first, there is no point in having an empty table go to waste while you wait in line.
P. S. He was right. No way that shit counts.
Of course, if I had a parent suggest I needed to talk to a student and/or them about a classroom issue (the post was pretty explicit about it), I'd start there instead of waiting until the end of the semester and thereby provoking them into writing a bullet-pointed letter.
Even if you think the parent is overstepping their bounds here, I would rather a parent be too concerned as oppose to not being concerned at all. Double so that he is in the tech sector while we are facing the huge gender issue. If the teacher is not doing their job stopping the harassment and thereby enforcing the stereotype, then perhaps is should be spelled out.
Just curious, where's the line on this? Like, what things is she allowed to attempt to draw public attention to, and what things should she just counsel her daughter to learn to live with, and accept as a part of life?
How should a person know what sorts of circumstances belong on which side of that line? Are these written in a book somewhere that I missed?
If, however, you are male and you are feeling belittled or harassed, we're pretty interested in having a serious discussion about your experience. We may not agree with you and we may tell you that we don't think you should feel that way at all, but we won't tell you not to have the discussion.
If you're a woman, though? You're not allowed to have that discussion. Leave it to the menfolk.
Does that clear it up for you?
Sexist remarks are also punished in the workplace.
It is not "preparing kids for the real world" so much as it is "failing to respond to a situation in which a child is bullied."
I can't really speak to efficacy, but a formal accusation of bullying is a big deal these days.
Let's put it this way, I am not Dad yet, but when I am, my daughter or son will not be bullied in school because:
1. They would know how to deal with bullies.
2. And if they ever have problems dealing with it on their own, I am going to help them by doing something more then writing a letter on a tech blog.
And no matter what time of day or night it is, I would make sure that my children know they can CALL me any time they need to.
If modern society has taught men anything, it is never relevant.
In my experience, life gets much better after the end of high school, because in my experience, adults don't bully adults . And if you are bullied, you can generally leave.
 except the TSA, NSA, IRS, CIA, etc., but that's a different issue
In my experience, life does get better but also one's ability to handle bullying gets better which leads to less bullying.
Over time, "The World" CAN be improved, and the people who inhabit it can be better to each other than they were before. It'll only change if we get youth to change, though, and teachers allowing the status quo to continue unquestioned is not the way to make sure that things are better in the future.
My only complaint about the article is that it did not name the teacher or the school. Public shaming can work wonders.
As it is, in a world of 30-40 (and climbing) students per classroom and 5+ classes a day, a teacher who tried to one-on-one mentor every student they came across would be fired. They wouldn't have the time to actually teach the curriculum of the class, and would quickly find themselves out of a job.
Let's not blame and shame this teacher - that's the equivalent of blaming a brick that falls off the roof of a shoddily-constructed building for killing a bystander. Instead of blaming the contractors who built the roof, let's put the brick on trial.
Kids are really good at hiding what they're doing, especially in high school. It's easy enough to not get caught by a distracted teacher that has 20 or 30 other students to assist. If this was happening in the open and the teacher was aware of it then there's an issue, it's very possible that's not the case. Unfortunately I saw the behavior described in this article in a number of classes during my own time in high school and none of them were CS classes. There are people that will be cruel regardless of the context.
There is simply no curriculum, there are no standards and no requirements, and if we are honest, the level of computing in most schools and even businesses are a very far cry from the high-tech filter bubble we surround ourselves in.
All the joy of programming was quickly sucked out as we had to meticulously document our code. Sub routines needed 2-3 paragraph plain-English explanations of what they were doing. Each variable's purpose needed to be stated. And before you could write a single line of code, you first had to write it out in a form of "pseudo code" which had its own syntax rules that we had to follow. Lots of emphasis was placed on the process of what we should be doing instead of the how and why. Students struggled.
I understand what he was trying to do: having us write everything out gave him a window into how our minds were breaking down the problem. But in the process, he turned what should have been a fun, exploratory class into a grind.
The notion that programming could be a fun activity, and not just mindless, process-driven office work was completely foreign to him, and I suspect the same is true for many teachers who are stuck teaching Programming classes in both public and private schools.
And on the issue of gender, my class had 25 students, 11 of whom were girls. I remember being amazed at how a programming class could have a 50/50 ratio. I didn't notice anyone being bullied or teased. I imagine once women reach "critical mass" women won't be singled-out to the same degree. A few bad apples or even a sexist teacher can't "single out" 44% of their class. Why were there so girls enrolled? I don't know, but the class did have a reputation for being an easy A, so perhaps it was viewed as less intimidating.
Almost by definition of being on this website, all of us are well advanced of our pre-college computer science teachers. My first was actually a chemistry teacher. My second was biology. One had me doing tech support in junior high. It wasn't until the AP class that I found one who could teach me. But teachers using outdated technology isn't the issue.
The real issue of the article (and complaining about Visual Basic detracts from it) is a teacher who sets up an environment that tolerates harassment and bullying. It doesn't matter the discipline, the teacher failed all the students. The teacher failed the girl who dropped out of programming, and the teacher failed the bullies, by not pointing out that this behavior is wrong.
You are being unfair. Children while growing up can be cruel. Bullying and harassment isn't a new phenomenon. May be the teacher could have done more, but "who sets up an environment that tolerates harassment" is a bit far fetched.
programmers also have job security of knowing they are basically always employable right now unless completely hopeless. and programmers have ethical responsibilities which are frequently ignored too.
She also demanded that every line be commented, however would only take a small percentage away (I think 5 or so), if one or all comments were missing. As I couldn't bring myself to comment everything, I would just use inline asm, which pascal supported at the time, with absolutely no comments. Since the rest of the grade relied on the program functioning, I did well. I thought it was cool at the time. Now I realize I didn't make her life easy, and probably should have.
The course most likely used VB because that is what the district mandated.
I suspect, like in the real world, programming ability still sometimes counts more than credentials. Pity that unlike my teacher he wasn't so good at the teaching part of it.
Another epic HN failure was confusing an obviously single word substitution issue like using the word wife instead of spouse as if it changes anything in the discussion other than the political correctness level, with actual intentional hate speech. You have to prioritize your problems and this is like "cut yourself shaving and also have a broken leg" one should be prioritized above the other.
Something never discussed about sexism in tech, at least on HN, is its an almost purely coastie "brogrammer" phenomena. I am not part of the apparently locally dominant dirtbag coastie culture, so I literally do not understand how it perpetuates itself. To explain myself, locally, behavior that is rewarded tends to be repeated and behavior that is punished tends to be suppressed, and simultaneously a highly effective way for a guy to make sure all females will never be in contact with any of his precious bodily fluids is to go all "make me a sandwich" on any other female. Even a false accusation is fairly effective at enforcing celibacy. So I'm fairly mystified why this problem perpetuates. Like are all men on the coasts 40 year old virgins or gay, so they don't care about lack of "fun time" with women, or perhaps the women on the coasts refuse to stand up for each other and this is the inevitable result, or maybe secretly most women really love that kind of treatment and its only a small vocal minority who complain (although I find this last theory unlikely)
The only real problem seems to be the lack of tech jobs in the midwest. Tech women, if you want to be treated with respect as human beings by professional gentlemen, move to where the gentlemen are if you want things to change. I'm off the market, but speaking for the local single gentlemen, I'm sure they'd greatly enjoy your presence here, unless you really secretly like how the brogrammers are treating you...
And, yeah, the concept of a gentleman was, and I think still is, very much in play. However much feminists complain about it, it sure seems to result in women getting treated a whole lot better. And at least where I came from, there was enough Midwestern and Western pragmatism that female ability in things you might typically think as male was not such a big thing, or threatening. E.g by some distance the best shot on my high school rifle team was a girl, an old friend from kindergarten. The rest of us were boys, and her example (not to mention help) pushed us to strive harder vs. tear her down. Maybe it was in part the genre (yeah, right, harasses the school's best shot???), but I read all this high school harassment stuff of the demean the woman type and wonder if it swept the nation later, or is in part a regional phenomena.
Given that, I would not be entirely surprised if the root cause of some anti-woman brogrammer behavior could be statistically highly correlated with one anatomical part being unusually small. Aka if the girls are going to laugh at him anyway, may as well pre-emptively strike against them first, not much to lose. Although why this behavior is seen more on the coasts than the midwest and the other civilized areas, is still unclear under this theory. We may simply grow 'em larger here thus less root cause for the anti-social behavior. I do not have enough observational data, and frankly I've gathered it all inadvertently rather than intentionally. A suitably geo-located chatroulette image analysis program might help. Although a theory that seems to "explain it all" is highly appealing, it none the less may or may not be proven out by actual statistical research. I would assume some sociologist with a ruler could probably figure it out for us, along with a questionnaire about brogrammers opinions about their physical self image (in other words they may not actually be shrunken mutants, but inaccurately think they are...). I don't think population migration necessarily disproves this theory; consider if hormone contamination in the water causes shrinkage or perhaps some other environmental toxins; the coasts certainly have plenty of environmental toxins compared to other areas.
Initially my response was much longer and included a discussion about female-female partnerships. In the end I cut it right back, because as far as I know "wife" is always a term used for a spouse who identifies as female.
You're part of the problem.
First of all, you need to go do some remedial math. The percentage of DWTS watchers who are women is no predictor of what women do. This fallacy is called confusion of the inverse, and it's a probabilistic variant of the better-known converse error.
Second, even if 99% of women were to be DWTS fans, it has no bearing on anigbrowl's comment. The reason that "while your wife watches DWTS" is part of the problem (as anigbrowl identified) is that it implies that (watching DWTS) is to women as (checking out 1130 sims) is to men. It implies that in situations where men do interesting tech things, women watch TV (I assume "DWTS" is some kind of TV?). It's basically a put-down against women collectively. Note that if someone were to be putting down humanity collectively, I wouldn't complain.
Third, "politically correct" is a label principally used by reactionary dullards to dismiss arguments or objections that they see as excessively leftist. It's equivalent to calling someone a commie. Mind you, some people are communists, some people are knee-jerk excessive leftists, etc... but if that's true in a particular situation, you can just explain why it's true. Calling it "political correctness" is just a lowbrow dismissal.
That's a lot of incorrectness for one 20-word sentence.
Second, setting aside households with two TV's, only one spouse can enjoy passive entertainment at a time. Presumably while we watch football, women can do something fascinating and productive.
Third, political correctness is a phenomenon of white liberal prigs who go out of their way to take offense because they have nothing useful or productive to contribute to the public discourse. Of course they would react unkindly to being called out on it but I would advise you not to take their defensive lashing out at face value.
In response to the second, I don't understand your point at all. Help me out here?
As to the third, I agree that there certainly exist some fools, most of them white and liberal (and maybe prigs?), who have a mental pattern wherein they make knee-jerk complaints about certain behaviour being offensive, without having a well-considered ethical system that justifies this complaint, instead using these complaints to signal their belonging to a certain social clique. If that's what you mean by political correctness, I agree that it exists, and is odious. Whether or not such fools object to your remarks should be entirely beneath you, however. So raising the potential political incorrectness of your remark appears, to me, to be saying "I'm going to use this straw-man argument to attack those who disagree with me". And this is why I brought up the fact that it's a lowbrow dismissal, and suggested that on those rare occasions when the label does fit, you can instead construct an independent explanation of what's wrong with the political correctness.
Second point was pretty easy to understand - if a household has 2 adults and 1 TV, only one Adult at a time can watch their preferred TV shows. If there is a second TV, possibly more, the Adults stand a fair chance that they will be able to watch their shows.
Okay, fair enough, understood, and I'll direct my response to my disagreement about the math of it.
Why would it matter that 2/3 of DWTS viewers are female? Suppose that I publish a fanzine called "jh's dumb stuff", for which 100% of the readers are female (that's right, my mom is the only reader). Would it make sense to say "you can look at this awesome thing while your wife reads 'jh's dumb stuff'"? No.
The relevance, here, is that original oafish-seeming comment was "while your wife watches DWTS", which appears to imply that it's typical for wives to do that. And, based on the stats I could find, it is NOT typical for wives to do that. Over 90% of American women do not watch the show, right?
Mathematically, the fact that 2/3 of DWTS viewers are female is just not relevant.
Also, I didn't call you a reactionary dullard. I see that your literacy is as poor as your numeracy. What I said was that such was the principle use of referencing political correctness, and advised that you could do better yourself. If I was sure, at that time, that you were a dullard, I wouldn't have bothered getting into it.
So it wasn't, at that time, a lowbrow dismissal. By now, you're getting a dismissal. I guess that the collective audience can judge for themselves whether it's lowbrow or not.
I didn't say that you did.
Indeed so, but it doesn't follow that they are watching it instead of writing code, which implication was what I objected to in the first place; although it wasn't malicious, it was a lazy piece of stereotyping that I didn't feel was appropriate in the context of a discussion about sexist stereotyping.
Second, setting aside households with two TV's, only one spouse can enjoy passive entertainment at a time.
Third, political correctness is a phenomenon of white liberal prigs who go out of their way to take offense because they have nothing useful or productive to contribute to the public discourse.
Oh noes, you have outed me! I shrivel up in the face of your freethinking ways. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_correctness
I happen to enjoy watching the same shows and movies my wife watches on TV, and I somehow assumed it was true of the majority of couples.
If you've defined it that way, of course that'll be how you see it and nobody will shake your conviction. This makes conversations with you on the topic as dull as someone who doesn't grasp enough statistics to understand trivial errors, but so be it.
The rest of the world has a more nuanced take on it, which begins with the idea that being rude to people who lack relative power in a given situation is still morally wrong and tactically quite stupid.
(Actually I don't know hga's gender, but wow - I have never seen an example of gender stereotyping as explicit as that on HN, and in a discussion about sexism in programming too. I'm really hoping your comment was supposed to be ironic)
I can't remember if there were any women in that high school class, but there were in the summer programs I took after it, and as far as I can remember they didn't get treated any differently than the men. Of course, back then, computers, especially serious ones, were scarce and getting lots of time on them wasn't trivial. I also wasn't the sort of person who would put up with harassment or bullying in my presence, nor were the instructors, but as I recall it was never a problem (all the local stuff was in the cultural South...).
Long before the zero-tolerance bullshit, so my entirely serious threats of disproportionate including sometimes lethal force were taken as "don't do that crazy thing" vs. I was the problem for objecting. E.g. after the incident that went the furthest, to my drawing live steel in college, a counselor did pull me aside to make sure I wasn't the type to do that except when needed to prevent a felony. I gather a very different time, no cell phones and therefore no helicopter parenting, unsupervised play outdoors with a very few rules, the high school rifle teams used .22LR firearms instead of air guns, etc. etc. etc.
This was all new, neat stuff and perhaps we were having too much fun exploring and learning it, and helping each other (I did a lot of the latter, including joining the college computer "club" for which that was our mission). There was no doubt serious self-selection, including it being long before to the "do this for lots of money" concept and the pathologies that brings. And it sure sounds like my college bound peers and I were a lot more polite that the sort of things I'm hearing from more recently (I don't think "make me a sandwich" was even in the lexicon, one source I just found dates it from nearly two decades later). It was certainly a while before serious pushback to feminism inevitably developed in the communities I was in, the ethos was "women are good", not yet "and men are bad".
does gender stereotyping manifests an intellectual failure on the part of the one expressing the stereotypes? If yes, does such intellectual failure is localized, say to the area of percepting and understanding gender relations in the industry, or is it a system-wide failure of the intellect of the stereotyping (i.e. something like a habit/instinct of using stereotypes)?
It also wasn't really a CS class. It was more like a clumsy introduction to computer programming. The class never intended to cover data structures or algorithms.
I'm not crying over teacher pay. That they don't get paid enough is propaganda from the teachers unions. Yes I realize that teachers work after hours grading papers, etc. However programmers often work late into the night as well without extra money too. Programmers often spend their own money (along with teachers) on extra software, tools and other things to help them do their job better without necessarily getting a reimbursement.
I'd rather be crying over administrators that continually make unenlughtened decisions about curriculum, methodology and creativity.
Including grading papers and planning lessons I was putting in 10 hours a day.
Add I had a second job at the mall movie theater to make up the difference between by income and my bills, so I worked 8+ hours on Saturday and Sunday as well.
You know what I did on my school vacations and personal days? I worked extra hours at the movie theater (the extra money almost always went to fixing my broken used car)
I make more money now than I would have made teaching with 20 years experience and a PhD (which I would have had to pay for myself) and my job now is far less difficult that the easiest day of teaching. And I can pay my bills without working on the weekends.
My girlfriend is a second year high school teacher. You are technically right that she is required to be on campus for the required 7 or 8 hours. But, there is nowhere near enough time to grade, plan, prepare, work individually with kids (makeup work mostly), etc, in that time. She puts in 12+ hour days. Everyday. Including weekends.
And over the summer, you are right that it is mostly free, except for several weeks you give up to do professional development, AP course training, and any schoolwork to move up the salary schedule a bit.
Her salary schedules are here . With a masters degree, she would top out at $58k/year after 20 years on the job (assuming the masters track). Starting salaries are in the $35k range.
Meanwhile, I am a computer programmer, working a legit 8 hour a day job, making much more than she is now.
What annoys me more than just teacher pay though is the other spending in the school. She was pulled in to teach english this year. When the english department met to work out the plan, they had to blow their whole budget for the year on a single class-set of a paperback. (30ish copies). That's it. No more books, no miscellaneous DVDs / Documentaries purchased. That's it. Well, except for when she just goes and pays for it. Which she did last year to the tune of $350ish.
So the curriculum was the best reason I could figure why this is on USENIX.
(I certainly don't want to excuse the shortcomings of this particular teacher, and there are many, but I think the system is setup for failure)
I suggest everyone to check it out - if you're near a local school you can actually teach a class in person.
Also - if you have any questions feel free to email me - username @ gmail
Good on you.
At one point we were asked, politely, to stop crashing the county's mainframe (which was the platform we were using). So we stopped.
Girls? I don't recall girls. They must have been there; I don't think we noticed. We certainly didn't harass them, and we probably tried to help them. We were geeks and tools and had no idea how to interact with 'em, for the most part.
The OP's story saddens me.
That's how it was at my high school. It was the network/IT guy that taught the class. He was really cool and a pretty damn good teacher, but I don't know if he'd be able to spot harassment like this or do anything about it. We didn't have any girls in our class anyway, so I guess my anecdote can't add anything to that.
Edit: Actually reading the other comments by the parent shows me that you interpreted it correctly. Still I think what I said has some merit to it.
Thankfully I had already taught myself one programming language so I was able to pick up another without much difficulty.
Was it always like this and I just need to "check my privilege" as a dude or has the 4chanification of geek culture invaded real life?
And as for the VB, VB.Net is actually an okay language if you expose them to modern features. I mean, the boolean algebra syntax is weird, as are the array sizing, and the "Dim" keyword is just dumb... but other than those legacy issues the rest of the language is just "C# with words and a smaller community". Not great, but not that bad - there's modern closures/lambdas and full OOP and generics and all that great stuff.
While recognizing it means it seems like a new problem, it actually improves the situation because people will be less likely to engage in such behaviors if they don't think of it as harmless fun.
The worst thing about harassment culture (even when it's largely good-natured) is that it creates and reinforces a power dynamic and subtle "law of the jungle" status hierarchy where the most inappropriate, brazen harasser becomes the dominant figure.
In my opinion, this is particularly dangerous in the way that it obstructs critical thought and group problem solving. Not necessarily relevant to high school but highly important if a team of coworkers evolve toward such a culture.
Even if you exerted enough political pressure to suppress _this_ stuff, it would still be a bad and poorly taught class. Fix the quality of the teaching and you fix a lot more besides.
Two, yeah, I went to public school. I've seen all sorts of well meaning "policy announcements" that hack solutions to glaring embarrassments without doing anything about the underlying problems.
That being said, your general point is good -- absolutist policies like zero-tolerance rarely work well, simply because human behavior is complicated and difficult for the policy maker to predict in advance.
That said, this teaches does need to be reprimanded at very least for laziness and not paying attention to what was going on in his class and possibly for creating the environment where it was allowed as well.
When I was teaching class, I had to contend with numerous learning obstacles and then had to leave after class for my other full-time programming job. The idea that I could preempt kids from saying a comment is something only a parent could believe. In the minds of high school students, policies were made to be tested.
The OP further wants to make young women into white elephants by reminding them how rare they are on the first day of class. I had a far more interesting and engaging introduction to algorithms on the first day of my class using paper airplane folding instructions as an example of how literally computers interpreted your instructions. The students loved it.
The one salient point of the piece was the fact the teacher did not respond properly after the harassment occurred. We can all agree on that.
This is the key. People don't expect teachers to control what comes out of the mouths of their students. They can't stop the initial bullying from happening. What teachers can do is react once it happens.
Edited to remove: "It sounds like the OP went out of her way to help the teacher turn this into a "teaching moment". The teacher refused to go along." as this was based on my misreading the OP's "I consulted with friends — female developers — and talked to my daughter about how to handle the situation in class. I suggested that she talk to you. I offered to talk to you. I offered to come talk to the class. I offered to send one of my male friends, perhaps a well-known local programmer, to go talk to the class."
I consulted with friends — female developers — and talked to my daughter about how to handle the situation in class. I suggested that she talk to you. I offered to talk to you. I offered to come talk to the class. I offered to send one of my male friends, perhaps a well-known local programmer, to go talk to the class.
I agree with that if it is true, but the email is so sparse in details about the events so we have no idea if the teacher even was present when this happened.
I certainly dealt with having a student whose father had died that semester and his mother expected me to simply already know about the death and what he was dealing with and to warn her before his grades slipped. Sometimes parents expect teachers to have ESP. I don't blame parents for a reasonable emotional state.
The author's qualifications in teaching appears to be zero, and her qualifications in programming seem to be that she is a tech journalist and author of a work of fiction. Why should the teacher have any notice of her?
The extent of the problem is that some people said things like "go make me a sammich" etc to her daughter. I would suggest that this is actually not a huge problem. I recall my days in high school, when I was beaten up on a regular basis for the sin of being good at Math and Science. I mean hard punches to the head and body, possessions destroyed, etc. I spite of my complaints to parents and teachers alike, nothing was done until I managed to create some bad publicity for the school. But it seems it only hatters if it happens to a girl (TM).
Bear in mind also that the salary of the teacher is probably around 60% of the salary that a production programmer can earn. So unless the teacher is a very idealistic soul, it is likely the teacher is struggling and knows little about programming. Which makes the teacher's job all the more difficult.
Finally, there is no proof any of this actually happened. Given past feminist false claims, it is quite on the cards that it didn't happen or is exaggerated... particularly given the acknowledgement that she did nothing about the problem when it counted.
Actually I suspect the daughter did not want to do the course, was pressured into it by her mother and pickup on on this minor incident as an excuse to stop the course.
But such speculation is not valuable unless there is evidence to support it.
"Finally, there is no proof any of this actually happened. Given past feminist false claims, it is quite on the cards that it didn't happen or is exaggerated... particularly given the acknowledgement that she did nothing about the problem when it counted."
I truly feel for your experience, but it's sad that you can't empathize with analogous situations other people are going through. Creating bad publicity to draw attention to the situation is exactly what this mother is doing, since nothing was done about it going through private channels.
1. the daughter had hidden her saddness really really well when she was in her classroom (she still get A, ask why? she probably did all her homework and got 100s on her tests)
2. the daughter did show her sad face but the teacher did not catch it.
OP doesn't even address all these problems. She didn't talk to the teacher. So maybe we should just say both have problem. If #1 was true, then the mother is the real blame here. She takes the full blame.
A couple of takeaways:
1. The fact that the OP's daughter signed up for programming class because she wanted to impress her parent is truly a parenting win. Not just for programming, but anything, at that age.
2. I consider myself pretty open minded about gender diversity...but as I was reading the OP's post, I completely assumed it was written by a programmer-father, until I got to the part where the OP describes being harassed. Still, the mental stereotype was so strong that when writing this comment, I kept having to not refer to the OP as the father of the daughter. The trolling that the OP describes is troubling. But it's easy to be angry at the trolling, and raise awareness about it. Unfortunately, I think women in tech still have the much more difficult task of fighting pervasive, subconscious stereotyping and assumptions in the industry.
Visual Basic gets shit on a lot by people, and perhaps justifiably in the business world - but in the teaching world (especially when you're teaching people who are ignorant of and generally apathetic to the subject matter), there are few languages that compare to it favorably.
Is there a modern (or better suited for introductory courses) language that has the kind of curriculums built around it that VB and Java do?
I never took programming in high school, so maybe I'm setting my sights low...but even with a well developed curriculum, it's hard to imagine that the class gets very far.
But I think the big win with JS is opportunity. Whatever crappy program they might come up with, they can immediately show it to their classmates and also to any friends or family with a simple link...it's not quite as easy to distribute a VB or other compiled executable. This kind of sharing makes programming...I would think...much more dynamic and lively.
And in addition to that, they get some web development experience...which is handy now and likely to be useful in 5 years. Whereas with VB, and most other programming languages...it's possible to learn them without gaining any hands-on experience with the Web.
The questions/problems that the exam board sets (considering the number of hours the students get to solve them in) are really suited to VB, or another Visual based language. What I'm trying to say is that the language chosen also has to fit the requirements of the exam board, as the students, school and myself are all judged by our results (GCSE grade etc).
Edited: changed wording for clarity
Schools are often behind with this sort of technology, so depending on the development environment available, isn't one language as good as the next to explain concepts like assignment, boolean operations and program flow? (My high school computer classes were BASIC on a Burroughs B3300 mainframe and my first COMP SCI class at college was Fortran on an IBM s360 mainframe, so maybe I haven't got a clue!)
When I was a youngster, I thought the copy of VB 5 my dad got me was the coolest thing ever, because being able to create "real" computer programs like the ones I used every day was super-awesome-sweet. Today, kids are much more likely to interact with mobile apps and web sites. So teaching them to make those things is more likely to be exciting, the way Windows GUI apps were for me in the 90s.
Why? Well, we don't have to pay to install it, our technicians are happy to install it, the GUI design stuff is easy for students to use, I think it is easy to learn quickly and most importantly it allows our students to get high marks easily. Also I'm the only person in my school who can program - others will have to pick it up as the number of classes increases - again VB is easy for a novice to learn.
The exam board dictates what programing assessment is to be done and the amount of time it is to be done in. As much as I'd be happy to teach another language VB is the best fit in this case.
" Sadly, you only get one chance to make a first impression, and you, sir, created a horrible one for girls in computer programming. "
No, he didn't. Not by any reasonable definition of "horrible". Nor is it his responsibility to create any particular impression for any particular race, gender, or religion. Your own pet issue is not his concern.
While on the topic of things horrible, that seven point list is horribly patronizing.
Complete with little insulting gems like this:
"Good grief, man — how were you even able to make programming boring?".
So glad I'm not a teacher. Must be excruciating at times dealing with the entitled, self obsessed parents, let alone the students.
If a child is bullied in PE to where every day he just tries to curl in a corner and try not be noticed not only does he not get anything out of the class it can alter the childs desire of becoming an active participant in sports. I think you can draw a lot of correlations between that and this.
If we want to avoid and undo segregation between the sexes in our field having them attacked for it at a young age and have the idea indoctrinated in them that computer science is not for them is something that needs to be prevented. The only people really with the ability to do so in this scenario is the teacher and parents of the other children. The teacher is the single =individual= with the most ability to affect the lives of the children and although he shouldn't be held accountable he should try to be more attentive to prevent the bullying or at least try to make the class more engaging and fun.
She was pretty patronizing and mean, but I associate that with her frustration and anger with her lack of control. In her shoes I would probably do the same.
In fact, the teacher was probably right to not intervene. For two reasons:
1) Regardless of your gender, being the person who caused adult intervention isn't likely to win you respect in high school. If he had intervened, she would likely have been further ostracized.
2) Growing up is about learning to interact with people. A big part of this is categorizing what matters and what does. If I made a fuss every time someone made a slightly off-color joke about my religion (I'm Jewish) I'd have both no friends and no job.
I don't really know what the right path is for her, but I hope whichever one she chooses brings her happiness. And I really hope in the not-too-distant future girls won't have to make this trade-off between programming and feeling respected.
Many of people have already commented on this, but from my understanding, this parent did NOTHING and it going a passive-aggressive route to complain. Going into the article, I was excited to read it initially because I was going to use it in a discussion piece in the class. When I got to the end... not so much.
Does IT attract socially inept male students who resort to real-life trolling? Yes. Quite honestly, it is my opinion THIS is the reason why we have so few women in the industry. Tons of guys get interested via video games, well what happens when a female gamer 'slips up' and reveals she's not a male? Creepy PMs and sexism.
People want to dance around the issue and say its from few role models and the like; no, spend 5 minutes acting like a female online (however you'd do it), you'll see it immediately. My Steam tag is an old MacHall webcomic joke ('Susan'). If I don't have my mic on and just do basic banter in chat, yes I get the occasional guy getting too friendly.
Getting back to the article, not to defend the instructor, but they saw the female was (at one point) positively responding to the jokes. Should something have been done? Depends on the class dynamic, in my opinion. I can't accurately tell how the class ran based on this blog (as it is a biased one side to the story).
Without getting into anymore of a rant, VB isn't bad, per say... it teaches variables, loops, and conditionals, the basics of any intro class. I'd only have a problem with this if it was a high-level college course.
Did we read the same article?
>I consulted with friends — female developers — and talked to my daughter about how to handle the situation in class. I suggested that she talk to you. I offered to talk to you. I offered to come talk to the class. I offered to send one of my male friends, perhaps a well-known local programmer, to go talk to the class.
Unless I'm misunderstanding, the author claims to have spoken to the teacher and offer solutions... then writes a letter clearly outlining more solutions.
>Without getting into anymore of a rant, VB isn't bad, per say... it teaches variables, loops, and conditionals, the basics of any intro class. I'd only have a problem with this if it was a high-level college course.
Going to have to agree with you here. I think the teacher is going to have a much better impact than the language involved. For example, a friend and classmate took a Java course during high school. The teacher did nothing but force them to copy programs out of the book. I took a VB course and learned quite a bit. By the end of the class, I was writing games in my down time (pong, asteroids, a raycasting engine, etc.)
The author spoke with her daughter about things she could do: talk to the class, have a friend talk to the class, etc and the daughter decided that she would rather "plow through" than have her mom come to her high school and talk to her class.
Outright misogyny is a whole other kettle of fish.
In IT, can teachers help quell the behavior? Yes, but we can't be the sole guardians when the rest of the internet is still behaving that way.
How do you change that? I don't know, I just do the best I can.
I have a baby daughter my self and can imagine the feelings if I heard she got harassed by her schoolmates, but then I would write a letter that focuses on THAT problem and not criticizing irrelevant points like the teacher's choice of programming language and overall teaching methods.
Also, if the girl truly has an interest in programming than years of encouragement is not even necessary, she will naturally be attracted by it and there is no parent who can stop her from it.
The classroom culture is the teacher's responsibility. If a student is being harassed and has a hostile environment in this classroom, the teacher has failed in a serious way. Doubly-so when the harassment is driven by bigotry.
"Visual Basic? Seriously?? Yes, I know I said I'm not writing to complain about your choice of programming languages, even though I'm still scratching my head on this one"
That only moves the focus from the real problem and creates a dispute that is not even relevant and necessary.
> During the first semester of my daughter's junior/senior year, she took her first programming class. She knew I'd be thrilled, but she did it anyway.
Edit: before anyone harangues me, I don't mean to take away from the shitty circumstances surrounding the core message in the post, just got a chuckle out of the subtle dad/daughter humor inserted.
Not to be a dick, but you may be guilty of a little benign sexism yourself there... the author is a woman.
Not to be a dick, but doesn't saying Not to be a dick mean you're being a dick but saying it's okay?
: Shlomo Argamon, Moshe Koppel, Jonathan Fine, and Anat Rachel Shimoni: Gender, Genre, and Writing Style in Formal Written Texts
Willing to agree with you that the gender of the author having a greater impact, either way, is probably wrong.
When I was in college and a class that I wanted to take kept getting cancelled due to low enrollment, I went out recruited students for the class.
Did daughter report the bullying? Did the author report the bullying? Teachers and school admins are not mind readers and not tagging along with all students all the time.
The whole article displays nothing but the arrogance and superior ego of the author. If you have a problem, get off your butt and do something instead of whining.
By not stopping the shitty, dumb sexism dead in its tracks, the teacher also did a huge disservice to the boys in the class.
They've now had a chance to learn that treating women in CS this way is okay. I hope that in the <5 years it takes them to get to the professional world, they have realized how damaging they were. More importantly, I hope the author's daughter finds the personal strength to pursue CS.
I had a friend who was bullied due to his clothing. He reported the bullies and they got suspended. Later they comeback to the school in an attempt for revenge. Fortunately a teacher witnessed the assault and they were later charged for their crimes.
Also, you can't expect high school teachers to know any other languages than BASIC. It's high school, you don't become a programmer there anyway. Either you are self-taught or you seek higher education. I got many friends who have taken programming classes in high school and in all cases the teacher wasn’t even a programmer but solely followed a book written for high schools.
Maybe it is just me, but this part came off as particularly sexist. Is the author claiming that women respond worse to negative social pressure then men?
Seems like people generally are agreeing with my interpretation. I am rewriting my comment.
First, it seems to me that she simply told her daughters what she could do. When her daughter said no the mother just left it to her daughter to deal with. After the semester is over, she's publicly denouncing the teacher.
So this is a little bit wrong because she could correct the issue by letting the teacher know the problem when it first occurred.
Let's not really speculating whether the teacher is old, simply doesn't care, sexist or what not. The daughter still got A. According to the mother, she assumed this was due to her daughter's long-term involvement with technology. I am sure she is a bright girl too. '
So can we just say there are two possibilities:
(1) the girl had hidden her sad face when she was in her classroom and since she did her homework and continued to excel on her quizzes and exams, the teacher didn't notice much
(2) the girl did show her sad face but the teacher failed to acknowledge that sign
If #1 were to be true, then we should say the mother has a bigger responsibility here than the teacher. First of all, she did not take action. Kids are weak but they wanted to play strong so they often hide their true feelings. I think any parent should step up to help solving bully issue right away. Not in a public way to name a few kids, but work with the teacher in a very constructive way (such as bringing in more women to talk about tech industry. That's better than bringing a man in.... if you want to show women can do the job too).
We don't know much about how the kid actually behaved in the classroom so we really shouldn't blame the teacher too much at the moment. What we need to realize is poor communication among the kid, the mother and the teacher. It's tough because half of the parents don't use email or they don't have time to talk to the kids or speak with the teacher reguarly. PTA is usually dead with a couple parents from time to time.
So the mother should learn her mistake, help reconstruct her daughter's confident and stop making her rants public now. It's not helping. It is sort of one-side if I had to be really harsh (you can downvote me if you want), but that's how I feel as I read through the post again and again.
Also, please, please, be careful when your daughter adds people she is still not very familiar with to her FB.
I suggested that she talk to you. I offered to talk to you. I offered to come talk to the class. I offered to send one of my male friends, perhaps a well-known local programmer, to go talk to the class.
edit here: "I consulted with friends — female developers — and talked to my daughter about how to handle the situation in class. I suggested that she talk to you. I offered to talk to you. I offered to come talk to the class. I offered to send one of my male friends, perhaps a well-known local programmer, to go talk to the class. Finally, my daughter decided to plow through, finish the class, and avoid all her classmates. I hate to think what less-confident girls would have done in the same situation. "
"During the first semester of my daughter's junior/senior year, she took her first programming class." -- We are told she finished early; therefore, we can assume that the "junior/senior" usage denotes the last year she was in the US.
The daughter is currently attending high school in India not because she necessarily needs to but rather because it is a learning experience before college:
"My daughter ... is now attending high school in India as her 'gap year' before heading off to college."
As for the ancillary issue of the class material itself being crap: yeah, duh. And it's not just computer programming. You only notice how bad that class is because you have relevant expertise.
It's a safe bet that the other courses are similarly terrible. Send a biologist or physicist or mathematician or historian to observe a randomly selected high school class and they will find that their subjects too are being taught by people without the slightest appreciation or aptitude.
And I don't even have any discerning features that could be used as a trigger. Being only fat, short, tall, ginger, 4-eyed, girl can get you seriously in trouble if you don't pay attention to social dynamics.
The thing is such targeting should be noticed and properly countered by the teacher and almost no teacher knows how to do that. I have no idea what's the proper response to usual lord of the flies school environment.
So many responses here are of the form, "Toughen up! I did!" Would you not have rather had a safe, non-abusive, school experience? I certainly would have. Would you not rather girls (and boys) in school today have a better experience than you? I would.
There are techniques teachers can use to address these kinds of behavioral problems in their classrooms. And, there are ways for schools to help prevent them in the first place. Smaller class sizes consistently reduces behavioral problems and increases success among students, for instance. I don't think it's useful to merely blame the teacher...the system as a whole is culpable (and, society as a whole is culpable on some level, if our budgetary priorities place making war over education). But, the teacher could certainly be better educated in his job and more responsive to a child who is being singled out.
Sorry. It was unintended. I was just describing my own experience as almost-victim. Personally I mostly place blame on lack of teacher training in detecting and properly reacting to harassment. I hate "Toughen up!" advice. I even hate term "bully". It sounds tolerant, even affectionate. I'd go with thug or hooligan. In my language there isn't even a word for bullying. It's called beating, name calling, stealing, breaking someones stuff, persecution.
> Smaller class sizes consistently reduces behavioral problems
That's because it's easier for the teacher to pay attention and react. Above some limit it's no longer leading the class, it's crowd control.
> I don't think it's useful to merely blame the teacher
I'm far from blaming teachers personally. For me it's mostly about what teachers don't get. Like psychological training, smaller classes, framework.
The poster is hard to take seriously, one mention of the harassment ("sandwiches"), at least three times he mentions "Visual Basic? Seriously??". He seems more concerned about language wars actually.
So many people confusing programming and programming languages - the act and the medium.
On top the "(violence and rape references)" that had nothing to do with the incident of the headline "To my daughter's high school programming teacher".
This is a disservice to all people who work on more gender equality in tech.
[Edit: As pointed out, it's a she. Thanks for pointing this out. Sorry for over reading this, I usually don't care about the gender of a person. Yes I've read the article very fast as it is 90% not about the headline]
Near the end of the article, she writes: "I'm a single mother working in tech publishing — believe me, I get it".
My guess is you barely read it.
And yet, here we are.
> But I am a mother, and I've spent years encouraging girls and women in IT, so perhaps my perspective will help you.
Being a parent does not qualify you to discuss anything other than being a parent. It's no different than saying "As a mother, I feel that we need to bomb Syria." It's just patently ridiculous.
> Here are seven suggestions for teaching high school computer programming:
I'm not a teacher either, but at least I know enough not to pretend that I can rattle off ways to "fix" the teaching of high school computer programming.
Is this kind of shit any better?
For instance, I had a student (13 yrs old?) in an advanced math class that was all male (I'm female) and he had a habit of starting to blurt out mildly veiled sexual comments to me. I said a few things to him about what was appropriate in class, in a kind way and privately, and I also arranged for a male administrator to chat with him. It stopped. Grades have nothing to do with this -- they're not effective in any way in setting classroom tone, especially as they're feedback far after the semester ends.
I'm sorry for all these Hacker News readers who had shitty high school experiences, but you do need to grow up and realize they were shitty. Turning around to dump the shit downhill -- or indulging in some sort of Stockholm syndrome -- is not going to make the world a better place and it does not make you a better person.
I don't always do things perfectly; I remember one female student who was being aggressively and unwillingly courted by a football player in one of my classes and I wasn't able to prevent all the distraction. But I noticed and did what I could, and commented to them separately about what is and isn't alright in the classroom. Seriously, folks, it's not that hard to have expectations for appropriate behavior and enforce them.
These days, school policies generally insist on separating disciplinary and academic issues.
I don't say the teacher should do nothing, but this just don't work.
And they removed AP Computer Science that same year, when I was about to take it, that's why I had to settle with the class that taught VB. The state of HS education in this country makes me sad.
Back in 10th grade (2007), I had the option of choosing a programming course, but I chose not to. But at least the class was teaching C++ and not VB6.
Any form of VB is still computer programming, and would have been a big step up.
> The state of HS education in this country makes me sad.
Yes, and that is not going to change unless we privatize education.
Or start paying higher taxes so that public education is given the funding they need to implement these programs.
Because poor people don't really need to learn how to read!
Yeah, go back to the glory days of the Forties. The Eighteen-Forties.
If in 100 years the government provided clothing, and I advocated privatizing clothing, you'd say, "Becuase poor people don't need to wear clothes!"
Where I'm from (in the US), many poor people _don't_ achieve a basically acceptable level of education, because the public schools don't ultimately serve them well for various reasons, and they drop out (or just don't learn but keep getting passed on through the grades). We're talking like high schoolers at a 5th grade reading level, for example.
So it's not like the status quo is a panacea.
It has in the past. Which is my point.
Good for you. The rest of us can look at history with less bias on this subject.
Which makes your claim factually incorrect.
Since you're making unfounded assumptions, maybe you need to check your whole mental model on this topic.
There's no AB course any more either. It's just one course, the equivalent of the old A.
I taught at a school with a VB 6.0 curriculum at the end of the last decade. The (veteran) teacher just continued using his old materials; he was a math teacher with some CS experience. He kept it because budgets were tight, everything ran snappily, and new computers and textbooks are expensive.
As long as a teacher is teaching programming fundamentals, it really doesn't matter (in the long run, educationally) what a student's first language is. They'll get it. Better to go with something that the teacher's good at and that interests the students.
I would not want to work or study in an environment surrounded by social akwardness and harassment either.
the problem lies with the men.
I'm not saying we can't fix this problem. We can do that by hiring more well rounded people for programming positions. The same type of male techie who would mistreat a woman at the workplace, would mistreat a man too. I don't necessarily think being odd is wrong as long as you're not hurting someone.
Personally it's the tech industries fault in general, which continues to pander to the academic and elitist groupings to foster talent, which is in and of itself unequal. Add to the fact that these groupings contain their own patriarchal problems and the picture becomes even more complex. Personally I don't feel like we need 50% women in the tech industry. I feel like everyone should be given an equal chance at learning as many skills as possible in a fostering learning environment. The fact that schools, parents, etc don't accomplish this can't all be blamed on the industry itself. Many engineering subjects suffer from these larger societal problems that relate with entrenched social roles and patriarchal institutions.
Making the average Joe reading hacker news aware of these problems are important, but laying the blame on all men, or even a subset larger than a choice few who benefit from the systemic patriarchal tendencies in unfair however. The core issue is equality. And society isn't equal. This is more of an effect than a primary problem.
"Why should I take on the liability of adding a women to my engineering team?"
"I've never had a women answer any hard math questions correctly so we can skip those." It was great when I insisted we walk through them together, he got one completely wrong and couldn't remember the basics.
"I normally delete any resumes from women applying for engineering positions without actually reading them." =recruiter who didn't know I was within earshot. I assume he was forced to bring me in by HR. Which is yet another annoyance. I don't accept token female positions. See below.
"I need a women on the engineering team so the guys don't have to deal with the women in marketing." - actual job offer.
"Do you plan on having children?"
I recently left a job, because I couldn't get my other team members to stop leaving commit messages like "fuck heroku in it's whore ass', 'fucking cunts'. The hilarious part is that my background is in porn, I wasn't offended, I just couldn't figure out what the fuck they were committing. When I asked them to write more descriptive messages they said I was too sensitive. The guy who took over for me constantly emails me and asks if I remember when x was done....
I'm very active in my local tech community and I spend my free time teaching, so I know that 99% of guys in tech are not like this. (at least on purpose) But the attitude is accepted and even defended, which is obvious just reading the comments on any article involving women in tech on HN. But, it doesn't happen to them so how are they to know that I hear the 'hilarious' Tits or GTFO joke hundreds of times. The only reason I've started to become vocal about it is because I hope that it gives someone a little insight into what we have to deal with. I'm not at all a SJW and hate the concept of check your privilege. I think SJW are actually making women in tech look like weak victims.
I think the problem is not with men or women in particular, but society in general, as it has a concept that genders are socially different while they're [mostly] not. I strongly suspect, neither men, nor women are prerogative carriers of such stereotypes - although, naturally, as those stereotypes are discriminating to women, they're primarily opposed by them, not men.
I was a student assistant. I gave lab courses (lots of different types, cs 101, ai, graphics etc) and there wasn't a single girl that can actually do good. Sure there was some who can memorize a whole textbook and get A in grades thanks to exams but that was it. They were at best average for my case. And In my school, girl ratio is not that bad either. Even when I was a student, there was a single girl that applied and graduated as same year as males, all other females failed and prolonged their schools.
I am sure most of you met exceptional woman programmers, I am not denying that there might be exceptions. But from my personal experience women is not as capable as men in tech. That is pretty much my reasoning why there are so low interest in tech related courses/jobs for women
It's a flawed argument. In a group of male programmers, fully half of them are below average (yes, I'm sure). Should the less accomplished 50% be subject to ridicule as intellectually inferior? No, they should be given equality of opportunity, and let the cards fall there they may.
All women want is the same equality of opportunity that every male programmer gets without question.
> But from my personal experience women is not as capable as men in tech.
I'm sure you've heard of "confirmation bias", but, in case you haven't:
Quote: "... a tendency of people to favor information that confirms their beliefs or hypotheses."
I am not trying to ridicule people, It is just some facts I encountered before.
It is not like I can be biased now, because there is no longer a data set for me. There is like 2-3 women (out of ~50) in the department I am working and they are not directly related to my area, weird huh?
And in a sense, you can't really blame them much for that. Social clumsiness and normal loneliness and desire aren't exactly crimes.
But what the author describes isn't like that. He described an actively hostile and misogynistic classroom.
Maybe I missed it (and I could've missed it since I'm a dude), but the modern culture of full-out misogyny that's infected young programmers wasn't present when I was a student, and it scares the willies out of me.
It may be misogyny but my experience of groups of youths makes me feel it's "just" verbal abuse. She's not being targeted because she's a girl she's being targeted because [almost] everyone is.
High-schoolers pick on others because those others have traits that make them stand out. There's probably a kid in the same class being picked on because he's short, another because he's stupid, another because he's poor. So, this one is being picked on because she's a girl - that's what stands out most about her against the common traits of the group. Is that really misogyny is it disproportionate because she's a girl.
In some ways that the only thing that they latched on to was her gender is positive - hear me out on this one - that suggests that she's good looking, she's not poor, not fat, not spotty, not known amongst the students for moral deficiency. In fact I feel it's basically a confession that they've got nothing else to pick on her for.
If the worst she got was a well recycled joke it sounds like she was probably having an easier time of it than most kids in the classroom, no.
None of that is to say nothing should be done about someone feeling the environment they're in isn't conducive to education of course. It just strikes me that sexism isn't the root problem - if instead she was picked on for being a swot [that's perhaps UK-ism, a conscientious and attentive student with a hint of toadying] would that have been better somehow?
What's more I think the stereotype is harmful in itself. It provides an excuse for some men to act like assholes and it affects the perception of the rest by the outside world.
I have also seen misogyny and incredibly awful behaviour in the workplace. This was invariably carried out by men who thought they were good at what they did but were sadly mistaken.
Kind of, yes. Programming is a decidedly anti-social job in many ways, and suits the socially inept.
That's not all a negative thing- it's possible to be successful through your skills alone, and few other jobs provide that path.
> My experience in the professional world is that its full of assertive, aggressive individuals men and women included.
It's possible to be assertive and aggressive without being abusive.
> There are only so many slots at the top
Not everyone wants to get to the "top".
> Is it a disservice to create these mushy teeball environments
They certainly sound better than environments full of mental/emotional abuse. Why can't we create abuse-free environments in the real world, too?
> Not everyone wants to get to the "top"
sure, but how about you let them make that decision rather than taking the liberty of handicapping them in advance.
>They certainly sound better than environments full of mental/emotional abuse. Why can't we create abuse-free environments in the real world, too?
Sure but they will need to compete against the environments filled with vicious, agogi-bred cutthroats who are there by choice.
At university my computer science classes are about 1/4 females and I've never seen anything close to disrespect over gender. This is just a bunch of high school guys picking on the only girl.
The OP's daughter sounds awesome. The OP's daughter's teacher sounds like a real idiot.
What was the purpose of writing this as an "open letter".
Besides, the hits taste sooo good.
"Thanks to my career, my daughter's Facebook friends list
includes Linux conference organizers, an ARM developer
and Linux kernel contributor, open source advocates, and
other tech journalists."
"but I was unprepared for the harassment to start in
high school, in her programming class."
"Did you not see her enthusiasm turn into a dark cloud
during the semester? Did you not notice when she quit
laughing with and helping her classmates, and instead
quickly finished her assignments and buried her nose in
a book? What exactly were you doing when you were
supposed to be supervising the class and teaching our
future programmers? "
"I'm no teacher, so forgive me if you think I'm out of
place when it comes to telling you how to do your job.
But I am a mother, and I've spent years encouraging
girls and women in IT"
"Recruit students to take your class. Why was my
daughter the only girl in your class? According to her,
she only took the class because I encouraged it."
"My daughter said she [didn't know] about the programming
class ... Have you considered hanging up signs ... asked
the school counselors to reach out ... spoken to other
classes, clubs, or fellow teachers ... asked the
journalism students to write a feature ... asked current
students to spread the word"
"Set the tone. On the first day of class, talk about the
low numbers of women and lack of diversity in IT"
"Don't be boring and out-of-date. Visual Basic?
1. The professor doesn't have a choice.
2. The professor doesn't care.
3. This is all the professor knows.
4. There is no one to replace him.
"Check In ... Follow Up"
"my daughter learned why there are so few women in IT"
Not to mention 70% of the teachers.
I took a mandatory class (keyboarding) from a friend of my grandparents', the first year he taught. I saw first hand how much the apathy of the class wore him down. He started the year hoping he could get people at least vaguely interested, but no one cared, and there was no way he could force them to.
He quit after a year.
I don't know how American schools work, so I can't comment on your question.
Obviously there can't be male domination there, because boys are absent.
Bangalore/Chennai/India, same story throughout.
But your point on liberty is spot on.
I have a feeling if you were to get rid of this harassment and discrimination thing overnight. It would make negligible impact to ratio of representation which existed before.
>>Because women are free to do what they want, and they're choosing not to. This discrepancy manifests everywhere. More deeply in countries with a focus on personal liberty.
In countries with personal liberty you will suddenly have new sets of problems. You can't blame anybody or anything for your failures, and that's a bad situation to be in. You are no longer the victim or the under dog and no one sympathizes with you anymore.
Can you reword this sentence? I can't figure out what you mean.
There is a larger desire for male orderlies, the reason for that desire are for the "obvious fact" that males are stronger, and can be used for heavy lifting, and protection for and from disorderly patients.
It makes me furious that they can so blatantly state these reasons without fear, where as statements to any effect about the female gender would consistently create backlash. I don't disagree with their reasons, what made me furious was the asymmetry.
I stopped reading here. This mentality is pathetic. We can and should expect better than we ourselves had it.
How do you propose we fix it? Do you think this article was even partially close to a solution?
I've worked in web development shops, and I currently work for a regional grocery store chain, but most of my time was spent working for companies that own an internet backbone doing statistical reporting for the web. I can assure you, those places were heavily male and heavily geeky. No one ever suggests that I should be getting them coffee, much less making them a sandwich.
If anything, the younger, nerdier guys find me a little intimidating.
I wonder if some of the women in question are simply getting their ass handed to them in a code review and they think it's sexism. It's the opposite, actually. That's equal treatment!
When I was in the first semester I knew that we had lots of women in there 20 in 200. What I also knew was that some damn idiots, (who I'd punch up, if I knew) would cause them to quit. Honestly just 6-8 girls stayed, the other girls left CompSci to study something "better". Those who stayed stopped having contact with anyone in class. They told me that the people are weird, which is mostly true, but they also got treated badly and excluded from anything which would help to make them look stupid.
A year later or so, I wanted to redo a course from the first semester that I didn't pass back then. To my surprise there were even more girls and admittedly hotter ones, like a gf that I knew from before univerity and some of her gf's. However I tell you, all of them, with only a few exceptions left CompSci after the first semester again!
I still have a good relationship with them, but it annoys me that some idiots managed to make almost all girls leave this time. They had so much potential. If you ask me, that's nothing else, but pure mobbing. Hey don't think that only the students were at fault!! The Profs made such ugly and shocking jokes about women (and gays), that I wondered if they ever had sex with a women in their life...
Things like: If the last man on earth would be gay, it would still be better than a women, but also not be a (hu)man. (Only a handful people boo'ed, that's courage huh?)
On that same note, I think OP would be hard pressed to find an industry that isn't like this, if not towards women, towards some "different" group of people, possibly even men or Anglo Saxons. One of the things I have the hardest times with is when people say a specific form of harassment isn't tolerable (can't segregate based on color, can't discriminate against race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, etc.), but don't get at the root issue, singling out anyone for being different. It doesn't matter that she was a girl or that the comment was sexist, what matters is someone was singled out for the sole purpose to make them feel bad and shameful for who they are.
Just like her, I only took the class to make my parents happy and maybe, just maybe get something out of it. I didn't.
Just like her, when I finished my assignments I would go around and help struggling kids with their stuff. I wouldn't ever do their work for them, more like guide them into the right direction, helping them figure it out on their own but with a little nudge from me.
Just like her I was bullied, except I wasn't bullied by other students. I was bullied by our teacher, a female.
The teacher was the only female in our class. I would venture to say she was pretty intelligent. I mean she could write the day's lesson on the board in backwards cursive.
I nearly failed the class because she insisted I was cheating. There was no way I could know what I knew at that age. I had to prove to the principal that I wasn't cheating in order to get an entire semester of zero's reversed.
I'm pretty sure that was about the time I went from wanting to be a professional programmer when I grew up to never taking a paying programming job. Here I am, 30 years old, doing IT support instead of what I really enjoyed doing.
I'm all for gender equality in IT and the like, but again, high school. Put a girl in a classroom full of hormone-ridden teenage boys that probably don't see much of that kind very often, see what happens.
From an individualist perspective we can only encourage her not to give up on her interests because of the cruelty of others, and that she may receive this treatment often because she is above average. This is an unfortunately common scenario anywhere for anyone.
If this was a white girl in a black history class or a guy in a women's studies class the tone to this thread may be a little more compassionate I would imagine. It just so happens that the anecdote of female encountering sexism in tech is so often repeated and posted here, it's made a number of us callous to it.
As for the author: If she has a problem with 'get back in the kitchen' I suppose I can legitimately raise a concern with her characterization of all the boys in that class as brogrammers... which is just as sexist. Takes one to know one I suppose.
This is what's wrong with education today.
I can. It was a reasoned, thoughtful take on a single teacher's inability to effectively discipline a male dominated classroom, and how this lack of discipline severly impacted a woman's hopes for her child. Nothing more.
To say that this is "sexism in tech" is an extreme reach. I dare say dishonest.
Back when I was in grade 9, my friend and I were the only two boys in 'home ec.' It was always only us two in the cooking groups because the girls wouldn't ask us to join their groups. Should I take this to show the inherent Misandry in the entire culinary arts field? Of course not.
I've never had to deal with sexism. When I was bullied in high school my car was vandalized, I had to take time off from exams because my face was a wreck and I was being monitored for brain injuries. I skipped class because I didn't want to hear, "fag," for the thousandth time. I didn't want to deal with the food being thrown at me in the cafeteria or the snickers as a I walked past the gossiping kids in class. I've never had to deal with being discriminated against because of my gender but I cannot imagine that it hurts any less.
I was lucky. A friend of mine was beaten into a coma. The bullies showed up to his benefit concert to throw pennies and harass the attendees. He has been living the rest of his life with the effects of severe neurological trauma. Yeah, kids are mean.
It has been more than a decade since I escaped that hell-hole. I've since read articles about other unlucky kids who've died being stabbed to death by a mob. I've read about girls who have committed suicide because they couldn't deal with the slut shaming. Sure these cases are beyond the norm but I wonder if they are not indicators that things are just getting worse for kids these days.
It doesn't have to be this way. We can single people out who make sexist jokes and correct them, loudly and publicly, and try to help them understand that they're not funny, clever, or cool. I agree with the author that teachers can be a part of the solution. But I don't think that is the final word (and it never is when trying to change prevailing attitudes and norms): parents need to tell their kids to stick up for people who are being bullied, that it's not funny, and that it's dangerous to not say anything when they hear someone spout off something hateful.
Puts into words the question I've been trying to ask some of my teachers for so long, but haven't been able to.
I know programming isn't intrinsically interesting to everyone, but I think there is still magic to be found in seeing your instructions (in VB, Pascal, C, Logo, whatever) translated to something on the screen.
Think about Chemistry; the instructor can show all these cool reactions but you eventually have to sit down and mindlessly run through on paper the chemical reaction.
Now think programming-wise; I can show you wireless communication between two Arduinos and some XBee radios, but eventually you have to explain how variables are stored in memory, or how the communication is made, or some other basic.
Intro classes can be boring because there doesn't seem to be an endpoint, but that's why everyone encourages open source communities, they offer that real life feel to everything you learn.
Can you imagine a boy losing interest in a subject because school is so awful? I can't.
Can't we just call it "bullying"? Illegal bullying.
I experienced an awful lot of similar things when at school, in 50-50 gender split English classes and others. Sure, the wording was different, not mentioning my gender, but the effect was the same. I remember a particular group of girls picking on me consistently because I was so quiet and shy. Physical as well as verbal harassment. The bullies will choose anything that is different about a person: be the lone female, and they obviously choose gender.
I really see the problem in all "discrimination" type cases, whether gender, race, sexuality, being: unpleasant people. Cure these people of gender discrimination, and they'll just be bullying the quiet kid instead. Or the poor kid with the cheap clothes.
We need to be teaching kids to simply be nice and to accept everyone else for who they are. But like that's gonna work.
Seriously? I am thinking a little exaggeration. I don't think trolls would send e-mails, what is the point if noone reads your trolling.
And what is the fault of the teacher (other than visual basic). "Guys, please don't harass this girl", yeah tell that to a bunch of boys and see how that works. I don't think students would just openly harass her. He might be a bad teacher but harassments is not his fault.
If there is one to blame, I would blame the parents. Didn't he researched the school before applying her daughter? Doesn't her daughter already above high school programming?
Then evidently you don't go on the internet very often.
And at least trying to stop the boys would have been a point in his honor. It's called doing his job as a teacher to protect a student from misogynistic bullying.
You see, attacking someone BECAUSE of their gender ("fix me a sandwich") is the very definition of sexual harassment. If someone said, "hey (nword)! shine my shoes!" would the teacher also then be expected to do nothing?
Questioning the author's veracity is a standard derailing tactic in discussions about this type of situation. Since you engaged with the article, you must assume the author is telling the truth, otherwise why bother discussing it?
How do we go from "After she finished, she'd help classmates who were behind or struggling in class" to "my daughter emailed to tell me that the boys in her class were harassing her"? Those two statements are one sentence apart.
I was in a technical cursus in high school, there was exactly one (1) girl in the class. And not for a single course, for all the classes. I don't remember her being harassed, but I can't speak for her obviously.
I'm not saying that "she asked for it" or anything equally terrible, I'm just curious to know how things degraded seemingly very quickly? It seems important to understand what's the core issue here.
I'm obviously not very familiar with US education, maybe the culture is just different over here.
I taught an intro to computer programming course at a local community college for a semester. The curriculum was set, so I couldn't really venture off to my own thing. What I learned is that what we have to teach simply is boring. Sorry, but you have to learn about loops, conditionals, variables, and all those other mundane things before you can move on to more interesting things. And let's get real, how interesting are things ever going to be in a class? Not very. It gets exciting when you know enough to create a project on your own. An intro to computer course is not that course - I wish it were.
If you do not hold people to a higher standard, but instead make excuses for them, their conduct will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
An educator was once one of the most revered professions. Whether or not they earned a comfortable living, educators of all walks of life were respected and took pride in their teachings. Today... not so much and by making constant excuses, we make it worse.
I would hope the school board would be interested in why such clear harassment went unpunished/corrected.
This shows that the author doesn't really know anything about modern teaching. Talking to students in private is probably a breach of the school's child protection framework.
P.S. Haven't read such bullshit for a long time..
Pointing out that the reason the other students were saying that is because of envy that she is so far ahead of them should have been enough.
But talking about the low numbers of women and lack of diversity in IT is like saying we should treat women special because there's not many in our field.
We should treat the like a fellow human being and colleague but stop making us idolize women, that rubs me the wrong way.
Bottom line the teacher had no passion for programming and shouldn't have been teaching in the first place.
This seriously pisses me off.
So this mom never brings this up with the teacher, presumes if she does it won't help, and then writes a letter at the end of the year detailing all the problems? Mother of the year, right here.
Also, "VB? Seriously??" got funnier every time I read it too. Jokes never get old.
I'd like to give the teacher the benefit of the doubt and assume that he didn't knowingly let a student endure a semester of harassment. He probably didn't see or recognize the issue.
Open communication from the mother could have helped the teacher recognize the problem and deal with it.
It's hard to understate the impact a bad teacher can have on a persons life.
Why oh why did they not bring it up with the school?
As MEN in our industry we need to take a stand against this sort of behaviour which is truly endemic and all pervasive in our industry.
This is not a women in tech issue, it's a problem with MEN.
Doing any more will make one more of an activist than before,
doing any less will make one less of a decent human being.
Her suggestions to her daughter's teacher seem reasonable and useful for other teachers.
I hope sending her daughter to India (of all places!) for her final year of high school wasn't a mistake.
if the sexes were reversed i think it would be a case of saying "well son, women are just like that - you'll have to learn to live with it" and be on your way.
is that sexist?
i'm pretty sure there are natural and cultural tendendcies for men and women to behave certain ways. the behaviour described is not unique to programming, when there is one girl in a group or even school... its just people.
Turbo Pascal or Cobol AND Coding on Paper are the right places to start and learn programming.
If students know the basics, they were able to learn other languages.
The problem with Java is mostly its enterprise-y frameworks. If you have a nice user-friendly GUI library that measures up to Windows.Forms for ease-of-use? Java's fine.
1) I feel like attacking the teacher is unfair. There is a much more significant root cause that should be addressed, and the teacher's inability to detect her bullying is merely a symptom of that root cause.
Bullying is terrible - I experienced that myself for alternative reasons in Middle/High School - and indeed, inexcusable. Little kids can be assholes, and I do hope that teachers get better at recognizing when kids are getting picked on... but it's a lot to ask when they're strained with multiple classrooms of students that they have to teach. With classroom sizes getting larger, it becomes a laughable proposal to tell them to "pay attention" or "check in" with individual students. These teachers are dealing with potentially hundreds of students every day.
If you want to attack the real problem, attack the fact that teaching is considered and compensated as a "second class career," and thus causes the best and brightest to avoid it. Attack the low pay that teachers receive, the low respect in their community, and in particular the low budgets for public schools brought about by the continual demand for lower taxes. If schools got the budgets to hire good teachers and (most importantly) give them significantly smaller classroom sizes, they could do the kind of one-on-one mentoring proposed: and that would diminish the core problem significantly.
Let's kill the root of the problem rather than blaming the already stressed out teacher at the tail end of said problem. This is a problem we can FIX as a society, if we can recognize that it's worth putting money into our community to solve the problem. This is a solvable problem, made difficult only by the fact that we refuse to give public school systems the funding that they need to sufficiently address it.
2) Far less important in the grand scheme of things, but I feel like people (including this author) belittle Visual Basic unfairly.
It's a great teaching language, and the simplicity of its syntax is helpful for situations like high school where the majority of students don't even want to be there, much less programming. The author's daughter is enthusiastic, and that's great - I'd be willing to bet that the vast majority of that class had absolutely no interest in being there. It's unfortunate, but true - and teaching a straightforward language can at least make the barrier to entry and the remote chance of getting through to some of these students just a bit less remote.
Yeah, it's not going to be something that she'll likely run into in the real world - well, maybe, depending on the industry - but teaching programming in high school is about attempting to break through the oversized wall that is general student apathy. You want to teach an apathetic kid Objective-C so that they can make iPhone apps? Nope. You need something simple - something that will hopefully be simple enough that they won't feel like they're struggling against it. Is it sad that kids are so apathetic? Sure, but wishing they weren't isn't going to make it better. So you give them a softball intro, and hope they feel empowered enough with it to start actually caring about it. Or for that matter, about something, anything.
This teacher also may have been teaching it because it's all they know. High Schools seldom (ever in the public system in America?) have the budget to hire a Computer Science teacher. This person was probably recruited as the only teacher in a related department who happened to know some kind of programming offhand.
Lastly in the defense of Visual Basic, it provides a vast wealth of easy-to-use, easy-to-install, well-documented libraries that perform what (to lay people) seem to be magic. Not only is it easy to learn, but these libraries can be leveraged to very quickly make programs that feel like they're doing something interesting with minimal resistance or struggling against the tools. Learning how to struggle against tools without giving up IS an important skill - but when you're just trying to start by teaching kids to care AT ALL, it's more important that they feel like they're winning. They can learn how to properly struggle once they've learned that it's worth the effort. When they can throw the use of some advanced libraries together and come up with something fun in a single classroom session, they're more likely to also view programming as fun - and thus hopefully just a LITTLE more likely to actually care about it.
In short, Visual Basic is a gateway drug - and a pretty effective one at that.
Anyways, that's my two cents.
Same as with all leaders anywhere, in addition to their main goals (teaching the material, sailing a ship, etc.), they must maintain discipline and right any wrongs.
If anything goes wrong, they are the ones ultimately responsible.
It is not fair, but being a good teacher requires more than just the ability to teach a specific subject.
These qualities can be taught, and this woman's letter contains some good insights for the teacher.
If this teacher saw what was happening and refused to stop it... sure, blame the teacher in that situation. I'd join you in blaming them. But I can't in good conscience blame a teacher for not noticing bullying inside - or outside - of a classroom with the overloaded nature of our school system. Give teachers a 10:1 - or hell, even a 15:1 - student to teacher ratio if you want the kind of one-on-one support she suggests. That would be a fantastic world, and I would love to see that come to pass.
That said, I've noticed a trend among my son's peers. Many of them delayed driving until they left for college. Not sure why. When I was that age, everybody skipped school on their 16th birthday to go take the driving test.
There are some indications that denser-development, economics, safety-concerns, and the rise of alternative attention-demanding status-objects like mobile phones are now shifting the norms. See for example:
A large part of the US is not practically walkable and has insufficient public transportation. In order to "go out with friends", sometimes to even see said friends, to hold down a job, to go to the store, transportation in a car may be necessary. Teenagers prefer to not rely on their parents to take them places. Thus, car ownership represents freedom and autonomy to US teenagers.
It didn't matter that the classes were beginning easy for the sake of revision, the classes were never good enough for her and I had to switch school. Note: not good enough for her, not me. I lost friends and only managed to learn to handle people in my 20's. Her destruction of my childhood ensures that I will never forgive her.
The article does bring up several other things that I dislike: the child being herded into an elite echelon of society by a bossy mother, being surrounded by successful people, the high expectations of the mother upon the young child, the child's [forced] willingness to please the bossy parent, probably also a feeling of helplessness of not being able to say "no, I'm not interested in that extra course".
But wait, there's more...
I see the whole article as a bossy, sexist, entitled mother wanting to raise an entitled child: "my DAUGHTER deserves a better teacher", "my ANGELIC DAUGHTER should not have to face adversity", "my LIGHT OF MY LIFE DAUGHTER is so perfect, just like I want her to be, and is better than the rest of the class combined".
The kid here is innocent. The mother needs to be put in her place. I will try and do so with a bullet list.
* Fuck you and your snobby, antisocial attitude.
* Fuck you and your criticism of teachers. If you think you can do a better job you're welcome to try.
* Fuck you and your feminist entitlement. Your daughter is going to face far, far harder shit in her life than a couple of people making sandwich jokes. In Sweden we call your kind "curling parents". You're fucking up your kid for the sake of your own insecurity.
* Fuck you and your "journalism". I see you ain't much of a programmer yourself, but you'll criticize others? Oh wait, that's what "tech journalism" is: complaining about other people's work and not having a public git repo yourself.
* Fuck you and your egotistical "tech" blog. If you wanted some hits you could have just asked.
You know what happens to people who are good in tech? They get hired because they're good at what they do. You don't have to be a white, american male to show well-written code to people. You know what happens to people who are mediocre in tech but are noisy as fuck because they want to be pampered and be treated all special? They write blog posts and hope thier kids are hired because mom's public shaming of everyone the kid comes into contact with intimidates people into not being able to say "no" when interviewing.
When was the last time you asked your kid if she wanted to just go outside and fucking play with the other kids? Just ride a non-feminist bike with non-feminist neighborhood kids or sit on the non-feminist curb and talk non-feminist shit like normal people? You're too busy signing your kid up for extra-curricular activities and having her influences by successful WOMEN (not people mind you, because people includes men and I suspect that's a gender you're not quite hip with) that you aren't noticing that her childhood is passing by without her having the time to enjoy it.
Any time we had a girl interview for a programmer position, it was like a breath of fresh air.
I'm not saying it didn't happen or doesn't happen in general, I believe this story. I just find it strange. We live in 2013, it's unbelievable this shit still happens.